Boy Scout Troop 68, Melrose, MN

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Melrose Boy Scout Troop 68:
1986 Philmont Journal
Page 3

August 5

    Today we begin our ten day trek. We began the day by having our group picture taken. They take it at the beginning of the trek while we are still clean and handsome. We will probably not be very clean after the ten days in the back country.
    We boarded our bus, which was to take us to our drop off point, in the early afternoon. The route took us past the troop leader training center and the Kit Carson museum. It was a mile and one half trip from our drop off point to our first campsite. Greg made sure that we knew how to use a map and compass before we started hiking toward the camp.
    Our first one and a half miles. In a way it was exiting. It was a short preview of the sixty six others to come.For many of the crew members it was the first time wearing a fully packed backpack for more then a few hundred yards.

    We made it to the camp without any problems. We had just finished setting up camp when a pair of mule deer walked walked by the outskirts of our site. We became like statues instantly. The deer paid little attention to us. After a few minutes they wondered on, but in that brief moment they had given us our first taste of how well man could be a part of the wilderness also.
    It was time for supper. Out came the food, pots, and stoves from the various packs. Along with the equipment came our first problem. We had bought two new backpacking stoves shortly before we had left on the trip. We had tries to light them only once before we left on the trip. It had seemed easy enough.
    But now that we were on the trail, and not one of us could remember the proper way to light the things. “Get the instructions,“ someone said. But we didn’t have the instruction along on the trip. I had left them on the kitchen table back home. Oh well, it was no big deal. We would figure it out.
    I tried lighting the first one, and almost got burned in the process. The stove had sprung a leak and the whole thing was aflame. The only thing I thought of, as I tried to blow it out, was that if I was not quick enough I could have the stove blow up in my face. It was not a pleasant way to start a ten day journey.
    After the fire was extinguished, Scott began to work with the other stove and soon had it lit. At least we would have one stove that worked.
    This evening’s supper consisted of beef stroganouf, sour cream and vegetable soup, and peas. All dehydrated, of course. Greg came up with this great idea of putting all of it into one pot at the same time. It would save cooking time, he told us, and make a minimum of dishes.
    Suddenly, I found myself beginning to dislike this ranger. Being an extremely picker eater myself, I was concerned about eating trail food as separate dishes. A suggestion to mix everything together in one pot caused me to have a slight amount of paranoia. Needless to say, I did not eat much supper that evening, although everyone else seemed to get their fill.

    Ever get drunk on sarsaparilla? It is not a pleasant experience. I know. I speak from experience.
After supper and clean up we hiked the short distance from our camp to the Abreu Cantina. Our first bit of business when we arrived was to order a pitcher of sarsaparilla and have a few chug-a-lug contests. Pitchers were emptied and new ones were ordered. 
    Chug-a-lugging gave way to a game called quarters. Quarters is played by each person attempting to bounce a quarter off the counter into a glass of sarsaparilla. If successful he could then pick someone to drink the glass. 
    I found it to be any interesting game. It is also hard on the stomach if you lose to often. Or, if the winner likes you too well. I watched the Scouts play it and they were not having any luck getting  the quarter into the glass. So, being the suave leader that I am, I entered the game. It was not one of my most brilliant decisions. The Scouts started to dunk the quarters. And guess who was chosen to drink a lot of the brew?
    We drank six pitchers of sarsaparilla within thirty minutes. Gerry, Robert, and I seemed to have drank the most of that. Our stomachs were not ready to handle this type of abuse. We went outside to get some fresh air and try to settle the rumblings and pains that were beginning to occur within our bellies.
    Robert and Jeff walked off toward the stream. Robert was grumbling about a stomach ache. Jeff told Robert that he had a way to make him feel better. Jeff stuck his finger down his throat to demonstrate how well it could work. Robert did not need to use his fingers.
    As Jeff was laughing, Gerry, who happened to be close by, walked up to them to see what was going on. When Gerry saw that Robert was ridding himself of his drinks he also bent over and joined him in the activity. Though not by choice.
    Gerry and Robert had their backs to me when I saw them. Jeff was standing next to the two bent over figures, laughing and having a good old time. I like a good joke so I started walking toward them. I turned back as soon as I realized the nature of what was going on. If I had continued to them any further, I would have joined them, and thus made it a threesome.  Robert asked the staff of Abreu for a shovel to clean up the mess. They told him not to worry about it. It was an occupational hazard that came along with the cantina.

    Nine thirty came and it was time to hit the sack. That is if you are not on bear watch. My watch began at three o’clock and would last until six thirty, which was the time we had planned to arise to get ready for a new day. Due to the nature of the watches taking place during the dark hours of the night, and the active imagination of teenage boys, the crew decided to pair up for the watches. This was popular because now a person would have company on the watch. But it also had the disadvantage of doubling the time spent on watch duty.
    Oh well, we would see how it would work.

August 6

    This morning was the first sunrise I had ever seen at Philmont. It was quite interesting. The rest of the camp was sleeping peacefully as the first rays of sunlight crept into our valley. The trees were tinted a reddish hue as the beams crept down the hillsides toward the valley floor. It was time to awaken the crew but I wanted to watch this event in peace. The sky continued to lighten and the nights shadows slowly crawled away to hide for another day. The trees began to regain their green color again.
    Breakfast consisted of beef jerky, and what Brian called “flour and cereal”. The flour was actually powdered milk. The cereal was of the granola variety. We hit the trail by 8:05 am.

    Our first stop of the day occurred at Abreu, the same place we were for the previous evening’s activities, although this time the stop was not to have a drink. No, this time we came to participate in the two programs provided by the camp staff. 
    The first program was burro racing. Sound easy? It would be except for a couple of minor complications. First, everyone needed to learn how to pack a burro properly. Oh, excuse me, how to pack gear on a burro properly. This turned out to be an easy job, we discovered after forty five minutes of instruction.
     Each team would consist of five packers. Each packer was assigned a specific task in placing the pack and gear on the animal. Forty five minutes of instruction would be crammed into five minutes of actual work.
    “Gentlemen, mount...I mean go to your burros!” One member from both teams walked down to the corral. The other packers laid their gear out on the ground. Enthusiasm spilled over from the packers into the watching crowd. The burros are placed at the starting line. The packers are ready to begin packing the gear onto the burro’s back.
    Here’s a thought. Does placing gear onto the back of a donkey qualify the person doing it to be called a burro back packer? Anyway...
    There’s the harness. The boxes practically fly onto the animal’s back. Everything is being strapped down.
    And there they go!
    Well, the other team is going. Out team is still packing. But not for long. There they go, leading and prodding the burro along with shouts of excitement. 
    We are still coming down the first leg of the race as the our rivals turn around the post at the half way marker. But wait! The Melrose crew makes its move and catches up...
    Both teams are in the home stretch. The rival team is in the lead. Suddenly, the gear in their box shifts. It slides down the side of the burro and falls to the ground.
    Our burro decides it has had enough of racing and stops to grab a bite to eat, much to the dismay of the crew. Doesn’t it realize we could win if it only would move a little further?
The rivals have repacked and are back in the race. But so are we! Here they come.
    It is going to be close.
    The rivals cross the finish line first. We trail behind them by a mule length, or two. The judge approaches to declare the winner. The winner is...
    ...US! He has disqualified the other team for improper burro packing. He awards us with a blue ribbon and a picture of sarsaparilla. We can hardly contain the trill of actually winning the race.

    It was time to try our hands at making adobe bricks. This simply involves digging dirt from the ground, and mixing it with sand, straw, and water. It is then placed into a wooden form. This muddy mixture is finally placed into the sun to bake until it is hardened.
    There is also a second use for this muddy mixture. Grab a handful or two of it, pick out a volunteer next to you, and hurl it at him with all your might. Then run quickly so you don’t get hit with the next toss.
    Jeff and Robert started the mudslinging in our troop. The other crews were already well into mudslinging by they time we joined the party. Brian grabbed a handful and snuck up behind Greg. He looked at me as if to ask, “Should I get him?” I looked at Greg, who still had not noticed, then back to Brian, and nodded my head. Brian reached out and smeared the mud onto the back of Greg’s green staff shirt that he happened to be wearing.
    For just a moment, about half a second, Greg just stood there with his eyes wide with surprise. As he turned he looked as if he was ready to breath fire. Brian turned white and glanced my way again as if to ask, “What do I do now?” He probably would have asked me verbally if he would of had time, but he needed to start running for his life at that moment.
    The race was on. After it was over I asked Greg about it. He said that when it first happened he was quite upset, but he quickly calmed down when the chase began. “It comes with the job,” he said.

    Our next stop, Aguila Camp, was approximately three miles away. The two hour hike took us by some beautiful Philmont backcountry. It also gave us our first indication that Gerry may not be physically prepared for the trip. By the time we reached the camp Gerry acted as if he was near death.
    Greg picked a campsite which looked over one of Philmont’s valleys. We all gazed upon the breathtaking view as we ate our lunch. We finished setting up camp just in time for the daily afternoon rain shower.
    We gathered under the dining fly which had been pitched low to the ground. Greg reviewed some first aid with the crew. The rain was still falling as he finished so we laid back for a short nap. Four hours later we awoke. Well, at least we made up for a little sleep lost from staying up on bear watch.
    It was during our stay at Aguila that we were introduced to the open air latrine (oal) which can be found at some campsites in Philmont. The oal’s are similar to a two hole latrine except for two main differences. First, the seats are back to back instead of side to side. Second, there are no walls. In other words, you are literally exposed to the world while using one.
    It took some convincing to get Brian to act as a oal salesman as I took a couple of pictures. He even sat on it with his pants around his ankles. He kept his shorts up though.
    The ranchers from the other two 804 contingent crews joined us this evening around the campfire. Our crew talked with Greg, Charles, and Judy about our home states, books, movies, and anything else that happened to come to mind. As 10:30 rolled around we decided to call it a night. Bear watches would only be an hour long per person this evening. 
    We still had no luck seeing any bears.

End of Page 3.

This journal was written by Steve Borgerding and is his property. 
No part of this journal may be used without his written consent.
He can be reached through the web master of this site.

1986 Philmont Journal:
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