This year’s annual backpacking adventure in Ocala National Forest was as fun as ever. All our Florida Scouts powered through the cold, making nights (and frigid mornings) by the fire that much better. Backpacking in Ocala over the MLK 3 day holiday has been a tradition for Troop 610 for over 14 years. It’s one of the Scouts, and adults, favorite trips, and embodies the tenants of Scouting at it’s core.
We always run two different treks on this camp out, a long and a short trek. We began by having sandwiches at Juniper Springs rec area, where the cars are left. 9 Scouts and 2 adults went on the longer trek, putting in at Alexander Springs, camping Saturday night on the shore of Buck Lake. We hiked about 13 miles Sunday, camping approx 4 miles south of Juniper. There are only 2 places on that stretch of dense trail open enough to camp in, and both are rather hidden. But fortunately our eagle eyed Scouts found the last one or we would’ve been out of luck. We ended Monday morning back at Juniper Springs, with a total of around 20-21 miles hiked.
9 Scouts and 4 adults on the shorter trek left Juniper Springs Saturday after shuttling the long trek guys, hiking north. They camped Saturday night at Hidden Pond, a reliable water source. Sunday they made it to the infamous sinkhole off the Yearling Trail, always a highlight. Monday they hiked out to Silver Glen, where the long trek guys picked them up. The short trek covered about 13 miles total.
There’s nothing like waking up to frost covered tents and packs, especially when you’re from Florida! The guys learned to sleep with their boots in their tent the hard way. And thanks to the leader who taught them ‘The Trick’, which he’d learned from a guide on a recent mountain climbing trip in Yosemite….fill a Nalgene with boiling water and put it in the foot of your sleeping bag for toasty warmth all night.