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Fitness, Character, and Citizenship
- today is a great opportunity to emphasize the rights and responsibilities of being a citizen. Since citizenship is one of the three aims of Scouting, and there are three Eagle-required citizenship merit badges, do your part and be a role model today.
Consider discussing local, national, and global impacts of casting our votes at your troop or den meeting this week.
Plan to work on the Webelos Citizen activity badge this month.VOTE
Posted: 7:23 11-06-2012 925
My first University of Scouting experience last weekend was great fun. I was asked to present a talk about Lightening the Load of Scout Treks since I've done a couple long-distance hikes now and am a total proponent of lightweight efforts.
I spent my morning attending the mandatory Unit Commissioner class (yawn) and then listened in on Backpacking 101 and a Preparing for Philmont presentations which were very interesting. I wanted to make sure my end-of-the-day talks did not contradict what those presenters said too badly. :-)
My big, old pack full of 'normal' gear was opposed to my new, lighter pack full of lighter gear. For the most part, people are interested in the gear of going lightweight, but that really is just the simple part. We also discussed:
- What Lightweight Is
- How Safety and Comfort are Affected
- Advantages of Going Light
- How Lightweight Promotes Scouting Aims
- Cost vs. Weight of Hiking
I've developed my own definition of Lightweight Backpacking:Minimize the resources required for a successful outing by increasing resource efficiency and outdoors skills.
Resources include equipment, clothing, food, and water that you take into the wild. If you just buy the smallest, lightest, highest quality gear items you can waste a ton of money for a very small weight reduction. Taking a wider view of Lightweight means you are preparing and becoming well-skilled so you can make better use of what you take.
Just a couple examples:
- Slowing your pace or hiking in cooler parts of the day so you don't sweat means you need to carry less water which is very heavy.
- Spending an extra $90 on hiking poles that save 10 ounces instead of on a titanium cook set that saves 4 ounces
- Using ritz crackers instead of tortillas cuts the weight of lunch in half for the same calories.
- If you lose 10 pounds while getting in shape, that's 10 pounds you don't need to carry over the mountains.
I've been asked by a few local troops to come and talk to their scouts about this topic. My next talk is tomorrow night and then one in December. Hopefully, I'm helping to make those wilderness treks more fun for young adventurers. If I can save just one youth from a life of overpacking, it's all worth it! :-)
Posted: 12:40 11-05-2012 924
I just finished this book from the library. Lost In the Wild
is comprised of two accounts of actual search and rescue operations in the north woods of Minnesota.
A solo hiker heads out on a 'short' route in October, makes a handful of poor decisions, and barely survives.
A scout guide working at Northern Tier gets lost after an accident.
I won't tell you more, but I felt the writing was excellent and the two stories were sooo easy to relate to. One is a great example of how small mistakes snowball into real trouble, kind of like how hypothermia can sneak up on you. The other shows how everything can go bad in just an instant, like breaking your leg.
The two stories are interleaved, a chapter at a time, through the book but they are not related. I didn't like that so I just read one of the stories straight through, and then the other, by reading alternating chapters in the book.
I would highly recommend reading Lost In the Wild
this winter and consider asking your scouts to read it as well. Just don't let the moms of your 2013 Philmont or Norther Tier crew members read it. :-)
Using the stories as discussion topics in high adventure preparation could be very useful - maybe give a situation and then ask what the 'lost' person should do and what the rest of the crew should do. Compare that to what actually occurred.
I feel that scenarios are a great way to help prepare for outdoors adventures. These two stories are just real-life reinforcement that things can and do go wrong. You could have everyone on your crew come up with a situation to present and the crew works them out - hey, sounds like Dungeons and Dragons! But, instead of "You hit the ogre with your +5 broadsword and he smashes your head for -22 damage", it's more like "You leap across the creek with your +2 hiking boots but twist your ankle for -8 damage." Ouch!
Any other good books that pertain to Scouting out there?
Posted: 11:12 10-25-2012 922
A Generation of Scouts
It happens every year.
A scout reaches his 18th birthday and is no longer a Boy Scout. The younger scouts keep the troop functioning and he moves on to other things.
But when that last scout of a bunch of guys that started together as Tiger Cubs finally ages out, the legacy of that den and patrol ends. A page of scouting history is complete and the ink can dry.
I had the pleasure of being involved in the history of such a patrol from 2000 to 2012. Five eager first grade boys made a Tiger den and, over the next twelve years, added scouts, lost scouts, and advanced through the ranks and skills. This year, the last one aged out and the page is written.
You can check out our history
and see how things turned out and figure out what that picture really is.
This month across the country thousands of new Tiger Cub dens are getting to know each other and jotting down the first scribbles of ink on their page of scouting history. If you are a den leader for one of these gangs of scouts - Thank you! And, please be sure to have someone around taking pictures and saving the memories - in 12 years, it will be a real kick to look back at all their adventures.
Posted: 6:55 10-17-2012 921
Fresh LNT Trainers
A dozen brand new Leave No Trace Trainers are available in the council after this weekend's Trainer course.
I assisted in presenting LNT to 12 Scouting members on a 2-night outing at a local BSA camp. The coolest thing is that 6 of the participants are youth seeking the Leave No Trace Trainer troop position of responsibility! Completing this training is a requirement to hold that position. At least 3 of the adult participants were completing this training as a Wood Badge ticket item.
We emphasized that completing the training and getting a little patch was not an end in itself - it is just the beginning and they are now expected to use their skills and knowledge to help scouts back home learn to minimize their impact.
I took my small group of 4 participants on a hike through the back reaches of the camp that lasted all afternoon. During this hike, I presented example training activities for the seven LNT principles and each participant presented a single training segment they had prepared. We tramped through oak, birch, and maple forests as well as prairie grass and mucky bogs. Lots of opportunities to tie LNT into the areas we visited.
Everyone camped outdoors two nights - the first night in a highly impacted site and the second in a pristine area. Campsites, cooking, fires, wildlife, waste, and many other topics were presented, discussed, and experienced.
Does your troop implement the LNT Principles consistently? Do you have an LNT Trainer in your troop? Does your council or district offer LNT Trainer courses?
Understanding Leave No Trace and the appropriate camping model expected of Scout outings is an important bit of knowledge every leader should have - especially those that sign off the LNT advancement requirements for scouts.
Posted: 7:44 10-15-2012 920
My journal about my 250 mile hike of the Superior Hiking Trail this fall is online. I've also made a Google Earth map of the trail sections and my Spot tracking blips. And, there's a page of just pictures if you're interested in seeing what I saw.
I met three times as many people in 1/3 the distance as the Arizona Trail this past spring. A handful of other long-distance hikers crossed my path - Gray Ghost, Ole Smoky Lonesome, BookSmarts, Pilgrim, JanuszHiker, and Larry.
Check out my Superior Hiking Trail thru-hike Journal
Oh, I also passed out a $25 Scout Shop gift card to a scoutmaster from Two Harbors, MN that I met on the trail. And, I picked the winner of the ScoutStrong Program
participation challenge for this hike. Sarah J. gets a $25 Scout Shop gift card, too!
Posted: 17:57 10-10-2012 919
Today, I'm doing no scouting, no hiking, no work.
Today, I'm doing my little part to help promote alternative energy solutions - specifically solar power in my case. Our solar arrays have been in operation on our roof for a month now and we've produced over 800KWHours of energy. I'm part of a 'Solar Tour' today where people can drive around to different installations and see how it looks and how it works.
So, I'll be hanging around outside with my little laptop on a card table in the garage, waiting to show people the panels, the electric meter, and the web page where they can see the power being generated right now.
You can go to Enphase Energy
and drill down in the map to any place of interest to see installations. If you drill down to Eden Prairie, MN you can see there are 4 installations and I'm the smallest producer - because mine is the newest.
You can go directly to Kautz Solar
and view my solar arrays.
If you've thought about solar power, this might be the time to investigate further. Depending on the election results, current rebates and credits may go away in the coming years - and that support really makes a big difference in your cost to get set up.
Posted: 7:35 10-06-2012 918
I took a minute away from writing my Superior Hiking Trail recap to let you know about this great contest at Scouting magazine. My trail journal should be done tomorrow.
You can never have enough tents! Scouting magazine is giving you an opportunity to get a waaay cool tent - For Free
- you just have to enter their contest.
You can win an Easton, Kelty, or LL Bean tent - your choice.
If I were to win, I'd choose the lightest LL Bean one-person tent since I need to replace my shelter before next season, but it looks like it might be too short for me. Maybe you'd prefer the Easton 2-person tent for your backpacking trips.
Hey, you can't win unless you enter at: Scouting Magazine Contest
- bookmark that page and enter every day until Halloween to increase your chances of winning.
Good Luck and Scout On
Posted: 8:09 10-04-2012 917
Day 14 - Out of the Woods
I walked 39150 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 16 miles today.
I stepped out of the woods at the Normanna Rd. trailhead around 1:30pm, almost exactly 13 days from my start on Otter Lake Rd. This last morning of hiking dragged on and on and I felt pretty slow. But, I continued on and ran into more Trail Magic once I left the trail. One big thing I learned on this hike is that the world is full of helpful, friendly people and I will assume that is what every person I meet is like until they prove me wrong.
This is me at the final trailhead. I originally planned to hike through Duluth, but the Normanna Rd. to Martin Rd. segment is not open and I could not find the start point for it. Plus, the last 10 miles or so of the Duluth segment is still closed from flooding. So, I'll complete that last part once the trail is officially open next year.
Now, I'm standing at the corner of two dirt roads about 15 miles from town and not really wanting to walk country roads all that way. I also did not know if I'd find more traffic if I headed west or south from where I stood. I had quite awhile to figure out a plan, so I sat down, got out my one blank sheet of paper and my pen and wrote a bit U M D
on the sheet. I figured holding that up would help my chances of getting a ride into town. (That's University of Minnesota Duluth)
Just as I finished the sign, a small car drove by and I flagged it down. It was the local mailman and his honda civic was crammed full of letters and packages. I explained I had just hiked from Canada on the SHT and asked him which way I should start walking. He said West would be my best bet. I should hit pavement in about 3 miles. And he drove off in a cloud of dust.
As I folded up my maps and slung on my pack, an SUV towing a trailer with an ATV came by. I figured he was stopping at the trailhead since it is also an access point to the multi-use North Shore Trail. He stopped and asked if I needed a ride so I explained my situation again. He was heading north but could take me to the intersection a couple miles West where the pavement starts. Cool!
A few minutes later, I was out on the side of the road again. I attached my quaint UMD sign, hefted my pack and didn't even get to stick my thumb out when a big, silver pick-up stopped (heading south) and asked if I needed a ride. Oh Yes! Threw my pack in the back, hopped in, and gave my story again as we drove away. He could take me a few miles but had to pick up his kids at day care.
As we talked, I guess Neil figured I was an OK guy because when we stopped to get his kids, he said they could sit in the back of the king cab and he'd take me in to town. No way!
So, less than an hour from hitting the trailhead, and without even getting to stick my thumb out, I was in my car driving home. Can you believe that? They talk about "Minnesota Nice" but really? I was home and showered before the time I had expected to be walking into Duluth.
Oh, anyone want some left over poptarts, Snickers, or trail mix? :-)
Posted: 22:19 09-28-2012 916
The Big Surprise
At about 4pm, I was less than 3 miles from my campsite destination and there was another site 6 miles farther. I thought, Hey I can make that and do a 40 mile day! Just then, as I was flying through the forest a young man appeared heading toward me on the trail. Right away, I thought it strange that he had no water or any gear. Then his father appeared behind him. How did I know it was his father? He's a scout from home!
They were following my progress and drove up to surprise me. They got my last location using wifi at a McD's and figured where to intercept me.
We walked a few minutes to the trailhead where they were parked and I got a cold Mt. Dew! Not only that, he had a Sony battery - exactly the one I needed for my camera.
After chatting a bit, I knew I wouldn't make 40 miles so, when they asked about getting a Big Mac in Two Harbors, I said YES.
A half hour of driving to town and back plus 45 minutes eating (and taking advantage of the facilities) and I was back at the trailhead. Two quick miles got me to my very nice campsite with no need to hydrate yet another bag-o-noodles.
So, Benjamin and Duncan, THANKS for an unforgettable helping of trail magic!
Posted: 6:50 09-28-2012 915
Day 13 - Surprise, Surprise
I walked 64380 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 34 miles today.
A most amazing day on the trail!
I camped at mile 198 last night and am now at mile 232, alone both nights no other campers around - lots of different things contributed to such a big mile day. I got an early start just as it got light before 7am, the general terrain was flat, the trail in good shape, cool dry weather, very few people on the trail to chat with, and my legs felt great. There was no real reason to go far but I just kept going.
I met two guys out backpacking with no real destination - just hiking here and there. Then, I met Dan's crew doing trail work - that's the pic. Dan's in Scouts in Two Harbors and volunteers for the trail. His son built a campsite for his Eagle project and I get to see it tomorrow.
Dan recognized me as the guy hiking for the ScoutStrong program so I'm sending his troop a Scout Shop gift card.
I thanked his gang for making the trail, but I hope they realize how much their work really is appeciated.
I saw a few grouse, some garter snakes, and four deer along Silver Creek. I learned that river means water and creek means dirt at this time of year. There are long stretches that are dry now. I saw a very impressive beaver ponf and lodge but still no beaver.
But all that is not nearly the most interesting thing to happen today, not by a long shot....
Posted: 6:44 09-28-2012 914
Day 12 - Marathon Day
I walked 57322 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
This is the Split Rock River trail bridge.
My first marathon day this trek - over 26 miles. The trail really leveled out south of Beaver Bay so I covered ground. I think Mary Anne's great porridge and cantalope helped!
I crossed the Split Rock and Gooseberry rivers which were both low. Most creeks are completely dry now. The beavers are busy rebuilding dams on the Gooseberry after this spring's flood, but I saw none. I did have another dozen grouse explode along the trail today and nearly squished two more garter snakes.
Simply an awesome day with blue sky and every other color on the ground and in the trees.
Keep your eye open for opportunity to help someone. Jeff and Mary Anne inviting a stranger in off the trail was just super! Things like that show we're all in this together.
Posted: 19:04 09-26-2012 913
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