Hike On {Part 3}

We thought we published this but…oops!  Enjoy round three of our adventures. 

After two wonderful days in Ewells Park and enjoying the meadow’s beauty it was time to head over to Upper Greenwood in the Valle Vidal.  Going into the Valle Vidal was unchartered waters for our merry little band.  We decided to break camp early so we could take part in the programs at French Henry.  It was an extremely good thing the first 1 hour of hike was relatively easy after the long haul to the peak of Baldy.


It is not very often a group of people become excited to see porta potties.  When we walked down the hill into French Henry the questions were flying, “Can we use those?  Are those for us?  Are those only for staff?”  It doesn’t take a lot when you’re on day six without plumbing.  Does a porta potty even count as plumbing?

Panning for Gold

Panning for Gold

We were greeted by a very enthusiastic Paul the geologist and a hearty welcome to hot water to make oatmeal a cup of joe or hot chocolate.  The mountain stream offered refreshing and first the first time in days COLD water for drinking.  We all attempted a little gold panning.  No success stories, we will not be retiring anytime soon.  The question was asked and yes, every day someone finds gold in the streams at French Henry.  It was not our lucky gold panning day but luckily for Ashley her camera was restored by the talents of Jerry!  She lives for pictures.


While at French Henry Ross and Tanner became smithy apprentices and showed their talents and trained their muscles.  Unfortunately, their tool did not live to leave the forge.  Oh well, the rest of us had a good time watching their efforts.  We loaded up and began the arduous climb out of French Henry to stop at the Aztec Ponil 2 mine up on the bluff.  The climb was exhausting but the mine was fascinating and the stories told were equally spooky for some.  Randy led us out of the mine without use of flash flights.  Who knew 300 feet could take so long when avoiding rock and low ceilings.

working the biceps

working the biceps

After roughly 28 switchbacks we made it out of Copper Canyon to only be met by the rain on the north side of Baldy on our way to Upper Greenwood. Upper Greenwood is really quite decieving when coming from Ewells Park.  You go up 28 switchbacks which takes an eternity and then spend three hours going DOWN!  We got caught in quite the rain storm and were hit by our second round of hail.  The hail was intense.  We had to take shelter in the Ponderosa Pines and even then the sting of the hail was enough to leave red welts on bare legs.   Shoes were soaked, rain jackets did not do the trick and we still had hours of hiking remaining.  By the time we made it to Upper Greenwood everyone was ready to call it a night.


#17 and Still Going

#17 and Still Going

But when living in the back country there is no rest until camp is set up, bear bags are hung, dining fly is strung, water is purified, sleeping bags are hung out to dry and food is prepared.  We were all moving a little slow but some how we managed.  We had quite the water purification system.  Ashley opened the empties, tossed to Ross across the stream, Ross tossed back to Ashley and Ashley handed off to Randy who tossed to Jared and Trevor for the Micropur.  Randy challenged Ashley and Ross to timed throwing of water bottles.  They rocked it; impeccable timing!  Trevor traded out spots with Trevor and the line of purified water continued to grow.  Everyone slept well and woke to semi-dry apparel.  The bushes were lined with drying socks, boots, rain jackets, sleeping bags and tent flies.

Fresh Mountain Water

Fresh Mountain Water

Dusting our feet of Upper Greenwood we started the never ending march to Iris Park.  Despite our gear being soaked through and through the sun was shining and the meadows were drying.  We enjoyed a lazy stroll through Greenwood Canyon.   We buckled and unbuckled our packs as we crisscrossed the stream running through the meadow.  If it were not for the sun it would have made for one soggy 10 mile day.  Just when Ashley thought her feet would be dry for the rest of the day, she slipped off a rock.  Oh well, there was still 6 miles to go and plenty of drying opportunity.


Water Everywhere

Water Everywhere

We played an age old hiking game, “My Father Owns a Grocery Store.”  If you’ve never played, the whole point is for your group to guess an item in a grocery store by just knowing the first letter of the item and then playing twenty questions.  Try it sometime and when you correctly guess Wrigley or barcode or tomatillo you know you’re a professional.

What's a Tomatillo?

What’s a Tomatillo?


We’re Off

Well we’re Philmont bound! We’ve landed on the train and are making our way to an amazing adventure.


Trevor is as happy as a clam getting ready to ride his first train. Megan is ready for her first high adventure with the crew and for 12 days of camping. Tanner, Jared and Ross are enjoying all the room for their long legs. Amariah is pumped to be returning to Philmont for round two.


The adults are crazy excited to be going on this incredible adventure with these amazing young men and women. It’s going to be an amazing trek! Here we come!


30 Days and Counting

Woot woot!  It is hard to believe in exactly 30 days we will be hitting the trails of Philmont Scout Ranch.  Who knew over a year of planning would go by so quickly.  It seems hard to believe we are finally in the last stages of preparing for Philmont.

Just keep hiking

Just keep hiking

Our prep hiking has been kicked up a notch and living rooms and garages are becoming sorting grounds full of equipment.  With Philmont just 30 days away we’ve picked up the hiking pace to 2-3 times a week.  Everyone’s doing great and the enthusiasm is building.

the fearless ladies

the fearless ladies

The merry band of nine is full of newbies and a smattering of veterans.  With five of the six youth experiencing the backcountry of New Mexico for the first time it is sure to be a delight. There is really nothing better than conquering the initial climb of the trek, setting up camp, purifying water and throwing your first bear bag line.  It will be a trip of firsts and we could not be more excited.

On our Way

On our Way

Keep an eye out for more details of our trek and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as we travel by train from Central Illinois to the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Pomp and Circumstance

May always seems to be a flurry of activity.  Between weddings, and graduations and the occasional Venturing activity the month quickly fades into June.   We don’t know about you but is it hard to sit through graduations ceremonies without thinking of Scouting songs?  It is for us!  One particular song automatically starts rolling through the brain…My Turtle Swims Sideways.

Inevitably as soon as Pomp and Circumstance makes its way into the audience this little ditty comes to mind:

My turtle swims sideways

Your turtle swims upside down

My turtle swims sideways

Your turtle is dead!

Tank the Turtle

 In our little crew we have had quite the graduation season.  We have one crew member graduating from every level of education.  We cannot be more proud of all everyone has accomplished and cannot wait to see what their futures have in store.


Graduating from Chillicothe Elementary Center is our dear Megan.  Megan has been hanging out with the crew for the past 7-8 months as an unofficial member of the crew.  In order to be a full-fledged youth in any Venture Crew you must be either 14 years old or 13 and completed 8th grade.  Well, congratulations, Megan!  You’ve successfully conquered junior high and are heading off to high school!

Crew 91 Graduates

Leaving Illinois Valley Central High School as a well-rounded senior is our enthusiastic Tanner.  Tanner has quite the scouting career starting as far back as a Cub Scout, moving into Boy Scouts, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout and joining Crew 91.    Kudos to you, Tanner and best of luck as you attend Illinois Central College this fall!

Crew 91 Graduates

Not to be excluded from the excitement, Arielle graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a Bachelor of Arts in Pre-Counseling.   Though too old to be a youth of Crew 91, Arielle made the transition to Associate Crew Advisor as soon as she was eligible.  Congratulations on a job well done for successfully navigating through the challenges of college life!  Best wishes as you hit the pavement!

Crew 91 Graduates

So the next time you’re sitting through graduation and cannot wait for Pomp and Circumstance to quit repeating itself, just sing a Crew 91 favorite: My Turtle Swims Sidesways.

My turtle

Have you ever gone fishing

The Boy Scout world is full if music.  What you consider music and really is music could be two separate ideas entirely.  However, singing off key or yelling at the top of your lungs is a common occurrence in scouting land.

Our crew is no different.  We chant, sing in rounds, perform little skits and break into song all the time.  You will be hard pressed to find an activity where some kind of music does not make an appearance.

Venture Crew 91

When we went to Philmont Scout Ranch in 2011 a whole bunch of us listened to country music.  A handful did not appreciate the finer qualities of country music and would bust out in:

“Barges are there treasures in your hold, do you fight with pirates big and bold.  Barges I would like to sail with you, I would like to sail the ocean blue.”

You sing Barges in a round and it was a sure fire way to stop the singing of country music – everyone would jump right in and finish the song  To this day Barges is the perfect way to change the song or subject.  Just as a side note, the anti-country music fellows has been converted!

If we’re not singing a round you might find us singing an action song.  There is nothing better than a little enthusiasm and jumping and ‘do as I do’ songs to get your crew ready for a night of excitement.  They’re also great for a lull in a program or for when you need to break up a training weekend.  One of our favorites is quick and simple:

“Have you ever gone fishing on a bright summer day with all the little fishies swimming in the bay?  With their hands in their pockets and their pockets in their pants all the little fishies do the hootchie kootchie dance.’

Or maybe you might prefer Gray Squirrel for a quick and easy action song. Many times you will find Gray Squirrel used when a member of a troop or crew forgets to bring a water bottle, their merit badge sash or the lunch.  The poor unsuspecting soul has to sing Gray Squirrel with all the motions and if everyone is nice they might join in the merriment:

                              “Gray squirrel, gray squirrel shake your bushy tail. Gray Squirrel, gray squirrel shake your bushy tail.  Crinkle up your little nose, stick a nut between your toes. Gray squirrel, gray squirrel shake your bushy tail.”

So matter the type of song, we’re game.  We may look silly but we don’t really mind.  It brings a smile to our faces and to those around us who think us crazy, we’ll let you in our secret…we are. 🙂

Venturing is Pretty Niffty

There are a whole lot of things that make Venturing an incredible program: high adventure, scuba diving, marshmallow wars, leadership training and team building activities.  But the most amazing things about Venturing are the friendships forged.

Venture Crew91

January has brought a lot of cold and a bunch of snow.  We thought skiing would be a great way to take advantage of the weather.  We planned a little Venturing ski trip but things did not pan out as expected.  Our skiing trip was cancelled.

Venture Crew 91

It was the Saturday before MLK Day and a small group of friends, who just happened to be Venture Scouts, decided even though the Crew was not going to ski they were going to go skiing.  Monday morning a group of eight friends and two family members made their way to Dubuque, IA.

Venture Crew 91

Despite the Crew  skiing activity being cancelled this group of friends decided to make a day for themselves.  Venturing is not just about getting together a few times a month, hanging out, having a good time and then going back to life as it was.  Venturing is about the friendships that span beyond the meeting and into every day life and follow you throughout the rest of your life.  Skiing at Sundown Mountain on January 20 is proof our Crew is made of friends who have become family.

Venture Crew 91

Saying Goodbye to 2013

We like to party.  Plain and simple.  Party we did right before Christmas.  We had a little snow and as a special treat one of committee members brought everyone a snowman.  The little card read as follows:

Money is scarce and times are hard. 

So I’m giving you this instead of a card.

Something to use, something to share. 

So bottoms up, just ’cause I care!

Merry Christmas!

Toilet Paper Snowmen

A few fancy games were played and most scrumptious food was enjoyed.  There can’t really be anything better than embarrassing yourself in front of your whole crew.  It’s a good thing we don’t embarrass very easily.  To get things started we played No Hands Cookie.  It is fairly simple really, you place any old cookie on your forehead and without using your hands you must get the cookie into your mouth.  Oh the many faces you’ll discover while trying to move a cookie across your face!

Eat the Cookie!

We take gift wrapping very seriously, as we should.  We wrap loads of gifts every year for the Chillicothe Community Needs Agency.  We took wrapping to a whole new level this year.  In teams of three with each team member allowed to use only one hand, teams had to wrap two packages complete with creased edges and bows.  There were points added for bows matching the paper, strict adherence to the one arm per person rule and bribing the judge.  The creative juices were flowing when figuring out how to cut tape with only one hand.



Following instructions is important, especially when drawing what you cannot see.  Some were more capable at scribbling on the plate atop their heads while others shouldn’t quit their day jobs.  Using a paper plate and instructions read by one player we had to draw exactly what was read, a fire place with a mantel, a Christmas tree with a shining star.  Some even attempted to cheat!  Who would ever think of cheating to get ahead in a little old party game?  Let’s just say we are not hitting the road anytime soon as local artists.

Artists in the Making

We are hilarious, that’s all there is to it.  We had each other cracking up at our funny faces ‘eating’ cookies.  Laughed at each other’s strategic plans to wrap gifts with only three hands.  And enjoyed scoring each others paper plate masterpieces.  Just too much fun was had by all.  What can we come up with next?  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.