Awana Boys Overnight at Bent Tree

November 11-12, 2011

This was the weekend of our fall overnight for Awana boys. This is our traditional farewell picture on the dam of Lake Tamarack at Bent Tree. Boys in front LR: Joshua Kelley, Connor Smith, Logan Todd, Austin Hughes, Will Jones and Dylan Bates. Men in back Scott Kelley, Johnny Huffman, Bill Jones. John Ford also accompanied us.

Brenda and I went up early to get things ready. I raked the driveway while Brenda baked cookies and prepared chili and hotdogs for the group. We got to watch a nice Bent Tree sunset.

Having left the church at 6, the men and boys arrived about 7:30 and we sat them down to hotdogs, chili and chips.

Will, Dylan and Joshua started chess games, while Connor, Logan and Austin worked on origami. That surprised me, but all three of them knew how to make some artistic pieces with folded paper.

Brenda had cooked up a big breakfast with Johnny's help. We had biscuits and sausage gravy, grits and eggs and bacon. We ate breakfast looking out at the mountains on this beautiful morning.

We got the boys settled down to breakfast and then the men took care of the rest.

After breakfast we start out on our hike. Boys front LR:Austin Hughes, Logan Todd, Connor Smith, Dylan Bates, Joshua Kelley, Will Jones. Men behind: Johnny Huffman, Scott Kelley, John Ford, Bill Jones.

Dylan and Joshua hike up the road while Logan and Connor take the high road on top of the bank. Joshua has collected a sturdy walking stick.
A short distance up Chestnut Cove Trl we leave the road and climb steeply to a ridge. Logan, Austin, Connor, Dylan and Scott in this column.

Austin and Logan are part of the group going up the stream bed. At right are Will, Johnny, Bill and John who came up the ridge and have made it to the rock ledges.

The group at the top of Big Stump Mt. That is about 3000 ft after starting at our house at 2400 ft.

The boys still have enough energy after climbing Big Stump Mountain to try to push down small dead trees in the woods. We headed on up the slope toward the top of Ogtlethorpe Mountain and Will is the first to climb up on this slanted tree along the way.

Connor, Logan, Austin and Dylan are up on what we call the "climbing tree". Johnny and I remember it all the way back to Caleb Willis, and I found pictures back to 2007.

Connor, Logan and Dylan have gotten so enthusiastic about pushing down dead trees that they decided to carry one to the top of Oglethorpe with them.

We made it to the overlook on top of Mt. Ogtlethorpe at about 3200ft and took a break to enjoy water and an apple. We got views of the misty blue mountains to the northeast and one of the Big Canoe lakes probably over 1500 ft below us.

Having come back down from Ogtlethorpe Mt. to the top of Big Stump Mt at 3000 ft, the group is at the overlook over the lake and dam 1500 ft below us.

We get a clear view of the earthen dam from here, and near the right end of that dam is where we took the picture at the top above, taken after we went back down the mountain.

To the right of the dam is a green-roofed house and then a clearing. From that clearing the photo below was taken.

This is the view from the lake back toward this spot where we are standing in the above picture. You can see the tower on the top of Big Stump Mt. and just to the right of its base is the house where we are standing for the group photo above.

We come down a steep two-track service road from the overlook point and then the last stretch is a steep plunge down to the back of the house. I always bid for a few minutes head start so I can catch them when they come over the ridge to this last steep drop.

The guys keep coming over the edge of the steep slope and down toward the back of the house.

The steepness, soft black dirt, and lots of rocks make this a tricky journey down to the house.

John, Will and Bill stop off at the hollow tree on the way down to the house. It is close to lunch time, so we stop briefly at the house and then head down to the lake for lunch.

Though a little bit spoiled by Brenda's cooking, we made do at the lake with our traditional peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.

We took our farewell picture on the dam of Lake Tamarack and headed for home. These wild turkeys at the golf club remind us that there is still some wildness here. We were grateful for a safe trip and hopefully a good experience for the boys.


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