It was a dicey situation: trust the weather reports and go forward with a long-planned and much-anticipated patrol camping trip and risk the oncoming fury of Hurricane Sandy or cancel one of the Soaring Eagles' legendary patrol camping trips: a signature blend of challenging activities and good old fashioned fun and bonding.
In the end, the patrol decided to go through with the trip, keeping a close eye on the weather reports. If the situation changed, the Scouts would break camp early and head back home to batten down the hatches.
As it turned out, it was a good call. Sandy didn't impact the area until well after the boys were home. They even beat out the governor's noon evacuation order for New Jersey State Parks by a good four hours.
They made camp on the shores of Sawmill Lake, setting their tents up before enjoying a cracker barrel of cheese and Ritz crackers. They got up early the next morning, fired up their campstoves and had a genuine Jersey breakfast: Taylor Ham, egg and cheese on hard rolls. After cleaning up, they double-checked their trail maps and hit the Blue Dot trail that would lead them up the rocky cliffs to meet the Appalachian Trail and north to High Point Monument.
Although the day was misty, the views from the ridge were still spectacular. The Scouts stopped briefly at the Park office to find a geocache and take a quick break, then they were back on the trail. They stopped once more at an observation tower near their destination, then as they resumed their hike, the monument came into view, its top obscured in the clouds. Navigating the trail, they picked up Monument Trail for the last leg of the hike and arrived at New Jersey's highest point, 1,803 feet above sea level.
The monument itself was closed, as expected, but the Soaring Eagles took in the view of three states as they enjoyed their lunch. They hiked back to camp in time to enjoy some fishing, relaxation and some advancement work, then cooked up a tasty dinner. While they cleaned up, Mr. La Tournous made the patrol's signature dessert: banana boat burritos. As they enjoyed their dessert, the Scouts told stories, played games (Mr. Boyd seems to know them all!) and did a round of Roses and Thorns.
It was an amazing trip and all the Scouts agreed they wanted to do another soon, although they were equally in agreement that they'd skip winter camping and wait for spring.
View the photos from this fantastic trip on the Troop photo gallery.
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