868 in Action
MISCHA MOKWA TRAIL
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Fortunately, the weather was dry and none of the experienced scouts got cold or had any problems sleeping outdoors in the minimal shelters they had constructed. Bears had been active in the area two weeks before, but we didn't encounter any. We did, however, have a family of three skunks wander through our campsite just before daybreak. One wandered into the area where the adults had camped, sniffed Mr. Guelda, then headed off into the woods. We're not quite sure how to interpret that incident.
The group was back on the trail shortly after 8 AM Sunday morning heading toward Sand Cave ... a huge natural cavern with a sand floor located near the summit of a mountain. It's a natural wonder that one has to personally see to really appreciate; no photo can do it justice. The walk from Martin's Fork to Sand Cave was just under 4 miles.
About a mile beyond Sand Cave is White Rocks, a group of exposed boulders that provide one of the most breathtaking overlooks that one could ever imagine. From atop the rocks, sheer cliffs on one side drop straight down for move than 1,000 feet. At an elevation of about 3,500 feet higher than the town of Ewing, VA that lies in the valley below, the view is not unlike that from an airplane.
Beyond White Rocks we began our descent via the Ewing Trail. The Ewing Trail is wider and more rocky, but it's basically a reflection of the Gibson Gap Trail. Hiking in the direction that we did, the Ewing Trail was 100% downhill and we followed it all the way to the parking lot in Civic Park where the troop bus was parked.
The "jackrabbits" had a bit of wait as the last few "turtles" meandered in. Then it was onto the troop bus for a 20-minute drive back to the Wilderness Road Campground to strike our base camp, conduct a worship service, then head into nearby Middlesboro, KY for a serious chow-down at a local restaurant before beginning the 5-hour drive back home. The troop pulled into Shepherdsville a few minutes past 10 PM.
|The cabin at Martin's Fork had been reserved by group of men from Tennessee who offered the use of three open bunks.||Scouts waited on Sunday morning for water to boil in order to mix instant oatmeal for breakfast.|
|Young Mr. Meek stopped for a photo midway while climbing over a fallen tree that blocked the trail.||The waterfall at Sand Cave was impressive but only a hint at the magnificence of the rest of the site.|
|Scouts climbed up the sand in order to explore Sand Cave.||Scouts Chris, Tim, and Alex were amazed that it really was like a beach at the top of a mountain.|
|The troop's youngest adult leaders, Chris and Dave, were impressed the size of the giant cavern.||The solid rock structures beyond the trees are the area known as White Rocks.|
|The climb up to White Rocks is steep ... this section of trail is typical.||But the view from the top makes it all worthwhile. The word "breathtaking" comes to mind, but is still inadequate.|
|That would be the town of Ewing, Virginia in the valley 3,500 feet below.||Chris and Dave relaxed at Civic Park in Ewing, VA, the ending trailhead of the 22-mile Mischa Mokwa Adventure Trail.|