Peter Farnham (pfarnham@CAPACCESS.ORG)
Mon, 12 Aug 1996 18:24:21 -0400
Well, I'm back from the wilds of Shenandoah National Park after a mere 24
hours of backpacking. I was hoping to stay out for at least two days,
but came in a day early because of torrential downpours that started on
Monday morning about 8:30 am. Flash flood warnings were in effect for
the rest of the day along all the streams, so I decided discretion was
the better part of valor and came on in. Oh well, there's always next time.
I was scouting trails in the Matthews Arm/Elk Wallow area in advance of a
trip we're planning for next August in which some of our experienced
scouts try for the 50-mile Afoot/Afloat Award. We're planning on putting
into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River at Luray in canoes, going
about twenty miles in two days, then hitting the Big Blue Trail at
Bentonville, VA. We'll hike to the summit of the Blue Ridge, then head
north on the Appalachian Trail, then pick up the Dickey Ridge trail and
go on down to the north entrance station of SNP.
Anyway, in spite of the rain, it was a great trip. Any of you scouters
in the mid-Atlantic looking for a great place to camp/backpack, you could
do a lot worse than SNP. In spite of the ban on fires in the back
country (you can only use gas stoves), it remains one of my favorite
places in the country to camp.
I'm also very excited to report that I saw a black bear in the back
country--this is very rare, although you see them frequently around the
family campgrounds (they learn to raid the trashcans and picnic tables).
I was walking on the Beecher Ridge trail, about a half mile from the
Matthews Arm trail, and came upon this black bear browsing in a small
clearing about 50 feet off the trail. I stopped and watched him for
about a minute. I was upwind and with the noise from the rain and wind,
he didn't hear me. FLinally, I tapped a rock with my walking stick, he
looked around and saw me, and took off running into the bushes.
This was definitely ;the high point of my trip! I've only seen a bear in
the back country one other time, and that was only for a fleeting
second. How I wish I had a camera with me! I was in awe at the sight of
this magnificent creature. Isn't it interesting that a creature with so
many fearsome weapons--size and strength, speed, claws, teeth--is as
timid as a gopher, and will run at the mere sight of you?
Anyways, I suppose this post will offend a couple of you who would
consider it off topic (based on some of the mail I've read recently), but
I'm hoping that the rest of you will indulge me and allow me to share
with you one of the special memories I have of this particular trip.
LThanks for listening (and keep those friendly, playful, and--dare I say
it--occasionally *off topic* posts a'coming; they help me get to know you
guys as people, lnot just as cyber-entities).
SM, Troop 113
GW District, NCAC
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City