Troop 868 in Action
Deam Wilderness Area Backpacking
(Friday~Sunday, October 12~14, 2012)

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The troop's October outing was a two-night backpacking hike in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area of the Hoosier National Forest.  We combined the 6.4 mile Sycamore Trail with the 2.5 mile Axsom Branch Trail and the 3.2 mile Martin Hollow Trail to create a hike of about 12.5 miles by hiking in a figure-8 pattern that caused us to hike a short section of trail twice.  We arrived at the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower parking area around midnight on Friday night and hiked just under a mile of the Sycamore Trail by a combination of moonlight and flashlight to reach a suitable backcountry camping site.  This left us with right at 10 miles of trail to hike on Saturday so that scouts who wished to use the hike for Hiking Merit Badge would be able to do so.  (Hikes must be at least 10 miles per day to count toward that merit badge.)  On Saturday night we camped along the Martin Hollow Trail a little more than a mile from the fire tower and the end of the trail.

We were fortunate to have clear and cool weather throughout the weekend.  The Sycamore Trail was strictly a hiking trail; the other two trails were combination hiking/horseback trails.  We only encountered a single pair of riders and were happy to stand off to the side of the trail to allow the horses to pass without spooking them.  Despite being in a very hilly area, all three trails basically followed ridge lines and the paths were mostly level with only three real climbs over the entire 12 miles --- and those were relatively easy with switchbacks.  By Boy Scout standards, we'd have to rate our chosen route as "easy."  Even our youngest, smallest, and least experienced backpackers had no problems carrying their packs the entire way and everyone enjoyed the weekend.  There was a creek along the Martin Hollow Trail where we could have obtained water, but we had planned ahead and staged water near where the trail crossed the service road, so taking water from the creek wasn't necessary.

Tristan cooked scrambled eggs over a portable camp stove. Scoutmaster Meek ate his breakfast from the cooking pot after everyone else had been served. 
The group prepared to break camp on Saturday morning.  Scoutmaster Meek (who is either never lost or totally lost) is ready to go as SPL Connor and Mr. Say both check their maps.
Preston led the group for most of the hike, followed by SPL Connor. Tristan and Noah, both on their first backing trips, trudged along.
The terrain was mostly flat and the trail was a dirt path in excellent condition ... it was easy and comfortable walking. The entire group did an excellent job of sticking together.  
In this photo we can clearly see Connor, Noah, Zach, and Thomas. Following Thomas are Andrew, Dylan, ASM Jeff Hagerman, Mr. Say, and ASM David Meek.
At a rest break, Zach, Dylan, Andrew, and Noah seem to enjoy watching our other Noah struggle to reach his canteen. Here we have Connor followed by Noah, Gavin, and Thomas.
This group took a short detour to check out one of the established campsites along the trail.  (L to R): Mr. Hagerman, Zach, Noah, Gavin, Mr. Meek, Mr. Brookshire, and Eric. At the lunch stop on Saturday, we can clearly see Mr. Brookshire, Mr. Meek, Andrew, and Gavin.  In the background, Zach and Eric are unpacking their lunches; Connor and a couple of other scouts are already cooking.
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