Sunday, November 23, 2014

2104 Michael A. Boccardi Memorial Trek-o-ree

2014 Michael A. Boccardi Trek-o-ree

The 2014 Michael A. Boccardi Trek-o-ree took place on November 1, based from Durland Scout Reservation in Putnam Valley, N.Y.

This year's trek involved the Algonquin and Manitou districts of the Westchester-Putnam Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

The trek is named in memory of Scoutmaster Michael Andrew Boccardi from Troop 40, Mt. Vernon, N.Y., who was actively involved in the planning of the annual trek-o-ree for WPC's former Four Rivers District.  Mike was among those lost on 9/11.  See NYT obit notice and Remembering and Troop Forty Remembers.

Troop Forty brought a contingent of 12 Scouts, 5 Scouters, and 1 dad up to Durland on Friday nite for our usual fun of pitching tents on a pitch-black campsite (no. 37 in this case)--lit up by car headlights and a few lanterns.  There weren't very many other troops camping out on this nite that had rain and wind in the forecast.
Part of our encampment on Saturday a.m.
We got the tents up--3 for the boys, besides one that had to be discarded because of some problem with it, and individual tents for each adult--before any rain came.  We got a fine fire going, but most of the Scouts retreated to their tents pretty quickly on account of the cold and the occasional spritz of rain.  I'm sure I saw some snowflakes, too.

There was a steady rain for a half hour or so in the wee hours of Saturday morning, and day came cool and raw.  I overslept and said a very quick Mass right inside my tent, fearing the weather outside.  It was in the low 30s inside my tent!

The Scouts got up later than planned, too, and we all had a cold breakfast before hustling ourselves down by car to the Sperling Center around 9:15 a.m.  (The coffee took a long, long time to perk--the propane bottles were seriously affected by the cold.)

We were afraid we'd be late for the trek's start.  True, some hardy souls had departed at 7:30 for Graymoor and a 10-mile northbound hike on the Appalachian Trail.  But we 18 were the 1st crew out for the 5-mile hike that was to start at South Highland Rd.  We got our instructions from the 2 Scouters directing the day--instructions that included leaving fewer cars at the tiny parking spot where the hike was to begin.  So Assistant Scoutmasters Carl and Jim--how reluctantly I can't say!--agreed to skip the hike and stay in camp with a warm fire, after helping to transport the rest of us to the starting point.

As we started, I gave the Scouts a brief orientation to the AT and to how the trail blazes work.  We had both veteran hikers and novices with us.

I'd just been over our 5-mile trail a month earlier (, and in fact we reached my 2d-nite camping spot less than 10 minutes into our hike.  The firewood I'd gathered but not used was still piled next to the little fire ring, which I pointed out to our gang of 12 boys and 3 other adults (Scoutmaster Tunji, ASM Mike, and dad Dave).
Freshening up in a little stream
The day remained mostly cloudy, and it was breezy, but (thank God) there was no rain.  We had no trouble following the AT blazes; the only trouble was one lad who suddenly claimed that he was asthmatic, didn't have an inhaler with him, and needed some extra attention.  (By the hike's end he was doing just fine.)
Are we there yet?

Head waiting for the tail to catch up
We hiked along at a good pace--considerably faster than I'd done with my full pack on Sept. 30--stopping now and then to let the slower folks catch up.  We weren't on the trail an hour before 1 or 2 of the boys wanted to eat lunch, but we held off on that till about 11:30, a short distance before reaching Dennytown Rd. 
At Dennytown Rd. we refilled our water bottles at the spigot.  Then it was another 45 minutes or so, up to and along a long ridge, before we reached Sunken Mine Rd.  Then we had half a mile down the road to the trail back into Durland and another mile to the Sperling Center.  We were done around 2:00 p.m.
The swamp north of Dennytown Rd.
The only other hikers we met on the trail were a troop from northern Westchester, not even one of the 12 supposedly involved with the trek-o-ree.

We retrieved our cars from South Highland Rd., and everyone settled into camp to have a 2d lunch, gather firewood, and enjoy the roaring fire. 

Some serious rain showers passed thru, and we finally decided that we'd better have Mass at the Sperling Center rather than at Site 36A as originally planned.  Word of the change was spread, but in the event only our troop, Crestwood 1, and the trek organizers came to Mass at 4:30--the Mass of All Souls Day, at which appropriately enuf I made sure to mention Mike Boccardi in my homily.

We finished at 5:15 and went back to camp, where the Scouts dithered about supper, which consequently wasn't ready till 7:00, with the further consequence that we were all late for the campfire.  That event had perhaps half a dozen troops in attendance and was relatively short--reasonably enuf, given the wind and the cold.  A couple of the Scouters stayed back to mind our fire.

When we returned to camp at 8:30, a good number of the gang stayed around the fire.  By now there were some serious gusts of wind, and a tarp that Pelham 1, camped above us on the same site, had put up over their kitchen area flapped furiously all nite.  There were still a few rain showers.

I went to bed, tired and not wanting to get any wetter than damp--my condition up till then.

It was a blessing that DST ended overnite, and we got an extra hour of sleep.  Not that I slept very well; seldom do when camping.  The wind whipped all nite, and that Pelham tarp was about 30 feet from my head.  The temperature went down to the low 30s again.  But those things weren't my problem; my back never found a comfortable position, so I just tossed and turned for 9 hours.

I got up at 6:00, a.m. and again the coffee took a long time.  The boys were a little slower getting up.  There was plenty of cold breakfast again (to which I added a couple of packets of oatmeal), and the Scouts broke camp pretty quickly and got the site policed well.  We were ready to leave shortly after 9:00, which I needed to do to get to Mass at St. Vincent's Hospital.  The sun was shining gloriously, and the wind still blowing strong (in fact, ASM Jim had had to chase after his tent after he unstaked it).

No injuries, no quarrels, no one lost, and just about everyone enjoyed the hike.  A good trip.  A good tribute to our friend Mike Boccardi.  May he rest in peace!

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