It was a beautiful mid November Day, the sky was blue, the breeze warm and the sun shining as 9 folks from Brookhaven B&G Club and 3 ICO leaders hoofed our way to the top of Blood Mountain. It was a moderate to strenuous 1 hr 40 min climb to the top where we enjoyed our lunches overlooking the valleys near the CCC stone hut built for thru hikers at the mountain’s peak. Everyone did a great job staying together, and all enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. For some, this was the second time they summited Blood mountain- and last year’s snow was remembered fondly. We got to explore the stone hut which was closed last year for repairs. We enjoyed hot chocolate upon arriving back to the van (1 hr 10 min descent) and headed home tired and fulfilled. Thanks to the club who provided transportation and driver and to all the ICO and agency adults who make these trips happen. View more pictures from the trip
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Entries in Brookhaven (12)
Thanks to the generosity of the Sierra Club, 3 ICO boys and 1 leader from the Brookhaven ICO Boys and Girls Club were selected to attend the Multigenerational Trail Building Service Project in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana.
Straddling the Continental Divide, “The Bob” is comprised of towering limestone reefs, majestic mountains, lush forests, broad basins and valleys and two wild and scenic rivers. It is also home to the best wildlife habitat in the lower 48 for elk, deer, moose, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black bear and the threatened grizzly bear. We saw every animal listed except the mountain goat and moose. Much to our surprise, we saw 3 grizzlies in one day.
Our trip began at 4:30am Sunday, July 1 where we met at the Atlanta airport. Six hours later we arrived in Great Falls, Mt. We then drove to Choteau to meet the other 15 participants at the ranger station. Our other campers ranged in ages from 10 to 70 coming from Michigan, Alabama, California and Illinois. We had another ICO group from California on the trip who were very interesting to talk with and compare notes.
We caravanned out to “The Bob” on a well graded gravel road for about an hour. We would be camping and working out of the West fork of the Teton River trailhead. There were a number of trails in that area that accessed the wilderness and we would be concentrating on rehabbing these trails. Five years ago, there was a fire that burned hundreds of acres. What is left today is charred tree trunks. It is a continuous endeavor to keep the trails cleared from these falling trees, erosion and invasive plants that take over trails.
Since we were in bear country, our Rangers gave us a lesson in food containment in the back country, what to do if we saw a bear and how to use pepper spray. However, bears tend to shy away from humans, especially in groups. We practiced Leave No Trace procedures, re-cycling, reduce waste and empowering participants toward greater understanding of conservation and sustainability of resources.
We pitched our tents close enough to the river so we could hear it at night and we bedded down – our first night in the wilderness. Where did the warmth go? That evening temperatures dropped into the 40’s. We soon learned that climate changes in a mountain-desert region can change wildly and quickly. Over the next 3 days we would experience gale-like winds, flash rain, almost freezing temperatures and 80 degree sunshine.
Our work day began at 6:00am with some cowboy coffee. You know, the kind you drink a little and chew a little. 7:00am was breakfast. Our cook did amazing feats using only a propane stove. All the campers had their turn at becoming sous-chefs and helping out at breakfast and dinner. At 8:00am we all did stretching routines before we headed off to maintain the trails. The rangers gave us good instruction on the use of tools. Our typical workday consisted of packing our lunch, heading off with our tools and hike 3-4 miles over rough terrain and elevation to the work project carrying a back-pack that contained rain gear, lunch, water and tools. Over the next 4 days we cross-cut trees that lay across the trail, widened trails on ledges that had been eroded and cut down saplings of cottonwood, willows and dogwoods that would have taken over the trail quickly.
We were there for 7 days. Each day we learned something new but most of all, we came away with an appreciation of a space in our world that isn’t developed but is there for all to enjoy.
Fifteen teens from the Brookhaven boys and girls club visited Raccoon Caverns in Chattanooga, TN to get dirty and go caving (aka spelunking). Raccoon Mountain Caverns consists of over 5 miles of underground passageways and is considered to be the most geologically active cave in the South.
Our trip guides provided us with information on how the cave was formed, how it was discovered and pointed out a wide range of formations including stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flow stones, natural bridges and much more! This is the type of activity that can be done no matter what the weather is outside because the cave is a constant 60 degrees. During the two and a half hours of strenuous climbing, crawling, slithering, rolling and hiking that we did, we built up a good sweat.
We went in the more remote portions of the cave which required us to wear gloves, knee-pads, head lights and helmets - all of which were provided. At one point, our guide asked us all to turn our lights off to experience the world of complete darkness only matched by the depths of the deepest seas.
None of the kids had ever been in a cave before and all of them were appreciated the opportunity to experience spelunking. They displayed good team work by helping each other through tight places, passing messages back and having good attitudes. At the end of our tour everyone was proud to have accomplished such a unique challenge and as Robin says, "It was a thrill to see that they got it."
Click here to view more pictures from the trip.