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:

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