by John Dietrich, Assistant Scoutmaster Troop 128
In May, Troop 128’s Philmont crew conducted a 12-mile preparatory hike in Catoctin Mountain Park and Cunningham Falls Park near Thurmont, MD. It was a tough day of hiking; occasional rain and a constant fog made the trails very slippery. After ten miles of hiking, as we descended from Cat Rock on the Old Misery Trail, we found a man and woman in trouble. Heidi, our new friend, was on the ground, and clearly in pain. She had slipped on the rocks and sprained her ankle.
The Scouts of Troop 128 were prepared to help. From first aid kits came bandages to bind the ankle. From Wilderness First Aid training came the advice to take ibuprofen. From one Scout’s multi-tool came a small saw to fashion a crutch to help her walk down the mountain.
Heidi tried to go down the Old Misery Trail. Unfortunately, her fall had occurred near the top of the mountain where the road was far below and about a mile away. Still worse, this trail features a steep grade, frequent switchbacks, and many boulders along the way. Heidi was able to go forty feet with her new crutch but travel proved too difficult. Again the Scouts volunteered to help.
Our crew had the phone number of the park ranger offices. Heidi’s friend contacted the ranger station and arranged for rangers to bring a basket up the trail. We helped Heidi remain warm by providing a dry Tyvek sheet to sit on, and encouraged her to stay hydrated and keep the ankle elevated. The Scouts redistributed crew gear so the older Scouts and adults could help carry Heidi when the rangers arrived.
A group of six rangers came up the trail an hour later. They provided further first aid and helped her into the basket. The rangers gladly accepted help carrying it as the footing was treacherous. Up over logs, and down ledges, the team passed the basket safely down the mountain. At every moment of the hour-long trip, at least one Scout carried the basket, fully contributing to help bring Heidi to safety.
By the end of the afternoon the tired crew arrived at the waiting Park Service vehicles. Heidi had only the most appreciative words for our Scouts. Likewise, the rangers recognized how much the boys had helped bring her safely out of the woods. The Scouts then reloaded their packs and finished their hike.
Even with her extremely injured ankle, Heidi would have made her way to safety without help from the unit eventually, but the Scouts of Troop 128 epitomized the image of the Boy Scouts of America by being prepared through training, equipment, and teamwork to help other people at all times in the rugged outdoors. I proudly call to your attention the following Scouts:
- Chris “Cloud” Barre’, Eagle Scout
- Ethan Carlisle, Life Scout
- Luke Carlisle, Life Scout
- Adam Dietrich, Eagle Scout
- Joseph Massaro, Life Scout
- John “Jack” Sears, Life Scout
- Alexander Smithgall, Life Scout
- Bart Barre’, Crew Advisor