July 2020 after three years of planning, saving and waiting, Troop 463 of Pheonix district were ready to go to Philmont Scout Ranch located in New Mexico for their High Adventure trip of a lifetime.
Then COVID-19 happened.
Not wanting their hard work, preparation, new gear and training to go to waste the Scouts came together to come up with a new plan. They looked into alternative hikes and originally thought about hiking the Smoky Mountains but the Troop decided to take on a lesser-known hike.
On July 12, seven Scouts and three adults set out for a four-day hike through the Cumberland Trail 3 Gorges Section. On the first day they planned to hike 13 miles and they encountered:
- Navigation issues
- Trail markings missing
- Path lined with poison ivy
- Steep elevation gains and dips
- Trees down
- Slips and falls on slick rocks
And that was just the first day!
In fact, one of the older Scouts on the trip said it was harder than any single day on his 2017 Philmont trek and an adult said it was as strenuous a backpacking day as he’s ever had.
But in spite of the tough hikes, the Scouts had a lot of fun together in the campsites each afternoon/evening. The campsites have been in beautiful spots in the gorges with opportunities to cool off and goof off in the creeks.
They were glad after months of only being able to see each other virtually, getting to spend time with each other in person and outdoors was one of the best parts of the trip.