Boy Scout Led Hike

I have had the privilege of guiding several people on their first hike, both youth and adults! It’s a feeling that I won’t soon forget. To see the look in a kids eye when he see’s a huge waterfall for the first time, or the genuine “thank you” from a friend after a milestone on the trail, is something you can’t put a price tag on. Normally that experience has a lot of planning on my part. What are this persons limits? What are their interests? What kind of gear and experience do they have? Meals…packs…location…and the questions are endless! This time that planning was not upon my shoulders…

This weekend was different!

The young men from 2 patrols at Troop 402 in Tullahoma, TN treated the adults to an incredible weekend in the  South Cumberland Recreation Area. Our hike didn’t just begin with boots on the ground at the Stone Door Ranger Station. Our hike began September 27th with the planning that was necessary for an overnighter! The boys from the Eagle and Smokey Bear Patrols set the date and location for their first planning meeting at the Dairy Queen in our home town of Tullahoma TN. The boys learned to work as a group and plan the details that 11-13 year old kids would normally pass off to an adult. The boys had logistics to plan…Where will we go? How will we get there? What trails will we hike when we get there? What will we eat? The list is endless! The boys decided the destination would be the Stone Door Ranger Station. We would hike to the Stone Door and around the Big Creek Rim trail to the Alum Gap Camp Area, where we would set up camp for the night. The boys then planned to work on achievements and advancements.

The hike begins with…

signing in and registering for our camping permit at the Stone Door Ranger Station. A .9 mile hike from the Ranger Station to the overlook at the Great Stone Door, and the view from the overlooks get us pumped for the hike!From the Stone Door Overlook the trail takes a right to begin the Big Creek Rim Trail for 3.2 miles along the plateau above the Big Creek Gulf. The Rim trail can form half of a loop trail including either the Laurel Trail or the Big Creek Gulf (home of Ranger Falls).The loop the boys chose was Laurel Trail. It provided a shorter distance to traverse with heavy packs and avoided the elevation change that they would have encountered in the Gulf. The pic above of Ranger Falls I took only a week before while hiking the Gulf.

The Big Creek Rim Trail provides some awesome viewing points along the way. Those points do come at the cost of having to take close watch of your younger guests. The cliffs, that at times are only feet from you, are very easy to navigate but they do require 100% attention from the adult guides! The boys easily navigate the Rim Trail to Alum Gap Campsite.

Alum Gap was packed with Scouts and other campers. We met Scouts from Murfreesboro & Clarksville TN!

An awesome night’s sleep was had and the next morning…

we all awoke and started about the business of cooking and eating breakfast, making coffee, and hot chocolate. Clean up of course and the inevitable packing process! We had church service on the cliff side, and broke camp!  Laurel Falls leads the boys back to the Stone Door Ranger Station on it’s 2.9 miles of meandering dirt track through the woods and past an old moonshine still. After completing the hike and arriving back at the Ranger Station in record time, we decided to drive our vehicles down to the Greeter Falls parking area and check out the falls for those who had never seen them. It had been over 14 years since I had been there with old friends and I had forgotten what a site it was to behold! I don’t think this trip is something the boy, nor adults, will soon forget!Troop 402’s future is in the pic above! Our Troop has a lot of up and coming talent and has a lot that has “Eagled out”. The boys above have the ability to help mold the future for their Troop, Themselves, and possibly our Nation. One thing is for sure, these boys will remember the time they spent on this trail as brothers and will hopefully carry a deep desire to protect Mother Nature and all her grandeur!


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Super stoked and getting packed for this weekends overnighter! While looking through my gear and second guessing the content of my pack I thought back on the “10 Essentials.”  The original Ten Essentials list was put together in the 1930s by The Mountaineers, a Seattle-based organization for climbers and outdoor adventurers. In 2003, the group’s updated “systems” approach made its debut in its seminal text on climbing and outdoor exploration, Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills (The Mountaineers Books, 2010), now in its eighth edition. When planning your next outing double check your pack and make sure the 10 Essentials are covered! When your out in the backcountry the ass you save could be your own! 😉

Updated Ten Essential “Systems”

  1. Navigation (map and compass)
  2. Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen)
  3. Insulation (extra clothing)
  4. Illumination (headlamp/flashlight)
  5. First-aid supplies
  6. Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles)
  7. Repair kit and tools
  8. Nutrition (extra food)
  9. Hydration (extra water)
  10. Emergency shelter


Classic Ten Essentials

  1. Map
  2. Compass
  3. Sunglasses and sunscreen
  4. Extra clothing
  5. Headlamp/flashlight
  6. First-aid supplies
  7. Firestarter
  8. Matches
  9. Knife

  10. Extra Food
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A little about me.

Life after 30….I’ve always been active and enjoyed the outdoors. I enjoyed hunting and fishing as a kid, and pretty much any activity that involved nature. A few weeks before my 30th birthday I joined a good friend of mine in taking 7 or 8 of our Cub Scouts on a local hike! The moment we stepped on the trail I knew I had found my new passion. The kids were in awe as was I. We played like kids in the shallow water, and swam in the deeper. We taught them how to catch….and release crawfish in the stream. The trail so inspired me that following my 30th birthday I returned to the same trail…alone…for my first ever solo hike. The trail in question is the Fiery Gizzard trail in the Grundy Forest Natural Area in Tennessee. I arrived around 8:30am and spoke to the ranger about my plans for the hike to Ravens Point, signed the register and was on my way! The 10 mile loop trail that I hiked that day has forever changed my life and life philosophy! The wind and rain, the lightning that was so close the hair on my arms stood on ends. The beautiful overlooks and most of all SOLITUDE. I trudged through the whole 10 mile experience without meeting another soul. I’m not sure if it was nature and It’s elements or the quiet time to hear myself think…..but I fell in love. In love with mother nature and her splendor, in love with silence and time to think, and in love with shaking the stress of everyday life! 2 years later


I call hiking “recharging my batteries.” A way of ditching my worries and burning off unneeded burdens! I will be posting pics and blogs about current hikes I’m doing and planning for upcoming hikes in the future. I also plan to go back and revisit some of my past hikes to relive them with you. I hope to inspire others through my blog to get out and enjoy nature as well as to do everything within our power to protect it!

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