Boy Scout Troop 68, Melrose, MN

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Boy Scout Troop 68's
1992 Philmont Journal
A tale of a crew who mastered the Philmont wilderness... almost.

Page 3

Days #3 and 4


 I woke up this morning after a very good night's sleep, which is surprising considering that Al and I erected our tent on an incline. There were a few times during the night when Al, who was uphill, slid down towards me and pinned me between him and the tent. It was no big deal, however. Al is a good tent mate.
 The sky is clear as Josh goes from tent to tent to wake up the crew. It is 6:00, right on schedule. It is a bit on the cool side outside and everything is wet due to heavy condensation during the night.
 Breakfast consists of sugar frosted flakes. Then it is time to pack up camp and head out. We leave camp at 8:00, right on time. The hike to Indian Writings Camp should be a fairly easy hike, about two kilometers. The terrain will be fairly flat, not much change in the elevation.

 The sights that come before us as we hike are great. We are still in the same little canyon that Ponil Creek runs through. On either side of us are sharply rising cliffs and hills. This is a wooded area so we do have some protection from the sun as the morning heat begins to build.
 As we near Indian Writings we hike by an area that appears to be a corral for burros or something. We arrive at the camp at 8:45. It was a very short hike.
 Indian Writings is a staffed camp. The first thing we do when we arrive is to take off our packs and form a pack line. At each of the staffed camps we must check in. They assign a site to crews so they know where we are in case we are needed or an emergency arises. Kirk, Al, Josh, and I climb to the staff quarters to check in. We have brought our cups along because the crew leaders usually are offered kool-aid, affectionately know as bug juice, as we receive the low down on this camp.

 Indian Writings has several things for us to do doing our stay. The first of these will be to complete our three hours of conservation work. The project area opened at 9:00 so we can take care of this before we go to our campsite. Kirk has run off somewhere so we wait for him. As we sit near the shower building we notice a couple of mule deer across the canyon.
 On the way to the conservation project site we cross the Ponil Creek by walking across a log that spans from bank to bank. Kirk once again wades right through the stream, stirring up the creek bottom and making the water dirty for any who will be using it downstream. This is a totally different type of example being set by a ranger then we received on our last trip through Philmont. Ranger Bob, alias Steve Miley, the ranger on our trip three years ago, did not even want to let the scouts wade in a stream we camped along the first day of that trek. At that time we were at the last camp on that stream.
 I am proud of my scouts. They have enough common sense to stay on the log. Besides, it is more of a challenge and the feet stay dry.

 The conservation site turns out to be about a third of a mile from the staff quarters. There is not a staff member in sight as we arrive. We sit and rest for a bit next to a fly that has a number of picks, shovels, and other interesting tools lying beneath it.
 When Greg arrives he sits the crew around him and explains why we make trails and why they use them at Philmont. He also describes the four steps used in creating a proper trail, one that will last for a hundred years or more.
 The first step is surveying. The trail must be planned. Where will it go? What kind of obstacles will be in the way? Can they be moved or must the trail go around them. Is the terrain to steep? If so can it be landscaped to keep erosion to a minimum? The trail is then marked with ribbons tied to trees along the route.
 The second step is pioneering. Trees and rocks are removed during this stage. The route is cleared of the bigger obstacles so the next step, rough cutting, can begin.
 During rough cutting the ground is cut away into the shape and grade that the finished trail will need to be. The slope of the land immediately along side of the trail is sloped to an angle that will not erode away during the first rain shower that comes along.
 The last stage is finishing. This is when the final grading is done and the trail is packed to a hard finish. The trail is now ready for use and should not require much maintenance over the years.

 Most of our work today will involve the pioneering stage of trail building. Our group was divided into two work crews. Nathe, Monroe, Blommel, and Strong would start off by doing some finish work to a section off the new trail that was almost ready for use. The rest of us went to the end of the trail to clear scrub oak and take down two pine trees. We were not given axes or saws to accomplish our project.  We did have a couple of picks and some things that were similar to shovels, however. In other words, we were to dig out our trees and the bigger roots that were a part of them. After all, roots left under a trail will rot away and cause damage to it later on.
 Things went very well. After an hour and a half we had completed our projects. Greg told us that we had finished. He felt that completing a goal was more important then doing a three hour project. He signed Josh's crew leader's copy and we were off to our campsite.

 Josh traded some of our pemmican bars and pinto beans for better things at the swap box back at the staff's quarters. Our campsite was a very nice site. It was nestled within a stand of young trees next to the babbling brook. Camp was quickly erected. Soon it was time for a lunch of squeeze cheese and crackers.
 Then it began to drizzle. Luckily it did not last long.

 We went to our first program at 2:00. On the way to the site we met our first and only rattle snake. The snake had stretched out on the road to sun himself in the mid morning sunshine. Almost everyone left plenty of room as we walked around his backside. He must have been used to people because he never even looked at us as he (?) lay there.
 It was time to try our luck at the Philmont archeological dig. This was right next to a site that took 35 years to complete and uncovered an Indian home and burial site of a young Indian girl. After the staff explained a few things about archeology, the tools used, and what we could possible find, they led us to the dig site to do our thing. We found a couple of small items during our dig but not much that was really interesting.

 Koosch was a popular pastime when we got to camp. It looked to be so much fun that Al and I joined in for a while. Josh came up with a little slogan while we played; "I'll borrow my mother's scarf, and I'll use my mom's earrings but I'll never use my mom's koosch!" I am starting to catch on to the idea of how to play this. Peter is getting pretty good. Corey likes to use his head for some reason. Jason gets made fun of, as usual.
 It rained a bit as supper time approached. Tim went into his tent to write a letter to the girl of his dreams. Everyone else was running around with their rainwear on.

 Supper was prepared by Paul and Greg with a little help from Kirk. Tonight's menu would include macaroni and cheese, and a cherry chocolate cake courtesy of Kirk. The rain quit in time for us to eat.
 Boy, did the boys eat. They ate everything except for a little cobbler.
 The bear bags needed to be put up before we went to the camp's evening program. Tonight Josh led the crew in a bear chant. The chant included the Mini-sota chant from our last trek and a swimmer's chant from the high school team.
 For some reason it was not as much fun doing the chant as I remember it being. Part of it was probably do to the fact that Kirk was not supportive of it. And looking back at it I think is was a lot more fun to do it when we had a sister crew on the same trek. Half the fun of the chant was to try to outdo the other crew. We had no sister crew on this trek since we formed our own itinerary back at tent city.

 The tour of the petroglyphs began at 6:00 p.m. As we arrived at the meeting area we could not help but notice that 'Mikey' had beaten us there. He was talking to the gal that would be taking us on the tour. His crew was no where in site.
 It is probably time to mention a few things about the scout who received the nickname of Mikey within our crew. His real name is Earl. Earl has an attention problem. He craves attention and can become a real pest as he tries to get it. He also seems to have a very short attention span and cannot seem to spend much time at something for very long before he becomes bored. At this point he begins to search for something more interesting and can get on a person's nerves as he does so. The reason the crew gave him the nickname of 'Mikey' was that he reminded them of someone who has the same problem in our own troop.
 I found the tour of the petroglyphs to be interesting. The older crew members did not seem to share my feelings and seemed somewhat bored with it. Our tour guide tried to keep things moving and answered questions quite well.
 The stone pictures were of concentric circles, squiggle lines, stick figures, dots and other things. Our guide explained that concentric circles probably meant 'families'. One symbol shown probably stood for the god of fertility that the Indians worshiped. Researchers used petroglyphs in the area to find the burial site of the young Indian girl and the remains of a man during the previous Philmont dig.
  The favorite and most well known petroglyphs were a series of concentric circles with six lines radiating out from it and a set of dots with-in it. It is called Sputnik since it looks a bit like the first satellite sent into orbit. A couple of the dots are not an actual part of the petroglyphs. Three or four of them are marks of were bullets had ricocheted off it when cowboys had used the symbol for target practice.
 Our guide brought us to two completed archeological digs in the area. Both were found in the same clearing. The first was of an Indian home. It was here where the skeletons of the girl and the man were found. It was next to where the current dig, the one we participated in, was located.
  The second dig was of an Anasazi home. Unlike the first home which only had one room this home had a main room and two storage rooms. The people that lived there entered through the roof since the home was partially buried in the ground. The Anasazi Indians spent much the winter in this shelter and often would urinate on their stored foods instead of going outside. They obviously did not make the connection between doing this and disease.

 That evening Al and I went to our first advisor's coffee of the trek. It was our first chance to spend some time away from the scouts. The staff invites the crew advisors (adults) to stop by their quarters for coffee, hot chocolate, and a chance to meet with other leaders. Of course, most of the talk centered on the Philmont experiences that everyone was having. Al and I spent most of our time talking to Greg from the conservation site. He had spent most of his summer as a ranger but was now filling in at the various conservation sites around Philmont.
 Meanwhile Kirk had taken most the crew to the rock outcropping across the stream from our camp. I had thought that the staff had told our group when we arrived that they did not want anyone climbing those but it seems that Kirk chose not to obey that.

 Kirk is beginning to get on my nerves. Oh, I think it is great that he gets along with the scouts so well, but his attitude seems to be a bit too carefree for a ranger. First he walks through streams instead of over them. Then he gives me the impression that he does not take the Philmont Wilderness Pledge as very seriously. He is not setting a very good example for someone in his position.
 After supper he tried to teach the boys a few things about how a person can hurt someone with the martial arts. I allow this to go on until I see that it will soon lead to one of the boys getting hurt. Heck, Kirk is bragging how these moves can seriously hurt someone. Of course, the scouts love it and practice the moves slowly and carefully on each other. But this is not a 'skill' that needs to be taught to scouts at this time. 
 I walk over and ask the boys to cut it out before someone gets hurt. The boys stop but with-in a couple of minutes Kirk has started it up all over again. Again I asked the gang to stop. Again they do. Again Kirk brings the subject up. He does not seem to get the hint that I do not approve of this. It finally does come to a halt when Josh hurts Jason's wrist while practicing a maneuver under Kirk's 'watchful' eye.
 As darkness fell several of us chatted as we sat on the bank of the stream. Kirk told a few ghost stories about the Philmont area. One I had heard on my previous trips but he had a few that I have not heard before. Such as the two ghosts at French Henry camp and one about the Baldy Mountain poltergeist. And Miranda's ghost of a little girl who has slept with scouts. Now, if Miranda camp has a ghost why did we not hear about it during our last trip three years ago. After all, we camped at the site at which her grave was at.
 Anyway, ghost stories all are fine and fun. That is until things start to get out of hand. The kid's imaginations are going at full steam. Al and I realize that these are just stories but a few of the boys seem to be a bit frightened by it all. Tim is a bit jumpy. He has taken these stories to heart. Nathan has a feeling that something bad is going to happen. It is time to move on to a different subject.
 Which happened to end up being religion. During this discussion Kirk mentions that all Lutherans believe in God and the devil. Al, who is Lutheran, speaks up to say that not all Lutherans believe in the devil. Maybe Al spoke a bit too sharply because Kirk suddenly felt that Al was attacking his beliefs. He accused Al of violating his freedom to voice his opinion. Unfortunately it never occurred to Kirk that Al also has that very same right. It seemed to me that Kirk had the attitude that as long as you agreed with what he said you were okay with him. But as soon as you voice a different opinion then his then you were attacking his freedoms. Hogwash! I think that Kirk needs to go back to school or somewhere and learn a few things he obviously missed before.
 The crew agrees to arise at 6:00 a.m.. We head to bed at around 9:30 p.m. Overall it was a very good day.

Saturday, August 1, Day 4

 Today is our third day on the trek, our fourth at Philmont.
 One of the worst things about camping out is when you get stuck sleeping on a piece of ground that is not very comfortable. Last night it was an incline. This morning the problem was a hump in the ground that just happen to be in the lower part of the back. Even with this problem I still slept pretty well.
 Josh came by the tent at 6:10 a.m.. to wake us up to a new day. Too late! Al and I are already awake. We just did not feel like getting up until we had to. I am pleased with the way the crew has been getting up in the mornings. Everyone gets up right away. There is no bickering or arguing. No one tries to stay in bed for an extra ten minutes. Even when it is as cool as it is this morning (42 degrees) all the guys get up and get ready.
 Kirk decides to leave us while a breakfast of eggs and hash browns is being prepared. If truth be known, I am not sorry to see him go.
 We had a few problems during breakfast this morning. Jason was in charge of boiling the water for the hash browns. (That was not the problem.) After a while, several of us hungrier campers were standing around the cooking area wondering why the water was taking so long to boil. A quick inspection of the stove solved the mystery. The burner was set on low. We could have been there a long time waiting for our potatoes.
 We had a bigger problem when the older backpack stove we brought along decided not to work. In fact, you could say that it up and died. Al tried to fix it but it was no use. He even took it up to the staff to see if they could help us out. No such luck. Breakfast would have to be cooked with only one stove.
 Hopefully we will be able to pick up a new one at the trading post at Ponil or we would be cooking all our meals with one stove. It is not a pleasant when you consider that we have twelve people to cook for.
 While Ross was preparing the second batch of eggs, the pot lost its balance on the stove and spilled it's contents onto the ground. In a way I thought it was rather comical as I looked upon the expressions of the crew. Al helped out by spooning what he could into another pot. The rest we had to use a shovel to get up. After all, we could not let the mess stay there or it could attract animals to this site; like bears.

 Peter and Tim passed the time by watching the sunshine as its warm rays began to crawl their way into our little valley. The two were joined by others as the sunlight slowly came down the mountainside, waded across the stream, and silently crossed the meadow next to the camp. Pete was the first to arrive within the warmth of the bright rays. Several other scouts and I soon followed his example.
 Campers are not to leave any trash behind when they move on. If food left over from a meal they put it in a zip lock bag. This bag is affectionately called the grunge bag. Being a grunge bag is a lonely job. No one wants to have anything to do with you. Especially when it comes time to carry you to the next camp.
 Today's grunge bag is full. To make matters worse Paul rips a tear in it as he picks it up after doing dishes. We put this grunge bag into a new grunge bag only to have Pete drop it as we prepare to leave. Luckily, we do not need a third bag.
 This has not been a good morning for food. Worst of all, we did not have time for our hot chocolate. Darn!

 Sometime, while all this was happening, Josh decided to show Tim the site of a full moon. I missed the reason why Tim wanted to see one. 
 Ross, Jason, and Josh decided to see who could do the most push-ups. Ross did fifty. Josh did forty. Jason bet that he could do thirty. He fell over after doing 29 of them.
 The crew is getting slower as they prepare to leave. I was also at fault. I forgot to change into my hiking shoes until almost everyone was ready with their packs on. We finally hit the trail at 9:15 a.m..
 Today's hike to Ponil Camp will be quite a bit tougher then our previous two marches. The first half of it will be an uphill climb of about seven hundred feet in elevation. Then it will be a quick downhill trot to the camp. The whole trip will be about five kilometers long.
 The crew definitely got a work-out during the uphill climb. Most every was huffing and puffing before we had gone too far. Everyone now realizes the joy of switchbacks. Josh is setting a very good pace, however. He is taking it easy and is taking plenty of breaks.

 By the time we arrive at Hart Peak, the highest point of today's hike, Al is starting to fall behind. He says not to worry though. He is just taking it a bit easier.
 The trail forks at Hart Peak. The boys are confused. The map is not very clear on which trail we should take. Finally they decide to take off their packs and send a couple guys up the trail to our left, the one that goes uphill. It does not take long before the whole crew heads that way.
 That is, except for Al and me. I think the left trail heads toward the crest of Hart Peak. I believe it is time to go downhill. The right trail heads downhill. "Why, it's elementary, my dear Watson!" Al and I head down that way to see if we are right.
 We did not inform our crew leader of our plans before we left. Josh jokingly scolds me when we get back, just as if he were a parent scolding a child.  From now on we are to let him know where we are going. I had a feeling I was going to get it from him.
 The crew decides to take the right trail. It just happens to be the right trail. It seems the left trail did take the guys to Hart Peak. They said the view was excellent.
 It is downhill the rest of the way. We make excellent time. We arrive at Ponil Camp shortly before 11:30 am.

 After checking in at Ponil headquarters a staff member leads the way to our campsite for the night. It ends up being about a third of mile away from the main buildings of Ponil Camp, namely the cantina. At least it seemed like a third of a mile. We are not pleased.
 But we do like the site. It is near a pleasant little brook on the edge of a meadow, and the bear cables and latrine are near by.
 It does not take long to pitch camp and eat lunch. Everyone is anxious to get to the showers and clean up a bit. Al and I also do some clothes washing while we are there. Actually I just wash out a few socks. Al and Tom brought a few other things they wanted to wash out.
 When the scouts finished dressing they headed to the cantina to enjoy a few root beers, some junk food, and a few card games. Al and Tom join us a bit later. It feels good to sit at a table again.
 When the party started to break up Al and I checked out the trading post to see if they have any stoves for sale. Luckily, they had one left. We also picked up a new hip strap for Peter. The one he had on his pack was too large for him. It was not  carrying the weight of his pack. This one is a smaller size and should fit a lot better.

 Outside, Josh and Ross are playing horseshoes. As Jason and I approach they decide to quit so we begin to play a game. When Al and Tom join us we play a couple of games, Jason and me versus Al and Tom. We win both games. Corey stopped by and took my place during the third game. Hansons win that one.
 Back at camp Ross and Josh are napping. The others are playing down by the stream or whittling.
 I arrive back at camp to find Josh and Nathan trying to catch a few z's. I ask Josh if he wants to look over tomorrow's hike. It is going to be a long one, seven kilometers. He decides on a 6:00 wake up call and plans on leaving camp by 8:00. We hope to arrive at Pueblano Camp by 11:30 am.
 We will not be cooking supper tonight. All crews who stay at Ponil have the option to partake in a chuck wagon dinner. The meal includes beef stew, biscuits, and a dessert of peach cobbler. Ross, Josh, and I are a bit skeptical as to how good it is going to be. The last time we were at Philmont and ate one of these meals it was burnt and did not taste very good. We were pleased that this one was well prepared and tasted excellent. Most of the scouts went back for seconds.
 The personal eating gear had to be cleaned back at camp. Al volunteered for this job. No one argued with him. Paul and Greg were on clean-up detail but had to clean out one of the big pots before they could leave.

 The big activity for the evening is going to the cantina to have a little fun. Before anyone leaves the personal gear and smellables must be gathered and the bear bags hung. It takes the scouts fifteen minutes to get their stuff together. Why? I have no idea. I did not think it was a major undertaking to accomplish.
 The crew gathers under the bear cable for the hanging. We will be having a bear chant tonight! Unfortunately Josh and Tim are getting a bit out of hand. Sex seems to be the number one thing on their minds. The bear chant they lead reflects this. I try to warn them to cut it out. It goes unheeded. They continue and shout out a swim cheer that goes a bit to far. "That's enough," I exclaim. "Any more of this and the whole crew will be doing ranger push-ups." (Ranger push-ups are done while wearing a packed backpack.) I am not the only one who is perturbed. Al is also upset by this display of unscoutlike behavior.
 Everyone but Ross and myself go to the cantina at 7:00. It gives me an opportunity to have a nice chat with Ross. We agree that if Josh and Tim keep up with the attitude they displayed tonight that they could be a problem. We have also noticed that Nathan seems to worrying about things a lot. Hopefully that will end as the trek continues.
 Two deer visit our camp fifteen minutes after the crew leaves. Ross and I try to get pictures but it is going to be difficult. A storm cloud is moving in, blocking our light. A flash will be needed, which means that we will have to get in close. We get a picture just as the rain begins to fall. 
 We quickly run from tent to tent to close any doors and windows that were left open by our crew members. I am almost tempted to let the open ones open as a lesson for future reference. We close them anyway to save the trouble that comes along with wet gear and sleeping bags. Ross spends the rest of the evening taking a nap. I write a few notes in my journal.

 The crew comes back to camp shortly after 9:00 p.m. It seems that it was a wild time in the town tonight. I am told of the crazy stunts done by us and the Texas crew. The girls were dancing on the tables. Scouts were singing at the top of the lungs. Josh even tried his card trick on scouts from other crews.
 Where were Al and Tom during all this? Quietly playing cards on a table off to the side. I am surprised that Al did not tell our guys to calm down and act like scouts. I guess the boys needed a night to relieve a bit of excitement and tension that had build up over the last couple of days and this was a harmless enough activity. Besides, the gals who run the cantina did not seem to mind.
 Tim, Paul and Jason were kind enough to write a report about the events that happened at the cantina. I include it here:

 Well, 7:30 rolled around, we rolled down to the cantina. It started up as a regular evening. Then Troop 68 rolled in. Nothing odd about them, they grabbed their drink and chow. Luckily, they found a table in the far corner.
 They started playing a friendly game of quarters. Troop 68 noticed a familiar song being sung in the other corner. The song was Kum Ba Yah. Troop 68 joined in with the party. We had a blast with the songs that were played. Everything from Garth Brooks to Queen.
 Well, this young man named Tim Nathe was given a challenge, which Mr. Nathe willingly accepted. The challenge was a chug-a-lug contest. Mr. Nathe was two for two, and no other challengers.
 Then two fine looking bar ladies started shaking. Mr. Nathe noticed a young Texan flirting with the bar ladies. Mr. Nathe, along with Mr. Joshua Spoden, had a brainstorm...the Crappie.   Well, they got up after the crappie and the whole troop was pumped up. Mr. Nathe had another brainstorm...the Pit. He told the rest of the troop and also told the young flirting Texan about his idea. The Texan asked his fellow mates about the idea. They agreed. We used the Texan's table. The first to go was a Russian.
 Well, to make a long story short, everyone from both troops went. Over all it was one of the best nights at Philmont. The whole troop from Melrose included Paul, Pete, Jason, Corey, Josh, Nathan, Greg, Al, and Tom. 
 The Texas boys thought it was a good night too. Hopefully we will see our good friends (Texans) at Tooth Ridge on the last night of our Philmont trek.
 P.S.  Troop 68 is known and respected as the wildest and most fun troop around.

 (Yea! Right!)

 It is time for Roses and Thorns. Most of the crew agrees that the action at the cantina was a major 'rose'. Pete likes his new hip strap. Nathan's thorn was losing at horseshoes to Jason. His 'rose' was that the crew was there to support him through this troubled time in his life.
 We are in bed by 9:25. Suddenly, there is trouble in the tent next to us. Greg has a bloody nose. It takes a while to stop it but finally peace reigns over our campsite.


Ready to move on to the next part?
Then let's go to
Part 4.

1992 Philmont Journal:

Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8

1992 Philmont gallery:
(under developement)

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