Caving with the Troop from Maryland
Caving with the Troop from Maryland

I got an email cc:’ed to me by Nate, from a Boy Scout Troop from Maryland, that they were hiking the Connestoga Trail. They would be crossing the entrance to Wind Cave and would like some information about the cave. They basically were wondering if it was reasonable to poke in with flashlights and how much could they see. Nate, in his response, told them about the unseen dangers that are possible when exploring a cave without the proper equipment or guidance.
I found out when they were planning on being at the cave and volunteered to meet them there on Saturday at noon to show them a real quick tour of the cave. After all Wind cave is just a little less than an hour from my house and it’s a fun little cave to play in. I let Amos in on the plan and he decided it sounded like fun, too.
For a November morning it was a beautiful day. A clear sky and mild temperatures were forecast for the day. These guys picked a great day for a backpacking trip. A great day to go to Wind Cave.
Amos and I met up in Gap and carpooled from there to the usual parking area. We got changed and gathered up the extra gear and hiked out to the cave entrance. OK, so we were just a little late. Fifteen minutes is not that much time in the scheme of a Boy Scout backpacking trip. So I figure we’re Ok. We get to the entrance and everything is quiet and still and the view is spectacular. But no Scouts, yet. So we wait. But we don’t have to wait long. A small group of boys come up the trail laden down with backpacks and ready for a break. I asked the obvious question. “Hey, you guys the Troop from Maryland?” “Yup!” They were a little confused about us being there and with gear for them to explore the cave. The guy who set up the trip told them about the cave but didn’t come along and hadn’t talked to them in a few days, the time I had my email conversation. But they were anxious to go in and took us up on our offer for a tour.
They were a great group and we had a lot of fun with them. There were no real issues and they tried everything and, for the most part, followed Amos everywhere he went. It was a great two-hour side trip on their backpacking trek.
On the way out, one of the groups we ran into was another Boy Scout Troop poking around trying to see what they could with their flashlights. I started to talk with them, but wanted to get this group all the way out and gear secured first. At the entrance, two leaders, one from each Troop, were sitting a talking. The leader from the Troop we just took in turned and said, “This is the Troop you were suppose to take in the cave.”
Now who would have figured that there would be two Boy Scout Troops from Maryland backpacking a Pennsylvania trail, crossing the entrance to Wind Cave at the same time? I mean really, what are the odds? The number of boys was correct. The contact name for one Troop was Tom, the other Troops planner was Tim. Without written notes it all sounded right at the time. I didn’t think I needed written notes. I didn’t even ask about Troop numbers. After all, what are the odds?
After a few laughs over this and a hardy “thank you” from the first Troop, Amos and I decided to do it all again. We didn’t have as much time with the second group because they had to make it to their camp before dark. But we were able to give them an enjoyable time and instill in them the same appreciation for the underground environment as the other Troop.
It was a good day. We gave tours to two Troops with the usual effort of one and had a fun day playing in Wind Cave.

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