Awana Boys Hike at Sweetwater Park

April 2, 2011

The Awana boys gathered for breakfast and a hike in Sweetwater Park on a beautiful April morning. Around the table are Riley Brooks, Garrison Ridgway, Joshua Kelley, Logan Todd, Chandler Sherrod, and Austin Hughes.

Dylan Bates, Quentin Sherrod, and Buddie Larue fix up their pancakes above left. At the other table, Joe Burkhardt, Kurt Ridgway, Scott Kelley and Stan Johnson. Thanks to Stan and Johnny Huffman for doing the cooking.

With all the rain we have had this week, all the trees were lush and green and the wild azaleas were in full bloom. We were certainly blessed with a beautiful day to explore.

The boys were full of energy and were off down the trail as soon as we unloaded them at the Sweetwater Park trail head.

The Sweetwater Creek was running high from all the rain.

A short way up the trail we found a small side creek which was of great fascination for the boys. They found tadpoles and salamanders and had a great time playing along the creek.

Leave it to a pack of eight boys to find all kinds of things in the woods. They found this waterstrider and several others on the quiet parts of the stream. There were a couple of clumps of what we took to be frog eggs. They were very excited about catching tadpoles.

We headed on down the trail and found points where the boys could climb out on the rocks close to the water. Dylan, Logan and Chandler share a rock.

Dylan and Quentin explore the rocks. I think Quentin's hair has gotten redder since breakfast! Logan, Buddie and Garrison climb to the top of a rock column.

Chandler conquers the rock. Then we move on by one of the shoals of Sweetwater Creek and along the green trail.

Garrison and Logan travel along the edge of the millrace stream that led to the old mill. Chandler meets them at a crossing point.

Stan, Quentin and Chandler alongside the point where the millrace runs close to one of the side streams of Sweetwater Creek.

The boys enjoyed playing alongside the rapids that form near the location of the Manchester Mill ruins.

Boys are always delighted to throw rocks in the water. I commonly say that there must be some primal urge in boys to throw things in the water. Anyway, they seemed to have great fun here.

It took us a while to pry the boys loose from this location and get them up the steep, rocky hillside to the location of the Manchester Mill factory ruins. Buddie Larue comes up the rocks at left. Austin Hughes and Logan Todd with the factory ruins in the background.

We were back on the trail again after the stop at the factory ruins. The trail dropped right down again to the rocks and rapids. This was much to the delight of our most active boys, which would have to include Chandler, Buddie and Logan.

Just downstream from the factory is a broad, shallow area of rocky shoals. It was a great place to play. Garrison, Stan and Chandler make their way along the shore.

Logan Todd and Buddie Larue didn't miss much along the creek bank.

Dylan Bates, Riley Brooks and Garrison Ridgway navigate the rocks around piles of debris carried downstream by the big storms we have had.

Chandler Sherrod makes the jump without even getting wet!

Quentin Sherrod climbs the rocky bank beside the swirling rapids.

We continued for nearly two miles down the bank. All the individual streams converge into one with more violent rapids. The rocky bank was a great place for a bunch of active boys to explore. At right, Chandler, Riley and Garrison make the jump from rock to rock.

It's always great to have Buddie Larue along on these trips because he seems to enjoy everything to the fullest. We just have to watch him because he is so fearless and adventurous that we are concerned to keep him out of dangerous situations.

Garrison Ridgway and Riley Brooks beside the roaring waters.

Chandler Sherrod, Logan Todd, Riley Brooks and Garrison Ridgway climb on the rocks beside the stream.

We were headed back upstream now at a more leisurely pace.

The boys still didn't have their fill of exploring the rocks.

The pace back upstream was a little more leisurely, so we could take more notice of the wild azaleas that dotted the woods near the creek.

Upon return from the trail, we went to the picnic area by the lake and had our traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich lunch before returning to the church.

We were certainly blessed with a beautiful day for this Awana trip, and the eight active boys certainly seemed to enjoy it. Praise the Lord!

Awana boys overnight at Bent Tree

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