Troop 868 in Action

GERMAN RIDGE TRAIL (December 2008)

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Troop 868 last hiked the German Ridge Trail in July 2004 and found it to be a comfortable hiking trail where scouts could complete the "20 mile hike in a single day" requirement for the Hiking Merit Badge.  As we did back in '04, we camped in the national forest campground on Friday night in order to get an early start on the trail at first light on Saturday morning.  The campground was empty except for us and two deer hunters.  We chose a campsite near the trailhead.  The temperature was below freezing when we arrived and the overnight low was expected to be around 20 degrees.  For quick setup and take-down, we decided to use the troop's smaller backpacking tents rather than our canvas wall tents.  We cooked a quick dinner of grilled hamburgers then hit the sack. 

The weekend turned out not be a very good one for most of the troop's older scouts due to high school football playoff games, so our crew for this trip consisted of only 5 scouts and 2 adults.  A couple of the guys drug their feet rolling out of bed on Saturday morning and it was shortly past 9 AM before we actually hit the trail ... about 90 minutes behind schedule.  This turned out to bite us on the behinds later in day as we ran out of daylight before finishing the trail and had to hike the last 2 miles by flashlight.  Though the trail was extremely well-marked and easy to follow in the daylight, the blazes are a hundred or more yards apart and all the leaves on the ground made the trail much more difficult to follow in the dark.  This slowed our progress considerably.  Nevertheless, we managed to successfully complete the trail about 7:30 PM.

We had packed all our personal gear and most of the troop gear back onto the troop bus before heading out that morning, but had left the tents up to dry off from a light dusting of snow, so it took us a few minutes to get the tents down before we were ready to depart the campsite and head for home.  En route back to Shepherdsville, we stopped at a Chinese Buffet for dinner.

The German Ridge Trail is a combination hiking, horseback, mountain bike trail, but we were the only folks using it this particular weekend.  We found it to be well-maintained and relatively easy-walking.  We hiked in a counter-clockwise direction and seemed to be going uphill or level most of the time with very little downhill; but the uphill slopes weren't severe.  Most of the trail was wide enough for two hikers to walk beside each other.  Three crossover trails would make it easy to shorten the trail for younger Boy Scouts or even Cub Scouts.

Hikers Nathen, Gabe, Dalton, Nick, and Adam pose next to the first blaze at the trailhead near our campsite. The guys stand at the edge of a small pond that was crusted over with ice then dusted with snow.
Nathen, Gabe, and Dalton crawled under one of numerous rock ledges that we encountered along the trail. (Clockwise from lower left) Nathen, Adam, Nick, Mr. Canchola, Dalton, and Gabe.
Gabe and Adam shown heating canned beef stew and pasta for lunch over portable stoves. The cans were too small in diameter to sit on the stoves, so the boys had to hold them with Gerber tools to heat them up.
Dalton never complained, but we suspect he didn't really enjoy the fact that his candy bar was frozen. Dalton prepared to follow Nathen's lead in using a log as a bridge to cross one of several small creeks we encountered.