Thursday, February 27, 2014

Camping in March: Hell’s Half Acre

One of the things I love the most about Idaho is the variety of landscapes we have to explore – and one that gets explored the least is our volcanic terrain.

Which is a grand shame, because it’s beautiful, and not as stark as you’d think.

Take, for example, the Hell’s Half Acre lava flow, mostly west and south of Idaho Falls. It’s the same flow you drive through when you’re on I-15 between Idaho Falls and Blackfoot. Ever taken a walk out there? It’s a fascinating place.

And though the trails at the rest stop on the freeway are nice, nicer still is the 0.9-mile loop trail in the desert east of Idaho Falls (and, one of these days, I’ll take the 4.5-mile trail to the vents).

This lava flow, marked on Highway 20 as the “Lava Flow Trails” is a wonderful spot for exploration. From the parking lot there’s immediate access to the flow, where hikers can jump over fissures in the rock, clamber up lava hills and admire the foliage and critters that call the lava flows home. There are many more birds out here than you’d expect in a nearly treeless landscape, as well as the lizards you’d expect. There’s also plenty of antelope and coyote scat to see, so you know they’re not all that far off. I’ve heard owls out there as well.

And as you’re walking, looking for the blue-topped fence posts that mark the trail, you have to pause to look down in the cracks. In the early spring, they’ll still be filled with snow. And in summer, when it’s hot up top, you’ll look down into their cool depths and see ferns growing. Actual ferns.

Hiking isn’t as easy, since there are no marked trails, but I’ve had kids as young as five out here, and they’ve had a ball. Good views of the buttes – extinct volcanoes – as well.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


We just might have snow for the Klondike. Or rain. Or some kind of weather. Given this is Idaho, we'd better prepare for anything. So please remember to bring rain gear to camp with you this weekend. Also, don't forget those permission slips.

One more little thing: Here's the menu for camp, and what various people have agreed to bring. If you weren't asked or assigned, no worries. We'll catch you at the next campout:

Friday DINNER: Tin foil dinners. Paul Fairbourn will bring potatoes. The troop will provide carrots, onions, and the hamburger.

Saturday BREAKFAST: Bus drivers. Luke Patterson will bring bread. Rod and Ethan Farnes will bring eggs, bacon, and cheese.

Saturday SNACK: The troop will provide apples, oranges, granola bars, etc.

Please remember to bring a full water bottle. We'll have water on hand as well, but when you're camping, especially in the winter, you can never have enough water.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reminders, and A Rescheduling

First, the reminders:

We’ll meet at my house, 540 Match Point, at 8 am in order to arrive at the Idaho Falls Police Training Annex, 740 Park Avenue, for the Fraternal Order of Police’s merit badge pow-wow Saturday, Feb. 22. A flag ceremony will be held at 8:30 am, with the pow-wow beginning at 9. It’ll last until about 4 pm, and includes lunch. Scouts will have the opportunity to earn the Fingerprinting and Crime Prevention merit badges.

I’ve given a few parents a new health form to fill out for their boys. I need to have those in my possession before we head to the Klondike Derby on Feb. 28.

Now, the rescheduling:

We had originally scheduled an Island Park Scout Camp meeting with scouts and parents Tuesday, Feb. 25. That’ll be rescheduled for early April. We’ve got a few more things to do to get ready for the Klondike Derby and we also need to finish the book work on the Camping merit badge to maximize the number of scouts receiving awards at our next court of honor, March 9. An unanticipated stake activity early in February threw off our schedule, so this rescheduling will get us back on track. I do apologize for the inconvenience.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Klondike Derby 2014

Finally have some additional information on the upcoming Klondike Derby at the end of the month, in the form of a flier from the scout office. Still trying to get some of the details filled in, but we're a leap forward, information wise, from where we were a week ago.

As always, the troop budget will cover the cost. Still up in the air is how much of the Fire Safety Merit Badge they want us to do beforehand. Further bulletins as events warrant.

Here's a PDF version of the filer.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Just found out this evening that the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 6 in Idaho Falls is hosting a merit badge pow-wow on Saturday, Feb. 22. It's kind of short notice, but I jumped at the occasion and reserved our troop six slots for it. If there are others who are interested in going, I'll get more slots reserved.

At this pow-wow, scouts can, in on day, earn the Crime Prevention and Fingerprinting merit badges. Liam attended the FOP's pow-wow last year, and even though it was their first time around, they blew my socks off with their organization and presentation.

Cost is $10, which the troop will pay for, and includes lunch. Please let me know if you're interested in attending.