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Big Wins

On my first campout with the scouts since returning from my hike across WI. We picked a cold, wet weekend but still had a good time making a trebuchet and launching tennis balls. With just 8 poles, you can build a very nice little launcher.
Food was the major chore yesterday and today. Here's a scout making pancakes over the fire. They also made bacon and hashbrowns while the rain turned to sleet and a few bits of hail.
It's important for us to keep expectations realistic for new scouts. I believe scouts can do tremendous things, usually much more then they think. Just remember that small steps of experience build their abilities so they are able to tackle the big things. Sometimes, just having the pancakes come out not burned and not gooey IS a big win!

A few people asked about the trebuchet, so here's a picture of what we built. Click it to see a larger picture. See the comments for a link to the plans.
Scouts only needed to learn the clove hitch and square lashing to create it. It's a good beginner lashing project.
A plastic serving spoon from a patrol box was lashed to the end of the throwing arm with a round lashing to create the bucket to hold ammo. At the troop meeting last week, some scouts volunteered to bring items to throw, but none followed through. :-( So, the scoutmaster conveniently had a few tennis balls, just in case.
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Posted: 7:55 10-20-2013 1069
Top Cook Contest
dutch oven enchiladas

Are you the best chef in your troop?
Do the scouts rave about your meals months later?
Well, here's your chance to prove it!

Scouting magazine is holding a Camp Cuisine Contest this month. Submit your entry at their contest page and you might win an MSR Dragonfly stove. Way cool!

There's a category for adults and one for scouts, so share the word and see if someone in your troop can win.
Even if you don't win, your recipe might earn you $50 if it gets published in Scouting magazine.

But, hey, don't submit Enchiladas because that's my favorite and I have dibs on it!

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Posted: 15:12 10-18-2013 1068
Programming Patch Secret
Programming merit badge
At the Scout Shop today, I saw the new Programming merit badge patch. It was a pretty boring looking patch, to tell the truth. Kind of bland shades of green in the green border, and no picture of a computer, or any electronic device.

But, if you have an old school programming degree ( like me :-) ), you would recognize that the image is actually three highlighted strings of 1s and 0s - that's Binary code and each digit is called a BIT.
There are eight digits in each of the three highlighted lines - 8 bits make a BYTE.

Looking up the three BYTES in this chart, shows them to be the ASCII codes for B - S - A
Now, I thought that was pretty clever and could be a fun tidbit to start out with when counseling for this badge.

Oh, I bought the Programming merit badge pamphlet at the shop since I hope to counsel for this one, and on page 14, there is more info about this visually plain but thoughtfully done patch.

Scout On
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Posted: 13:44 10-02-2013 1067
End of the Trail

I walked 30500 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 23 miles today.
We slogged our way to the western terminus!!! A few pictures and congratulations, and then into the Ice Age center to get out of the cold rain. I guess the directions for the parade got lost - no one showed up except my good friend Duncan. What a great surprise to be greeted by him at the very end!
We ran into some volunteers doing trail work and actually got to be the first hikers on a brand new piece of trail that will be completed next weekend. It will nearly complete the trail through St. Croix Falls.
No need to find a plce to camp tonight. No planning tomorrow's hike. No wondering what excitement the trail will bring. Just profound gratitude to all the folks that make this trail possible and my opportunity to enjoy it - end to end.

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Posted: 14:02 09-28-2013 1066
Camp Phillips

I walked 66000 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 30 miles today.
We put in a long day, but it went quickly hiking and visting with the new people we met on the trail.
Nearly to Haugen, a man with a dog came down the trail towards us. He recognized us and said he's been following this blog - how cool! Greg chatted while we hiked toward his vehicle. When we got there, he had soda and snacks waiting. What a great treat on a warm afternoon - Thank You, Greg (and your dog Archie)
Once past Haugen, the trail passes through BSA Camp Phillips. I've heard of this camp but never visited. It looks like a well-run and very nice camp with waterfront, pioneering, nature trails, and lots more. It was sure great of the BSA to have the trail pass through.
Soon after the camp, there is a big logging operation underway - chopping down everything, including many blazed trees. This was our first real hardship of the trail. We lost about 45 minutes searching for blazes, backtracking, and a little guessing before we finally made it through. Pat and Kehly - watch out!
Other than that, just a glorious day on a very mellow trail most of the day.

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Posted: 22:02 09-25-2013 1061
Friends from Home

I walked 58800 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 28 miles today.
What a wonderful day!
Last year on my Superior Hiking Trail trek, a scout from home and his family surprised me on the trail and hiked with me. Guess what?
Towards the end of our 17 mile roadwalk to Cornell, I saw a vehicle in a parking area along the road with what looked like a couple kids selling lemonade. Papa Bear and I decided we should support the young local entrepreneurs so we walked over. Only then did I recognize it was Benjamin and his family waiting for us to walk by!
They were on a weekend camping trip and followed our progress (Check out my current location on the map.) so they knew we'd be coming by soon. After a short visit and rest, they took our packs while we hiked the rest of the way to the city park. There, we were treated to a marvelous picnic of sandwiches, pop, chips, salad, candy bars, and even pickles - wow!
After lunch, we finished our roadwalk to the trailhead where Benjamin and his dad joined us for a 7.5mile trail walk. Benjamin did a great job finding blazes and leading us at a brisk pace. At the far end of the hike, his mom and sister met us for another snack break.
As it was getting late (and we had eaten most of their food, I expect), we finally hoisted our packs now filled with water for tomorrow and left our good friends to their drive home.
It was a most enjoyable afternoon and a real highlight of the trek for me! I am very grateful for such friends!
To top off the day, we found a new distributed camping area only a haf mile down the trail with flat, clean space and set up camp before dark. Bonus!
Thanks, Benjamin!!!

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Posted: 18:58 09-22-2013 1056
900 Miles

Just crossee the county border to Chippewa county. According to the Ice Age Trail guidebook, that is 900 miles behind us and less than 200 to go!
The day is gorgeous - clear and cool. We're chasing the setting moon towards Cornell and then on into the forest. Feet are doing great! It was good to have a day to heal.

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Posted: 9:02 09-22-2013 1055
Troop 536

Troop 536 in Medford, WI rocks!
Here is their scout hut right in the city park. It is a very cool meeting place and their scoutmaster is letting me rest here overnight. He is a great example of being helpful, friendly, and kind all at once.
He is leading the scouts on a canoe trip this weekend to a spot along the Ice Age Trail but they will be there after I've already hiked by - oh well.
Keep your eyes open to exemplify the Scout Law - there are opportunities everywhere, often when you don't expect them.

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Posted: 20:02 09-18-2013 1051

I walked 24548 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 12 miles today.
Just after we finished dinner last night, the rain started. It diminished to drizzle around 7am so we broke camp. The drizzle, fog, and general gloom hung in all morning as we soggily trod to our destination. Fortunately, we had a short way today since our shuttle had been arranged.
The actual trail was fine and we spooked a bunch of grouse and a couple deer. Lots of effort has gone into the Taylor county segments with adequate blazing and navigable trail.
We were fortunate to meet the chapter coordintor, Buzz Meyer. Buzz gave us a ride and visited with us over a very filling pizza bar at Happy Joe's in Medford. He has lots of trail stories and is a dedicated volunteer - Thanks Buzz! (Here's Buzz and his nice truck)
Buzz dropped us off to tent in the Medford city park. While looking for a spot, I noticed a Boy Scout hut. I had my son back home look up the troop's contact info, I called the scoutmaster, and he let us rest inside away from the lingering mosquitos this evening.
Yet two more helpful, friendly, kind people to add to our long list on this trip.

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Posted: 19:55 09-18-2013 1050
Die, Mosquitos, Die

I walked 43162 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 21 miles today.
We called it a short day at Rusch Preserve where there are some free campsites and a pump well. The well water is brown. :-(
This is also the start of the 10mile side trail to Timm's Hill - Wisconsin's high point. (I won't be doing that)
Even though we've had two sub-freezing nights, mosquitos continue to hound us - but not as aggressively and only in the afternoon and evening. You can see I'm still making use of my bug suit this evening.
In this established campsite, there is at least one pesky rodent searching for free food. We've no such visitors when camping wild out on the trail. But, last night, we did have a gang of turkeys wander by our tents making lots of noise. That was a treat!

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Posted: 18:16 09-17-2013 1049
Top of the World

I'm on top of the lookout tower on the high point of the Ice Age Trail! It's all downhill to Minnesota from here.
Sweeping views all around, including Rib Mountain way down by Wausau. It's all gresn now, but in a few weeks it will be a kaleidoscope of color.
Hike On

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Posted: 10:03 09-14-2013 1044
Trail Angels

I walked 53389 steps on the trail today.
I traveled about 26 miles today.
A funny thing happened on the way to Polar today...
Papa Bear read in the Ice Age Trail guidebook that a bar-n-grill in Polar, WI is hiker-friendly and may let you camp behind their place. With that in mind, we set our goal for today to be that grill. It would be a casual 23 miles with a long break in Antigo during the hottest part of the day, and we'd reach Polar around dark.
The roadwalk from Antigo took awhile to get going - checking for stove fuel (never did find any), grocery stop, WalMart stop, bathroom stop after too much pop at McD's. Finally, we were walking.
Heading due east, the sun setting behind us, it was a nice walk to Polar. When we got there, we thought the grill was farther ahead so we walked past the recommended route turn in the dark. After going farther than we figured was appropriate, we called the place. We could continue on and turn north or backtrack and turn north to reach them - same distance. So, we went forward.
A few minutes later, a car pulled up by us and asked if we were hiking the IAT. They invited us to their place along the route just up the way. They had seen us on the road earlier when they drove to Antigo and hoped they would find us again. TRAIL MAGIC!!!
So, after a shower, food, and conversation, I'm sending this just before bed in the home of yet more amazing trail angels.
You have opportunities to be a trail angel all the time - no trail is really needed to offer hospitality to others. It's up to you to notice and take those opportunities.

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Posted: 22:04 09-11-2013 1037
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