Troop 163 getting ready for its closeup on Friday at the Ashokan Reservoir fountain. Photo by Diane Galusha.
This Saturday, a crew of 15 boy scouts from West Shokan will arrive triumphantly in Central Park after trekking the 120-mile path that New York City's water takes from the Ashokan Reservoir all the way to the center of Manhattan.
The hike, for which the scouts have been preparing for months, is a commemoration of the legendary hike of Sidney Clapp, the founder of the Olive Boy Scout Troop, who reportedly trod the same ground from the city to Olive in 1911. Clapp, who worked as an engineer on the Ashokan Reservoir as it was being constructed, founded the troop in the hopes of giving local Olive boys better things to do than hang around dangerous reservoir construction sites.
The boy scouts of West Shokan Troop 163 set out on their journey last Friday in Olivebridge, accompanied by a big crowd of well-wishers and escorting fire truck.
Adam Bosch at the Times Herald-Record was on-hand to see them go:
They wore safari-style hats, hiking boots and carried 25-pound backpacks with all the essentials. True to their motto, the Scouts were prepared.
Brennan Ryan, 12, packed plenty of bug spray, a first-aid kit and a notebook to document the trip. "And we've got Gold Bond powder in case someone gets chub rub," he said, using a popular phrase for chafing.
The young Scouts had been training for their trip since early summer. Each of the boys completed eight hikes and eight biking trips to ensure they were physically fit ...
Roughly 100 community members joined a send-off party near the Ashokan Reservoir fountain Friday morning. When it was time to go, Davis blew a whistle and pointed toward the aqueduct. The boys marched along as fire sirens blared and family members cheered.
Their arrival in Central Park is likely to have just as much hoopla, according to the New York City Department of Environmental Protection's website:
The scouts will enter New York City at the Bronx border with Westchester County where they will be greeted by boy scouts from a Bronx troop who will escort the boys through Van Cortlandt Park along the Old Croton Aqueduct and then the subway into Manhattan. After a night spent in the American Museum of Natural History, NYC boy scouts will again escort Troop 163 to the site of the closing ceremony when there will be appropriate fanfare to celebrate their accomplishments.
The route the scouts are traveling is painstakingly mapped out on Google, and you can keep up with their day-to-day exploits along the trail on Olivescouts.org. The scouts reported that yesterday -- Day 3 of their trek -- was some rough going:
Today was one of the longer days for the trek. We traveled 12.14 miles from Ireland Corners to Stewart Air Force Base. Weather was actually advantages for the start as it was cloudy and a little breezy. We did hit a torrential downpour for about 20 minutes and then it cleared and the sun started to blister. With a little encouragement, all the boys pulled it off. It was definitely the hardest day so far.
Here's the full itinerary for the trek, as sent to us by the NYC DEP:
Summary: During nine days in August, a group of 15 Boy Scouts (ages 10-15) from West Shokan Troop 163 – along with 5-8 adult chaperones (scoutmasters/parents) plus another 5-8 additional guests (day visits) – are planning to hike from the Ashokan Reservoir in Ulster County to the Central Park Reservoir in NYC. The trek is intended to commemorate the 100th anniversary of “Scouting in the Catskills” and Troop 163, an offspring of Troop 1 which was formed by engineers who built the Ashokan Reservoir (as documented in The New York Times on February 19, 1922). The trek route follows the Catskill Aqueduct wherever feasible, although in several locations there will be vehicle transport provided for the scouts and their equipment. Throughout the trek, the scouts will participate in a series of educational programs and perform local service projects so that they learn about the NYC water supply system and other topics/issues of local interest and cultural/historic importance.
Pertinent Details: The Boy Scouts are self-insured and the scoutmasters are trained/certified through Boy Scouts of America. Troop 163 is officially approved by their governing body (Rip Van Winkle Council) to conduct the trek. The Boy Scouts follow a “Leave No Trace” policy and they will be accompanied by DEP Police and other staff throughout the trek for safety and educational purposes. The trek will kick-off during a press event on Friday August 19 at the Ashokan Reservoir fountain area, and it will conclude with another ceremony at the Central Park Reservoir in NYC on Saturday August 27. Troop 163 has chartered buses to transport parents and friends down to NYC for the concluding ceremony in Central Park.
Watershed Trek Itinerary
Day 1 – Fri. 8/19: Community Kick-off & Press Event at the Ashokan Reservoir fountain area (9-11 am) with Jay Ungar & Molly Mason performing live music and with a keynote address by DEP Deputy Commissioner for Water Supply Paul Rush and other local speakers. Scouts will hike ~9.7 miles along the Catskill Aqueduct and certain local roads from Ashokan to Pine Bush Road in Ulster County. Scouts will camp overnight at Mohonk Preserve (Duck Pond Campsite).
Day 2 – Sat. 8/20: Scouts will hike ~7.6 miles along the Catskill Aqueduct and local roads, from Mohonk to the Ulster County Fairgrounds in New Paltz. Scouts will camp overnight and eat dinner at the fairgrounds (Hudson Valley Ribfest is taking place).
Day 3 – Sun. 8/21: Scouts will be transported from Ulster County Fairgrounds to Ireland Corners, where they will hike ~11.6 miles along the Catskill Aqueduct to Winchell Road before being transported to Stewart Air National Guard Base. Scouts will camp overnight at the National Guard Base, where they will have showers, bathrooms and indoor space.
Day 4 – Mon. 8/22: Scouts will conduct a morning tour of the National Guard Base, including a showcase of the DEP helicopter. Scouts will be transported from the National Guard Base to Perimeter Road, where they will hike ~4 miles along the Catskill Aqueduct to Passaro Drive before being transported to West Point Military Academy for a tour/dinner. Scouts will camp overnight at Lake Frederick (affiliated with West Point).
Day 5 – Tues. 8/23: Scouts will be transported to Newburgh where they will board a boat and receive a tour of Bannerman Castle before being deposited across the Hudson River in Beacon. Scouts will be transported to the trail head for Breakneck Ridge where they will hike ~5.5 miles to Foundry Brook North Siphon and end at Indian Brook North Siphon before being transported to Constitution Marsh (Cold Spring) for an educational program conducted by New York Audubon. Scouts will camp overnight at Durland Scout Camp near Fahnestock State Park.
Day 6 – Wed. 8/24: Scouts will be transported to the Peekskill North Siphon (Aqueduct Road) where they will hike ~6 miles along the Catskill Aqueduct to Hunter Brook North Siphon before being transported to Hilltop Hanover Farm. Part of this day will include a tour of the Town of Cortlandt Water Treatment Plant which is located along the aqueduct. Scouts will camp overnight and eat dinner (provided by WAC) at Hilltop Hanover Farm, where they will also receive a presentation from WAC about farming/forestry. Bathrooms and indoor spaces are available.
Day 7 – Thurs. 8/25: Scouts will bike to the North County Bike Trailway in Yorktown Heights where they will bike 20 miles south to the end of the trail in Eastview. Scouts will leave their bikes at the DEP Police precinct in Eastview before being transported to the Kensico Reservoir Dam Plaza for a DEP educational program and hike across the dam. Scouts will be transported to Rockwood Hall (affiliated with Rockefeller State Park) for overnight camping along the Hudson River.
Day 8 – Fri. 8/26: Scouts will receive a presentation about the Old Croton Aqueduct from NYS Parks before hiking along the Old Croton Aqueduct into Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx (~12 miles total). The aqueduct hike will include a view inside a weir chamber, visit to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to see the monument to soldiers who guarded the Catskill Aqueduct during WWI, as well as a lunchtime presentation by NYS Parks and the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct at the Keeper’s House in Dobbs Ferry. In the Bronx, the scouts will meet up with NYC scouts who will escort them through Van Cortlandt Park and to the subway station en route to Manhattan. Scouts will sleep overnight in the American Museum of Natural History, which includes numerous evening programs.
Day 9 – Sat. 8/27: Scouts will hike into Central Park (escorted by NYC scouts), where they will visit Belvedere Castle and other portions of the park before arriving at the celebration site near the northwest side of the Central Park Reservoir in time for the closing ceremony (10:30 am – 12:30 pm). The ceremony will include parents and friends of the scouts as well as remarks by DEP and other speakers. Here, the watershed trek ends and the scouts will be transported back home via bus.
Catskill Aqueduct Trek 2011 arrival ceremony, northwest side of the Central Park Reservoir, Central Park, New York City. Saturday, August 27, 10:30am. www.olivescouts.org.