In June, Boy and Girl Scouts from Troops 260 and 262 showed their resilience and built up their outdoor experience on an ultralight hike along a beautiful section of the Appalachian Trail, adjacent to the Housatonic River. The weather was gorgeous, with low humidity; the fireflies glittered along the meadow; and the sounds of the river babbled through the night.
For weeks before the hike, the Scouts prepared and learned about ultralight hiking principles. They learned the importance of packing light and worked hard to bring just the essentials. The goal was for every pack to weigh less than 15 lbs.
As the Scouts entered the trail at Cornwall Bridge Road, they faced their toughest challenge, a 300-foot elevation gain over a short 862 feet (0.16 miles). The Scouts were grateful for their light packs, and while this initial stretch of trail pushed them, they all persevered.
Another pre-hike lesson Scouts learned was the best type of food and snacks to pack and how to cook on individual camp stoves. In true Scout resourcefulness, Assistant Scoutmaster Cliff Barron made “penny stoves” out of aluminum cans. The stoves were efficient and light. The Scouts were excited that part of the hike was in the dark, and they rose to the challenge of setting up shelter and cooking dinner at night. The Scouts eagerly watched their pots, waiting for their water to boil so they could make their ramen, dehydrated meal, or oatmeal.
Prior to embarking on the journey, the Scouts learned the valuable lessons of mapping the route, identifying water sources, and identifying the camp location. Most Scouts slept under the stars in their tarp shelters, while a few of the brave ones chose to embrace the near perfect weather and slept on top of their tarp shelter, and under the stars.
Over the course of the seven-mile hike, our Scouts observed white tail deer, geese, ducks, fireflies, a snake, and the invasive gypsy moth caterpillar, which had picked hundreds of trees clean of their leaves.
In addition to the ultralight hiking principles they learned, the Scouts furthered their respect for nature, strengthened friendships, and pushed their mental strength. In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees.”