Troop 868 in Action
SILTSTONE TRAIL
(Day Hike, June 5, 2010)

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June always starts out busy with the end of the school year, graduations, and fundraising.  Some families like to take vacations early in the summer; and many years we are at summer camp by the end of the month.  Thus, we typically try to schedule a single-day, relatively close-by event as our June outdoor activity.

This year our Patrol Leaders' Council decided to hike the Siltstone Trail in Jefferson Memorial Forest.  The trail is 6.5 mile long (one-way) and runs from the park Visitor Center to an area known as Scott's Gap.  The entire trail is a dirt path through the forest and exclusively for hikers.  About 99% of it is fully shaded by the canopy of the forest.  To make a longer hike that would count toward the Hiking Merit Badge, we started at the Visitor Center, hiked to Scott's Gap, hiked around Scott's Gap (about 1.8 miles), then hiked back to the Visitor Center.  This made for a total distance of about 15 miles.

The trail is rated "strenuous" because hikers climb a bit more than 3,000 feet, but this is misleading.  The trail basically traverses three good-sized hills, so there are really only 3 significant climbs and at least 90% of the trail is level ground across the ridge lines.  By Boy Scout standards, the trail would be considered "mild" to "moderate."  The day we hiked it, the daytime high temperature was 96 and the heat index was 105, but our group was prepared with plenty of water and made it just fine.  For hikers who don't carry enough water, the trail crosses several creeks where water can be obtained if folks are prepared with water purification tablets.

We hit the trail a little before 9 AM and finished right at 6 PM, so it took us 9 hours.  Being so hot, we didn't push it too hard, especially during the return portion of the hike during the hot afternoon.  After the hike, we stopped at a Dairy Queen for dinner and ice cream on the way home.

It was raining when we hit the trail.  SPL Adam lines the group up outside the Visitor Center and has the group count off. Our crew included Mr. Moore, Gabe (#1), ASM Mike Canchola, Gabe (#2), Spencer, Jon, Nick, D.J., and Nickolas.  Chris is barely visible behind Gabe #2 and Adam is totally hidden behind Spencer.  Scoutmaster Bob Meek took the photo.
A fallen tree next to the trail provided a convenient bench during a rest stop. The trail was narrow, but well-cleared of any debris.  It was so well-worn and obvious that blazes weren't necessary.
Some logs over a creek provided a bridge that Gabe and Adam both chose to cross. Sure-footed Nick made crossing the log look easy.  D.J. (in background) preferred a land route of scaling the creek bank.
Nick, Adam, Jon, D.J., and Chris preparing to hit the trail for our return trip after the lunch break. At the end of the hike, we stopped at Dairy Queen.  Gabe and Spencer shared a booth next to a window.
Adam, Nick, Jon, and Chris preferred an inside table. Nicholas, D.J., and Gabe sat together.  Mr. Moore and Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Canchola were at the next table.