Troop 868 in Action

(December 4~5, 2010)
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The German Ridge Trail in the Hoosier National Forest is a relatively easy trail in an area of southern Indiana typically noted for lots of hills and more rugged terrain.  This was the troop's third time hiking the trail.  Our most recent prior visit was in December 2008 and our "game plan" for this outing was very similar to that trip.  The troop arrived at the National Park campground around 9 PM Friday night.  Being winter, it was well after dark and we had the entire campground to ourselves.  The overnight low temperature was predicted to be in the mid-20s.  Knowing it would be late, dark, and cold upon our arrival, everyone had eaten dinner at home before departure, so we quickly set up the troop's lightweight nylon dome tents and everyone crawled into bed.

The weather forecast had called for a 30% chance of showers on Saturday afternoon, but sleet and freezing rain started falling shortly after midnight and continued until daybreak.  Water seeped through the sides and floors of many of the tents and the majority of the group woke up with wet sleeping bags.  Many who had simply tossed their clothing around the tent instead of securing it inside their packs or duffle bags, also found themselves with wet or damp clothing.  Fortunately, most had brought extra socks and sweatshirts, so we were able to get everyone outfitted with dry clothing for the hike.

After a quick, no-cook breakfast of bagels and doughnuts, we hit the trail around 8 AM.  We had hoped to be hiking at sun-up, so we were a bit behind schedule.  Our total group numbered 21 hikers and included several Webelos from Pack 868.  All the boys, including the Webelos, did a great job of keeping up and we moved at a pretty steady pace of just a little less than 2 mph.  As we passed the first two "short cuts" to lessen the distance, all of the Webelos opted to continue hiking with the Boy Scouts.

We stopped for lunch shortly after noon at the cutoff point for the third "short cut" opportunity.  At this point, we had hiked about 8 miles.  We had carried liquid fuel trail stoves to cook a hot meal of canned pasta.  The boys all enjoyed cooking over the small stoves and also getting a hot lunch on a cold day.  The temperature was above freezing, but never reached the mid-40s that had been predicted.  A light drizzle also fell intermittently throughout the day.  Fortunately, it wasn't windy and no one complained of cold hands, cold feet, or blisters.  And nearly everyone had brought along plenty of water.

Following the lunch break, most of the Boy Scouts continued on the full perimeter trail.  Three Boy Scouts and all of the Webelos took the shortcut, cutting the hike by about 5 miles.  Later in the day the Webelos took another shortcut that cut their total hiking distance to 14 miles.  Not bad for a first hike!  All the Boy Scouts hiked at least 15 miles and the older guys who walked the full perimeter were able to cover 20 miles in order to meet the "20 miles in a single day" requirement for the Hiking Merit Badge.

The Webelos and the 2 leaders who accompanied them were the first group to finish and arrive back at our campsite just before sunset.  They set about taking down the tents that we had left up in hopes they would dry out during the day.  That hadn't happened with the continuing rain, so everything was taken down wet and folded up to be taken back to the Community Center to be spread out and dried.  The first group of Boy Scouts arrived in camp about 35 minutes behind the Webelos.  They helped take down the last few tents and gathered firewood to start a bonfire.  A combination of sleet and snow was falling and the temperature was dropping.  The last group of Boy Scouts had to hike the last couple of miles by flashlight.  They arrived in camp about an hour behind the middle group.

After taking a few minutes to warm up by the fire and wolf down a few leftover bagels, cookies, and chocolate wafer bars, everyone boarded the bus and we headed toward home, looking for someplace to stop and eat dinner along the way.  The first place we came to was a small Chinese Buffet restaurant in Hardinsburg, Kentucky.  The group rolled into Shepherdsville about 11:30 PM to find parents waiting.

(L to R, back row) Scoutmaster Bob Meek, ASM Mike Canchola, troop dad Martin Moore, Connor, Nick, Unit Commissioner Steve Medved, and troop dad Tom Jacobs.  (L to R, middle) Drew, Conor, Zachary, Tyler, and Kraig.  (L to R, front) Calvin, Tristan, Bennie, Toby, Adam, Noah, Nicholas, and Brixton.  Joe Wiseman (who escorted one of the Webelos) took the photo.
(front to back) Pack 868 Webelos Cub Scout Calvin, Boy Scout Nicholas, Boy Scout Tyler, Mr. Wiseman, and Boy Scout Toby. Mr. Canchola, Boy Scout Conor, and Boy Scout Nicholas bring up the back of this group of hikers.  Webelos Adam and Webelos Zachary are in the middle of the pack.  Webelos Calvin and Boy Scout Tyler lead the group.
Boy Scout Tyler with Webelos Cub Scout Calvin. Drew was all bundled up for the weather.  The frozen sleet that fell overnight is still visible on some of the limbs and leaves.
Mr. Canchola and Mr. Jacobs pause for a brief rest.  The scouts, including Connor, Tyler, and Cavlin, enjoyed exploring a creek bed beside the trail during a rest stop.
Kraig stands with Toby who is holding an old hornet nest they found on the ground next to the trail. Pack 868 Webelos Cub Scout Tristan seems to be having a good time.  No complaints from that guy!
Pausing for photo near a large rock along the trail were Mr. Moore, Mr. Canchola, and Tyler.  Behind them were Nicholas, Toby, Zachary, Conor (lying down), Adam, Tristan, Calvin, and Bennie (standing on the rocks). Webelos Scout Bennie, Boy Scout Conor, (W) Zachary, (W) Calvin, (BS) Tyler, and (BS) Toby gathered around the bonfire in our campsite as they waited for the last group of hikers to finish the trail.  The camera flash exposed the falling snowflakes.