Backpacking with Danger Noodles (May 2021)

May is a great time for backpacking in the Mid-Atlantic states like Virginia. The weather is much better than the oppressive heat and humidity of July, and the full forest canopy provides plenty of shade. Crew 128 took advantage of these conditions on an overnight adventure in the Shenandoah National Park. So did the danger noodles.

This overnighter explored the Overall Run and Beecher Ridge Trail. The National Park Service describes this 12-to-14-mile hike as appropriate for experienced hikers or “strenuous beginners.” Along the way, they saw a 93-ft waterfall, great views from the ridge, and lots of danger noodles.

Okay, we’ve said it three times, but what is a “danger noodle”? Simply stated, a danger noodle is a snake. On this trip, we did not see anything venomous, but we had several brown racers traverse our campsite. One hiker called our campsite the “racer race course.” In fact, we saw three good-sized racers—about 4-ft long—move right through camp within 30 minutes of each other and heard what might have been some small animal’s demise nearby soon afterwards as there was some squeaking and thrashing going on within about 20 yards. It may have been one of the two mountain bunnies we saw hopping around our camp as well. So much for being a middle link in the food chain!

Speaking of food chains, we too were familiar with being a prey animal. Ticks. Yes, at the end of the trip we did the highly advisable tick-check and several hikers found the little blood suckers. One hiker found two, and another found one.

The ticks were the only down-side of the trek. Credit for organizing this trip goes entirely to the Venturer who served as the “program chair.” He collaborated with the crew to select a route after describing three reasonable options that brought the crew outside of the Brood X Cicada emergence area. He obtained the permit from the park, and sought reimbursement from the Crew’s Treasurer. Finally, he handled the planning for the crew, and in the end, demonstrated the Venturing Motto in action: Lead the Adventure!