I took the Pathfinder club camping at Russell Pond this weekend, and the weather, which I can describe with one word, was perfect. Usually when we camp, it is either wet, or cold, or both. But not this time. When I woke up Sunday morning there was not even one dewdrop on any of the tents. For once I did not have to pitch them when I got home to dry them out. Hooray!

I had been worrying about one aspect of this campout for a couple of weeks – none of my female staff were able to come, and the club has more girls in it than boys this year. Cheryl was inspired to call our friends Robbie and Coral, a retired couple who worked with us in Mississippi when we went down there in February 2006 to do hurricane relief in the wake of Katrina. They will be joining our club on a trip to Arizona this coming February, and they were excited to come camping with us.

What a delightful couple. I love these people! Robbie is such a cheerful person (ex-military, so he loves order as much as I do), and Coral is so tremendously helpful. She insisted in helping in the kitchen at every meal, even though I had assigned other staff members to do that.

On Friday night I introduced the kids to a game I had kind of made up. The purpose of the game was to get them to memorize scripture, and it was pretty effective at that. In this game we had the “good guys” and the “bad guys” as two equal teams. The good guys had to memorize a scripture at one base, and then sneak to the other base to write it down without getting tagged by any of the bad guys. If they were tagged, they had to go to jail. When everyone on their team was in jail, we switched sides. The bad guys were not allowed within 20 feet of either base. This game was a tremendous hit, and the kids begged to play it on Saturday night was well. I was happy to accommodate them in this request.

After a leisurely breakfast on Saturday morning, we packed up some sack lunches, piled into out vehicles, and drove north to the next exit on I-93 to Lincoln. About a half mile before the exit, there was a long line of cars on the shoulder – this was the exit. 😦

Leaf peepers.

It took another 45 minutes to get to the Lincoln Woods trailhead where there were exactly zero open parking spaces and at least a dozen cars orbiting the lot waiting for one to open up. We had three cars, so I figured we’d orbit for an hour before our last car could park. Luckily, I knew of another (nice, but not as nice) trail near our campsite, so we headed back down the Interstate and found the trailhead to East Pond instead. All told, it took 90 minutes for us to go from our campsite to our eventual trailhead. If we had headed straight to East Pond to begin with, it would have taken us 15 minutes, tops.

The trail to East Pond is not very long, but it makes up for that with its steepness.

East Pond trail

East Pond trail

This was one of the less steep parts. We persisted climbing though, and were rewarded with the view at East Pond itself:
East Pond

East Pond

The last time I was here was about five years ago when David, Jonathan, and I went camping with another Pathfinder and her father. He had camped here before (though not at the pond – that’s not allowed) and led the way. It poured rain on us five years ago, but luckily, it waited until we had broken camp and were hiking back down the mountain to the cars. This year though, we had no rain at all.

We used my water filter to refill our water bottles. This fulfills part of a requirement for the Camping Skills IV honor, so we were sure to have our Camping Skills IV candidate do this.

We got back to our campsite a little before dusk and were treated to a beautiful sunset featuring a cross:

Cross in the Sky

Cross in the Sky

All the kids that had been to the Camporee in Oshkosh in 2009 remembered the “cross in the clouds” we saw there. I’d post a photo from back then, but… I’ve archived that photo away. If you’re interested you can find it on Youtube.

On Sunday morning I was planning for us to cast animal tracks with plaster, but we ran out of time. We had another leisurely breakfast, and then made our lunches and began breaking camp. It took a lot longer to break camp than usual, and I don’t really have an explanation for that. We finished at noon, and that was checkout time. So instead of casting tracks, we drove home exhausted. We’ll get the tracks next time.