Raven Rock Overnighter

Destination: Raven Rock State Park (park details, topographic map, weather forecast)
Departing: Greystone Baptist Church parking lot promptly at 8am, on Saturday, September 18th, 2004
Returning: Greystone Baptist Church parking lot around 1pm, on Sunday, September 19th, 2004
Activities: Moderate backpacking, overnight camping, orienteering, plant and animal identification, cooking
Cost: $15 per person

Post-Trip Wrap-up

What a time! Despite the threatening force of Hurricane Ivan, Troop 388's first overnight camping trip was a tremendous success!

Our contingent -- Davis C., Matthew Y., Edward M., and Scoutmasters Fleming, Brown, and Bettini -- arrived at Raven Rock around 10:30am. A gentle mist greeted us as we unpacked our gear and began the 2 mile hike to our site.

Bravely forging through the spider-rich trails of the Raven Rock back country, we made quick progress to our camp. The threat of a washed out trail necessitated a Scoutmaster, Mr. Bettini in this case, to take point and lead the Scouts to the site. Just as the group was about to switch onto the final trail, ASM Bettini slipped on a wet foot bridge and went down -- face first -- into Little Creek. Within seconds, the Scouts were at this side, helping him to his feet and inquiring of any injuries. Despite the 25 lbs. pack, no injuries were sustained, save a little bruised pride!

We reached our site and the Scouts surveyed the grounds. Our site was nestled on the edge of a soft grass field, wrapped in the quiet embrace of a thick forest. Across the field, and down in a deep basin, the rapidly flowing waters of the Cape Fear river gushed a watery welcome. We were the only campers on the grounds, and the beauty was ours to enjoy!

The Scouts pitched their tent, while Scoutmasters Fleming and Brown flew the Troop tarps. Using wood already available in the campsite, the Scouts engineered a table and fashioned it using only rope, polishing their lashing skills. With the shelter ready and the table set, we all prepared our meals. Each Scout used the tools he brought, as well as those supplied by the Patrol and Troop, to prepare his quick backpacking meal. The afternoon activities included a hike up to Raven Rock, which after lunch and a quick respite, we tackled.

On the persistently uphill hike to Raven Rock, the Scouts noticed that the whole Park was packed with poisionous plants both off and on the trail; this provided ample opportunity for them to practice their poisonous plant identification skills. The Scouts excited and genial conversations kept spirits high, despite the mist and grey hues of the afternoon sky. It was without warning and a sharp contrast to the excitement, when Troop 388 suffered a "blow out" on the way to the Rock!

A steady flapping rose from behind the Scouts, in the Scoutmasters group, and immediately Scoutmaster Fleming spotted the source: Scoutmaster Brown's hiking boots were coming apart! This was actually the second blow out the Scoutmaster's had experienced: on the way to the morning rendezvous, Scoutmaster Bettini's tire went flat. While changing it, Scoutmaster Brown stopped to assist, and what more perfect picture of a modern Norman Rockwell could we imagine?

Scoutmaster Brown rigged a temporary patch to his "equipment malfunction" and we forged ahead, the Scouts seemingly even more elated and eager to explore the Rock. We arrived shortly thereafter and, as the Scouts peered down the long, winding stair case that led to the base of Raven Rock, awe overcame us all and eager shouts rose up. It wasn't long before the Scouts had scampered down the stairs and were staring up Raven Rock!

Waterfalls, crags, crevices, ledges; Raven Rock had them all, and Scouts explored each and every one. Along the base they wound, the steady curve revealing new features and inspiring more climbing and investigation.

The afternoon melted away slowly, as the Scouts explored the intricacies of Raven Rock. Hunger began to rise in our party, and we knew that the 2 mile hike back to camp would peak the hunger pangs; it was time to forge back, reluctantly.

Scoutmasters Fleming and Brown took an alternate route back to camp, so that ASM Brown could replace his malfunctioning equipment and they could acquire water for the Troop to use for dinner. Scoutmaster Bettini led the Scouts back to camp where they began the task of finding dry, dead wood for the campfire. The Scouts started looking for small tinder, then slowly increased the diameter of the collected wood. Before long, Troop 388 had amassed a considerable cache of firewood.

ASM Bettini showed the Scouts how to lay a "teepee" fire, then to build that into a "box" firelay. With the help of a cedar "firebug" firestarter, the damp air yielded to the infant flame and the accompanyment of popping and cracking began. Steadily the fire grew as the Scouts nursed it and, soon, the Scouts were warming up by our first campfire.

The Scouts prepared their dinners, sampling each others' selections and deciding if the meals they had chosen would become "keepers" or would be consigned to the bin of memory. As the night wore on, the rain gave way and the stars came out. The day had been full, and everyone was tired and prepared for an early retirement. At 10pm and lights out, the Scouts crawled into their tent, and continued to laugh and talk about the day a little longer.

The clouds had kept the heat of the day in, but as the clouds faded away, so did the heat. Temperatures that night plunged into the upper 40s from an earlier high of upper 70s, and below the forecasted overnight lows. This sent Scouts and Scoutmaster alike in search of their additional provisions: spare changes of clothes for more layers and ponchos to lay over their sleeping bags.

As morning stirred, chattering teeth emerged from all the tents and breakfast quickly began, for both the food and the warmth of the stoves' flames.

The Troop had an early return time on Sunday, so we had to strike camp and make tracks back to the parking area by 11:30am. The Scouts wanted more time, perhaps to take a new trail and return to Raven Rock for more exploration, but if we were to make lunch on the road and return by 1pm, we had to depart. Despite our desire to stay longer, the fresh, warming air and the steadily increasing sun buoyed our spirits on the hike out and propelled us at a cheerful pace.

Hitting the road, the Scouts grabbed lunch at an Arby's, and we arrived just before 1pm. Greeted by the eager arms of parents, the Scouts excitedly relayed their experiences and said goodbye to their friends until the next Monday.

Pre-Trip Checklist

In preparation for this trip, please follow this checklist:

  1. Confirm your attendance with the Scoutmasters
  2. Complete, with your parent or guardian, an emergency medical treatment form, if you have not completed one or if your current one is more than one year old
  3. Have your parent or guardian sign the permission slip
  4. No later than 6-September-2004, turn in your emergency medical treatment form (if applicable), signed permission slip, and the activity fee
  5. Pack your gear for a 2-day backpacking and camping adventure. Check the library for information on what to pack, the weather forecast, maps, and more!