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Clarkston scout blazes trail for Eagle project

Connor Eckhout and the Clarkston Mountain Biking Club try out the trail. Photos provided (click for larger version)
May 01, 2013 - BY PHIL CUSTODIO

Clarkston News Editor

Bikers have a new trail to try, thanks to Eagle Scout Connor Eckhout of Springfield Township.

Eckhout, 17, of Davisburg Troop 192 earned the highest achievement in scouting with a 3-mile dirt trail at the corner of Rattalee Lake and Reese roads.

"We considered the area behind the high school, but it's not what we were looking for. It's not big enough," he said. "This is a better choice. It's not very hilly, but it definitely works out well. It has a lot of cool areas. I'm really happy with it."

It took about 20 volunteers from Flying Rhinos bike club, Kinetics bike shop, Clarkston High School Mountain Biking Club, and Troop 192 almost four days to cut the trail and built a kiosk at the trail head.

"It was quite a task," the Eagle Scout said. "The hard part was the planning and getting everyone together."

One stumbling block was blazing the trail through the sod.

"I thought it would be easy to tear up but it wasn't," he said. "It took 2-3 weeks to solve. We used a Dingo, a big rototiller."

The scout has had the goal of achieving Eagle for a long time, said his parents, Michael and Katherine Eckhout.

"As a Cub Scout, Connor first saw and talked to an Eagle Scout on Mackinac Island who was working near the fort in full uniform," Michael said. "He told us he wanted to be an Eagle too."

The bike trail project, which is open to the public, took more a year to finish.

"We were at a race in Lake Orion last year, and I asked my coach (Lori Payne) if she had any ideas for an Eagle project," Connor said. "She had this idea floating around for a while."

He put together a Powerpoint presentation using information he developed from Google Earth as well as a GPS he carried while biking through the 80-acre property, which is owned by the school district

He presented the plan and got approval from Clarkston Board of Education, recruited and organized volunteers, and met with businesses and community groups. Clarkston Home and Garden Club awarded them a $350 grant for supplies.

"That was very nice of them," he said.

"We're proud of his ability to accomplish a goal that required long term commitment," Michael said. "We're happy he was able to merge his interests, scouting and mountain biking, and hope this experience will provide a life long lesson about dedication, determination and tenacity."

Connor's scout leaders along the way included Keith Jones, Cub Scouts; and Gary Maley and Gerald Humphreys, Boy Scouts.

Plans after graduation include Northern Michigan University or Michigan Tech University.

"There are loads of good mountain biking up there," he said.

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