Thursday, August 1, 2013

Philmont Adventure

Day 1 - Wednesday, July 3, 2013 – Cary, NC to Colorado Springs

Expedition at Airport

Red Rocks Amphitheater

Air Force Academy Chapel
Got up a bit before 5:30 AM.  Shaved, showered and got dressed.  Finished getting ready.  Ate breakfast of oatmeal, scrambled eggs, bacon and orange juice.  Loaded the car and left for the airport around 7:30.  Met the group at the airport and checked in.  Through security easily with a bit of a wait before boarding at gate 26.  Aisle seat in the back row with Bethany and Sabrina.  Bumpy flight out of RDU and into Denver.  Read a lot of Mockingjay on the plane.  Tram ride to baggage claim where my bag was waiting for me.  Escalator stopped working while on it on the way to baggage claim.  Picked up in rental vans.  Rode to 7-11 to pick up lunch.  Drove to Red Rocks and ate lunch there.  They were having a yoga concert by Michael Franti.  We then spent an hour exploring Red Rocks.  The rock formations and their use as an amphitheater are quite interesting.  Back in the vans to drive to the Air Force Academy.  Toured the grounds, chapel and visitors center.  Back in the vans to Peterson Air Force Base.  Missed dinner in the mess hall which closed at 5:00 PM.  Ate at Waffle House: waffle, eggs, hash browns and sausage.  Drove to Garden of the Gods.  Was too cloudy for a good sun set, but good views any way.  Slept on cot in snow barn.  In bed at 10:30.

Day 2 - Thursday, July 4, 2013 – Colorado Springs

Pikes Peak

Expedition at end of bike ride down from Pikes Peak

Expedition at Garden of the Gods

Up at 4:30 AM before everyone else.  Took a shower and quietly got ready for the day.  All out by 6:00.  Drove to bike outfitters.  Had breakfast there: bagel, banana and English muffin.  Got a water bottle and helmet.  Drove in their vans to the Pikes Peak Cog Railway station.  Rode cog railway up Pikes Peak.  Very cold on top.  Given one of their famous donuts by Mr. Sanders.  It was quite good.  Took some pictures.  Got ready to ride down.  Had to wait a while for Laura and Cailin.  The bike ride down was a blast.  The views were great and going down the hair pin turns was a lot of fun.  Bethany seemed to have some altitude sickness but recovered well.  We stopped numerous times to see the views, take pictures, and mostly to let cars pass us.  After the ride we drove back to town and had lunch at a Greek restaurant.  I had a Greek grinder which was quite good.  Some had ice cream on the walk back to the bike outfitters.  We then drove our vans to the Garden of the Gods.  We walked around taking pictures after an adult planning meeting.  The highlight was taking pictures at Siamese Twins with Pikes Peak seen through the window in the rock.  We then drove to Balanced Rock and took a group picture.  We drove to a park and had Olive Garden for dinner.  I had pasta with marinara sauce and a really good chicken dish.  We had crew elections after dinner.  Cailin was elected Crew Leader.  Bethany became Chaplain’s Aid.  Katia was elected Wilderness Guia.  We then drove to a school near a park where there was to be music and fireworks.  The lines were very long for the first two porta potties we saw.  We stood in line a while for the second.  Mrs. Allen figured out where the music was and we headed over there.  There were quite a few porta potties there which we used.  We listened to the Colorado Springs Philharmonic play a few songs and then left to be in a better position to leave the fireworks.  Some including me returned before the fireworks.  Unfortunately we did not get the key to the snow barn.  Mr. Allen brought it to us.  We got back, emptied our van, set up cots, and took showers.  In bed at 10:45 with lights out at 11:00 to give those who stayed for fireworks the opportunity to take a shower.

Day 3 - Friday, July 5, 2013 – Colorado Springs to Base Camp

Expedition at Base Camp

Ranger Training

Equipment Shakedown

Up at 4:15 AM before the crew at 5:00.  Got ready, put away my cot, and helped load the van.  Vans pulled out at 5:30.  We went right away to a McDonalds for breakfast.  Had a McGriddle, hash brown and large orange juice.  It was surprisingly quite good.  Back in the vans and off to Philmont making one rest stop on the way.  We arrive at 9:00.  We check in, unload our vans into pack lines, and meet our ranger, Christian from San Juan, Puerto Rico.  He meets with Cailin who then distributes a few things to the crew.  We then head off as an expedition to get our pictures.  I first take a crew picture of 705-D3: Ellie, Frank and Opie.  We then take pictures as an expedition and then individual crews.  I get pictures of all of them with my camera too.  We then go to Registration and wait a long time.  Ranger training starts.  Lunch of chicken sandwich, mixed vegetables and potatoes.  Medical recheck: all good except one who needed to get an inhaler.  Cailin and Mr. Sanders went to Logistics.  Then we all went to get our first food for the trail and the equipment we needed.  It rained while we waited for medical recheck and off and on most of the rest of the day.  It stopped raining enough to do our equipment shakedown.  Then off to the Tooth of Time Traders to get post cards and a lighter.  I stopped off at the mail room to get post card stamps.  Dinner of meatloaf, potatoes, green beans, roll and cake.  Found my 2011 Philmont crew’s shirt in the dining hall and took a picture of it.  Advisors meeting after dinner.  Chapel was held behind the Staff Activity Center due to the rain.  Before chapel, I found Mrs. Allen’s brick at the Staff Activity Center and took a picture of it with her and her daughter’s hands.  Campfire was held in the Welcome Center due to the rain.  Took a shower and got a bit organized before going to bed at 10:15.

Day 4 - Saturday, July 6, 2013 – Base Camp to Anasazi

Philmont Museum

We hit the trail

Bear Bags

Got up at 5:15 AM before the crew at 6:00.  Got dressed and took some pictures.  Saw a line of about 20 deer walk in single file through the camp.  Got special order of scrambled eggs for breakfast with fried potatoes and sausage patties.  Got all packed up and put packs in a pack line.  Toured the Philmont Museum – more interesting than expected.  Took stuff not going on the trail to the vans.  Loaded up and got on 10:45 AM bus and rode to 6-Mile Gate.  Rangers were quite entertaining on the way.  Got out and formed a giant pack line.  Red Roof Inn training.  We then hit the trail after some brief instruction.  We saw a lot of rock formations along the way and the T-Rex track.  We got to our camp fairly quickly.  First we were taught how to hang bear bags.  Then the dining fly was set up followed by our tents.  We then ate lunch.  It then started to lightning and then rain.  We heard reports of bears and mountain lions where we are going.  We had instruction on both as well as lightning.  The lightning got close, so we went to our tents.  It rained for quite a while.  I took a nap.  Most of the crew went on a hike to see more foot prints.  Mr. Sanders, Katia and I went to get water.  While there I met the ranger for the Wagners’ crew: Kricket.  Dinner of chicken and rice was as bad as it was on the shakedown.  We learned cooking, clean up and sump procedures.  Christian provided us with pound cake and chocolate frosting.  He showed us how to wash our hands at the sump.  Bethany led our first devotional which was followed by thorns, roses and buds.  The oops bag was hung.  I went to bed at 10:15.

Day 5 - Sunday, July 7, 2013 – Anasazi to Cottonwood through Indian Writings

Atl-Atl Throwing

Petroglyph Tour


Got up at 5:25 AM before the crew at 5:30.  Got ready for the day, had breakfast, and broke camp.  Got on the trail a bit after 7:00.  Saw a rattlesnake on the way to Indian Writings.  Got there a little before 8:00.  Checked in and had our porch talk.  Signed up for Atl-Atl at 8:00 and the Petroglyph Tour at 9:00.  Throwing atl-atls was fun.  I got to throw 6 of them and almost hit the bear (Sergeant Grumbles) on my last one.  Our ranger was the only one to hit a target.  The Petroglyph Tour was very good led by Dan.  We saw petroglyphs in 4 places followed by 3 archaeological sites.  We then walked over to the current archaeological dig site which we could not participate in because you “can’t sift mud”.  The crew then did various things they needed to do.  Mr. Sanders and I took showers.  It was good to feel clean for about 30 minutes.  We then headed to Cottonwood seeing a nice elk skull and antlers along the way.  We got to our camp a little before noon and set up everything except the bear bags as it looked like rain was approaching.  We ate lunch and had some more ranger training.  Lightning got close, so we went to the Red Roof for protection and shelter from the rain.  It stopped for a while and we had a nice conversation with a passing crew.  The bad weather returned.  Mr. Sanders and I retreated to our tent.  Training on Leave No Trace bear bags.  Got cookies from another crew.  Dinner, devotion, LNT training, and TRB.  In bed at 10:15.

Day 6 - Monday, July 8, 2013 – Cottonwood to Ring Place through Sealy Canyon

Goodbye to our ranger, Christian

On the trail

Dr. Pepper!

Up at 5:30 AM with the crew.  It had stormed overnight, so the tents were wet.  Breakfast.  Gave crew shirt and bottle belt to Christian.  He gave us his card and candy from Puerto Rico.  We got on the trail at 7:20.  We said goodbye to Christian when our paths diverged.  We hiked through some picturesque canyons.  It was very humid and muddy in spots.  It also got increasingly hot.  We had to stop once due to a close lightning strike.  When we ate lunch it was quite hot with storms building.  I felt good in the morning but was sluggish after lunch.  It was starting to rain when we got to Sealy Canyon.  We had the Wilderness First Aid program inside their yurt as it rained quite hard with nearby thunder.  The rain was light when we left for Ring Place.  We blazed our own trail with great views from the saddle we passed over.  We finally hit a fence, found the gate through it, and arrived at Ring Place.  We set up camp.  I used the 30K.  The views from our camp are outstanding.  Runs were made for food and water.  I had breakfast skillet, chocolate milk and an orange for dinner.  Olivia greeted us at our camp and brought us Dr. Pepper and bacon.  Dinner, clean up, and LNT bear bags took a while.  Went late to advisors coffee.  Back to camp after learning we could not stay here another night.  Slightly late for Astronomy.  The skies cleared up pretty well and the stars were quite visible.  Could see the Milky Way.  Unfortunately they did not get out the telescope.  Back to camp for devotion, TRB and oops bag.  In bed around 10:30.

Day 7 - Tuesday, July 9, 2013 – Ring Place to Whiteman Vega

To Whiteman Vega

Conservation Project

Mountain Biking

Up at 5:15 AM before the crew at 5:30.  Last use of the 30K.  Broke camp a bit after 7:00.  Short hike to Whiteman Vega.  Got there a bit after 8:00.  We did our conservation project first helping build a new mountain bike trail.  We were divided into 3 groups.  Two did finishing work with Mr. Sanders working up a sweat with a sledge hammer. I worked with the Trailblazers (Laura, Katia and me) building a rock wall.  First we gathered large rocks to use.  Then we worked on putting stones in place to extend the rock wall.  Our first two efforts were deemed not good enough.  We needed to be more picky.  Our third attempt was acceptable.  We were replaced by our brother crew.  We walked back and Bethany led a devotional.  We then went mountain biking.  We took their entire supply of small bikes, so they modified one with a hack saw for Bethany.  The first mile was up hill.  I wiped out going up a small gully because I went too slow.  Could not get up the challenging technical climbs.  Bethany got further on one.  The last 3 miles were mostly down hill.  Laura had a spectacular crash missing a bridge, hitting a log, and flying over it.  Fortunately she only had a scrape with a few cuts.  The rest of the ride was challenging and a lot of fun.  Katia went from not really wanting to ride to trying one thing over again to see if she could do it better.  After the ride, we cleaned off the bikes and turned them in.  We then walked to our camp site and set up.  We had dinner 10 and did laundry.  There was a large Diamondback Rattlesnake between our camp and the windmill water source which only worked when there was wind.  Getting the clothes dry was a challenge.  The clothesline fell down.  I wore one of my shirts to get it to dry.  Before bed we went through another LNT lesson, had hot chocolate, and TRB.  In bed at 10:00.

Day 8 - Wednesday, July 10, 2013 – Whiteman Vega to Greenwood Canyon

Folk Weather

Expedition at Ring Place

Off to Baldy

Got up at 5:00 when the crew was supposed to get up.  Due to alarm difficulties, they got up at 5:45 instead.  Broke camp and departed at 7:00.  Hiked back to Ring Place stopping at Crystal Creek Camp to use their facilities and eat breakfast.  At Ring Place we got some of our food back that we had returned.  We listened to their Folk Weather program which was quite good.  We hiked most of the day to Greenwood Canyon.  The views in the morning from the meadows were very good.  We came across a few Prairie Dogs and a Horned Lizard.  The environment changed from meadows to forest.  It started looking like the Philmont I remember from 2011.  We ate lunch at a windmill.  It rained on us a bit after lunch, but it was fairly gentle and refreshing without lightning.  We got to our camp around 2:00.  It had a sump (though broken) and a pilot-to-bombardier toilet.  We then relaxed a bit at camp.  We had dinner followed by advisors coffee with our brother crew.  Early bed at 8:00.

Day 9 - Thursday, July 11, 2013 – Greenwood Canyon to Copper Park



Mine Tour

Up at 4:45 AM before the crew at 5:00.  Broke camp and hit the trail at 6:40.  Lovely hike along a stream with wind in the leaves and birds singing.  Saw a pheasant.  Ate lunch literally on the trail.  The hike was hard and at high altitude, but the crew did great.  The views from the top of the ridge were spectacular, especially of Baldy.  Down the switchbacks into Copper Park at 1:40.  We had camp mostly set up when it hailed.  We watched from the Red Roof Inn.  The hail was about a half inch in diameter and it looked like snow on the ground.  When it stopped, we got ready and hiked to French Henry.  We first did Blacksmithing with the girls making a fancy double hook.  Then we went to Aztec Ponil 2 Mine for the tour there.  We got to go inside and heard about the mine and the miners.  We hiked back and had dinner. 
Early to bed at 9:30.

Day 10 - Friday, July 12, 2013 – Side Hike to Baldy Mountain and Baldy Town

Baldy Mountain

On top of Baldy Mountain

Expedition on Baldy Mountain

Got up at 5:00 AM with the crew.  Ate breakfast and got ready for the day.  Left camp at 6:30 with my backpack mostly empty as we are staying in the same camp for two nights.  The first part of our hike was up the switchbacks that we came down yesterday.  The crew did a real good job getting up them.  We then hit the trail to Baldy.  The first part was a climb, but it leveled out in a meadow that was relatively easy to hike through.  Then we hit the scree field below the summit of Baldy.  This was a very difficult climb, but we all make it and arrive at the top at 9:15.  Our brother crew made it up there soon afterwards.  I explored around the summit and took a lot of pictures including group shots and Nick trying to fly a kite.  We spent over an hour at the summit despite it being very windy and cold.  The trail down to Baldy Town was very difficult with a lot of loose rock.  We arrived at Baldy Town around noon and ate lunch.  I took a shower and it began to rain.  I wrote a couple of post cards and sent them from Baldy Town.  We picked up more food, and I got an orange and chocolate milk.  We hiked back to Copper Park.  I carried a lot of the food we had just picked up which made my pack quite heavy.  Ben and Mark joined us for dinner.  We had our devotion, LNT training, and TRB.  I walked around the meadow taking a few pictures.  The girls played Uno.  Early to bed at 9:00.

Day 11 - Saturday, July 13, 2013 – Copper Park to Pueblano

Spar Pole Climbing


Company Meeting (Campfire)

Up at 5:30 AM with the crew.  Had breakfast and broke camp hitting the trail at 7:00.  Going down to French Henry was difficult, but the rest of the trail was easy and nice.  We got to Pueblano in time to spar pole climb before lunch.  It started to rain, so we did not get everyone in.  I climbed the spar pole in the rain in just under 4 minutes.  Bethany was a bit faster.  We ate lunch under a shelter during the rain.  We set up camp and returned to have the rest of the crew climb the spar pole and to watch our brother crew do so.  All made it to the top.  Mr. Sanders raced his son and beat him to the top in less than a minute.  We returned to camp for dinner and devotional.  Some of the crew played loggerball.  Katia did quite well, even scoring a run.  The Sanders had a spar pole competition which Olivia won.  The company meeting (campfire) was really good.  Most stayed late after it had ended for more music.  In bed at 10:30 with no TRBs.

Day 12 - Sunday, July 14, 2013 – Pueblano to Ponil with Wilson Mesa side hike

View from Wilson Mesa

Cowboy Action Shooting

Chuck Wagon Dinner

Up at 5:30 AM with the early crew.  Most side hiked up to Wilson Mesa.  It was a tough but short climb with the reward of excellent views, especially of Baldy.  Somehow there was a table up there.  Olivia gave us a Wilderness Pledge talk and did an excellent job.  After a moment of reflection, she shared her Philmont experience along with lots of quotes to explain the importance of the wilderness and our care for it.  I finally learned what “out live the bastards” meant.  Back to camp and hit the trail to Ponil.  The trail was nice but a bit hot.  My right shoulder was hurting.  We checked in, set up camp, and ate lunch.  We had our horse ride at 1:00.  We rode in the rain which actually stopped for most of it.  My horse was Klondike.  He was a good horse.  We basically went up a trail, turned around, and came back.  We did Cowboy Action Shooting at 4:00.  I hit my first target (big) but missed my final 4 (smaller).  Mr. Sanders hit one of the hardest targets.  We returned for Chuck Wagon Dinner.  It was good, plentiful and efficient.  We did our devotional and TRBs at the table after dinner.  I took a shower followed by a couple of root beers.  The Cantina Show at 8:00 was pretty good even though they lost power and had a few other things go wrong.  Walked back to camp in the rain.  In bed at 9:30.

Day 13 - Monday, July 15, 2013 – Ponil to Dean Cow


On the trail

Bouldering Wall

Up at 5:30 AM with the advisors making Cowboy Breakfast.  It was raining and had been all night.  Decided to stay in the tent and get organized as I was not needed to prepare breakfast.  Breakfast consisted of one large pancake, two sausages, syrup and orange juice.  We stayed under the shelter all morning trying to get stuff dry and waiting for the rain to stop.  We ate lunch there, got packed up, and hit the trail.  The trail was very muddy but otherwise another good hike.  We got to Dean Cow around 4:30.  The Rock Climbing was already full.  We set up camp and had dinner.  After Advisors Coffee, some of the crew played volleyball and climbed around the bouldering wall.  We then returned to our brother crew’s camp and had a campfire as the fire restriction had been lifted.  Bed at 10:00.

Day 14 - Tuesday, July 16, 2013 – Dean Cow to Base Camp

End of the trail


We All Made It!

Up at 5:30 AM with the crew.  Broke camp and hit the trail at 7:11.  Steep climb out of camp that provided great views.  The trail was still very muddy.  We got to Turkey Creek Turnaround about 9:30 quickly followed by our brother crew.  Our bus was early and had our brother crew’s ranger on it taking out another crew.  We boarded the bus and left the backcountry before 10:00.  We saw our ranger leaving on a bus as we returned to base camp.  We checked back in and got tent assignments.  We got our gear out of the vans, and I took a shower and shaved off my beard.  Lunch in the dining hall of chicken fingers, mashed potatoes and vegetables.  We then toured the Villa Philamonte.  It was a good tour with the same tour guide as in 2011.  We drove down to Rayado and saw their living history program.  We also got to throw tomahawks.  We then headed for Cimarron and stopped at the St. James Hotel on the way.  We saw lots of displays there, and their decorations were quite interesting.  We then drove into downtown Cimarron for pizza: 5 of them with two being Six Meats and two being Pepperoni Pounders (80 slices – one pound on each).  Both were quite good.  We walked from there through downtown and finally to the western shop that sells lots of interesting things.  We then drove to the Philmont Training Center for ice cream sundaes provided by Ben.  Then it was back to base camp for chapel and the closing campfire.  The closing campfire was quite good and included the song “Wagon Wheel”.  Both crews earned and were given “We All Made It” plaques.  Back to my tent for some reorganizing and in bed at 10:00.

Day 15 - Wednesday, July 17, 2013 – Base Camp to Cary, NC

Tooth of Time from Base Camp

Expedition at Philmont Gateway

Shotgun Shooting

Up at 4:45 AM before the crew at 6:00 to get a jump on being packed up to leave.  Got things loaded in my and Bethany’s duffels.  Loaded up the vans and had breakfast in the dining hall of an egg and ham sandwich with hash browns.  Got to the Tooth of Time Traders when it opened.  Bought the things I knew I wanted but did not really look around.  Bought a CD, some patches, a belt and maps along with things Bethany wanted including a belt with a very fancy buckle.  Went to Lost and Found, but they did not have the lantern Bethany left in base camp before hitting the trail.  We then gathered at the Philmont gateway for crew and expedition pictures.  We finally left Philmont, first going to see the Allen’s old house in Cimarron.  We then drove north stopping a couple of times, once for a flat tire on the brother crew’s van.  We arrived at Colorado Clays near Denver around 1:30 and had lunch of sandwiches, chips, cookies and lemonade.  We then shot shotguns in groups of 5 as time permitted.  I hit 2 of 15.  Bethany did much better.  We then drove to the airport.  Relatives of Mr. Sanders who live in the area and shot with us returned our vans to the rental agency from the airport.  We checked in for our flight, checked luggage and got boarding passes.  We went through security without any difficulty and rode the tram to Gate C.  Bethany and I had dinner at McDonalds.  Our flight boarded on time at 5:15 and departed on time at 5:40.  Unfortunately it took a while to take off, so our flight was a bit delayed into RDU getting there a bit after 11:00.  We were greeted at the airport by Leslie-Jean, Christian and Miriam.  Long walk to the car.  Drove home completing a wonderful adventure.