Carrying five feet of rope saved the Scouts of Troop 416 from miles of extra hiking in the Black Creek Wilderness Area near Brooklyn, Mississippi this month. The saved miles equaled saved time, and let us set up camp around 3 in afternoon and enjoy the mid-50 degree temperatures in the beautiful woods.
Using the resources at hand, we tied the lengths of rope that all six of us carried into a single length. We used them first to climb down to the creek’s edge. Then it just barely stretched across Beaver Creek, a smaller tributary off of Black Creek. Two Hattiesburg geographers who happened to be paddling the creek at the right time were able to use that rope to ferry us across the creek. Without that aid, we faced miles of back-tracking along the trails to return to our cars.
Read more right below this slide show movie of some of our photos.
For Christopher, Davin, Reed, Sebastian, Mr. Terry and Mr. Steve, the trip started by Fairley Landing, as we crossed the road toward the trailhead. Even with six headlamps helping us find the way, we couldn’t put our eyes on the dozens of hunting dogs we heard barking nearby. Or were they coyotes?
An hour down the trail, we found enough of a clearing where we could set up for the night. Using tarps, hammocks and a tent, all went to sleep as much as possible as temperatures dipped to 30 degrees.
In the morning, the boys gathered sticks and used magnesium, flint, dryer lint, hand sanitizer and matches to start a fire and start our day.
With no tight schedule, we casually packed camp, put our gear in the backpacks, checked our maps and headed down the trail. We encountered about a dozen other hikers during the day, including Scouts from Van Cleave, and some adults from Louisiana. Some Scouts saw deer, and we had a dog befriend us along the way.
After a break to refill and purify our water supply, we started walking for a couple of hours, taking the trail more than three miles to see Black Creek and consider a future canoe/kayak trip. It was a lot of walking before we stopped again to eat. Boys swapped food, trying each other’s preferred foods – pistachios, Army MRE’s, beef jerky, peanut butter and more.
We knew we had to get closer to our vehicles before nightfall so the walk out could be easy the next morning. We had the option of crossing the creek or walking around. Looking around the creek banks, no great crossing opportunity arose. Water looked too deep or too fast, and the trees that had fallen across weren’t good either. That’s when the paddlers came by and agreed to help. The effort gave us and them a good story to tell.
All agreed that Black Creek is an enjoyable place to hike. It has more than 40 miles of trails and offers a great place to introduce younger Scouts to short backpacking trips and offer long trips for those trying for the Hiking Merit Badge.