AC/DC and the Black Hills National Forest

AC/DC and the Black Hills National Forest

That photo above is from a backpacking trip I took in the Black Hills National Forest back in 1998, when I was thirteen years old.

The trip was planned with my scout troop, with two college-aged assistant scoutmasters taking the lead. It took place over several days, and to be honest, I probably wouldn't have gone if it weren't for the encouragement (more like requirement!) from my parents. 

This trip was full of all kinds of exciting things for a young kid - scrapes and cuts from hiking through primitive trails, using hatchets and pocketknives to make our own campfires and whittling to pass the time, and purifying our own drinking water from streams and creeks.

One afternoon, an intense thunderstorm stirred above us. Pouring rain, hail, gale force winds, and thunder and lightning arrived together. We quickly moved to find shelter and to stow our metal framed backpacks (portable lightning rods). We scrambled off the trail and found some rock outcroppings that shielded us from most of the elements.

I remember being pretty scared to be honest; I was wet, cold and tired, with blinding flashes of lightning followed by immediate deafening cracks of thunder. "Alright," I thought. "This shit is not for me."

All of a sudden, one of our leaders starting singing AC/DC's Thunderstruck at the top of his lungs. I remember one of my friends asking the group, "Did he just snap?" Within a couple of seconds, someone else starting humming along. Then another kid starting playing air guitar while squealing electric guitar sounds that echoed off the rocks, and pretty soon, we were all singing and laughing. Through half an hour or so of that storm, we played one hell of a set.

I have a lot of general memories of camping - cooking, setting up tents, hiking, etc., but when I think back it's moments like this which stand out and bring a smile to my face. A small group of us singing and laughing while dealing with a real situation and living through it. I cherish those experiences.

The backpacking trip was great, but the Comradery, the Fellowship, the Friendships... I realize now that's what always mattered most. 

Yours in Comradery,
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