Greg left our group today. Before he left
us sit along the ridge line that overlooked the valley and talked to us
about how Philmont is able to stay beautiful and bountiful. He
some of the ways the camp staff preserves the wilderness for future
to enjoy. He told us of what we must do to preserve the beauty and
of the Philmont wilderness, and not mess it up for the others who would
follow us tracks. Then, he had us take the Philmont Wilderness Pledge.
The pledge states: “Through good Scout camping,
I pledge to preserve the beauty and splendor of the Philmont
I commit to: a litter free Philmont; and absence of graffiti;
and proper use of water; respect for trails and trail signs; proper use
After we reviewed the pledge, and understood what
each of the parts meant, we accepted it. Greg signed the pledge cards
our ranger, and gave them to us to sign and keep.
He then left us to experience the rest of the trek
on our own.
You know, even though we got up an hour earlier
we still did not leave Aguila Camp until 8:00 am, the same time that we
left camp the previous morning.
We headed northwest, toward Stone Wall Pass. Stone
Wall Pass is so named because it is a trail located between two mesas
has a two foot high stone wall built along one side of it. The story of
the wall states that a single man built the wall, and went crazy while
he was doing it.
Gerry was leading the way as we hiked along the
pass. I was at the end of the line. We were all talking and having a
old time watching the scenery and taking it all in when Gerry stopped
in his tracks. He stopped so suddenly that we ran into each other
we knew what was happening.
Everyone started talking and chewing Gerry out until
we found the reason for the sudden stop. A rattlesnake had been lying
the trail. Gerry saw it as he got within a couple of steps of it. As
crew ran into each other he was pushed closer to it then he had ever
to come to one.
Meanwhile, the snake had only one thing on its mind.
It decided to get off the trail and hide within the stone wall.
No one moved. We had all heard the stories of being
bit by a rattler and no one wanted to risk being a victim by going past
that part of the trail.
I worked my way to the front of the line to take
a look for myself. The snake had crawled into the stone wall. I could
it and it could see me. I also noticed that there were several stones
between it and the trail. Realizing that it was probably more
of us then we were of it, and that it was not coiled and ready to
I said, “Come on,” and started walking.
Gerry stayed with me walking down the far side of
the trail. Then the others followed. Soon we were back in line. Gerry
once again in the lead and I reclaimed my position at the end of the
Suddenly, three whistle blasts were heard from the
front of the line. Everyone’s heart stopped. Three blasts meant danger,
perhaps even another rattler! “Caterpillar,” Gerry yelled as he pointed to the
I broke out laughing. The rest of the group however
were ready to kill Gerry. Luckily for him they were able to control
The view that was spread out before us as we came
out of the woods was almost enough to make you wish you could stay and
absorb all its beauty so that you would never forget it. The trail
us stretched through a grassy meadow. From there it lead to Lover’s
Camp. In the background was a small mountain range. In that range was
the Tooth Of Time.
The trail from Lover’s Leap Camp to Miner’s Park
Camp is a fairly short and easy hike. Short, that is, if you find the
trail to take. We checked out the map to see which was the right trail
and continued on our way.
After a mile and a half of hiking we came to a fork
in the trail. There was not supposed to be a fork in this trail. We
to think this about this problem. It had seemed as we were hiking that
we were not heading in the right direction. None of the terrain seemed
to fit what our map had showed us. Another clue that we were in the
place was the trail signs that read “Bear’s Cave” and “Crater Lake”. We
were about a mile south of were we should have been.
“This is great,” I thought. The first day on our
own and we are already off target.
When we arrived back at Lover’s Leap Camp we looked
all over for the trail we were supposed to be taking, but we could not
find it anywhere. We examined the map again. The trail that we could
find seemed to cross a road about a half of a mile east of the
We decided to hit the road.
We arrived at Miner’s Park Camp exhausted. Our easy
five mile hike had turned into an eight mile ordeal.
Gerry is having a rough time. He is tiring very
quickly and easily. When he slows down he slows down the whole group.
far no one is saying much, but I can tell it is beginning to get on
nerves. I think part of Gerry’s problem is elevation sickness, but that
would be only a part of it. After talking to him I discovered that he
not prepare himself for the trip and get himself into condition. I also
discovered that he had not had a physical taken for the trip. It
that the doctor signed the form with actually giving Gerry a physical.
I should also point out that Gerry did have some
health problems a few months prior to the trip. It could be that he had
not fully recovered from those yet.
We arrived at Miner’s Park Camp at 2:50 pm. Jeff,
Brian, and I went to the environmental awareness class after the camp
pitched. The class was cut short when a small afternoon shower came
Another deer wondered by our camp while Scott was
making supper. Gerry and Brian tried to help me corral it so I could
a good close up with my camera. It did not want to have its picture
though. It seemed to want to play instead. It would walk away, stop,
for us to come within fifteen of it, and walk away again, always
in a direction that would take us further from the campsite.
After a few minutes of this game we decided to try
a different tactic. We tried to move quickly and snap a picture of the
deer before it realized what we were doing. It was not a very good
In a while the deer seemed to tire of us humans. And we of it. We went
back to camp without the snapshot.
Later, as we were eating supper, another deer that
looked amazingly like the one we had chased earlier walked by the camp
Tonight’s supper consisted of chicken with rice,
and chicken noodle soup. We had two packets of this meal, as we did for
all the meals. Each packet contained enough food to feed four people.
Once again, my picky eating habits came into play.
The Scouts wanted to put the soup in with the chicken. I did not. A
was put up by both sides when I said I wanted my soup separately. They
finally gave me one packet of soup to make on my own. Robert made a
that I should get an extra packet of soup but the others ignored his
I thought to myself of all the times I had taken
them to movies, of the times when we had gone to pizza hut and I ended
up paying for most of the bill. And of other things I would end up
more then my fair share, and not saying much about it. All these years
of trying to set an example. It did not seem to make much of a
to these guys.
This was not the first time that the Scouts and
I had had a difference of opinion. Before we hit the trail I had asked
everyone to put five dollars into a fund that would be used to
stakes and water bags. They thought the troop should pay for these
I disagreed. These items were needed for their trek, not for a troop
They finally agreed to to the five dollars but it reminded me a bit of
I can’t wait to see what will happen when we run
out of stove fuel. I paid for the first three quarts myself. I would
pay for anymore. By my estimation we would run out of fuel sometime
I got close to hitting the panic button today when
I could not find my billfold. I did not have much money in it but there
was my credit card. I couldn’t help but to think of all the ground we
covered today and all the places it could have fallen out of my pocket
along the trail. Luckily, I did find it later. It was in my sleeping
The first of a series of pine cone fights began
today. You play it just like a snowball fight, only you use pine cones
instead of snow. A couple of the Scouts that pine cones hurt when they
are thrown hard.
For the first time during the trek we did not keep
bear watch during the whole night. Robert, who had the second shift,
to awake Jeff when his shift was over. Jeff woke up and Robert went to
bed. However, Jeff did not get out of his.
Luckily, there were no bears that evening.
I awoke about 6:30. This morning we planned
camp and try some rock climbing before hitting the trail. The flaw with
the plan is that it did not take into consideration that we would take
two and a half hours to break camp. We left Miner’s Park at 9:07
We made pretty good time on our way to Schaefer’s
Pass, even though it took a bit longer then we thought it would. The
is a crossroads were paths from four directions intersect. We came in
the south trail. To the north lay the Clark’s Camps. The west trail
toward Black Mountain Natural Area. To the east lay Schaefer’s Peak and
the Tooth Of Time.
Gear from the troops who had arrived before us was
set in neat rows along various trees at the pass. Above them, hanging
the trees, were their bear bags.
We grabbed our meals and smellables from the packs
and hung up our bear bags. A couple of the guys went off with our
to find the spring and fill up with fresh water.
The highest point of Schaefer’s Peak is at an
of slightly over 9400 feet. The trail leading to it is extremely rugged
and challenging. It consisted of a series of steep slopes, climbs, and
switchbacks which seemed to never end. The climb was so steep and the
so numerous that it appeared that we needed to hike fifty feet for each
foot of elevation attained.
We began our climb walking at a pretty good pace.
But then Gerry began having problems. If he were to keep us his pace it
would take the crew most of the day to get to the Tooth. Plus, there
the chance of Gerry becoming seriously sick.
So I had a little chat with him. We both agreed
to the fact that he probably would not be able to make the climb. He
to go back to the pass and try to catch up on some lost sleep. I told
we would try to be back by one o’clock. That gave us about three hours
to get to the Tooth and back again.
It was a long time before we arrived at Schaefer’s
Pass. We were exhausted, but not so much that we could not appreciate
panoramic view that stretched out before us. We rested for a short time
and enjoyed the scenery. After a few pictures, and some shifting of
due to the increasing temperature, we continued on our way toward the
The Tooth turned out to be a lot further away then
it looked. If that wasn’t frustrating enough we also had to consider
build up of clouds that were beginning to block our clear blue sky. We
picked up our pace. We wanted to have lunch on the Tooth.
The crews we met at Tooth Ridge Camp did not have
encouraging news for us as the came down from the Tooth. A large storm
appeared to heading in this direction. Many of Philmont’s rain showers
were accompanied by thunder and lighting. The Tooth’s summit is mostly
bear rock. If you put the pieces of the puzzle together you would
that a person standing on the Tooth becomes a natural lightning rod.
We continued onward in spite of the warnings. We
received more warnings from others crews we met on the way. Finally, we
sat down on the narrow path to decide what we should do. There seemed
be two storms headed toward us from different directions.
We decided to eat lunch where we sat. During the
discussion it was brought up that we were supposed to be back at
Pass by 1:00. I glanced at my watch. It was one o’clock. That decided
for us. We had hiked a couple of hours to get this far. If we didn’t
back Gerry might think something happened to us. and, of course, if the
storm was going to soak, we did not want to be on Schaefer’s Peak when
We set a good pace for ourselves on the way back
and made good time. We arrived back at the pass at a quarter after two.
Gerry was waiting by the packs. He had used the time to catch up on his
sleep. We rested a while, changed clothes, and gathered our gear. Then,
we where off to our next campsite, Clark’s Fork.
Clark’s Fork Camp was the first staffed camp at
which we would be staying.We didn’t see any campsites when we arrived
I went up to the staff lodge to ask for directions. It was a good thing
I did. No one had told us that that was the procedure for crews who
to a staffed camp. All crews were to check in so they could be assigned
Clark’s Fork was the first camp we had come to that
had shower facilities. We could hardly wait to get three days of trail
dirt removed from ourselves.
The camp staff provided what they called a “chuck
wagon dinner” for the campers that evening. Desert would be peach
The chuck wagon dinner, we soon discovered, was a canned stew, not the
homemade chow we were expecting. Add a dash of burning to the bottom of
the kettle and you have the makings for a great supper. throw in a
peach cobbler that was not quite done and you have one unforgettable
The Clark’s Fork campfire was one of three campfires
we would be attending while on the trail. Mace, John, and mark kept the
flavor of the camp alive with stories and songs of cowboys and
We heard the story about the turtle herding and the Green River, what
was like to ride a horse on the windiest day of the year, and a tale
a Texas rancher and his cow. The songs we sang included Ghost Rider and
Rawhide. The program lasted about forty five minutes.
Mace, John, and Mark did a fair job of hosting the
campfire but you could tell that their heart was not fully into it. It
seemed as if they were slightly bored. Of course, the Scouts picked up
their mood so it was not the rip-roaring, sharp shooting program that I
had been hoping for.
This evening was the first night that Brian and
I slept under the dining fly. The three past nights we had slept in our
tent while the others slept out in the open.
The staff of Clark’s Fork had informed us that we
were now in one of the busiest areas of bear country. We were informed
to sleep outside of the tents so that the breezes could carry away any
scents that we had on us. Jeff and Robert decided not to join us under
the fly this evening. They were on bear watch when the warning cries
It was midnight when we awoke to the screams of,
“Bear! Bear!,” being shouted from a nearby camp. Our two bear watches
sprinted the ten yards that lay between them and us to wake up those of
us who were still sleeping. Except for Gerry. He was so deep into sleep
that we could not awaken him. Oh, we did get him to mumble a bit, but
was all he would do.
Jeff asked me what he should do. I suggested going
to the camp where the shouting was coming from and ask them what was
At first he and Robert did not want to leave, but I reassured them that
any bear that may have been in the area had probably been scared off by
all the noise from the half dozen campsites that were now awake and
Of course, I did not mention that I did not want
to leave my nice warm sleeping bag to join them. I thought they could
this task without my help.
They did fine.
When they returned they told us that a couple of
scouts that were on bear watch a short distance down the trail from us
had heard a noise in the woods. They had not seen anything but sounded
the alarm to be on the safe side. Thus, at least six camps were now
Meanwhile, Jeff and Robert had changed their minds
about sleeping off by themselves and asked if they could join us under
the dining fly. It took a bit of maneuvering but we finally made room
them. I found it humorous that no one wanted to sleep at the edge of
Within forty five minutes of the first cries of
“Bear!” things where back to normal. Soon everyone was sleeping again.
Until “Bear! Bear!” was shouted again at 3:00 am. We all awoke again,
for Gerry. We to the excitement from the neighboring camps.
no one from our crew left their sleeping bag. We just laid there,
A couple guys propped themselves up unto their elbows to hear better.
It did not take me long to realize that this was
another false alarm. I informed my crew of my opinion of the situation,
then rolled over and went back to sleep.
We did not keep a bear watch for the rest of the
night. After all, a bear would be crazy to come to this camp now.
End of Page 4.
This journal was written by Steve Borgerding and
is his property.
No part of this journal may be used without his
He can be reached through the web master of this
1986 Philmont Journal:
1986 Philmont gallery
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