Days #9 and 10
Thursday, August 6, Day 9
Rise and shine. It is 5:30 a.m. Josh wakes the crew up right on
It sounds as if there is a slow trickle of rain falling on the tent. By
6:00 everyone is up and around. Most of the tents are packed.
Breakfast is oatmeal and jerky. Almost everyone is putting hot
chocolate mix into their oatmeal to try to make it taste better. We are
a bit slow packing the rest of camp. It is 7:30 before we are ready to
move on. The hike down the hill to Cimarroncito takes us fifteen
which is only half the time it took us to go up it yesterday.
We stop at Cimarroncito Camp to do some rock climbing.
wait for the staff to take us to the site the scouts rummage through
swap box. Amazingly they find some squeeze cheese and quickly snatch it
It is a little tricky getting the site. We end up climbing over
some rocks that almost are enough of a challenge to be considered an
climb. They make me nervous. The scouts climb and jump over them
a second thought.
Six staff members are on hand for this program. Safety is of
the utmost importance. The demonstration they put on of the rules and
techniques is hilarious but to the point. When they are sure the crew
everything the climbing begins.
Tony, a staff member from Australia, is at the top of the cliff.
He has a lot of fun trying to hit the scouts who are standing at the
with the rope as he throws in down to them. It is a good thing that the
scouts have been told to look at the ground when they hear someone say
“rope.” Otherwise they would be going home with some strange marks on
One thing the staff does that really helps to speed things along
is that they do all the belaying, both at the climbing area and the
area. I am sure that another reason for this is insurance concerns.
The climbs are quite easy for the scouts. They have had harder
climbs at Taylor Falls in Minnesota. They practically run up the cliff
Repelling is a slightly different story. Many of the scouts have
not done very much repelling. Several of them find it a little
to lean back out over the cliff. The two Israeli staff members are
and work with them until they do it. One slight problem is their
It is heavy and makes them a little hard to understand.
None the less, the crew finished climbing by 9:15. All the scouts
participated. Al and I did not. We were both busy taking pictures.
Our pack line is sitting back at the staff building. The
do not take long to change back into shorts. They had to wear long
to climb. I changed behind the pack line. I have noticed the female
members sitting up on the porch. I don’t think several of the guys did.
Not that it matters. I am sure the gals have seen many scouts in their
underwear over the summer.
The first stretch of our hike has us going pack to Ute Springs
Camp. Luckily, there is a second trail that we can follow. No one was
on the idea of backpacking on the same trail that we did yesterday. The
trail turned out to be quite different then any other stretch we have
so far. It seems more like a jungle trail. Vegetation is thick. Much it
is hanging down over the trail. The trail itself zig zags so much that
we cross a small stream four times. The hike was easy and short. I wish
it would have gone on longer. It was fun.
The crew declared a time out when we connected with the jeep
trail. They formed a pack line and where off in a flash to the Ute
Commissary one more time to stock up on supplies, i.e., junk
They complain that they are starving and need the extra energy. Al,
and I stay behind with the packs. I gave Josh some money with the
to pick up a few slim jims and a couple bags of chips.
Al takes the opportunity to chat with a couple of advisors who
have also been abandoned by their crew. Paul and I chat about how
are going. He is not feeling well. Could be quite a number of things
is bothering him. Before the crew comes back Al picks up his pack and
hiking down the jeep trail. He wants to get a bit of a head start on
gang. I am not worried. We will catch up with him soon enough.
Today’s hike will be seven kilometers long. We will need
around Deer Lake Mesa to get to our destination, Harlan Camp.
we will also have to go half way up the side of the mesa. The trail may
be long but it is not too strenuous.
The view over the canyon below us gets better with each passing
step. Suddenly, from out of no where, three jets fly overhead. One of
is so low that we are shocked, and excited, as we feel the sound
reverberate over the hillside.
During one of the breaks I discover that Corey is carrying three
bags of food. Why? We only have twenty-one meals. No one, especially
of the younger scouts should be carrying this much weight at this point
of the trek.
The crew is beginning to move at two different speeds. The faster
scouts are soon out ahead of the slower group. Josh is demonstrating
good leadership by calling for breaks often enough to keep the groups
straying too far apart.
The number one crew and their burro.
Harlan Camp is a welcome site. My right foot has just
left in protest. We will be doing shotgun shooting at 3:00 and burro
at 7:00. Advisor’s coffee will begin at 7:00 also. It this a hint as to
what we will be watching?
Our campsite for the night is a nice one. It has tall trees and
a few big rocks to climb on. It is also fairly flat. We should get a
night’s sleep tonight. The only drawback is that it is a way away from
the program areas.
As we finish lunch cleanup I hear Tim singing the Christmas song,
Merry Christmas. Did he forget where he was? Did he forget what time of
year is was? Did he give me a fantastic idea for something to do
I talk to Tim about having Christmas at Philmont tonight. We
can decorate a tree with rope for tinsel and sierra cups as ornaments.
We could sing carols around the fire and have a gift exchange. Tim
the idea. Josh thinks it sounds like fun. So do most of the others. Tom
kind of crinkles his nose at the idea. Ross is not too enthusiastic
it either. I don’t get a chance to talk to Al about it until later.
Shortly before 3:00 most of the crew heads of to shot
Ross, Josh, Nathan, Paul and I stay behind. We want to take it easy.
guys that did go had a great time.
Josh decided to go up to the top of Deer Lake Mesa. It is a side
hike that we had talked about doing when we were planning things back
Melrose. No one shows any interest in going along with him so he tries
to go off by himself. I put a stop to that idea very quickly. At least
three people will have to go. I would prefer four. We need to practice
the buddy system out here. There is no telling what could happen,
it should be a safe enough hike.
Even though I was not planning to go up to the mesa at first
I decide to go along with Josh. I was looking forward to side hiking
mesa when I looked over our agenda back home. Tim also expresses
but backs out for some reason. Pete and Corey finally decide to join
We grab our rain gear, canteens, and a map and compass. It is cloudy
looks as if it may rain. If it does we will turn around and come right
back. If not, we plan to be back at 6:00 p.m.
It is close to a two kilometer hike to the mesa. Two thirds of
it is on a four wheel drive trail. This trail is in extremely poor
and is very steep. I wander how often a vehicle even comes up this way.
By the condition of the ‘road’ I would say not very. The storm clouds
us threaten to soak us the entire journey.
The mesa takes our breath away as we reach the top. It is a
site, an elevation at over 8200 feet. Kinda reminds me of Shangrala.
mesa is actually slightly concave. The perimeter is lined with a hardy
stand of trees that block out most of the view of the mountains that
us. In the center is a small lake. Seventeen cattle graze in the
across the pond. For a while the four of us just stand there and try to
absorb the scenery. It is the closest thing to Minnesota that I have
since we arrived in Philmont.
Unfortunately, the storm clouds still threaten to drench us so
we do not stay more then fifteen minutes. If we are lucky we can make
back to camp before it rains. We all agree that we should have come up
sooner. It would have been great to lie back in the grass and take it
watching the cattle graze and the birds fly by.
We are treated to a spectacular view of Cimarron on the way back.
We arrive back at camp at 5:45 p.m., fifteen minutes
we thought we would. It still has not rained. The four of us play
as Ross, Jason, and Al prepare supper. Nathan is sleeping in his tent
twenty feet from us. The flap is partly open. We take turns trying to
the Frisbee into the tent but are not very successful. Greg comes by as
states that he can do it. We do not believe him but let him try. He
it on his first throw. That ends the game.
Supper is delicious. There is very little mash potatoes, gravy,
beef, or lemon pie left over when the group finishes.
Al and I both went to advisor’s coffee which began at
porch has a swing on it. Al and I claim it for our own as we visit with
the advisors and staff. There we discovered that our friends who were
us at the beginning of our trek are back with us after a short split
These leaders are the ones who were so sick at the start of their trek.
The burro races, tonight’s activity, are set to begin at 7:30.
A few of the older scouts were not very excited about participating in
this event. Yet, when the group arrives the whole crew is present. I am
glad to see that. They head down to the corral which is just a bit
from where we advisors are drinking our coffee and hot chocolate. The
will be held in the open area in front of us. We will not even have to
leave the porch.
The crews choose their own burros from the selection in the
The first heat, in which two burros will race, does not include us. The
second heat does. The gang chose a donkey with the name of Big Louie.
to the odds posted on the lodge the odds on Big Louie are three to one.
The race consists of three scouts ‘leading’ the burro down the
raceway. One scout holds on to his reins while the other two make noise
and try to coax the critter along. At mid point three other boys take
and bring the animal back to the starting point which is now the finish
We won our fist race, but not because of our amazing speed and
animal handling skills. The other team lost control of their burro,
us with the chance to pass them and win.
The third heat had all four teams involved. This will be the
championship race. We have Daryl as our steed, four to one odds. Josh,
Nathan and Ross will guide the animal through the first half. Tim,
and Corey will lead Daryl through the last half. Tom and I are standing
on the sidelines with our cameras to capture the thrill of the event.
We win easily. The guys are riding high as we walk back to camp.
Tonight’s Christmas party should be a good one since everyone is in
a good mood. Al has stayed behind to wash out our cups.
When he arrived back at camp Al informs the group to go
to the lodge. It seems that the group which wins gets more then just
There is a prize waiting for us. Spirits soar as we parade to the lodge
once again. The staff tries to make a bit of a ceremony out of it as
present Josh with a package of...pinto beans! Ha ha! Josh hands them to
Jason as the staff hands over the real prize ... a half gallon of cold,
fresh milk! It could have been a bottle of champagne as far as the
was concerned. We had not had any milk since we left tent city a week
Christmas has truly come to Harlan for the members of 729G.
The crew proudly carried their prize back to camp. The carton
will be opened during our Christmas celebration. First we need to
the campsite. A short but wide evergreen-like bush next to the campfire
ring is chosen to be our Christmas tree. Rope is used for tinsel.
cups, bandannas, caps, and the flag are used for ornaments. Corey
his extra underwear for the star at the tree top.
Everyone gathered around the fire as the milk carton is opened.
Al pores as everyone holds their cup out to be filled. Even Tom, who is
allergic to a chemical in the milk, has a glass. Eleven cups clink
as Josh makes a toast. I am busy capturing this Kodak moment.
The campfire begins with Al rereading his Christmas story about
Santa Claus camp. (As I listen I think to myself that this would be a
Christmas tradition at our troop’s annual Christmas party back home.)
Christmas carols follows. The crew has a great time singing Jingle
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
The Twelve Days of Christmas has new verses as we begin to sing
this favorite carol. Each of the twelve of us takes a verse and made it
reflect something we have come across at Philmont. We have a lot of fun
doing this and are rather proud of our song when we finish.
The Philmont Twelve Days of Christmas.
On the twelfth day at Philmont
my ranger gave to me;
twelve meal packs (Tom)
eleven Sierra cups (Tim)
ten hikers hiking (Josh)
nine bottles of iodine (Nathan)
eight backpackers packing (Ross)
seven teriyaki helpings (Corey)
six good meals (Paul)
a five mile hike (Jason)
four hot showers (Al)
three dirty socks (Peter)
two Powerbars (Greg)
and one pemmican bar. (Steve)
A crew and their milk...
We did roses and thorns next. Almost everyone agrees
rose is winning the burro race, teamwork, and the milk. Tom is not
very well. He may have what Al had yesterday.
The campfire came to a close with us singing Silent Night and
the Philmont Hymn. By 9:00 we were in bed. We plan to get up at 6:00
Shortly after 11:00 p.m., I awoke to a mouthful of pain. I was
hoping that my jaw would not act up during the trip but I guess I am
going to be that lucky. I lay there for several minutes hoping that it
would die down so that I could get back to sleep. I finally decided to
get up and take a couple of advil. Unfortunately, the pain killer was
in the bear bag. I woke up Ross and asked him to help me get the pills.
Friday, August 7, Day 10
My jaw is still painful as the crew arises at 6:00. Surprising, I
slept quite well. The skies are clear. It is 51 degrees. A beautiful
During breakfast Paul traded his slim jims for my oatmeal. I think we
thought we got the better end of the deal.
Today we will go to Clarks Fork Camp. There are several ways
to get there from Harlan. We could go back around Deer Lake Mesa and
take the trail by Cathedral Rock and the Cimarroncito Reservoir. This
long hike and would be difficult. The crew decided not to go this way
too much of it would be backtracking what we did yesterday.
The trail chosen was a four wheel drive ‘road’ that would take
us off Deer Lake Mesa, into the Nash Gulch area, and past Webster Lake.
I am glad we left camp early, 8:00 a.m., because it was open plains
we got off the mesa. The sun was brightly shining as we headed toward
Lake. I would be willing to bet that it would have been a hot hike if
would have taken this route during the afternoon. As we passed the lake
the scouts noticed a deer next to a fallen tree getting a drink.
I was relieved when we arrived at the Cimarroncito
by 9:30 a.m. I am not sure but I think Philmont staff frown upon crews
using the roads to get from one camp to another if a trail is
We could have gotten in trouble if we would have met a vehicle along
It was about 10:15 when we arrived at Clarks Fork Camp. Tracy
welcomes us to camp and explains the program that is available to us.
of the things we are really looking forward to is the shower. Corey has
gotten so filthy that Tim has started calling him Pig Pen, after the
comic strip character.
We are given the campsite next to the one we used three years
ago. It is near a stream and the Red Roof Inn (latrine). The bear cable
is not far away. Even though the ground is a bit inclined it looks as
it will be a nice campsite.
Due to the fact that tomorrow’s camp will be a dry camp we ate
a supper for lunch. The crew is pretty quiet as the meal is prepared.
fact, they act as if they are near death. They must be really
The turkey noodle supper is good. A peach pie is our desert. Corey,
and I play a bit of Frisbee afterwards.
The shower house opened for business at one o’clock. At
I grabbed my towel and clothes and headed out, hoping to beat the rush
I was sure would occur. I was not more then a hundred feet from our
when I saw it ... a short distance to my left in the woods...
The creature just stood there and looked right at me, and me
at it. It was only about thirty feet to the right of the trail that I
on. It stood about three feet tall at the shoulders. The color of its
was brown. It had a light brown necktie mark down the front of its
It looked like a young bear, but was a lot bigger then a cub.
We stared at each for about twenty seconds. He (?) never moved
but I backed off a few steps. When I got about fifty feet away from it
I called back to the crew to grab a camera and bring it to me. “We got
a bear,” I yelled.
I probably should not have said that I thought to myself as I
saw most of the crew headed toward me. Tom and Nathan both had their
along. I waved them back as they approached. I did not want them too
in close the bear decided to try something. Slowly they came forward,
at what they were seeing before them. Tom handed me his camera, the
already set. As I brought the camera up to my eye the bear decided that
that was enough. He turned and walked off into the woods.
Some of the scouts wanted to follow it, especially Nathan. That
surprised me. Nathan was the one who was so worried at the start of the
trek that something was going to happen, that we might get attacked by
something. Now he wanted to go chasing after the very creature that
him so much anxiety only a week ago. I told them not to follow it. That
would be a bit too dangerous.
That bear sure was cute, however. And that cuteness made the
bruin that much more dangerous. People are not as afraid of cute
Cute things attract folks, especially kids. I am rather surprised that
no one made a comment about trying to get close enough to pet the
I think I will need to talk to the crew when we are all back together.
Precautions will have to be taken.
I stopped by the staff’s lodge on the way to the showers to
my siting. The staff was not pleased with the way I handled the
They explained that we should have made a lot of noise and chased the
away. They asked me if I had seen a collar or an ear tag. No. Was it
No. Was it in camp? Yes. Did it get at our food? No. Etc., etc. Once
form was filled out I was free to go.
I was keyed that I had finally seen a bear. It took three trips
to do it but I was happy.
Now, I only hoped that it would not raid our camp during the
middle of the night.
It was finally time to get to the showers and wash off six days
of dirt and grime. Several other members of the troop had beaten me to
it. It felt great to be clean again. On the way back a couple of us
our skills at lassoing.
The afternoon became a lazy, laid back one. Several of us took
out our sleeping pads, set them on the ground, and laid out under the
Pete and Nathan made a game of throwing the Frisbee over Paul, trying
see how close they could get to him without actually hitting him. Then
they tried throwing it over me. Every time I was able to get a hold of
it I took the thing and threw it as far away as I could. It did not
long before it was being thrown inches above our prone bodies again.
The chuck wagon dinner would begin at 6:00 p.m. Josh and Tim
headed to the dinner site at four o’clock. They were on cooking detail.
When the rest of arrived for supper we were told that we would be
double beef stew. This was due to the fact that they had very few
and even fewer vegetables, to put into the pot. The scouts did not
They pigged out and ate as if there was no tomorrow.
Al and I headed to advisor’s coffee as 7:00 rolled around. One
of the advisors we met told us about his crew’s cross country adventure
that took them from Cottonwood Camp to Ponil. It seems that they came
a fence during one of their first days and did not realize that they
go beyond it. They thought that they had somehow come to the edge of
They thought they were lost.
After looking at their map they came to the conclusion that they
should leave the trail and head south, across an area without trails,
get to Ponil. They finally arrived but it was in the middle of the
and raining. The crew was miserable. It had been an extremely tough and
I am glad that none of my crews had ever done something like
that. If they had I would probably never come back.
The rain begins to fall at 7:40. One of the advisors spots a
double rainbow in the eastern sky. Tom shows up at the lodge to pick up
his jacket that he left behind at the dinner area. Ten minutes later
crew arrives for the evening’s campfire. The rain is coming down
They staff still puts on a program but my crew does not care. Before
first song is sung they walk back to camp and their tents. I stay for
first song; a little tune about never let a dog make love to your leg.
It is quite dark when I head back to camp. That is when I discover that
I have forgotten to bring my flashlight.
Many of the scouts are preparing to go to bed when I get back
to camp. Everything that was left outside is soaked. Nathan and Peter
to adjust the fly on their tent. Jason and Tom join Al and myself at
tent for a few hands of cribbage. Four people in a pup tent is a very
fit. Jason and I win all three hands.
Taps comes to our troop at 9:45 p.m. It is still raining and
I can hear thunder in the distance. The storm could be with us for a
Strange. The right side of my jaw is beginning to act up. Usually
just the left side does. I hope that this is not the start of a new
Ready to move on to the next part?
Then let's go to
1992 Philmont Journal:
1992 Philmont gallery: