Prince William Forest Park
Dec 8-9, 2018
Troop 1128’s annual orienteering campout took place on Dec 8-9th at Prince William National Forest Park. PWNF is a great local NPS park that offers 60 pre-set navigation points many organizations use and it’s about 35 miles from our base of operations in Vienna. In addition, the PLC decided to blend in a cooking contest, engage the troops Outdoor Ethics Guides and a trip to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. As always this, time of year can be questionable weather-wise and 10 days out snow was forecasted and/or rain in 38F. Waking up to snow is fine. Bush wacking through the woods in 38F and rain not so much.
The campout was 24 scouts strong along with 8 ASMs. An 8am departure led to a 9am arrival. After checking in and collecting maps, the troop held off on setting up camp to get out into the woods as quickly as possible. Viking ASM Carlton Wilson spent 40 mins on a refresher of map and compass skills as well as pace counts and other nuances of orienteering. Four crews were set up: Zeus, Arctic Wolves, Viking/Shark and Bison/Bob White. Two maps were chosen with two crews on each, going in clockwise and counter-clockwise directions. The weather was perfect for orienteering with each crew spending 3-4 hours trying to find small posts in the forest and eating lunch. All four crews had success albeit some posts seemed to be lost themselves. One crew found a dead deer and another was being stalked by an 8 point buck. Once all were back by 3pm, tents were up, fires burning and dinner was being prepped.
The cooking contest resulted in two crews using their dutch oven skills while two coming up with some deep fried options. Zeus went with a meat lasagna and Italian bread. Arctic Wolves had a dumpling offering. BobWhite/Bison offered up classic American – burgers and old bay seasoned hand-cut french fries. While Viking/Sharks went with a sausage/green bean casserole. SPL Marschoun and ASPL Hindley were the judges and decided the Viking/Sharks took the prize while BobWhite/Bison was a close second due to their french fries.
After dinner and clean up, 1128’s first ever Night Time Land Navigation session was held. Only five scouts and three ASMs took advantage of this 60 min session as the majority of the scouts convinced our SPL it was optional. Next time it will not be optional. Led by ASM Wilson, the participants learned the nuances of not being able to see that far, how to use only red light and instead of picking a bearing and going for it, use a series of attack points to narrow in on the goal. All came back with a greater appreciation of night time land navigation. And no scout or leader was lost.
After hanging out around the fire, most scouts hit the sack by 10pm as temps were dropping. Wakeup was scheduled for 630am and all earned a snow flake as temps were 28F-30F at 615am. It wasn’t as cold as last time which hit near 21F. Thankfully it was drilled into the scouts to prep for winter sleeping and all survived the night without freezing – much. Breakfast was made with most choosing to eat a hot breakfast while Zeus who opted for a bowl of cold cereal. Just before leaving, each crew and the ASM’s all presented one of the seven points of Outdoor Ethics as a reminder on how to tread lightly in the forest – even if car camping.
A quick drive led the troop to the National Museum of the Marine Corps where they spent two hours learning the Marines history from being founded in a bar in 1775 to it’s latest deployment in the Middle East. The NMMC gives a superb history of the Marines during it’s first century as a small multi-faceted fighting force to it’s second century growth and legendary battles in WWI and island hopping in the Pacific theatre in WWII. All scouts and ASM’s left with a greater appreciation of the cost of freedom.
The scouts arrived back at Andrew Chapel just before 1pm. After a quick gear check the patrols disbanded and everyone headed to a warm home and lunch.
Gettysburg National Military Park
Nov 17-18, 2018
On Nov. 17/18 BSA Troop 1128 visited the National Battlefield Part at Gettysburg, PA. The trip was co-ordinated by ASM Fitzmaurice. It was both a bicycle tour of the battlefield and a guided historical tour. A service project was built into the event as scouts collected trash along the way.
The troop left Andrew Chapel about 9am on Saturday by car and met at Gettysbike (www.gettysbike.com) in the parking lot of the visitors center to pick up rental bikes. Gear was left in the cars while the rest of Saturday was spent touring the battlefield on bike.
The route took the Scouts thru the tip of the town of Gettysburg over to Confederate Ave.. Once on the battlefield proper, scouts rode past many cannons, historical markers and monuments. Perhaps the most impressive of these were the North Carolina and the Virginia monuments. That weekend just happened to be ‘Rememberance Day’ and there were many men and women dressed in period costumes wandering about.
Scouts ate a bag lunch along the way, most waiting until they reached the 75 foot Observation Tower. This tower offered a nearly birds-eye view of the location of action the occured on day two and three of the battle. The ride passed along the Wheat field and Peach Orchard, scenes of heavy fighting on day 2. We returned the bikes and car shuttled over to Artillery Ridge Campground to set up camp for the night. It had snowed a couple days previous and by then the melt had turned much of the ground into a fine soup like consistency. Temperatures dropped fairly low that evening and Scouts earned a Polar Bear or Snowflake for the trip.
The next morning, Scouts broke camp, packed up gear into cars and returned to Gettysbike for another ride. This ride took everyone past the large Pennsylvania memorial, the Confederate high water mark and Meads Headquarters. This days ride was somewhat shortened due to the opportunity to have a licensed Battlefield guide give us a personal tour of Devils Den and Little Round Top. We returned bikes once again to Gettysbike and shuttled by car over to Devils Den. The guide was very knowledgable and explained the events surrounding the desperate struggle around Devils Den and Little Round Top. He explained the role played by J.L. Chamberlain, credited by many with saving the battle for the North, but pointed out that there were others, lesser known today, who also had key roles in the battle, but just didn’t get a mention in the movie “Gettysburg”. The film that caused Little Round Top to become the most popular tourist destination of the battlefield.
The Scouts returned to Andrew Chapel by around 3pm, a little wiser, a lot muddier than before we left
George Washington National Forest
Oct 6-7, 2018
Hurricane Florence put a damper on Troop 1128’s first backpacking trip of the 2018 season scheduled for September 15 – 16. Over 40 scouts and 8 adults were rearing to go, but the USDA Forest Service closed the George Washington National Forest that weekend to free up the park rangers to respond to other potential disaster needs, so despite the beautiful weather, we had to postpone to October.
Instead of trotting into Dolly Sods for a 3-day hike over Columbus weekend, the PLC decided to scale back that event to just two days on October 6 & 7 in the George Washington National Forest so that the new scouts could attend their first backing trip and learn from the older scouts. Three dozen Scouts and 8 adults took part in the Introduction to Backpacking Trip. The troop was a bit cut short in that several older scouts attended the three-day Order of the Arrow ordeal that same weekend.
Nevertheless, the new scouts learned how to properly load their packs, but it was a challenge to adjust some of them to support the pack weight on their hips instead of their backs. We started out with four consolidated patrols; two headed in opposite directions on a nearly circular path from the vicinity of the Wolf Gap Recreation Area. This took us past many beautiful fall color sites, overhangs, relics from old Civilian Conservation Corps projects, and some horse riding campers as well. There was even a group of cowboys toting six shooters! The grounds were still soaked, but the weather was otherwise dry and near perfect with clear skies and 60F. Overnight it got a bit cooler as we camped out near a spring down into the upper 40s.
The main attraction along the 12-mile hike was the Big Schloss which is a large rock formation at a height of 1,000 vertical feet. Named by German immigrants, Big Schloss provides a wonderful view of the surrounding valleys into both Virginia and West Virginia.
The older scouts coached and mentored the younger scouts on how to pitch tents, prepare food in the field, and proper methods of field sanitation. With determination, all the new scouts pushed and pulled to make it to the destinations together. At the end, there was a well-deserved lunch in the parking lot and the trip home with many stories of conquering the mountain and camping out to tell friends and family.
- Depart: Tuesday, 17-July
- Return: Tuesday, 31-July
- 1n – Flaming Gorge Recreation Area, Firehole Canyon Campground
- 2n – Yellowstone National Park, Bay Bridge Campground
- 3n – Grand Teton National Park, Coulter Bay Campground
- 7n – Wind River Range
- Green River Lakes
- Beaver Camp
- Summit Lake
- Upper Jean Lake
- Upper Jean Lake
- No-Name Lakes
- New Fork Park
Miles Hiked + Rafted: 75 miles hiked + 7.5 mi rafted
- Jenny Lake – 5
- Granite Canyon – 14
- Snake River (Raft) – 7.5 mi
- Beaver Camp – 11
- Summit Lake – 9
- Upper Jean Lake – 7
- Upper Jean to Island Lake return – 11
- No-Name Lakes – 9
- New Fork Park – 8
- “Fremont Award” (we may propose a new troop award): 5 nights above 10,000 ft. 2 of those nights were above 11,000
- Polar Bear Award: 3 snowflakes for nights below freezing
- Wildlife: Bull moose, black bear (sow + 2 cubs), bison in the hundreds (Hayden herd), a bull bison literally in our tent site, a few mule dear, 3 massive bull elk in our campground, rabbits, plus countless unidentified birds/bugs/etc.
- Swam in glacier fed lakes and streams.
- Ate great food at restaurants in the national park for dinners.
- Made snowballs at 11,000.
- Climbed up and slid down snow banks in shorts & t-shirts, while hiking alongside spectacular fields of wildflowers.
- Broke camp on final morning at 0530, hiking with headlamps
- Masterful trading by the scouts regarding food and crew gear
- Hung bearbags off cliffs
- Saw the six peaks Elijah’s uncle climbed at Teton NP
- Watched geysers explode
- Deserted Mr.Baker for a day because of his WEAK legs
- Played in aquatics center
- 2 mosquitoes all trip… Regardless, Elijah wore his headnet
- 3 lost sunglasses – by the same person…
- 1 broken bowl
- 1 frisbee lost to a tree
Overall, the great activities, and fun atmosphere coupled with the amazing scenery made all parts of the trip amazing. Even the driving (well, in Mr.Hindleys car at least.) Through cold nights, windy days, hail-y dinners, and long car rides, the Alt Philmont Crew had an incredible trip.
Alt-Philmont Crew: Elijah, Kendall, Joey, Andrew, Joshua, Gabe, ASM Baker, ASM Hindley, ASM Parker, and ASM Macesich