On the long weekend of February 17-19, the new Troop 75 Venture Crew was off and running on its second outing of the year. While most of the troop spent the frigid weekend in a warm cabin on Long Island, four of Troop 75's veteran backpackers, along with two adults, took to the trails of Harriman State Park to cover a thirteen-mile stretch of the Suffern-Bear Mountain Trail in just over two days of hiking.
The group of six began at the south end of the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail early Saturday morning. Before long, they had made the tough climb over Nordkop Mountain and were eating lunch near the "Valley of the Dry Bones." The weather was unusually warm for mid-February, making the first day of hiking a very pleasant one. After lunch, Venture Crew Leader Keith J. led the group over Cobus Mountain and on to the Stone Memorial Shelter. There were some great views along the way of the lower Hudson Valley and New York City. Also, the crew spotted several wild turkeys along the trail.
After a dinner of tuna and rice (compliments to Mr. Carlson), the temperature had begun to drop and the crew retired for the night about an hour or so after dark. Sunday morning the crew awoke to a fairly heavy snowfall, a big change from the 60-degree temperatures on Saturday. They packed up in the snow and began the second leg of the hike - continuing north along the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail. Sunday's hike started out rough with a steep climb up Catamount Mountain and then onto Panther Mountain. The snow didn't last long, but it was just enough to leave a coating on the ground and make the rocky trail very slippery. The sun came out by lunch time and the temperature rebounded nicely as the crew made its way past Limekin and over Ladentown Mountain. The crew set up camp near the Big Hill shelter by early afternoon, a site with an excellent view to the east.
After setting up camp, two crew members decided to exact revenge on one of the adult leaders for having successfully convinced them the day before that the adults had made a navigational mistake and had parked the cars much further away than they should have. The two Scouts readily believed that they were going to have to hike several extra hours on Saturday (likely into the night) in order to be able to make it to where the cars were parked by Monday morning. When they were finally told the truth, they were relieved, but wanted revenge for the joke. That revenge came on Sunday, when these two Scouts moved this particular adult leader's tent several hundred feet from where it was originally pitched and then hid his sleeping bag and other belongings in their own tent. They were greatly amused by this for a good part of the afternoon as this adult searched the entire area around the campsite for his stuff when it had been in the pranksters' tent all along.
After dinner on Sunday it got really cold really fast, and everyone was in their sleeping bags even before the last light of the day was gone. By Monday morning the temperature had dipped to 18 degrees. The crew packed up quickly on Monday, eager to get to the warmth of the cars and their homes. The hike Monday was a mere two miles, continuing north on the Suffern-Bear Mountain trail over Jackie Jones Mountain. There is a fire tower at the summit of Jackie Jones, which is where the group stopped for breakfast and enjoyed some more great views from the top of the tower. By 9:30 AM the crew was headed home after a great weekend.
Keith J., our Venture Crew leader, planned the route of the hike and did a great job navigating for the entire trip. He was joined by crew members Chris C., Billy D., and Dan S. along with adult leaders Mr. Carlson and Chris Boundy. The outing was a great time for all.
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