Scouting

Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth movement with the stated aim of supporting young people in their physical, mental and spiritual development, through the Scout Method, that they may play constructive roles in society.

Scout method, a program of informal learning with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities, including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hiking, backpacking, and sports.

OUR MISSION

The Pelican Scouts mission is to provide a safe, fun and exciting programme, based on the Jungle Book, for young children to become responsible and considerate individuals through the Scout Promise and Law.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

HIKE AT WOODCUTTER’S TRAIL

HIKE AT WOODCUTTER’S TRAIL

2nd October 2010
By Scribe Jeremy Tan

64 cubs braved the sizzling heat of the Saturday afternoon sun to adventure and hiked 5 km along the Woodcutter’s Trail, arguably the toughest trails in Singapore. It is known for its notoriously multiple trails that spiral around in the forested area.

Seldom trekked, this trail lies in the vicinity of Singapore’s Water Catchment Area. Located near Lower Peirce Reservoir, we entered the Trail from Upper Thomson Road and ended our hike at Zhenghua Park in the Bukit Panjang district.

We encountered undulating terrain requiring steep climbs at times and faced withsteep descents the next moment.The Trail is home to bees, wasps, snakes and monkeys. There were streams to cross. At some parts of the Trail, the footpath was muddy and sticky like mangrove swamps. Such were the challenges we experienced at the Woodcutter’s Trail .

Fortunately, we did not encounter bees, wasps or snakes but some of us caught sight of a few monkeys which looked puzzled as they wondered what a bunch of “monkeys” were doing down below.

We met at the Koi Pond at 3.00 pm but it was obvious many Cubs had not read the notice board on the time change from 3:30 pm to 3.00 pm. They were seen streaming in after 3.00 pm and a handful even trickled in after 3:30 pm. Unlike previous occasions when Akela would get angry, this time he was cool. I think this was because he was pleased that all had remembered their consent form.

Safety was paramount. There were about 8 adults to ensure our safety and hiked with us. Akela had to ensure Cubs carried sufficient water and we paraded our water bottles. One or two Cubs had only 1 small water bottle and this was not sufficient. It was quickly resolved with purchases of bottled water from the
canteen. We also paraded our packed food which we brought along to eat (not to feed the monkeys) at the end of the hike.

We set off in 2 buses which brought us to the start point at Upper Thomson Road and arrived there at around 4:30 pm. During the bus journey, many of us were deep in thoughts, reflecting on the challenges of the Trail Akela had earlier briefed us. Many of us were anxious and wondered why our parents had consented and “volunteered” us for the hike. As it was too late to make a “U turn”, we vowed to bash through the Trail and complete the hike ALIVE.

Armed with our enthusiasm, we entered the Trail and started our hike at about 4:45pm. We hiked in single file in our Sixes. Each Six took turn to lead the pack. Cubs were to stay within in their Sixes and not lag behind. Unlike other trails, we noted the Woodcutter’s Trail appeared “untouched”. There was hardly anyone soul (except us and 2 bikers). It was a dirt track that had many surprises. Once inside the Trail, the shade provided by the thick foliage of the forest “cooled” us and was a much welcomed relief from the heat.

Another surprise was the Great Silence of the forest before us. We stopped, stared and listened. We strained our ears and listened to the variety of sounds amplified by the silence of the forest. We heard the rustle of leaves and the cracking of swaying branches when a gentle breeze blew. There were unique sounds
of insects and “other residents” of the forest. Momentarily we were spell bounded by Nature.

As “old habits die hard”, we soon reverted to a noisy bunch of Cubs and continued hiking. We had to cross 3 streams. Fortunately they were shallow streams and we had the aid of planks, tied pieces of logs and overturned flower pots to help us get across. The challenge was to cross the streams and not lose our balance,  fall and get ourselves wet. Fortunately all of us had a fine sense of balance (many Cubs wore NEW BALANCE shoes) and crossed the streams without much difficulty.

One brave Cub decided not to use the flower pot tops to cross and strolled across it. The foothpath was narrow. Another challenge before us was the occasional muddy, sticky and swamp like tracks. Stepping on them spelt disaster. Besides getting dirty, one risks having one’s feet stuck in the mud. One by one, the Cubs stepped onto the higher embankment of the footpath to overcome the mud pools.

Unfortunately one Cub lost his balance (was not wearing NEW BAALANCE) and had his foot stuck. This was the same Cub who strolled across the stream. As we hiked further into the Trail, some of us were tired and were less alert. A few Cubs fell because they tripped over roots of trees that camouflaged themselves well across the ground. . Except for their bruised ego, they were fine. They picked themselves up and continued with the hike, a little embarrassed though. As much as Cubs liked to stay in the Sixes, there were
laggers, and not all Cubs were able to maintain discipline to keep up with their Sixes. Fortunately we had Adult Leaders to ensure no Cubs were left behind.

There were around 5 water breaks and laggers used the water breaks to catch up with their Sixes besides rewarding themselves with their hard earned rest. Soon it was dusk and it was getting dark. It was a relief for many of us when we realised we had reached the exit of our trail. We walked a short distance to Zhenghua Park, a familiar sight for some of us who hiked 10km during the Bukit Timah District Sixers Camp held earlier this year. It was about 7:15 pm and we
had hiked for about 2 1/2 hrs. The picnic at Zhenghua Park where we eat our packed food was a welcome break.

We had our break for 15 mins when we were told to pen our thoughts and observations of the day’s trail. Barely 5 mins into it, much to our delight , we were told to pack up as the buses had arrived to transport us back to school. We were joyous as our sweaty bodies enjoyed the comfort of the air-conditioned buses. It was a short journey from Bukit Panjang back to School.









This was a hike many of us will not forget as we began in daylight, hiked till dusk, had an evening Picnic and at nightfall arrived safely at School. We were proud of ourselves and our accomplishment.

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