Day 12: For me, this morning was not really sad, but rather I really didn’t want to leave this beautiful place, and honestly I was mad! It took me 10 minutes to realize that I should be thankful that I still had another day and when I thought about it I felt quite lucky.
As we all took down our tents for the last time Michael and I were thinking about dinner already, at the pizza place. First we would have to make it through the day. We set off for one of our highlights of the trip, The Tooth Of Time. We thought the Tooth would be relatively close but it took us double what I originally thought. We were all exhausted and sore but we pressed on. We hiked the ridge of the mountain that leads to the Tooth. It was really rocky and an easy place to break an ankle or get your walking stick stuck. I almost did both of these things and I knew an injury now would be a heart breaker as we were so close.
We reached the base of the Tooth and took off our packs. We had to put up our edibles in a bear bag because a bear had been seen recently and the mini bears were thick. Now all we had was our cameras and our water bottles. The hike up was really cool because there was a small path but it kind of stopped so I said screw it and went straight up the steep side, and everyone followed. It reminded me of when my neighbor and I climbed in a gully behind his house, and it was perfect outside.
There were hardly any clouds and the perfect temperature. I was one of the first ones to get to the top and it legitimately took my breath away! It was amazing how far you could see and that instant I finally understood what my brothers had told me about. I was finally able to feel what they felt and why they loved their trip so much! I also thought about how many generations of my family had been on the top of the Tooth; my grandpa, dad, and both my brothers. I was standing where they had stood years and years ago.
We could see base camp and Mr. Adams said, “That’s us in a couple of hours boys”. I looked around and we got our pictures then I sat along the edge and looked down and saw a group of ants. I wondered if they knew where they were. If they knew that they were 9,000 feet in the air. I felt like I was on top of the world and we could even see our starting point from the Tooth, Zastrows Turnaround. I thought it would be a little scary being that high up but it wasn’t at all. It was amazing! We did, however, want to make it back before lunch so we all took one last look at the views and the little plaque at the highest point and went back down the same way we got up, straight down.
You could tell we were all tired, Ron looked just about dead and so did Jakob. Robert didn’t look as bad nor did Michael. I have no idea what I looked like and the adults were determined to make it. We carried on doing switchbacks all the way down and the worst part was around every corner we could see base camp and we even did some bushwhacking if we could see the trail. I thought Rob wouldn’t let us but he kept quiet and I realized they were just as tired as us. We all felt dead! I knew I had to finish, we were so close it would be stupid not to. Within 2 miles I ran out of water, and everyone started to run out.
It felt like we were creeping along and just barely going down in elevation when we finally leveled out. I didn’t talk much today. I don’t know if it was because I was tired or focused but we rounded the next corner and there was the fence with the sign above it. It read “Welcome Back”, and at that point I knew we were home free. I felt great pride in the fact that we all made it and no one got it any fights or arguments despite the mental challenges. We had overcome the pain and fought through it. We didn’t stop when the going got rough.
We had done it; we conquered Philmont as a team. After much excitement we finished the last quarter mile to the mess hall. It was about 1:00 so it was after dinner but Rob marched us in there and told them who we where and that we had just gotten off the trails. While Rob was talking we figured they would bring us some normal base camp food or maybe sandwiches but nope, they brought us 2 whole pizzas and we ate it all. It tasted amazing and we were, for once, full.
We checked in and got our tents and went to the cars. I grabbed my IPod and phone before anyone could protest. I texted the family saying all was fine and I had an amazing time. We went to our tents and we all took showers. Once again it felt great! We also had to return our items we borrowed and went to the trading post.
I changed into gym clean shorts and my Hiking The Trail shirt and we went off to dinner at the local pizza place. We all ate and I checked my email on someone’s wifi. It was weird being connected again. We then realized we had missed some of the Olympics but I would rather be at Philmont then watching the Olympics any day. We headed back to camp and had to go to the closing campfire where they told some stories. They gave us our patches and when the campfire ended, we went back to camp and went to bed.
It was that night while listening to music I realized what my brothers said. I understood how it changed their lives and now it had changed mine, how Philmont was one of the most beautiful places in America, and every story they told me I could relate to. It felt great. The next morning we went to breakfast then went to the Philmont sign and took our last pictures. While we were loading the cars I noticed there was a rainbow in front of the Tooth, like Philmont was saying goodbye. This was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on, and one that will change me rest of my life. What an amazing place with amazing people!!!
“Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer.” – Greg Child
This is a continuation of my brothers trail diary of his Philmont Trip in the summer of 2012. To read all of the previous posts you can find them here: