Umstead Day Hike

Umstead Park, covering nearly 5,500 acres, is an enormous natural environment offering excursions in family-friendly as well as rugged conditions just outside the Raleigh city limits. For exactly these reasons, Umstead was a perfect choice for our first outdoor adventure.

Planning for this trip began in May, with Asst. Scoutmaster Bettini reconnoitering the available trails to find one suitable for day hiking and meal preparation. After presenting several options, the Scoutmasters' chose the Sal's Branch Trail for the hike, and the cooking facilities within the Oak Rock Trail.

This plan would require the Scouts to hike 75% of Sal's Branch Trail, then forge off trail over to the cooking facilities, prepare lunch, then find their way back to Sal's Branch Trail to finish the hike!

The hike

Trail group assembly began at 9am. Scouts Davis C. and Matthew Y. met with Scoutmaster Bill Fleming and Asst. Scoutmaster Bishop Bettini for gear inspection, pre-hike preparation, and final questions. Kicking off around 9:20am, the first trip of Troop 388 was underway!

Along the trail, the Scouts learned how to identify trail markers, how to hike along established paths, and what to listen and look for when on the trail: trail group signals, animal tracks, bird calls, and more.

Through Umstead, the Scouts saw specimens of red and white oak, Loblolly pine, and sugar gum. Tracks were also plentiful: raccoon, deer, and dog.

Just before breaking trail for the meal, the Scouts saw two deer bound through the forest, startled by the group's approach!

The meal

Asst. Scoutmaster Brown had base camp prepared when the trail group arrived: tarps flown, tables and chairs readied, and hot coals burning. Once at camp, the Scouts prepared an assortment of foods using only a minimum of ingredients and utensils:

But the real treat was yet to be made. Washing their hands using canteen water and anti-bacterial handsoap, the Scouts learned to prepare a beef, onion, and carrot "Hobo" meal in tin-foil. This was more than hands-on meal; this was a hands-in meal!

While the Hobo dish cooked in the coals, the Scouts learned to locate a good campsite and how to pitch and strike a dome style tent. Working together, Matthew and Davis pitched and struck the tent, finishing just as Mr. Brown exclaimed "It's ready!."

Now that was good! In a blink, the hungry group had devoured every last morsel of the Hobo and red beans and rice dish. From the tender carrots, to the spicy rice, to the succulent hamburger, every last bite was gone before the flies had a chance to light.

The cleanup

It was time to cleanup and get underway. Working together, the group put the flames cold out, brought down the tarp, gathered up the garbage, and packed everything up. After walking the gear back to the vehicle, the group policed the site for trash, intent on leaving no trace.

The campsite left better than it was found, all of Troop 388 headed back for Sal's Branch Trail and the last leg of our journey, arriving at the rendezvous point exactly on time!