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I've given you sunshine, I've given you rain...
Patrol C launched today for a rock climbing excursion under the leadership of APL Nick Wei and Patrol Z member Ray Batra. The group hiked in in good order and promptly got equipped with harnesses and helmets under the direction of James Dunbar and Mark Schulte. With the presence of so many experienced older scouts, the leaders rigged the full set of four climbs and a rappel for the group.
Lincoln Soucy led off the group by being first on the rappel station. On his very first rappel in his life, he looked like a total pro... not a moment's hesitation, complete confidence, perfect form. Sweet! He was followed by Nick "I am the" Wei, who demonstrated on his first rappel that the Patrol C magic was not unique to Lincoln. Rappel instructor Seth Dawson was overheard saying "Wow, this is going to be an easy day!" Not to break the trend, Vaughn Epperson then stepped up to his first rappel with complete confidence. Way to go dudes!
Patrol C's youngest member PJ Mahowald had an awesome day of facing his fears. Despite some initial hesitation, he powered up his first climb, then scouted out his own personal climb up the rappel station. With the coaching assistance of ASM Seth, he made it up to the summit on his first ascent.
Meanwhile Ray Batra was zooming through climbs so fast his belayers couldn't keep up with him. Though he did struggle with Nico Route 1, he had a solid day of climbing, including some really really mean treatment by the Vulture (who likes getting slammed upside down on a rappel?) and Rark ("I'm going to fall when you least expect it") Schulte. As a result of a sterling performance even when inverted, Ray completed his check-out and certification for solo belaying and rappelling. Rark then went off and demonstrated prusik ascents up rope to The Nick Wei as he refined his technique for Wyoming.
To complete the Patrol C rappel streak, fearful rappelers Kenny Lee and PJ Mahowald had to make their way down the cliff. Kenny stepped up with only a bit of trepidation, then launched off, made the bottom, and said "Wow, that wasn't bad at all." To get PJ to his first assisted rappel, he insisted he had to climb and then go down. So up he went with climb instructor Seth parallel-climbing, touches the top, and then with thunder rumbling above launches backward to complete his first assisted rappel. "That was cool!" he hollered as the rest of Patrol C helped the leaders pack quickly. The mile back to the cars was taken at a fast pace, and the group arrived just ahead of the rain. Awesome day!
Meanwhile from the field, we get a report that the ruffians of Patrol D hiked like true pros! Despite the lack of Toothless Tim the patrol leader, they made the most of the two rainless days. From acting patrol leader Luke, down to Jason "hey, my pack is bigger than me" Dean and new scout Matt "I can hike faster than any adult" Karls, they kept up a great 2 mph pace and rolled into camp ahead of schedule. After a tasty dinner of mac and cheese, they puzzled over how to make cobbler when they were only given dried fruit and sugar. They decided to eat the fruit and give the sugar to Chris Kuezel....which turned out to be fortunate as everyone else passed out to sleep, but Chris and some others were still noisy at 9pm, when a newly repaired Tim Kenny hiked in to join us! As Scouter Fretz noted... it is far less paperwork to finish a hike with one MORE scout than you started with, than one LESS!!
On day two, the Steve and Eric were so confident in patrol D, that they left early and hiked ahead. (there was some suspicion that this was due to some cute women in a trail repair crew that had left early as well, but this was never proven). Arriving early in OhioPyle, Steve and Eric carefully reviewed all the ice cream options in town, selecting the very best to take the boys to once they arrived a few hours later. Again they kept a great pace, arriving ahead of the TCP time. Other than some questions about Ivan eating too much cheese and a little gear left laying around, there was hardly a glitch in this patrol's first big activity. Bravo gentlemen!
This morning, Patrol A launched into the field for their long trek overnight. Rather than follow the D is for Deathmarch route, they opted to take a bike trek instead. Patrol Z members Mark Schulte, Ben Pernick and ASM Thomas Wiseman spent last night repairing and otherwise fine tuning bicycles and attaching racks so that the Patrol A guys could attach panniers (aka saddlebags aka "backpacks for bikes"). Loaded up like that, they began a bike trek that will take them 60 miles... ALL UPHILL. They're following an old railroad grade toward Washington, D.C. and after an overnight at a camp 30 miles away (passing the esteemed ice cream stop in Confluence, PA) they will bike all the way to Maryland to finish at the funky town of Frostburg.
The beginning of the bike trek involved taking the fantastically fun downhill from our camp to Ohiopyle, a 2 mile all downhill stretch where the older boys boasted "if you pedal a bit you can pass motorcycles on the road". Patrol Leader Connor exercised some more prudent braking discretion, however, and ensured that novice cyclists like young Mason Fretz maintained a reasonable speed. Good thing too, since the bottom of the hill ends in train tracks... complete with a train!
While we're not sure whether or not they got caught by the afternoon cloudburst, we did get a brief report radioed in from the mid-way campsite that they had made it in just fine, had dinner, and bedded down for the night.
Meanwhile, our evening in camp featured efforts to bear-proof all the sites against a local ursine intruder, Lincoln and Rark getting tips from the Vulture on managing wounds in the field while practicing on Reggie, Jim Dunbar's awesome adult brownie concoctions, and the usual round of evening logistics as campmaster Colin "Swamp Rat" Forgacs tries to prep for a possible rain reconfigure tomorrow. True to his name, we've seen today's rain turn Colin' tent into a swamp, but he's stubbornly insisting on staying put for the moment.
A great day all around, and more fun tomorrow!