Monday, July 16, 2012

Mid-Summer Mid-Trail Meet!

Mid-Summer Mid-Trail Meet at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA, July 13-15, 2012.

The Mid-Summer Mid-Trail meet is history! What a great weekend!

We met many new friends from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland, Florida, New York, and North Carolina. We were so glad that other girls and leaders attended from our local council. There were other states represented also.

We arrived on Thursday after picking up the camper and visiting relatives in PA. We set up camp, and pretty much settled in for the night.

On Friday we slept in and then checked in with the Virginia Skyline council and helped them set up. Then we walked around a bit and visited the general store and visited the AT Museum which was so cool.  We went back to the general store for a snack and headed back to camp and hung out a while. Then we had registration and picked up our souvenirs and did some swaps and made new friends. That night there was a ranger-led program called "The Appalachian Trail: 10 Things You May Not Know." It was a great program! After that we went back to camp and went to sleep. There was heavy rain during the night and some of us slept through it (not mom lol).

Saturday morning we had a flag ceremony and the opening ceremony which was nice. Katie was part of the group that presented the Girl Scout flag which everyone walked under to get to the ceremony. We had an official welcome, a proclamation, and announcements about the day's activities and events.

 Around 10 am we shuttled to the beginning of our point-to-point AT hike. We had an ascent on the blue blazed access trail that was lengthy and led to an amazing view on a rock outcropping. We finally accessed the AT and it was all downhill from there (or flat) with nice walking and chatting with new friends. The hike was only 3.5 miles.

We returned to camp and had lunch then went back to the AT Museum to meet and talk with Mama Boots and receive a signed copy of her book. She was really nice and excited to be the Honorary Chair of the Great Girl Scout Hike. She asked us where we state were from and how many miles of AT were in our state, then figured out that we could finish it in a week if we hiked 10 miles / day (NJ is 72 mi. currently). We usually do between 5-7 miles so she told us we need to get going and increase our mileage lol. She said that minimally we should complete the trail in our home state. Katie had expressed interest in doing that also- long before this weekend- so we will keep chipping away and see how we do! Mama Boots also talked about her quilt (that she made by hand) that had many of her patches sewed on it from AT related hikes (including her 2000 miler patches) and also Girl Scout outings. The quilt was displayed near where she was sitting- it was hanging over the edge of a lean-to that was moved from the AT piece by piece to the museum.

After that we reported back to the group campsite where we participated in AT-related activities presented by Ron Rosen of the New York / New Jersey Trail Conference (yay NJ) and Leave No Trace training by two professional LNT trainers who were great.

That evening we had an ice cream eating contest that paid homage to the treat that thru-hikers have when reaching this point on the AT. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the unofficial half way point (real point is about 3 mi. south) and thru-hikers eat a half gallon of ice cream to celebrate half way (which is less than a half gallon now- you know how food packaging has changed). Some hikers time themselves to see who can eat it the fastest and record their time and trail name (and flavor) in a notebook in the general store. There were some really fast times recorded!

The evening program was "Girl Scouts: Celebrating 100 Years" and included skits performed by the girls and leaders, songs, and a showing of "The Golden Eaglet" which was awesome. There was a campfire and Some Mores also (for those who had any room left after the half-gallon of ice cream!).

 Sunday morning at 6:30 a.m. there was a Bird Hike led by an ornithologist, AT thru-hiker, and former GS leader which was great. Then we had a Scouts' Own Ceremony and Closing, followed by more activities during the morning block. After the ceremony, we hung around and talked with new friends, gave out the rest of the swaps, and then packed up camp.

There were more activities during the weekend that we didn't fit in, like geocaching, nite hikes, a photo scavenger hunt, and a special museum program on Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Girl Scouting. We thank the Virginia Skyline council (Barbara and associates) for originating the idea of The Great Girl Scout Hike and making this weekend a great success.

We look forward to continuing relationships with new friends we met at the Mid-Summer Mid-Trail Meet!

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