Thursday, September 4, 2014
On Saturday Aug. 2, five Scouts and three adults from Summerville’s Boy Scout Troop 787 returned from two weeks of hiking and canoeing in the woods of northern Maine.
Their northern trek was outfitted by the “Maine High Adventure Base” operated by the B.S.A. Katahdin Area Council, located on Grand Lake Matagamon deep in the woods of northern Maine. The MHA base provides trip-planning ideas, canoes, food, tents etc. in addition to a well-trained guide to accompany the crew for the entire trip. (http://mainehighadventure.org/ )
After arriving at MHA base, the Scouts chose a trek covering 107-miles.
“That came as a bit of a shock to me” said Jim Minner, Asst. Scoutmaster. “On previous Maine trips, our crews chose treks of 75-85 miles. I knew that this crew’s choice of a 107-mile trek, including eight portages, would be quite a challenge...especially for the adults! And it certainly was, though we enjoyed some relief with favorable tail-winds on the big lakes. When the wind was strong enough, we’d group all our canoes together, set-up our dining-fly as a spinnaker in the front two boats, and then sail all the boats together as a big raft. One of the lakes was 15-miles long, so it was a real treat to kick-back and let the wind do the hard work for us!”
Day No. 1 of the trek was a climb up Maine’s tallest mountain, Mt. Katahdin. The trail ascends over 4,000 feet in fewer than 5 miles. “Once we got above the tree line, the trail was on, around, and amongst enormous boulders” said Adult Leader Cliff Goodall. “The climb was quite a bit more difficult than I’d expected. One of my hiking boots literally fell apart within the last mile of our hike. But, we had perfect weather and the views were absolutely fantastic on the way up and down. Though at the summit, we were in the clouds! It was a terrific way to start our Maine adventure trek.”
The Scouts spent the next nine days canoeing on the lakes and rivers of the north Maine woods. Asst. Scoutmaster Jim Minner commented, “Much of our route was the same as traveled by writer Henry David’s Thoreau 150 years ago, and it hasn’t changed much since then. It’s still a tough and unforgiving wilderness…something our guys had never encountered before. To their credit, the boys did a nice job employing their Scout training to overcome the many physical and mental challenges. Adult Leader Tom Jeffries noted, “Our Scouts got a chance to put all of their Scout skills to work, and also learned some good lessons about overcoming adversity by working as a team”.
Maine demanded whitewater canoeing skills that couldn’t be learned beforehand in the South Carolina Lowcountry’s flat-water lakes and rivers. Scout Donovan Tompkins noted “the first white-water was a little bumpy, but really fun!” Canoe partner Justin Lawlor added, “But once we got the hang of it, we had a lot of fun. We actually ran a couple whitewater sections backwards, just for fun. It was great. ”
The Scouts cooked all of their meals over open fires, even on rainy days. Scout Carson Parrish commented, “Getting a fire started in rainy weather wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it might be. I’d tried it before on some Troop campouts in the past. But in Maine the pressure was on, since the crew couldn’t have a hot dinner without me getting a good fire going!”
The Scouts encountered varied wildlife along the way. Scout Jack Goodall reported seeing “at least 10” mature bald eagles during the trip. “Their wing-span was about 6 feet. It was really impressive to see them fly.”
Scout Louis Easterday noted that the moose seen on the trip were impressive as well, saying, “We’d just finished a section of whitewater called ‘stair-falls’, and were paddling around a river bend in slower water, when a big cow (female) moose was standing in the water only 30-40 feet from us. Before the trip, Mr. Minner had warned us that moose were nothing to mess around with, and that we should quietly glide by them when canoeing near one. Now I know why!”
The crew saw two cows and a young bull during the trip. All were about 800 pounds in weight, and stood about 6 feet at the shoulder. One cow watched very closely as the Scouts slowly paddled by. Easterday added, “As we floated by, she started to quietly walk out of the water onto shore…when all of the sudden, her calf came crashing out of the tall river-grass running after her into the woods. It was quite a surprise!”
“Overall, our trip was a great adventure for the boys and adults,” said Asst. Scoutmaster Jim Minner. “This was Troop 787’s fifth trip to Maine High Adventure since 2000, and I can honestly say that it just gets better every time I go. The B.S.A. runs a fantastic program up there, and the Maine wilderness is always ready to serve up unique experiences in an awesomely beautiful and challenging environment”.
On behalf of the entire crew, the crew and adult leaders offer a sincere “Thank You” to the many people who helped to make this trip a success, including:
Troop 787 Committee and Parents
Bethany United Methodist Church Men’s Club
Harbor National Bank
Dusty and Emogene Rhodes
Bill and Angie Helwig
Jim and Georgia Sullivan
And a Special Thanks to the understanding and supportive wives of the trip leaders: Tricia Goodall, Pam Jeffries, and Maureen Minner.
BSA Troop 787 Summerville SC meets Tuesday evenings from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at the Bethany United Methodist Church in downtown Summerville SC. Check us out on Facebook!