Monday, March 15, 2010

C&O flooding

Anyone who reads this blog, realizes before long that our troop has a soft-spot for the C&O Canal.  184.5 miles of great backpacking or cycling fun.

Except when it isn't.

This is an excerpt from the C&O Canal Trust website:
C&O Canal Declares Flood Emergency

Flood Warning

Expected heavy rainfall during the weekend of March 12-14, 2010 may result in major flooding along sections of the C&O Canal.  The Potomac River is expected to reach flood stage in all areas of the park between Saturday, March 13 and Tuesday, March 16, 2010. Park visitors are asked to use extreme caution during periods of high water.  Hikers and bikers planning to use campgrounds along the canal are advised to seek alternate accommodations.  Area closures are anticipated.  For updates call the C&O Canal Flood Information Line at 1-888-445-0023.
Yep, this is how our backpacking trip this weekend ended early.

I woke up at 5:15AM with the sound of a tree falling over about 30 feet from my tent.  It fell with a splash as the Potomac River had moved up the banks considerably overnight.  We were never in any danger from the water, but the ground was so soaked that a lot of trees were going.

We watched one old oak with a trunk at least 6 feet in diameter floating down the middle of the river.

A quick call home confirmed that the threat of flooding was more likely, so we skipped "Plan B"--hike out 11 miles to Sunday's pick up point on Saturday night--and went straight to "Plan C"--break camp, backpack back to the Blue Beast and bug out.  3 hours and 4.5 miles later, we were safely navigating the back roads to civilization again.

There were a lot of trees and branches down.

This was still a great adventure for the troop, several of which had never been backpacking before.  Definitely a steep learning curve!

Glad to be home.

Ever had a Scouting near-catastrophe?  Share in the comments!


Clarke Green said...

Near catastrophes are okay! Real catastrophes happen when leaders decide to 'tough it out' rather than act prudently. Good call in ending the trip early.
We had to take similar measures on our backpacking trip last fall when rain prevented us form going forward over some miles of very rocky, exposed and dangerous trail.

Anonymous said...

Safety, Fun, Program, strictly in that order.

**** April **** said...

SO glad you guys made it out without incident!

Scoutsigns said...

All 3 of you are right on target!

@clarkegreen: Sometimes it is hard to keep the sense of adventure in check.

@anonymous: I think that is a great way to express the idea. Good motto.

@April: We are happy about it as well. I've shared the flooding details with the Scouts who may have thought we "wimped out".