A Great Camping Trip
Field Notes from the Backpack Hiking, Camping and Fishing Expedition on September 21-23, 2007
Strasburg Reservoir Lake, Little Fort Valley, VA

Jonah, Andrew S., A.J., Stanley, Brian, Kyle, Max and Scott headed out Friday evening with leaders Gus Sapien and Kurt Schwoppe.  We reached the trailhead in Little Fort Valley, VA at about 8:00 PM.  Donning our headlamps, we headed up the trail on a 2.5 mile moonlit hike to our campsite near the lake.  The boys made great time with fully-loaded packs complete with food and fuel for two days.  Reaching the campsite at 9:15, I was totally amazed at how quickly camp was setup IN THE DARK.  The hardest park was finding a tree suitable for holding up our “Bear Bag” which stored our food.

 Saturday morning we awoke to a clear, beautiful day near the banks of a blue mountain lake.  After cooking our breakfast sausages on lightweight backpacking stoves, the boys were eager to go fishing!  Kyle (as usual) set the record and was pulling them in with his “special trout fly”.  Quickly giving up on lures, the other fishermen switched to grasshoppers found close by and the fish went wild.  By the end of the morning, Kyle, A.J., and Scott had all caught fish big enough to clean and cook (which they did).  Though not required for the Fishing Merit Badge, the mean ol' Scoutmaster made them even take a bite or two just like Survivorman (a Scout is Thrifty – no wasting food!).

 Following lunch, the troop did a six-mile circuit hike up to Signal Knob.  The commanding view from here overlooks all the northern Shenandoah Valley and was used as an observation post by both sides during the Civil War.  Our circuit took us around to Meneka Peak.  At 2393 feet above sea level, this rocky crag is one of highest Peaks in the Fort Valley area.  Along the way, Brian captured an Opheodrys otherwise known as a North-American Green Snake.  He was a very gentle snake and quickly became a member of the troop as everybody had a chance to hold him.

 Once back at camp, the boys had a great time catching crayfish and salamanders in the clear stream that ran through our campsite.  That evening we dined on Chicken Burritos, backpacking style!  Right as it got dark, the younger boys quickly put together a campfire around which we all shared good Scouting fellowship.  After such a busy day it wasn’t surprising that everyone hit the sack pretty early.   In addition to a little snoring, a hoot owl in the distance and an obnoxious Whip-poor-will added to the nightly chorus.

The next morning we quickly packed our gear, cooked our breakfast (including fried Spam), and conducted a Scout’s Own Service.  As we were hiking out, we were literally shocked to find that another Boy Scout Troop that had camped nearby had NOT properly put out their fire as it was still smoldering and smoking.  Though our gear was packed up, we dug out our two large cooking pots and performed our good deed for the day.  Unfortunately I did not get the Troop Number, otherwise that Scoutmaster and I would be having a talk.