Troop 868 in Action
(November 6~8, 2009)

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After a good night's rest, the first boy was feeling much better, but the second lad was feeling worse and threw up his breakfast shortly after eating.  Since we were already past the halfway point and there really weren't any good evacuation options on top of the mountain, he buckled down and carried on.  The pace of progress was better than our hike up the mountain, but not as rapid as normal.  We reached Sand Cave around 10 AM and took time to gaze and explore this awesome natural wonder.

We pushed on to White Rocks and reached this second natural wonder around 1 PM.  It was sitting atop White Rocks that we paused to conduct a worship service.  From this point, we still had several miles to go but, fortunately, it was ALL downhill.  Our second sick hiker was starting to feel better and our descent down the mountain approached a more normal hiking pace.  We made it back to our dear old troop bus about 4:30 and wasted no time heading to the park Visitor Center to turn in the cabin key and check-out before the rangers went off duty at 5 PM.  We made it with about 5 minutes to spare!

We then proceeded into Middlesboro and ate dinner at the local Ryan's Buffet before continuing on the long drive home.  We rolled into Shepherdsville just before 11 PM.  It was only a couple of hours later than we had planned, so under the circumstances, we were pretty happy and exceptionally proud of all our scouts.  This turned out to be one of those outings that will go down in troop history and get told about over and over again.  The boys were participated will probably someday tell it to their kids and grandkids.

On Sunday morning we hiked the Ridge Trail across the ridge line at the top of the mountain range from Martin's Fork to Sand Cave then on to White Rocks.  Here we have Spencer leading the column followed by Mr. Canchola, Jon, Adam, and Nick bringing up the rear. The entrance to Sand Cave.  The surrounding rock is all sandstone.  The only way this much sand could possibly have been deposited near the top of a mountain is if the entire mountain had been underwater at some point in time.  Anyone still doubt the story of Noah and the ark?
Adam and Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Canchola hike through the sand at the entrance of Sand Cave. Looking back, one of the huge sandstone pillars that still support the cave's ceiling looks like a giant shoe.
A couple of scouts climbed up the sand to go several hundred feet into the cave.  They are dwarfed by the size of the cave. A spring fed waterfall cascading over the far end of the cave entrance provided a welcome supply of cool drinking water.
The only words to describe the view from atop White Rocks are WOW! and AWESOME!  The entire group stood or sat and looked around in silent amazement.  Over the edge was a sheer drop of several thousand feet --- clearly fatal for the careless.  No one had to be cautioned; everyone understood and respected both the view and the danger.  After everyone had taken time to comprehend the scene before them, we sat down and conducted our Sunday worship service.
Gabe, feeling better but a bit sore from carrying a heavy backpack isn't yet standing perfectly vertical. Webelos Cub Scout Nick gains a clear understanding of why Boy Scouts go on challenging hikes like this one.
On the way down off the mountain via the Ewing Trail, we encountered this tree growing horizontally out of the mountainside with two vertical branches that made it look like a football goal post. The final few feet of the trail into Civic Park in Ewing, Virginia.  To see our good old troop bus in the parking lot was a welcome site for tired hikers late on Sunday afternoon.

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