Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Hiking Merit Badge - 20 Mile Hike

Mr. Ron's Hiking Merit Badge Group 2013

Executive Summary:
- We did it!
Detailed Summary:
- Start Time: 7:30am
- End Time: 3:10pm
- Total Time: 7 hours 40 minutes - which includes 40 minutes of breaks
- Weather: P-E-R-F-E-C-T!  I don't think we could have asked for anything more.  It was in the low 50s all day.  When the wind blew, the wind chill felt like low 40s, but everyone was well prepared for their layering, and it was easy to adjust.  We stopped at least once an hour for layering changes as needed.  There was never a chance for rain, and it was nice and overcast all day.  Overall, though we all built up a bit of a sweat at times, it was easy to manage in these weather conditions.  The paths were dry and firm, with the only problem being the 1 trillion leaves on the ground that often made it difficult for you to feel confident in your footing when going downhill.
On the way to Twin Creek Metropark, 3 deer darted out into front of our cars out on the country roads.  So, the boys got to see 3 deer and 2 driver heart-attacks.  What a way to start the day.  Once at High View shelter in Twin Creek, Micah led us in a nice grace.  Then, we discussed the hike... not a single 20-mile hike, but a 6.6 mile hike to get to Germantown Metropark, a 6.8 hike around Germantown, and then a 6.6 mile hike to get back to Twin Creek.  Three short hikes are better than one long hike :-) 
And, we discussed our Mottos for the Day:
1) PAIN is TEMPORARY - PRIDE is PERMANENT : though they will hurt today (and tomorrow, and probably the day after as well), they will remember this hike for the rest of their lives - and they'll be able to use it as a reminder that they can indeed do something that seems impossible at first.
2) Do NOT trust everything Mr. Ron says : I don't really know how temporary some of this pain will be :-)  And, when I say it is only 40 minutes to the next checkpoint, that could be higher or lower than reality, based on what I think the Scout needs to hear at the time ;-)
In short order, it was time to set off for the adventure of a lifetime.
The first third of the hike went very fast.  When we did this section on an earlier hike, it took 2:15.  Today, we did it in about 1:55 - they were flying!  By the time we made it to the Germantown Nature Center (the half-way point and our lunch stop), we'd only been walking for a little over 3 hours, and everyone was hungry.  A nice 20-minute lunch break (including re-filling water bottles) was a great way to kick-off the second half of the hike.  Around the start of the third leg (when we'd completed almost 14 miles), the aches and pains started setting in.  We stopped more often for short breaks, but that only helped so much.  The last 5 miles were a real challenge for everyone - physically and mentally, and I'm proud to see that everyone made it.  If the last hill had been another 20 feet higher, it might have ended with none of us completing - it was all about perseverance at the end.  I know that between the two Scouters , there are two good knees and two that are in throbbing pain.  And, I know that between the Scouts, there are sore feet, sore lower backs, sore thighs, and sore just-about-everything.
All of the Scouts and Scouters who completed the 20-mile hike today are hereby allowed to sit in a hot shower/tub as long as they want today, don't have to do any homework or housework, and can sit and watch TV until tomorrow.  Doctor's orders.
What interesting things did we see today?
- We started off with the aforementioned deer crossing the road right in front of us out in the country.
- We passed an elderly gentleman twice in Germantown and the second time talked with him briefly.  He was out there with his backpack and his hiking poles.  He let us know that he earned his Hiking MB just about 50 years ago... and still loves hiking!
- When we were about 6.5 miles from the end, we met another Troop out doing their 20-mile hike today.  They had just completed the first 10 miles and were stopping for lunch.  They had a chase vehicle bring them their lunch.  Mr. Ronis soooo mean by making us carry our own food/snacks with us!  I hope they finished before it got dark, it was going to be close for them - especially given the overcast skies.
- What was also interesting was what we didn't see... we barely saw any animals, and we never saw the sun.