(T30 – 03/11/18) - This was the inaugural hike of the recently reformed Venture Patrol. This patrol was made upof three seasoned scouts and three underly-seasoned adults. The patrol formed up a littlelater than the 6:00pm planned time, due to work schedules, but was on the roadby 6:45pm.In their hast to make theappointed departure time and trail head start time, some members of the patrolwere not able to grab an appropriate dinner. This would, unfortunately, laterprove to be a detriment to their progress up the trail.After a drive up thenotoriously curvy road, known as the Dragon, the patrol found their trail headof the Appalachian Trail, near Fontana Dam, and set out on their night portionhike at 9:00pm.Led by patrol’s leader Levi andthe trail illuminated by head-lamps, they undertook the nearly 5 miles and2,000 feet of elevation gain to their first camp at Birch Springs Gap. Thesteady but steep climb and lack of dinner kept the pace slow and the pain high!Arriving at camp at 12:15am,the patrol crawled into their Tyvek cocoons, hammocks or simply a tarp coveringand tried to catch a few hours of needed sleep, with the hope the predicatedrains would hold off through the night.6:30am found the patrolslightly rested, dry and wearily eating a quickie trail breakfast.The next several hours was apush to get over the 4,500' Doe Knob, lose 800 feet of elevation and reclaimthat elevation, on what ended up being their last major climb, to the 4,800'high point of Mollies Ridge. The patrol broke into two sub-patrols (a fast anda slow) to pace themselves to this strenuous segment. The weather had alsofinally gone bad, with rain and temperatures just above freezing adding anextra unpleasant element to the hike.Once gathered up as a singlepatrol at the Mollies Ridge Shelter, after a grueling 6 miles morning, thepatrol members decided that their intended goal for the outing was not going tobe achievable in the remaining day and a half time allotted and the prevailingweather conditions.At 11:30am the patrol decidedthey would only go as far as Russell Field on the AT and then drop down intothe Cades Cove valley. Patrol member Taylor had his cell phone along and, on abit of a whim, attempted a call to Mr. C. in hopes of catching him to updatehim on their change of route.Mr. C. had dropped the patroloff the night before, drove around to the intended exit point of Newfound Gapand was working his way from the opposite direction to the patrol’s planedmidway point of Derrick Knob. He had made his way to Clingmans Dome at 11:30am,through snow and ice, when he happened to turn on his phone to see if he had acell signal, intending to give his wife an update of his progress, since he washiking solo, when Taylor's call rang in.With the update of the new hikeplans, Mr. C. headed back, down to the van, logging a 16-mile hike in just overa half a day, and drove to the Cades Cove rendezvous point, glad of the factsthe main patrol did not have to separate in two patrols in order for one tocome meet him, to tell him to turn back for the van, and that he would besleeping in his own bed at day's end.After the God orchestratedphone call and complying with the local trail runners request to see theirbackcountry camping permit, the patrol took some time to recoup by having lunchand warming up by pulling out their sleeping bags and taking an hour and a halfnap.It is reported, that while somepatrol members were napping a couple of other members helped themselves toextra portions of the patrol's provisions, claiming they needed more carbs thanrest. This matter is being investigated to determine if the points of the ScoutLaw of being trustworthy, loyal, courteous, kind or thrifty may have been infractured.After trekking the mostlydownhill portion of the final leg of 7.5 miles, the patrol was relieved tosight the van, climb aboard and retire some very crampy calves and achy thighs.A stop on the way home at theTownsend Subway for dinner, provided much needed sustenance and a round ofThorns and Roses highlighted the awesomeness of God making that phone callconnection and provided insights into how to better "Plan andPrepare" (which is the first point of the Leave No Trace principles).