Laurel Caverns (PA), Youghaheny River (PA), Seneca Rocks (WV)
Aug 6 – 11, 2017
On August 6th, eight scouts led by Simon and three assistant scout masters departed Andrew Chapel for the first part of the local high adventure trip. After stopping in Cumberland, MD for lunch, we arrived at Fort Necessity to tour the battle field and fort that George Washington used in the very early hours of the French and Indian War. This included a musket firing demonstration that showed the scouts how the soldiers had to load their rifles and the impact of the weather on their ability to fight.
After our visit to Fort Necessity, we arrived at our campground near Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania to set up camp and enjoy hot dogs roasted over an open fire on a rainy evening. After a good night’s sleep, we had a bagel breakfast, made lunches and set off for Laurel Caverns to start the geology merit badge class. The class was very informative and provided the scouts with a great deal of historical and geological perspective on the history and transformation of the Appalachian Mountain Range over the last 400 million years. The scouts went on a short hike around the caverns to see the different rocks that exist in and around the mountain at the caverns. Luckily, there were no encounters with rattle snakes that are known to lurk around the area where we hiked. After the class, the scouts went into the lower section of the cave and explored the many tight areas and had a drink from the natural spring. Afterwards, Jack made a pasta and meatball dish for dinner in the dutch oven.
On Tuesday, we went to White Water Adventures to raft the lower Youghaheny River. Given all of the rain that we had, the water level was high and the hydraulics in the rapids were quite powerful. We had lunch on the river and had an opportunity to perform white water rescue training with the guides for some of the scouts that needed to complete this for first class requirements. Afterwards, we checked out the Natural Waterslide and decided that the water flow was too intense to allow the scouts to go down from the top. Charlie tried the lower section of the slide before it opened up to the swimming hole and was turned around by the water and banged up his ankle. We finished the outing at the Ohiopyle General Store for a round of ice cream before heading back to the campground.
Dinner Tuesday night – Simon, do you have any rice left over? This was the joke for the remainder of the trip. Simon made a great dish with steamed rice, beans, and mixed vegetables. When Mr. Wilson, Simon and Tobin went to the store the day before, Simon was prepared to cook 20lbs of rice. Mr. Wilson talked him down to 4lbs, which ended up being two pounds too many. The dish was very good and we had cold cooked rice for our omelets in a bag the next day for breakfast and chili on Wednesday night.
On Wednesday, we got up, made our omelets in a bag for breakfast and packed out to head down to Seneca Rocks. We stopped for lunch at Swallow Falls near Deep Creek Lake and gave the scouts a chance to get in a swim before heading over the mountain range to West Virginia.
We pulled into Seneca Shadows Campground just before 5pm and quickly set up camp. Michael made chili in the dutch oven and he says that his is better than his dad’s. Sounds like a chili cook off challenge! I had rice with my chili; many thanks to Simon for the extra riceJ. We decided to pull the telescope out to view the stars and just after dark, our crew leader noticed something moving about the area. Flashlights were used to see what was going on. The movement was the friendly neighborhood skunk. As we disbursed for fear of being sprayed, Mr. Wilson indicated that skunks have to be threatened beyond just being scared away by noise to defend themselves with their spray.
On Thursday, we headed down to Seneca Rocks Mountain Guides to begin the journey to Seneca Rocks for a day of climbing. Stephen and Johnny were our guides and took us over to the base of Seneca for a work out on the Stair Master. This is the 600 ft ascent up to the Class 4 and 5 rocks that we had to traverse to get to the base for top rope climbing and rappelling. Eric was the first brave sole to top rope up to the summit of the section of the rock we were climbing. All in all, we had six scouts (Eric, Simon, Michael, Jack, Charlie, ViJay and Mr. Wilson make it to the top. Hats off to Charlie for climbing with a sore ankle and making it to the top.
While climbing Seneca Thursday, the guides were assisting with making sure that the climbing requirements were well covered. Hopefully, we can finish up the few requirements so the scouts can get credit and earn the climbing merit badge.
The scouts decided to get up at o dark 30 to leave and get back home. We departed Seneca Shadows for Andrew Chapel around 7:30 and arrived back at Andrew Chapel at 11:00am.
Many thanks to Simon for his exceptional leadership which allowed us to get through a lot of the rank requirements and a spirit board on the trip!