Posts Tagged ‘Philmont Scout Ranch’

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 12 the final day

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 11

Day 11: We left camp a little bit earlier than usual because we had to stop at the hunting cabin we skipped the day before and it was cool. They showed us the claw marks all over the south door when the bear tried to get in a couple years ago. After about an hour we went east toward our last campsite on the trail, Shaefer’s Pass Camp.

All was normal on the hike and I was enjoying the views. It was a normal day by Philmonts standards. Bright sun, not a cloud in the sky, and the perfect temperature.  When we stop for lunch were are at Clarks Fork where we can get our stuff branded. I chose to have my hat that my brother, Alex, gave me branded and it looks great! We ate our dinner for lunch again so we didn’t have to carry more water into Shaefer’s as it was a dry camp.

It took longer to eat than I had hoped but it was getting really hot because we were no longer at a really high altitude compared to what we were at. When we did set off we were all sweating so bad it was terrible. I don’t think anyone really cared honestly. I was now focused on finishing the hike, no matter how tired I was, physically and emotionally. We were about a mile from camp when it started to get really cloudy and we knew it was going to rain.

We rushed into camp right when it started sprinkling and we got everything set up in record time. To get the bear bags, rainfly, and all our tents up took 15 minutes, which was amazing for us and it had to be the most organized thing we did all trip. Right when we got done, the raindrops stopped coming down and Michael and I high-fived and we were pumped! Our adrenaline was going and we felt pretty darn good. We settled around a rock and we played some cards.

After about 10 minutes, Dalton started getting frustrated and he threw down his cards and walked off. We all looked at each other and just kept playing b.s. Then we went and played some 3 hit run and we all played, Even Ron! We started to sweat so we took off our shirts and just relaxed. The very gentle breeze felt great and we were having a great time.

When it was time for dinner we had to go find Dalton because he wandered away and he was on top of the hill. We convinced him to come eat and we did. We ended up eating our lunch since we already ate our dinner and then went to bed. I quickly fell asleep thinking about what tomorrow would bring us, as it was the last day on the trail!

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 10

Day 10: As we were heading towards the end of the trip, I wanted to try and take in as much of the trip as possible. By doing this, I noticed a lot of different colors in the rocks and just how much more vivid all the colors were. Even the trails were really pretty. Today we set off for Cimarroncito, our most northern camp of our trip. We also had to go to the Ute Gulch commissary to pick up our food for the rest of the trip.

Today, I was the navigator so I had the map and I had a basic idea of where we were going. We followed the ridge line just atop the cedar trees. There were so many of them it was an ocean of green peaks out across the valley. We cut down into the trees about a mile into the hike and follow the North Fork Cimarroncito Creek east for a while.

There were some basic water crossings and we had no trouble. During one of our breaks Rob comes up to Michael and me and says, “Austin. Michael. Your brothers built this path for their conservation project when I was here with them last.” We both found this to be really cool! We continued on and I learned to try to pace some of my favorite songs with every step. It was weird that I eventually end up going pretty fast at times and almost ran into Jakob, who was leading us. Robert, Jakob, and I also had some really good conversations about Halo 4, which doesn’t come out till November. It is no longer a Bungie game it is built by 343 Studios so it would be a completely different game and we always had something to talk about it.

We arrive at the hunters lodge, but as we were running late for the commissary we decided to do it tomorrow on the way to our next camp. We headed straight for Cimarroncito and when we got there we signed up for a climb time for rock climbing and went to our camp. We had only an hour left to make it to the commissary so we sent our fastest guys to get it, which was Michael, Robert, Jakob, Kyle, and me. It was a 1-mile hike there and a 1-mile hike back. We emptied out packs and set off. We ended up hiking there in 45 minutes and  we had some of the most spectacular views of rocks on the way there that no one else got to see.

We picked up our food and headed back. Surprisingly it only took us 30 minutes coming back. When we got back to camp we ate lunch and divided up the meals. We had organized them in our packs by day, so we each had 1 day and one of us had some extra things. By that time, it was time to go climbing. I almost didn’t go but Michael persuaded me to go and I’m glad I did.

We got to climb up a real rock face and behind us there was a 1000-foot drop and one of the best views of the trip. You could see forever and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I had no trouble climbing up the hard side but Michael and Robert went to the expert side and they both made it. When we were up, we got to go and rappel down to the rest of the people and it was really cool to walk down the wall parallel. I had done it before but this was a billion times better.

After that excitement, we went back to camp, where we ate our dinner and relaxed for a bit. Dalton was also not feeling well and was considering going back to base camp. I really didn’t care cause I had been ignoring him the whole time basically but a couple people wanted him to go back. We then went to take showers and they were heated but we only had 5 minutes to conserve water. I was happy we got any time because it was nice not to have really greasy hair.

After the showers Michael, Jakob, and I went to this awesome climbing room. It was wall to wall rock climbing and there were holds on the ceiling and there was pillars covered in holds. It was awesome and we were in it till dark. We went back to camp and enjoyed relaxing and then we put up the bear bags just like normal and then went to bed. This was one of my favorite activities we did the whole time!

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 9

Day 9: I woke up and got out of the tent absolutely amazed by what I saw. At first I thought it was a weird fog but then I realized it wasn’t fog. We were in the clouds. It was so thick you could cut it with a knife. I enjoyed my last meal on the rock chairs and we set off for Cyphers Mine.

We were all excited for Cyphers Mine because we wanted to pan for gold and they also had a shower. The only downside was the switchbacks lasted the whole way down Mt. Phillips and into camp. The trail was very thin in some spots with a huge drop off on our right. Hiking was overall normal with the beautiful views along with some really boring switchbacks.

We get about 2 miles from camp when Dalton gets too close to the edge and the ground gives way, causing him to fall directly onto his knee. His limping all the way to camp, which was a huge dramatization on his part, slowed us all down. We could see the camp and I saw something I was hoping for, the stream. I wanted to soak my feet in a fresh, icy cold mountain stream again. We made it to the main cabin and Dalton had his knee looked at.

It turns out it was mildly bruised and he was acting like it was broken. The lady then took us to our campsite, which to our surprise had quite a large shack that we could sleep in. It was nice not having to set up tents and the area was nice. We signed up for the mine tour and it was great. It was really cool to see some of the old mine carts they used to transport the gold.

After that, we went to the blacksmith shop where we made a crude candle holder and then went back to camp to do some gold panning for ourselves. I lasted about 20 minuets before I went to the red roof then I went back to camp so I could put my feet into the stream. It felt amazing. Ron, Michael, Robert, and the adults took showers but there was not hot water and our next camp had showers with warm water so I decided to wait and juts relax in the stream. I was sitting there for at least an hour before I helped get ready for dinner.

It was also the first time I check out the swap box at the main cabin. Basically you put unwanted food items into it for others to use. They were at every camp but I never paid much attention. After diner we went to the Stomp show, which was really quite funny, and Red, the main character, was really good. We sat next to a group from Massachusetts and they were shocked by the fact that some of us owned guns! The best part was when Ron told them how many guns he had in his closet. It was like 3 rifles, 2 shotguns, and 2 pistols. I thought it was hilarious! After the Stomp we went back to camp where I was eager to go to bed because I was exhausted. We all crammed into the shack and went to bed. What an eventful day, even if we didn’t find any gold!

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 8

Day 8: Today I am the leader and our destination is Mt. Phillips Camp on top of Mt. Phillips. Not only was it an eight mile trip it was uphill the whole way. We even went outside the ranch’s boundaries for about 4 miles. I woke up with the adults and I have to admit that is was worth getting up 15 min. earlier because the sky was beautiful! There was a cloud right above our camp that was a bright pink color from the sun just getting over the horizon. The cedar trees were covered in dew and glistened in the morning sun. The air was so crisp and fresh it was unbelievable. I then go threw a mental checklist about the day so I could have a basic game plan.

The first step was waking everyone up, then filling our extra dromedaries because Mt. Phillips was a dry camp, so we had to bring in our own water. We had to go find the stream and fill up our water bottles then but the tablets into them before we ate breakfast and headed out. We followed the contour lines of the mountain all the way to the ranch’s boundaries until the trail started to go up. We saw the mountain from a ways away but it was so much bigger when you get close to it. We are forced to go at a slow pace because of the extra 8 pounds of water Ron and Robert were carrying. About a mile in is when the clouds that had gathered started to drizzle rain on us. We stopped and put on our raincoats and pack covers.

I discover my pack cover has a 2 inch rip in it, so I pull out my gear aid kit that Adam gave me and break out the duck tape for the first time. It stays on all trip and never had to replace it. We carry on trudging through the slight rain and slippery trials. We have to take breaks often and we quickly become very tired, but we soldier on! About two thirds of the way there we see another group come down the hill. This was the first encounter with other people in a long time. They said that the peak wasn’t that far away which gave us a small moral boost.  I kept singing songs in my head to keep busy when we finally see the peak.

The last 200 yards or so were the worst because we knew we were almost there but it was about 70% slope and all loose rocks. It took us 30 min. but we finally make it. We take our pictures and proceed to find a camp. We heard rumors about rock chairs at one of the camps and that was going to be our camp. We found it and the chairs were amazing. Who would have thought that rock would be so comfy, but it was. It takes hour to find the dang bear bag cable and latrine but we did eventually find it, along with some bear scat and us. Undeterred by the fresh poop, we set up camp and make dinner. We really didn’t get that much time in the chairs because by the time we had camp set up we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. And we did right after we ate and did our usual nightly routine.

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 7

Day 7:  We would be leaving our layover camp, which was a great time, and I was sad to leave it. Also, today, we had to hike to Wild Horse. It was by far the worst day climbing for me because I was finally starting to feel sore and we had to follow this really crappy trail all the way. The trail followed the fence almost all the way to Wild Horse. It was covered in rocks that jutted out from the ground. It was like they wanted us to bust a kneecap or something. Luckily, we all made it no problems apart from some very tired legs because the trail was a constant elevation change and very steep.

The weather was also very cloudy and I had this feeling that it was going to rain and it did. Then the feeling hit me like a freight train. I was going be wet and my boots were going to get wet and so on. But, my socks were never wet because of my boots and I’m so happy my brother, Adam, suggested them to me. They were great! The last stretch into camp was really bad. We had to stop at a little side camp because we had to pick up Dalton. No one was particularly happy about it but we all put up with it. We also were going to have to pump water for the hike up Mt. Phillips the next day but luckily the camp had a waterspout we filled up from.

We were also at our activity which was black powder shooting. This was a real treat because it was real black powder not just .22’s like at summer camp. I think we all hit our targets and had a great time! By this time Dalton was back with Rob and Ginette so we had to go meet them and continue on with our hike. I have to admit, we all tried hard to make it look like we were happy to see him but I tried to ignore the subject so we carried on.

After about an hour, Dalton was acting like he was going to puke because of the altitude but I think that he was just wanting a break because he was tired. The trail was getting muddy and Seth was having asthma problems so we stopped for a couple minutes to decide what to do. The adults decided to stay slow with Seth and Rob put me in charge. So at that point it was down to Michael, Robert, Ron, Jakob, and me. We trudged up the hill and then Ron’s asthma kicked in and he had to wait to go with the adults. Now it was just the 4 of us and we made it to camp approx. an hour later.

We came to some crossroads that weren’t on the map, but luckily we went the right way and made it right when it stopped raining. By the time we found a good camp it was right on top of the ridge and there was a great view. We put our tents on the ridge in the meadow and hung up our wet stuff on trees. By this time the adults, Ron, and Seth got to camp. Kyle set up a clothesline and we all dried out our stuff. He then did a foot check on everyone and he was quite impressed with how dry my feet were.I was quite surprised too honestly.

Seth and I went to pump water and after about 30 min it was getting really hard to pump so we tried to clean the filter. It didn’t help so we had no working water pumps now, just tablets. We then had a really peaceful meal and I was so relaxed but tired. It was my day to be leader and I had to take us up Mt. Phillips and I knew I would have to wake up early. It was really only 10 minutes earlier than normal.

Right after dinner Michael continued gaining a huge lead in fart baseball and I decided to go to the little bears tree and then we all went to our tents for bed. I thought I would have a hard time falling asleep at Philmont but you’re just so tired that u kinda just pass out without even thinking about it. What a day it was!

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 6

Day 6:  Today was our layover, so we got to sleep in. It felt weird that waking up at 8 was considered sleeping in! This was the only time I found it easy to wake up and got right to work cooking. Ron was in a much better mood as he was feeling much better himself. We ate our meal then went to do 3D archery.

The lady, Victoria, was very nice and looked Native American. She showed us how to use the compound bows and we got started. All the animals had names but I can’t remember them.  I was a surprisingly good shot and only missed the last target, which we named Dalton because it was a huge elk. If we hit it, Victoria said she would give us a rice crispy treat so we all wanted to kill “Dalton.” Ron was the only one who hit him so he got the treat, which he formally declined as he was still not 100%. Kyle went with us and he had a great time to! Michael missed almost every target. One of the few he did hit the arrow was at an angle so it bounced off and went flying into the trees.

The hike back to camp was further than I thought but when we got back to camp Rob had a surprise for us. He had rigged up a shower out of our rain fly and a dromedary hanging from a tree. The dromedaries were lying in the sun all morning so the water was warmer than it could have been. We took our turns and it felt great!  The rest of the day was spent lounging around and relaxing and we went to the sweat lodge. It was a makeshift dome covered in leather and held together with PVC pipe.

The guy put the rocks that were in the fire into our tent and we put water on it to make steam. After 20 min. we got out perfectly not sweaty, and the other troops were drenched in sweat.  The problem was that the humidity we reached in the tent was what we normally have in Iowa and Missouri, so we were all used to it.

Tonight’s dinner was my favorite. Lasagna. Finally we had pasta and it was the best thing ever! I had 2 servings of it. When we went to put up bear bags we saw some mule deer out in the meadow not to far away and Robert was wearing a full camo poncho so he belly crawled out to them. The youngest buck was watching him and was very suspicious. After about 15 min. they all catch sight of him and go over to investigate. They got within 10 feet of Robert when Robert moved and they all ran off.

It was really cool but really scary for Robert! By this time the adults had the bear bags already up when the wilderness guias and a staffie showed up. I forgot I was supposed to be was supposed to be with them so I kept kinda quiet. They inspected our bear bags, which turned out to be too low. We had to redo what the leaders did and do it correctly! It took a surprisingly long amount of time and it was getting dark so we all made our midnight red roof run and then hit the hay.

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:

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 5

Day5: We woke up and did our normal morning routine and after a small squabble between Jakob and Kyle about packs and weight we find out that Dalton isn’t feeling well. He was shaking real bad and Rob and Ginette took him to the staff cabins. They return an hour and a half later and asks us if we knew that he had diarrhea and had puked twice. We all truthfully answered no and they went on to tell us that he was dehydrated and had to go back to base camp.

Undeterred by the missing member, we carried on. Today would be the day that I was second to last in line Rob brought us together to discuss teamwork before we left. We went over the procedures about if there’s a river crossing, the first person in line would pass it back all the way to the adults. This included other obstacles in the path. This day was by far the best day of hiking we had! I don’t know if it was because Dalton was gone and we were all happier or the trail itself was just so beautiful! I think it was a little of both.

We followed Fish Creek all the way to our destination, Apache Springs. In fact, the only time we didn’t was the last mile or so. We stopped for a quick pee break next to the stream about an hour in and I dunked my hat into it. It was ice cold and felt great on my head! I was so in love with this trail, it was definitely one of my favorites! It was in the shade most of the time and the sound of the river accompanied us throughout the whole trip. By this time, I was really missing my music… and real food!

I did have some motivation though, Apache Springs was our layover, and we all wanted a layover! As soon as we stop for lunch, Rob brings up a very important matter that has slipped the crews mind, when were we going to do our conservation project and then our other activity, 3D archery. We came to a unanimous vote of doing the conservation project as soon as we got to camp if there was a spot open, then do archery the next day.

Michael and I were getting along great. I overheard Rob talking to Kyle in his tent last night about us being two peas in a pod. It was a nice feeling and I had a new topic to think about during our trek. I realized that I would make lists in order of importance of what to think about on the trails. I had every topic a boy might think about. Mostly cars, subs, music, girls, nature and other random crap that I’ve never cared about in my life. Its just when you hike you can’t help but appreciate everything, then you analyze it and reflect upon it.

Every one was happy and we had arguments but never more than a couple of minutes and we never held grudges. I thought the whole group was very mature because not only were we putting up with some pain (mental and physical) we managed to not take it out on each other. Michael and I made an agreement before we started that if either of us were to feel anger towards the other that we didn’t mean it, and not to be afraid to talk about it and work out the issue. Luckily we were probably the only tent partners that didn’t argue over small things that didn’t matter.

The crew then continues the hike towards Apache Springs. It was an uneventful hike but we were all in great spirits and had one heck of a great day! When we reached the half-mile left mark, Ron has developed a problem. He stops the group, grabs some t.p. then walked into the forest. Today was Ron’s day of infamy. The day he got the trots. The rest of the trip for him was terrible! Luckily we got there soon enough that he could rest a bit before lunch.

He looked bad and very pale. It was about noon, so we signed up for the 1:00 conservation project and we had an hour to eat lunch. While we were eating, Michael looks me in the eyes with a terrified look on his face and says “I think I just sharted”. I was dying inside of laughter but I knew better and all I could get out was “bummer” and then I had to leave to check my pack. He then does the penguin run to the red roof. He comes back about 5 min. later and is not happy. I knew he had entered the trots stage.

Ron was out of commission so we appointed Robert as our new leader. We then hike the 2 miles to the conservation site and got to work. Ron was in my group and I could tell he was feeling terrible so I let him rake up the dirt so he didn’t have to do much. I finally persuaded him to go tell Rob and Rob made him sit down to rest. He ended up falling asleep but we didn’t care, he said he felt a little better and the conservation people still let him get the hours he needed for the Arrowhead patch so it was a win-win situation.

After the 2 hours were up, we then hiked the 2 miles back to camp and put up camp! We ended up hiking about 8 miles that day. Robert and I put up Ron’s tent for him and got his bedroll out so when we were done eating he could go to bed. While we were doing that Jakob, Seth, and Ginette went to get our food because it was our pickup. They brought back strawberry milk and some fruit, which was the best thing ever!!

Michael started dinner and Robert and I went over to help him when we finished our own tents. Ron then attempted to eat an apple, which was a mistake and went over and puked. He felt much better afterwards. He then thanked everybody for all their help with the tent and everything else and went straight to bed. I didn’t blame him one bit! I was just happy he was better. By this time it was almost 6:00 so we ate our food then did our nightly talks and chores.

It was soon dark and Rob showed us some constellations in the sky. It was amazing how many stars you could see. Robert, Jakob, Michael and I stayed up an extra half hour so we could gaze into the stars. We ended up seeing about 9 shooting stars. I was tired so I had to go to bed, ending an amazing day!

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: