Troop 868 in Action
(December 5, 2009)

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December is always a tough month to schedule an outdoor activity because of Christmas shopping and so many other family activities.  For this reason, Troop 868 generally tries to schedule a day hike early in the month.

For 2009, our Patrol Leaders' Council chose the re-hike the Birdseye Trail.  This 11-mile trail is located near Birdseye, Indiana about 2 hours from Shepherdsville.  The trail is a relatively flat multi-use trail (hikers, bike riders, and horseback riders) and easy walking; the biggest challenge being ruts and mud puddles caused by horses.  For this reason, we invited Webelos Cub Scouts from several area packs to tagalong and we had a couple of takers.  The younger guys did just fine.

We hit the trail shortly before 10 AM and finished it around 4:30 PM.  This included a long break for lunch (where a couple of hikers carried backpacking stoves and cooked a hot meal) and time spent looking at the old gravestones in two cemeteries along the trail.  A number of the graves dated back to the 1800s and included men who fought in the Civil War.  At the end of the trail, we did an impromptu service project by picking up litter around the area where we had parked the bus.  We also met a Forest Service Ranger who showed us a dead bobcat be had picked up earlier that day.  The young female animal had been hit by a car while crossing the road.  He pulled back the paws and showed us a rather impressive set of claws! 

On the way home we stopped for a nice sit-down dinner at The Overlook Restaurant which everyone really enjoyed.  Though we had a small group participating that consisted mostly older scouts who didn't really need the hike for any advancement purpose, it was still a day well spent.  The weather was bright and sunny.  Daytime high was in the mid-40's but it wasn't windy.  It was really a great day to be hiking in the woods.

Hikers ready to hit the trail -- Gabe, Dylan, Nick, Chris, Mr. Medved, Spencer, Mr. Canchola, Aaron and Michael. These icecicles hanging from a tree branch over the creek testify that the temperature wasn't much above the freezing mark.
Our first challenge was to cross a wide but shallow creek.  This presented no problem for those wearing waterproof hiking boots who simply waded through the 4 inch deep water ... but those who came in tennis shoes needed to find an alternate route. Gabe, attired in full arctic gear, slid across a fallen tree as if riding a horse bareback.  Since he's obviously wearing hiking boots, we can only assume he chose the tree over wading simply for fun and additional challenge?
Dylan also attempted the butt slide method but decided a snake crawl technique would be faster. We crossed this same creek several times during the hike.  Some crossings provided better natural bridges than others.
The guys came upon an old Chevrolet that someone had used for target practice and, naturally, they had to check it out. Spencer.  That's all.  Just Spencer.
Nick had packed along one of our backpacking stoves, so he was able to enjoy a hot meal for lunch. Mr. Medved, Webelos Aaron and Michael, and Aaron's dad were tagalongs from Pack 59.
Sean and Michael make one of the easier creek crossings of the day. Yes, that would be "Woodsman Gabe" carrying a Christmas tree over his shoulder for the last 3 miles of the hike.
Hikers Dylan, Spencer, Chris (hidden in front of Spencer), Nick, and Mr. Medved. Chris, Nick, Mr. Medved, and Gabe (with his Christmas tree).
It should be noted that Gabe did NOT cut down the tree.  It had been hit and broken off at ground level by some kind of vehicle; most likely a 4-wheeler being used by a hunter to transport a deer out of the woods.  Gabe found it laying on the ground. We happened upon this rather unique "sitting tree" with not one, but two, branches growing out horizontally and the group decided to climb up and pose for a photo.  (L to R): Nick, Chris, Gabe (with tree, of course), Dylan, and ASM Mike Canchola.