aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Our First Ten-Miler

Our first attempt to begin Hiking Merit Badge last month had to be canceled due to sudden sickness in our second adult. But today, we pulled it off. We were missing Mitch (school play techwork) and David (church choir cantata rehearsal), but Dean and I took the other four boys of our Hiking Merit Badge group out for our first ten-miler. Jordan was Leader of the Day; Jackson was our Mapigator.

Hiking Merit Badge has a few talky requirements about first aid and such, but the core of the beast is five ten-mile hikes and one twenty-miler. Ouch. I knew that we would face two big hurdles today: first, we are all out of shape; second, if you're only used to five-mile hikes (like these guys), you're going to have a bummer moment when you've done about that much and you're ready for the hike to end -- and it doesn't.

It was crisp and a bit moist when we started out, but not brutally cold. We drove to McCormick's Creek State Park and hiked from Canyon Inn down to the mouth of the creek where it enters White River. Then we hiked up onto the main ridge north of the creek until we came to Deer Run Shelter. There, we schlepped up Trail # 9 until it reaches the edge of the park, and we tip-toed down a utility line trail and over the park boundary.

After that, it was all road hiking. We stopped for lunch at a cool old cemetery. Shortly after stumping through Stinesville, we reached Red Hill Rd., and The Question was asked. The Answer came as a heavy burden: four and a half miles to go. But we mustered our courage and sucked it up and tromped off down the road. A light rain began almost immediately thereafter. The rain never got too bad: just enough to test our preparedness and our character.

T.J. was on the alert for signs of wildlife all day. He has to identify ten animals in the wild by sight or sign or call for Second Class. I think he got nine of them today: Gray Squirrel, Deer hoofprint, Bluejay call, Vulture nest, (Domesticated) Bison in a field, Canada Geese; I forget the others.

We made it back to the church just short of 3:30 p.m. -- almost exactly six hours after starting out at the park. That's quite a pace for anybody, and I'm proud of the guys. The next one should be easier, now that they're beginning to get an idea of what it takes to hike ten miles. They all went off, talking of hot showers and naps and such. Me, I went home and took my second Celebrex for the day.

Pictures are behind the cut. Click on any pic to enlarge.

Descending to McCormick's Creek Descending to McCormick's Creek
Karst topography produces sinkholes; it also produces outcroppings like the limestone here.
White River White River
McCormick's Creek flowing in at left
Working our way up the ridge Working our way up the ridge
A beautiful day on the edge of winter
Break Break
L to R: T.J., Jordan, Bryan adjusting gear with Dean, Jackson
Lunch Among the Ruins Lunch Among the Ruins
We stop in a country cemetery; our hosts were most amiable.
Elixir of Warmth Elixir of Warmth
Jackson and Dean discover the wonders of double-strength hot Gatorade.
Railway to Heaven Railway to Heaven
A family tombstone; one member of the family was killed while working on the Monon RR.
You Are Here You Are Here
Like many towns in Limestone Country, Stinesville goes for the monumental in signage.
Into every life a little rain must fall Into every life a little rain must fall
Stumping down Red Hill Rd. to Ellettsville and home


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