The weatherman had predicted rain all weekend. A few sprinkles fell as I parked the Outback at NC 109 and started south. It didn't last long and I begin to think a few hit and miss showers were all that I was going to see. The Uwharrie Trail was pretty empty. I only saw one other hiker the first five miles. Then I ran into a large group of Scouts on the Dutchman Creek Trail. They were camped at Yate's Place and doing a day hike. Just before noon I saw a second group of Scouts. Turns out both groups were from Winston-Salem and had 40+ boys camped together. My Troop has about 15 boys. I can't imagine handling three times as many.
On arrival at Big Island Creek I got a text message from Marty Purser the Scoutmaster of Troop 1. They were running behind and had just crossed Dennis Mountain. I decided to hike on and met them. When I got to the next campsite they were spread out under the trees having lunch. They thought they were at the meeting place. I looked around at the packs. Some of them look pretty good but a couple could use some work.
After lunch Marty suggested I hike on ahead with a couple of his older boys. It sounded like he would not be too far behind so I agreed and took off with Patrick and Austin. I let them set the pace. I had been maintaining 3 mph all morning so a slower pace worked for me. I suggested to Marty to take Woodrun Road to shave off a few miles but his group of boys wanted to walk the trail.
Just over a mile from lunch we switched from the Uwharrie Trail to the Dutchman Creek Trail. Patrick and Austin were moving at a good pace. When we crossed Woodrun Road the third time I told they they were less than an hour from camp. They walked along talking about school and future plans and then one of them made the comment that he had never hiked a mile so fast before. I figured it was just because we had only stopped once in five miles to take a break. That was not so much to rest as it was to remove ticks and apply more deet.
About 3 PM we arrived at our campsite. The boys busied themselves with setting up hammocks and tarps. I went about my camp routine of hanging a bear cord and setting up my single wall tent made by Gossamer Gear. It had been an hour and the rest of the group had not arrived so I texted Marty to get a location. They were not too far away so I hiked out to meet them. Everyone seemed fine but I helped with a couple of packs to get everyone to camp. It was a good thing because just as we got there the sky opened up and it poured. Okay it just seemed like a good time to take a nap.
|The boys set up a tarp and waited for the rain to stop.|
By the time we were all finished eating and cleaning up the sun was gone and everyone was headed to their tents. It wasn't long before the rain returned and I fell asleep to the patter of drops on my shelter.
On Sunday I was up with the sun. I had 15 miles to my car and the weather was calling for thunderstorms. By 7 AM I had thanked everyone for a fun weekend and was hiking. I left the group with one final instruction. When they get home, empty their pack. Sort all the items as used or unused. Next trip don't bring anything from the unused pile (one
exception is a first aid kit).
I made the first five miles dry and then it started to rain. Before long it was pouring and I reached for my rain jacket. As I walked I gave a lot of thought to how my pack has evolved over the years from as much as 40 lbs. to the 13 pounds with food and water on this trip. Its been some journey and while you might think buying light to start with would do it there is a lot more to hiking light.
Over the next few weeks I plan to add stories of how I got here. How the load has gotten lighter and the miles pass much easier.