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#687 - 11/09/09 10:22 AM Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
You may not know this but there is a Boy Scout Merit Badge for hiking. It's also an Eagle Required badge along with swimming or biking. So, to make Eagle Scout you have to have one of those three. Sadly most boys don't choose hiking and go for one of the easier ones. In addition to a ton of first aid and paperwork requirements a boy has to do five ten miles hikes and one twenty mile hike to earn his hiking badge. Getting boys fired up to do this much hiking (and leadership willing to take them) is tough and those who get it are usually older - 15, 16, etc. My own son earned his last June when he was still 12, but a lot of people expected that.

I've been taking the troop out pretty regularly for over a year and I had two boys who only needed their 20 miler to finish. One of them had actually tried it in Sept, but ran out of gas early. This time I planned a new route to make it a little easier, but still not free. (My son got his by hiking Cloud's Rest from Happy Isles)

So in addition to another leader, my son and our two hopefulls, we got two other boys who still need some more ten milers, but wanted to knock out the 20 on this "easy" hike.

The route I set up was the PCT north from highway 74 to the Splitter Peak trail and then exit to it's trail head. The Splitter Peak trail is somewhat new and doesn't show on many maps. Depending on where you look the distance shows anywhere from 20-24 miles. It turned out to be nearly 23.

The seven of us left Wildomar at 0545 (another record) and headed to the Splitter Peak TH to drop the co-leaders truck. Temp was about 27 degrees as we all squeezed into my 6 passenger crew cab to the 15 minute drive to the PCT TH.

After getting everyone's gear sorted out and saying a quick prayer we headed out. The profile from the TOPO program showed the route starting flat and then climbing 2000 feet slowly over 8 or 9 miles before dropping straight down on our exit trail. We got moving before 0730 (still another record) so I was hopefull we wouldn't have too much night hiking.

Our first 3 miles went by quickly, but then a few of the video game specialists started slowing down. I had discussed bagging one of the peaks we would be passing with the other leader, but there was some concern about the timeline. (he actually had a 0700 flight for work Sun morning) We passed by Lion Peak just before lunch and I decided to skip the scramble to the top. A couple of our boys were barely holding 1.7 MPH as it was. Soon after lunch we hit the 7000 foot mark and I thought we were done climbing for the day. Somehow I thought the Pacific CREST Trail would stay near the crest.

As we came up towards Pyramid Peak I saw an easy use trail to the top. 18 months ago another leader had taken us up to the peak from the north - a nasty bush whack to the top that left us cut and bleeding. I was with our youngest scout about 10 minutes ahead of the group. We decided to go rogue and get us a peak. 1/2 the way up we saw the group approaching and another boy scrambling up. I knew this would cost us time, but the boys were loving it. We spent less than a minute at the peak getting pics and then the three rebels headed down to rejoin the group. The map showed the PCT passing within 200 feet of Splitter so we thought we could get the group up there before we made the left turn to head down.

Soon after we got a surprise. The trail lost 1000 feet of elevation in less than 2 miles. The boys loved the easy cruise downhill until I did the math for them - Splitter is at 7400 feet and the PCT strolls by at 7200 feet. We were resting at 6000 feet. The left turn was less than 3 miles away. The pace up the switchbacks past Splitter was very slow. We past it in the dark and it started getting chilly out. At the trail junction we regrouped and checked headlamps. Only my son and I had any night hiking experience so I took the lead with him in the middle and the other leader in the rear. Luckily we had hiked this section of trail before when I took them to Apache Peak/s. We went slow and safely and 13 hours after our start time we had 2 more merit badge qualified boys. The other two will be able to knock out some more ten milers and finish up. Sadly the rest of the troop is more interested in activitys involving sitting and resting. I can't change the world, but I can help shape a few lives. smile.............................................DUG

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#693 - 11/09/09 12:16 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
Excellent report, DUG. You're right: we can't change the world. But we can at least help point people in a good direction... smile

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#694 - 11/09/09 12:25 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
DobeMom Offline


Registered: 10/16/09
Posts: 29
Loc: Palmdale, California
Awesome, Dug!
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#695 - 11/09/09 01:24 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
duelmen3 Offline


Registered: 11/06/09
Posts: 11
Loc: San Dimas, CA
Nice Job DUG! It was hiking with scouts in the San Gabriels that gave me the hiking/backpacking bug. You are doing a great service for these boys. My father passed away before I was 2 and the two of the fathers from my scout troop are still mentors to me after 30+ years.
Also, I was trying to remember if there used to be a 50 miles in one hike requirement to get the hiking badge back in the 70's?

Gary
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#698 - 11/09/09 03:14 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: duelmen3]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
Good for you DUG. You are building memories not only with your son but the rest of the troop that will leave a lasting impact just like Gary mentioned.Great trip.I am not sure i could have kept your pace.
My son is an Eagle Scout.That was a lot of hard work 13 some years ago.He went on to play football at Pitt and then the St. Louis Rams


Edited by Rod (11/09/09 05:11 PM)

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#700 - 11/09/09 05:04 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: duelmen3]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: duelmen3
Nice Job DUG! It was hiking with scouts in the San Gabriels that gave me the hiking/backpacking bug. You are doing a great service for these boys. My father passed away before I was 2 and the two of the fathers from my scout troop are still mentors to me after 30+ years.
Also, I was trying to remember if there used to be a 50 miles in one hike requirement to get the hiking badge back in the 70's?

Gary


Gary - There is a 50 mile Biking/Canoeing/Hiking patch a scout can earn. You pick your mode of transportation and after filling out a plan, etc do your miles. The only CATCH is - it's FIVE days. We would have knocked it out this summer if it weren't for that. We are thinking now of leaving after work/school and getting 5 miles in before setting up camp. Then 2 15 miles days and a 14 mile day. Last night on the trail we cowboy camp until 0100 and walk the last mile out. Kinda cheating, but if I think if we hike during five days on the calander and get 50 miles, we should be legal. The PCT in our area would be perfect for that. We were kinda thinking Idyllwild south on the PCT. Might have to throw in some side trips to get the miles up there, but we can bag some peaks on the way.

The whole hike last Saturday my son was the last boy in line, hiking just in front of the other leader. After 14 miles of this I asked him why he was dragging behind everyone else. Turns out he was working on one if his last advancement requirements - IDing 10 native plants.

I'm actually doing double duty - I'm a cubmaster for a brand new pack nearby. They just started up and no one had any idea how the program worked so I said I would give them a year. It's rewarding, but it keeps the schedule full. Over the summer it was crazy trying to get even a 1/2 day to spend with my wife. In April they are on there own, but they'll be ready...................................DUG

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#701 - 11/09/09 05:05 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Rod]
Glenn Jones Offline


Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 3
Loc: Newport Beach CA
Originally Posted By: Rod
My son was an Eagle Scout.That was a lot of hard work.


Hate to nit pick but your son *is* an Eagle Scout. (So am I).

Okay. Off my soapbox and returning to regularly scheduled programming.

BTW - the term "Video Game Specialist" should go down as part of the standard lexicon.


Edited by Glenn Jones (11/09/09 05:05 PM)
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#702 - 11/09/09 05:09 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Glenn Jones]
Rod Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 660
Loc: Santa Clarita, Ca. USA
You are right I almost went back and edited that. Once an Eagle Scout Always an Eagle Scout. It is an elite club for sure.

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#706 - 11/09/09 06:32 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Rod]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Froggie is an Eagle Scout, too. His long distance hike at age 12 was...Whitney from the west side!

B
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#707 - 11/09/09 08:23 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
Karen R Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 7
Loc: Torrance, CA
Great TR DUG...in my experience, an Eagle Scout is a leader throughout life. I've been to several Eagle Ceremonies and I'm always in awe of the maturity in these young men. It is a difficult goal, but it is more meaningful because it is difficult, and only the most committed complete the process. It speaks volumes to the character Scouting builds. Doing something hard is a great life lesson...and too many kids these days are not given the opportunity or the gentle encouragement to do the hard things. Kudos to you for supporting our future leaders.
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#709 - 11/09/09 09:30 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: duelmen3]
CMC2 Offline


Registered: 11/04/09
Posts: 160
Loc: CO
Yes there was a 50 mile hike for that badge back in the 70s.
I joined an Explorer Scout Leader from the Air Force Academy and his assistant on the hike with about 8-10 teenage boys. Our hike was in the Maroon Bells Wilderness area and all completed the 50 miles and qualified for their badge. As I recall it was 1971 or 1972.

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#710 - 11/09/09 09:36 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7228
Loc: Fresno, CA
DUG wrote:
> I'm actually doing double duty - I'm a cubmaster for a brand new pack nearby. They just started up and no one had any idea how the program worked so I said I would give them a year. It's rewarding, but it keeps the schedule full. Over the summer it was crazy trying to get even a 1/2 day to spend with my wife. In April they are on there own, but they'll be ready.

Way to go, DUG! The rewards go both ways. Everyone benefits when you do things like that.

And your 5-day hike finishing at 1 AM is NOT cheating. You ARE on the trail 5 consecutive days. smile

I've actually started a multi-day backpack by hiking several hours starting about 8 PM. Gives everyone a chance to break-in the walking legs, plus helps with a good nights sleep the first night.

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#1299 - 12/14/09 04:51 PM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Steve C]
Iseebergy Offline


Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Visalia, Ca.
DUG,
I am a fellow Scouter planning a 50-miler for 2010. Any good ideas for a Eastern Sierra route? Thinking of going in at OV or Horseshoe with a side trip up a 14'er or two. I posted on the WPS but thought with this thread maybe I could get some input.
Thanks in advance! smile

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#1313 - 12/15/09 07:04 AM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Iseebergy]
MooseTracks Offline


Registered: 11/02/09
Posts: 582
Loc: Bishop, CA, United States
You won't get the 14ers, but the loop from South lake to North Lake is probably one of the most spectacular on-trail adventures you could do. Easy access, couple of ranger stations along the way, plenty of off-trail Cl2 scrambling to various peaks through the EVO basin.

$.02
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#1314 - 12/15/09 09:47 AM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: DUG]
BiletChick Offline


Registered: 12/10/09
Posts: 31
Loc: Huntington Beach, CA
Way to go Doug...kudos to you and congrats to the boys!!!
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#1329 - 12/16/09 08:08 AM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: BiletChick]
Iseebergy Offline


Registered: 12/14/09
Posts: 2
Loc: Visalia, Ca.
Thanks for the .02 cents Moose! We are soooo lucky that we have so many wonderful options here!

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#1563 - 01/06/10 07:59 AM Re: Hiking the PCT for Merit Badges [Re: Iseebergy]
DUG Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 367
Loc: Wildomar
Originally Posted By: Iseebergy
DUG,
I am a fellow Scouter planning a 50-miler for 2010. Any good ideas for a Eastern Sierra route? Thinking of going in at OV or Horseshoe with a side trip up a 14'er or two. I posted on the WPS but thought with this thread maybe I could get some input.
Thanks in advance! smile


A lot of troops get their 50 miler coming out of OV and going up Whitney. For a 20 miler I'm taking a couple boys out of OV to Roads End in Kings Canyon one way. There is just so much to do in that area you can't go wrong. Transportation is the biggest headache - some parents just don't want to do their part sadly. When we did the PCT 20 miler it was just the Scoutmaster and myself driving - made for a couple interesting trips between trailheads as we set the shuttle up. My truck holds 6, his truck holds 5. There were 7 of us that day.

In June or July we will be headed back up to the Portal. We will probably just go up to Meysan Lakes and explore. The burgers and pancakes will keep us coming back for years to come, I'm sure.

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