Sunday, June 11, 2006

Backpack Trip - Garden of the Gods

M and W partook in a recent 15 mile backpacking adventure in Southern Illinois with two other scouts and another adult. The first day was blessed with excellent weather, making it possible to hike without dying of heat exhaustion, and merely soaking one's clothes in perspiration. Told that they could "camp anywhere" along the River to River trail, the group quickly discovered that practically the entire route was blanketed with poison ivy. Horses seemed to enjoy the route, and much of it was extremely muddy, leaving the hikers the choice between tromping through the mud or carefully navigating poison ivy. The group walked to "High Knob" for lunch, a 900 foot elevation hill from which a nice panorama could be observed. From there, the group began searching for a campsite, with the plan being to be near the almost-famous "Garden of the Gods", not to be confused with the Colorado location of the same name. A serendipitous detour took the group to Buzzards Point, which had some large rocks and caves, but the group was still not far enough along to camp, so they proceeded onward.

With poison ivy omnipresent, the group navigated a hill and came to the Little Eagle Creek, where they encountered a couple on horseback. They were advised of a possible camping spot that was "only a 1/4 mile". Slogging on and struggling up a particularly tough hill, the group did eventually find the campsite, but by this time, they were very low on water. W and Doug Weidman then took all the water containers and went in search of water. They quickly reached a road and flagged down a car that took pity on them and gave them a 1 gallon water container. Another mile of walking and a water source was found and all the containers became quite heavy with water, Doug and W struggling to carry it all back to camp.

The next day brought an early morning thunderstorm, which the group hiked out in. Marcel discovered that he stayed drier by not wearing a poncho, since if you wore a poncho, you became completely soaked in sweat. Everybody made fun of W's garbage bag that he put over his backpack. The garbage bag was effective, though unwieldy. M and Wes Bussler ran with their backpacks in order to enhance their supreme conditioning, as the adults brought up the rear. W defeated the attempts of two ticks to suck his blood, but was foiled by a third that somehow got through his defenses.

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