One of the stops the Scouts made was at the Defiance Ski Club. Pictured are: (front row, from left) Brad Schmitz, Brad Gerdeman, Bret Llewellyn, Riley Karhoff, Dylan Pester, Connor Schnipke, Chad Duling, (back row, from left) Mike Karhoff, Scott Coleson, Corey Coleson, Evan Balash, Dave Schmitz, Jacob Karhoff, Peyton Klass, Jeff Schnipke and Glenn Karhoff. (Photo submitted)
One of the stops the Scouts made was at the Defiance Ski Club. Pictured are: (front row, from left) Brad Schmitz, Brad Gerdeman, Bret Llewellyn, Riley Karhoff, Dylan Pester, Connor Schnipke, Chad Duling, (back row, from left) Mike Karhoff, Scott Coleson, Corey Coleson, Evan Balash, Dave Schmitz, Jacob Karhoff, Peyton Klass, Jeff Schnipke and Glenn Karhoff. (Photo submitted)

GLANDORF — On May 31, eight canoes carrying 11 Glandorf Boy Scouts and five adults left the Road 11 Bridge to paddle a 114-mile trip.

The Scouts, whose intent it was to earn their canoeing badge, set off on a seven-day journey through the waters leading to Lake Erie.

The Glandorf Scouts have executed the excursion every four years since 2006. Don Inkrott had planned the initial trip; it has been tweaked very little since then. Along the route, the Scouts were able to stay with people who have Putnam County connections.

“We put tents in people’s backyards,” explained Scout Corey Coleson. “We had a scout trailer (that contained necessary supplies) that someone would move to our next destination.”

Each day, their goal was to travel between 15-19 miles. The majority of the first day, which began at 9:00 am, was spent paddling the Blanchard River. The group encountered a fairly large logjam at Hillbrook Recreation, but they were able to portage 20 yards around it. They made camp at the Paula and Peter Urton’s, near Dupont, and got to swim in the pond. Most importantly, the young men were transported back to Glandorf for 4:30 mass.

Day Two, the Blanchard River emptied into the Auglaize River. The canoeists made camp at Chris and Jen Recker’s, in Charloe. On the third day, the Scouts paddled to the Auglaize Hydroelectric Plant, where Power Production Superintendent Matt Killian gave them a tour. They then navigated through Defiance, and saw where the Auglaize River met the Maumee River.

“This was neat, as there actually appeared to be a line in the water where the rivers meet,” chaperone Scott Coleson recalled. He believed that was due to the depth or difference in water clarity of each river.

The Scouts disembarked that day near the Independence Dam. They spent the night at Camp Libbey, where they made camp just above Independence Dam.

It was during the fourth day that the weather began to challenge the group. Two canoes capsized due to high winds, just after passing through Napoleon. They made it safely to the Schnipke Cottage, near Mary Jane Thurston State Park. Father Tony Fortman and Deacon Don Inkrott joined the travelers, and had mass. Wednesday, Mother Nature wreaked havoc on the Scouts. The rain, which began around 10:00 am, continued for the remainder of the day; the air temperature was a chilly 52 degrees. That day was their longest, at 19 miles.

“We hadn’t looked at the weather to know it was going to rain,” Scout Jacob Karhoff joked. “We knew there was going to be water involved.”

The water was shallow; the canoeists had to navigate around many rocks at Grand Rapids, and often had to push and pull their crafts through the water.

“It was slippery,” Scout Brad Gerdeman recounted. “We were walking a lot in the water and wind, and bumped into rocks with the canoes. My legs got all cut up.”

Corey Coleson added, “The only warm place that day was the water. I looked like Papa Smurf.”

They portaged around the dam at Grand Rapids. Later, they had a tour at Isaac Ludwig’s mill. After further traveling, exhausted and starving, the group made camp at Terry Cook’s, in Waterville. The weather cooperated the following day, as the Scouts paddled to Fort Meigs. There, they toured the fort by a gentleman dressed like a soldier from the War of 1812.

“That was my favorite thing,” declared Scout Riley Karhoff. “All that historical stuff and what happened there- I liked that.”

That evening, the Scouts made camp in Chris Recker’s backyard, at Rossford.

The final day began with a special treat. As it was National Doughnut Day, one of the dads brought sweet confections to the boys. The Scouts needed all the energy they could get, as they paddled through Toledo, past the Hollywood Casino, under the I-75 Bridge, and by the grain elevators, where they encountered many large freighters.

“I think everyone felt pretty small in their canoes, paddling by the big boats,” Scott Coleson remarked.

The group disembarked at Promenade Park, and got a personalized tour of Fifth Third Field from Ottawa-Glandorf graduate Cory Myers, and is the assistant to the Mud Hens’ head groundskeeper. They also visited the National Great Lakes Museum.

The Scouts met with choppy waters on the last leg of their journey, as they neared Lake Erie. They arrived at their final destination, The Bay View Yacht Club, at 7 p.m., nearly seven and a half days after they began. The group was then transported to the Maumee State Park, where they camped for the weekend.

The young men said they did not do anything special to prepare themselves for the physical challenges they endured.

“I was a little sore the first couple nights, but after that, not really,” Jacob Karhoff divulged.