The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

August 28, 2012

Local scouts complete 50-mile hike

Staff Report
The Daily Star

— Three Boy Scouts and two assistant scoutmasters of Troop 23 in Oneonta recently completed a six-day, 50-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail.

Josh Flynn, 15, and Christopher Lentner, 16, both Life Scouts working on their Eagle Scout projects; and Kevin Hait, 15, a First Class Scout, were led on the hike by Scott Kolberg and Aaron Miller.

“The purpose of the trip was to give the older, more experienced scouts the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge they’ve gained through their years of involvement in the scouting program,” Scoutmaster David Flynn said in the release. “This 50-mile hike was a true test of not only their endurance, but also their map and compass skills, camping, hiking, outdoor cooking and first aid skills.”

According to a media release, planning for the trip began last winter, and the group took overnight practice hikes in the spring and early summer to get ready for the long trek.

The outing began Sunday, Aug. 12, in Smithville, where the group hiked a couple of miles to the first campsite.

The route took them to Shenandoah Mountain, Bear Mountain, the Dennytown Road and Hemlock Springs Campsites, and the West Mountain and Fingerboard Shelters.

The group averaged 10 miles a day over the next five days, pitching tents at different locations each night, and carrying all their food.

Weather dictated much of the Scouts’ approach; since high temperatures were in the forecast, the group ate the heaviest food items first, saving the dehydrated food to carry with them for the rest of the trip. Nevertheless, each Scout carried a pack weighing about 40 pounds containing food, water, clothing, tents, cooking stoves and first aid and safety items. At night, food was stored in a “bear bag” hung from a tree.

Halfway through the trip, the group was unable to locate either of two springs that were supposedly nearby, perhaps due to the recent drought. To produce drinking water, the Scouts gathered rain in a tarp and ran it through two filtration systems to make it safe to drink.

“I never thought I’d be grateful for a thunderstorm,” said Lentner.

The Scouts followed the Boy Scout practice of “Leave No Trace” during the trip, carrying their trash out from each campsite and depositing it in receptacles. They also performed some trail maintenance along the way, using a portable saw to cut up fallen logs that were obstructing the path. They finished their hike by mid-afternoon Aug. 17.

All three boys began scouting while in the first grade, as Tiger Cubs, and have attended summer camp at Boy Scout Camp Henderson in nearby Maryland each summer since the age of 10.

Flynn, Hait and Lentner will each receive the 50-Miler Award at Troop 23’s next Court of Honor in September.