Philmont Journal 2015

Brent Welch

Troop 31 returned to Philmont in 2015 with one full crew of 9 scouts and three advisors. We had a north-country trek that totaled about 85 miles, and included Baldy Mountain and a hike out over Tooth Ridge. We were Trek 617-J on Itinerary 23.

My equipment list etc. was very much like the 2011 equipment list, with these changes:

I weighed a few things at home:

The pack had extra troop gear: rain fly, saw, first aid kit, 2 stoves, 2 small pots, 10-liter MSR hydration pack (the "penguin"), 3 philmont maps, GPS, and trek poles. Some extra personal gear in the food pack plus a 2-lb camera bag, made heavy by the long lens and extra batteries, including a brick to charge the phone. Estimate a reasonable "dry" weight to be a heavy 34 lbs. At Philmont I didn't carry the saw, others carried the rain fly, one of the stoves, empty penguin. I did carry a stove and the small pots, and the first aid kit, and maps.

Trek members were:

June 16, Travel to Albuquerque

Meet Marshalls for breakfast @8:00. Meet everyone at Church @10:15. Christian Foley arrives several minutes late, and realizes he left his boots at home. Our plane is at 2:05 so we have a lot of time for them to fetch his boots. By noon we are checking in and things go smoohtly at OAK. Full flight to ABQ. We have to wait on the tarmac after landing, so Blue Sky called me. Got to hotel OK, and ate dinner there at 7:00. (There is no ABBA convention at the hotel this year.) Scouts went swimming while I did some last minute work for the SuperComputing program committee. We need to wake at 5:30. I watched the last part of the Warriers vs. Cavaliers as the Warriers won the NBA championships.

June 17, Travel to Philmont Base Camp

We wake early, get breakfast in the hotel and load up for the ride to Philmont. There are three troops, and the other two take a big bus while T-31 rides in a van that tows a trailer with all the packs. There are no issues getting up and out on time. The scenery is a lot greener than in past years. There had been a big rain storm last night and the road was still wet in places. We see a number of antelope. I play with my new 50-200 zoom as Philmont, the Tooth of Time, and Mt Baldy come into view.

We arrive around 10:30, check in and meet our ranger, Aubry McCabe. She is on a 3-week leave from the Air Force Acadamy, and we are her third and last crew. She was great. I hadn't heard about that program before, but it is over 10 years old with cadets from Air Force, Army, and Navy serving as rangers. The first day is the usual waiting game, as we go through logistics and checkin, getting our gear and food. Med checks are slow, and we can't get a slot today but must wait until tomorrow morning.

During dinner there is a thundershower, with lightening hitting near by, and a strong downpour as we eat dinner. After dinner there is an advisor's meeting and I get some facts about Philmont:

  • 22,000 Scouts go through Philmont each year.
  • 5,000 people are in the camp on any given day, including 1,000 staff.
  • They recently purchased Cimmaroncita, previously a Girl Scout camp that is an adjacent property.
  • Philmont is 140,000 acres, and they have joint use agreements with neighbors that give them access to another 110,000 acres. 250,000 acres is 390 square miles! I noticed signs claiming "The World's Largest Camp".
  • At Metcalf station they are using scouts to rebuild a narrow guage railroad on the old bed. They have completed 900 feet, and hope eventually to build 2 miles, almost all the way to Indian Writings. It took the real railroad workers just 8 strikes of a hammer to sink a railroad spike. It takes a scout about 85 strikes...
  • They had 5 1/2" of rain in May, and so far another 5" of rain in June. It is very green.
  • The campsites on Mt Phillips are still covered in snow.
  • Flooding has taken out some of the smaller bridges, but most have been restored.
  • They are allowing fires! However, you need to dowse the fire completely, and pack up the ashes in the morning. Hike the ashes out 30-minutes from camp, then broadcast them into the woods.
The opening campfire is the usual historical tour, featuring a pretty indian girl, Kit Carson, Wait Phillips, a spanish conquistador, among others. We hear about Kit Carson's antelope hunting strategy of laying on your back and waving your legs to attract their attention. We'll try that out later on some deer!

June 18, Day 1 to Anasazi

Up at 5:30, and all packed and out of our tents (swept clean!) by 6:20 for 6:30 breakfast. The crew is starting to impress me. We get our Med form check after breakfast. Julian and I sign up for a blood pressure study where we get our BP taken on day 3, 6, and 9 while on the trail. We play footbag waiting for med check and the 10AM bus to 6-mile turn-around. We weigh packs:
Mike J 32 lbs
Ryan 36 lbs
Thomas 38 lbs
Mike W 39 lbs
Joseph 40 lbs
Christian 41 lbs
Allen 42 lbs
Peyton 44 lbs
Brent 47 lbs
Evan 50 lbs
Eric 52 lbs
Julian 53 lbs
(Later, Christian would carry Julian's tent for most of the trek.)

The bus is packed with 3 crews and a handful of extra staff. We find a great shade spot for Ranger training and Lunch. We have Spam, which is pretty good. And Honey Stingers, yay. It is a short hike to the T-Rex fossil tracks, which I have not seen before. We get to Anasazi and end up sharing a bear cable with a few other crews because one of the cables was down.

Joseph finds his pack wet, and his pack cover holding a lot of water. ("What's wrong with my pack cover?") His Osprey hydration pack has sprung a leak, which we suspected before we started. His troop gear was the toilet paper, which didn't do very well because we didn't put it into a ziplock. Luckily a bunch of us are each carrying a small amount of personal paper, and one of his three rolls is only slightly wet.

Then we cross the full creek to get to the well. It requires a bit of a jump. I worry about Julian's calf, which he tore about a month ago, but he does great. There are no accidents. We filter water and also learn how to use the chlorine tablets to sterilize water. Dinner is spaghetti and "meatballs", and the scouts love it. A small rainshower blows through. But it is clear by sundown and we play "get to know you". Everyone has to give a fun fact about themselves. I wasn't taking notes, but I remember a few:

  • The Raffa twins swapped names (Joseph and Thomas) about 4 days after birth because one looked more like grandpa Joseph.
  • My son Michael choked three times as a young kid.
  • Eric nearly drowned, twice.
  • Ryan is into RC (remote control) car racing, and does pretty well.
  • Evan climbed out of his bedroom window at age 3 - at the encouragement of his older brother.
  • Christian had an "accidental" fight due to a misunderstanding on his first day at JLS junior high.
  • I talk about Footbag tournaments and kayaking the Grand Canyon.
Before bed I walk down and chat with the leader and ranger of a nearby crew that is kind of noisey. The ranger goes on and on about how great working at Philmont is, and the crew quiets down.

2.4 miles. 6704 ft to 6910 at Anasazi. Max 6942.

June 19, Day 2 to Cottonwood

Up at 6:00, on the trail at 8:20 - after cooking biscuits and gravy! Great job. Neighbor crew was up t 4:45! They are our "sister" crew on the same itinerary. It is a short, pretty 2 miles to Indian Writings. We water up and then get a tour of the Petroglyphs. Our Cons (conservation work project) starts at 10:30, and we are working on a new trail. Half the crew works on roughing out the new trail. The other half works on a switchback, creating a retaining wall and turning larger rocks into gravel. Evan and I took turns weilding a large sledge to smash rocks. It was fun. It got a bit hot, and we took a break mid-way. After cons we ate lunch, then we got to use the ancient AtlAtl device to throw large (6-foot) arrows at targets. Noone actually hit a target, but it was great fun none the less. Before we go, we ask for TP, and are graced with two new rolls!

We hiked up valley toward Cottonwood, which is a small side canyon off the main valley. It starts to rain shortly after we turn up Cottonwood Canyon. After a very close lightening strike (flash-bang) on the ridge above us we spread out and assume the lightening safty position. We are in a safe spot at the bottom of the valley, without much drainage above us. The scouts crouch. Julian and I sit on our packs. We hang out for about 20 minutes counting the time between flashes and thunder (5-seconds/mile) until the rain and thunder stop. We hike into camp a little before 5:00. The crew splits into teams working on the dining fly, putting up bear bags, and cooking dinner. Dinner was stuffing with chicken! Very good. We see deer come up into our meadow. Aubry reviews our Ranger Training and has the scouts go off for 5 or 10 minutes and remain quiet, just meditating on the outdoors. Evan has lost track of his "Life", which we notice while looking for the fire rendez-voud information. This is the paperwork we need to get food and sign off on our conservation work. We search thoroughly, but no luck. I do some star gazing before bed. Saturn and Jupiter are prominent in the western sky.

5.3 miles. 6904 ft to 7350 at Cottonwood. Max 7441.

June 20, Day 3 to Rich Cabins

Up at 5:30 to wake Aubry, who needs to get back by 8:00 for a meeting. She leaves at 6:10. We leave at 7:55, still more than 2 hours to pack up and go. At Metcalf Station we admit to losing our Life, but the world doesn't end. We water up, look at the railroad museum, and several hundred feet of rail they laid. As we leave we hear they confirmed the Life was left at Indian Writings. They will get us a new copy at one of the staff camps. It is a long hot walk up a pretty canyon with a short ascent out, still hot. We cross the ridge and go down a very steep fire road into Dan Beard, which is a staff camp with a Challenge course.

We eat lunch, and I nervously watch the clouds build. The scouts want to do the Challenge course, and we have one more ridge to cross before we get to Rich Cabins. The Challenge course is great, of course. In Helium Hula they all put two fingers on a Hula Hoop and try to lower it to the ground, but it really wants to go up instead. Then they do a trust fall where the faller tips backward, then they shuffle them onto everyone's hands, then turn them over (face down), then shuffle them back out. Next they lead Christian blind-folded to the next event, across a little log bridge. They have to get everyone across a rope swing, but but the first challenge is to get the rope, which is hanging in the middle of the gap. The scouts invent a new method of rope capture, tying all their coats together as a kind of rope, with a water bottle at the end. They can swing it out and around and hook the rope. The Staff is impressed, although later he notes that long sticks were lying right there on the ground. Everyone swings across OK, even blindfolded Christian. Oh, three of the scouts were mute, and they went across first. In a funny moment they were asked if they were ready to help with Christian, and they responded with a smile and a thumb's up. The next challenge was the Archemedie's Log course, where you have to place logs between standing stumps, picking the right length. It turns out you have to recycle one of the spanning logs, but the scouts figure it out pretty quickly based on their experience at Oljeto's COPE course. By this time most of them are muted so it was fun to watch them communicate with hand signals and body language. Finally there is the 12-foot wall were they get everyone over.

Then it is Time to Go! We leave about 3:10 and have about 2 miles to get across the ridge to Rich Cabins. It is steady up, and goes right along a fence line so it is steep at times. The ridge was burned in the big 2002 Ponil Complex fire, so there are only dead trees sticking up like toothpicks. We spread out, and I instruct the scouts to just keep going. Mr Marshall and I won't keep up, and I want them to get over the ridge quickly. There is a ravine in the middle of our crossing, and there we catch up with the scouts taking a break and putting on rain gear. Again the intructions are "don't stop!" We have just a small rise and we've cleared the ridge. The whole crossing we've been hearing rolling Thunder but no "cracks", and no flashes we could see, so nothing was close. We hit a fire road that takes a sensible grade down to Rich Cabins, and it starts to rain harder, with a little hail mixed in. I did the whole hike in rain pants. We check in at Rich Cabins and use our photo of the "Life" to get food. The scouts got a tour of the cabin as I caught up on the journal.

Our camp is downstream a bit, including a stream crossing on a log. We are in a field near the river, and the bear line is across the river and another (second) high log crossing, nearby to our sister crew. After a dinner of Mexican Rice stuffed into Tortilla's, we head back to the cabin for a music program. It was a special Saturday night with all 10 staff members there. Great musicians: banjo, guitar, bass, accordian, wash board, fiddle, voice. They did the original words to Home on the Range, and a bunch of great songs. They also did a skit about a bear where they used Evan as a tree, and Michael J as a very convincing Bear. The staff member playing the lead role was visibly worried about the bear! It was great. We headed back late under a starry sky.

11.0 miles. 7350 ft to 7700 at Rich Cabins. Min 7075. Max 8287.

June 21, Day 4 to Pueblano Ruins

Up about 5:45 so we can get to the cabin for program at 7:00. We wait to eat breakfast at the cabin, which was smart because they wern't really ready yet. Mr Marshall and I get our blood pressure checked, and the scouts play with chickens and goats. Christian had a chicken sit on his head for about a minute. (The record was set by our sister crew's boy leader at over 5 minutes!) We pick up food and head for Wilson Mesa. We go down the valley and miss the trail. We are about to cross the river in the main valley when we check the map and realize we've gone about 1/3 mile past the trail. It turns out our sister crew made the same mistake. The sun is hot, and Mr Welch leads up the steep trail. We break about every 100 vertical feet in a shade spot. I go super slow, channeling Mr 'E' from my own scout days. (Mr. Everhard was retired Forest Service, and he was always our pace setter at Philmont. T-167 would just do a slow grind and "never" stop, generally eating up the other crews.) We check our direction w/ map and compass toward the top and we are on track. Finally we crest the Mesa and shortly we come to the Lake w/ the incredible view of Mt Baldy. We will be on top of it in 2 days! We eat lunch, and I dip my hat in the lake. We go to Peublano and Evan is re-united w/ his Life! The program is spar pole climbing. All the scouts try, and most get all the way to the top. We hear thunder, but get no rain. We kill a lot of flies, and our sister crew has a large zip lock bag they used to collect flies (mostly dead.) Two deer come very close as we watch the climbing. The scouts have to come up with compliments for their safty belayer, called the donkey. "Hey, are you Black Mountain, because I can't get over you!".

After program I am standing next to the water spigot unscrewing the cap to my hydration pack. A scout from another crew comes running up, opening his camelback on the run, and cuts right in front of me. I exchange a look with Eric but don't say anything to the Scout.

It is a nice mile to Peublano Ruins. Very pretty in the trees, but there are still loads of flies. Dinner was Beef Stroganouf. We had a little scare with the bear ropes. Ours got tangled in an older rope that was cut but still hanging. However, we successfully rescued our rope and were able to shift the older rope off to one side. The scouts wanted to make a fire, and Michael Jones laid a tremendous little fire, and tended it well. We used it to pop our Jiffy Pop popcorn. The first batch didn't quite work because the paper caught fire. But the second came out great. I think we'll save the last for Tooth Ridge. At the end of the evening I go on a water run with Christian and Thomas. We walk back under the light of the moon w/out flashlights, which I love doing. My tent is on a super flat hard pack of fine grain dirt/sand, so I scoop out a small divot for my butt and hips.

8.0 miles. 7700 ft to 8440 at Pueblano Ruins. Min 7483. Max 8630.

June 22, Day 5 to Copper Park

Up at 5:30 because we have 2,000 feet elevation gain today. The first part of the trail to French Henry is pretty, but steep. We let Evan lead and he sets an OK pace, but Mr Marshall and Welch are a bit behind. We follow a lively creek through pine and aspen. The program at French Henry is blacksmith, gold panning, and a mine tour. The curved bench on the staff porch was really comfy, and I know we've been workihng hard. We go to Blacksmith and make an S-hook. We eat lunch there, near the creek, porta potties, and staff cabin. We dip our faces in the river. While we eat, we get a Geo talk from the Geologist on staff at French Henry ("Geo Bill"). Then I lead the way to Copper Park. Still very pretty, but even steeper. At one point the creek just emerges from under the trail (as a spring, but very high volume) and it turns out we are very near the top of the steep part. We are probably about level with the meadow at Copper Park. We go up a bit more, then descend gradually and emerge into Copper Park. We pick a camp near the trail junction going up the switchbacks. The spigot is dry, so we make a water run back to the spring. Michael Jones, Christian, Peyton, Eric, and Mr Welch take all the hydration packs and bottles, and both Penguins (10-liter MSR hydration packs). I make a little spot in the creek where we can fill our large bucket. Mr Marshall's gravity feed water filter works great, and it gets a full bucket of water, then we use two hand pumps to empty the next bucket full. It takes about the same time to drain the gravity feed filter as it does to pump the bucket dry with two hand pump filters. A couple crews come down trail after climbing Baldy, and eagerly fill their water bottles from the stream. We had walked to the spring on "fast" in about 15 minutes, pumped for about 1.5 hours, then walked back with about 75 liters of water in about 22 minutes. The rest of the crew has been napping and playing cards. A ranger (John Colen) followed our crew up the last bit to Copper Park and set up near us. He had come 15 miles from Dan Beard that morning, and was going to see sunrise on Baldy tomorrow, then hike out. That's a great day "off" for a Philmont Ranger! The scouts had a great time chatting with him. The weather was unsettled, w/ thunder and lightening about 5 to 7 miles away. We got a few drops of rain now and then, even into the night.

4.75 miles. 8440 ft to 10,500 at Copper Park. Min 8306. Max 10,626.

June 23, Day 6 ascent of Mt Baldy

I didn't sleep that well, w/ altitude (10,500ft) and worrying about the weather. I heard John get up at 3:30 to get sunrise on Baldy. We woke at 5:30, and were moving by 6:30 up the switchbacks. The weather is perfect! We have breakfast at the top of the 17 switchbacks at over 11,000 feet. Then we head up to ridge for the pretty walk at 12,000 ft. We see copper green rocks near the shack below the peak. I lead the final climb, and we stop to rest just once. We spend about an hour on top and see Geo Bill and Geo Ed up there. (Ed has climbed Baldy 160 times.) The descent is steep, down the front side, but most enjoy the scree descent. We have lunch down in the trees near piles of snow. There is a beautiful view of Wheeler Peek from the meadow. We have a snowball fight. Then a steep, rocky trail to Baldy Town. We buy snacks and a new hydration pack for Joseph. Some shower, including me, and the water is not warm! We pick up our food and take a new trail back to Copper Park. We are all full w/ water, and I carry a 10-L penguin (but no food). We are tired but happy as we cook dinner. We hear there really is a working spigot, but we never checked it out. Thorns and Roses were full of happy descriptions of the day.

10.1 miles. 10,500 ft to 10,500 at Copper Park. Min 9815 (Baldy Town). Max 12,441 (Mt Baldy)

June 24, Day 7 to Head of Dean

We sleep 'til 6:00, and switch food day 5 for 4 so we have the breakfast scramble w/ tortilla's to ease cleanup. We navigate the trails and roads to Ewell's Park. There we have trouble finding the new trail to Baldy Skyline, and end up going down the 2002 fire break. At the trail road interesection we take the old closed trail. The new trail is nowhere nearby. (Eric and I took the old trail in our 2011 trek. Christian had us on the right track, but it didn't match the map so we turned around and ended up back on the old trail and fire break.) We finally intersect the new trail halfway between Baldy Skyline and Head of Dean, which is a beautiful camp. We set up camp and have a COPE course at 3:30. The first challenge is a balancing platform where all scounts need to get onto the platform, sit down, stand up, and get off. Each time the platform tips a bit and touches the ground, another scout gets blindfolded. Thomas and Joseph do a good job leading (most of the other scouts are muted.) Mike W and Peyton play Ro-Sham-Bo while blindfolded. Then they have to get everyone over a log about 8 feet above ground. Evan goes up last and is able to use the tree to climb up. The next challenge is a rope swing across a gap, similar to what they did at Dan Beard. They instantly use their coat-water-bottle technique to get the rope (after being told they can't use sticks.) They go across, and then all but Peyton and Ryan are blindfolded, and even they cannot speak. Ryan goes across first and helps the others land safely as Peyton gets them started. At one point they switch places, and Ryan almost doesn't make it back. He did the most incredible save from being completely horizontal with his feet on the ledge and hanging from the rope, (he was just inches from the ground, but it was no-man's land.) Next was the 12-foot wall, which was slightly different, and Christian had to go up last w/out any boosting. Eventually he was able to jump up to the hands of Peyton and Evan and get over.

The last challenge didn't go so well. It was a hanging platform on a cable. The goal was to have everyone ride the platform to the other end of the cable. The scouts should have sent an un-blinded scout across first, then all the blinded ones one-at-a-time. However, lack of communication was a problem, and blind Peyton was put onto the platform, Christian jumped on with him, and Thomas didn't know to push them off hard. They got stuck half way, and Christian tried vainly to get the platform across for about 10 agonizing minutes. Eventually with some allowances (using 5 fingers between two hands) he was able to drag the platform across. Then the staff pointed out they could (should!) only have one scout on the platform at a time. They got the rest of the scouts across, but as Christian said, "I am so done." The staff member took off and I chatted a bit with Christian, then tried to catch up with the staff member. They were going so fast I managed to strain something in my left leg trying to walk so fast! Just above my ankle. We spent some time talking about it afterwards, and it was an interesting life lesson.

We cooked and cleaned up quickly so we could make program at 7:00 - Wizard Ball.Julian and I got our Blood Pressure checked (should have done it yesterday in Baldy Town - we hope that's OK). Wizard ball is kickball with funny rules. Second base is a folding chair you need to unfold and sit in. Underhand throws only. Third base is way out beyond where 2nd base normally is, and 2nd base is where 3rd base should be. Other rules appeared spontaneously, but we couldn't quite keep up while watching from the porch. At one point I heard the score was 6.6 to 6.75. The scouts loved it. We chatted with other adults and rangers on the porch, which had views far to the north into Colorado.

8.1 miles. 10,500 ft to 8770 at Head of Dead. Min 8740. Max 10,667.

June 25, Day 8 to Deer Lake Mesa

Up at 5:00 because we have a long day to Deer Lake Mesa. Hiking by 6:30 we find the trail to Santa Claus. It goes through the 2002 burn area and we see young pine seedlings and not so much scrub oak. Just before Santa Claus we switch to the fire road which goes to a hilltop with a nice view of Baldy. Santa Claus is pretty, and we eat breakfast there. We head out before 9:00 to descend Bear Canyon. The trail is nice, and we pass several crews coming up. We are at the canyon bottom and road crossingb by 11:30. e go upriver a bit and have lunch. Then we ascend to Vista Grande where we need to filter water. The climb is smooth on a rlatively new trail, but we are at 10 miles already and still a ways to go. The views of Baldy and Phillips from Vista Grand were great! We find the spring and filter water. It rains while we wait. We climb out of Vista Grand, then it starts to rain again. There are pretty marshes and a lake at Upper Bench, then a long climb up to Deer Lake Mesa. We have gone 15 miles with just 3 pack-off breaks (breakfast, lunch, and water), and it is a little after 4:00. The rain comes and goes as we set up camp, cook dinner, and clean up. Folks are tired but in pretty good spirits after dinner. By 8:30 we are all done, just waiting for the water crew to get back so we can do Thorns and Roses and go to bed early!

14.7 miles. 8770 ft to 8325 at Deer Lake Mesa. Min 7173 (Road crossing). Max 8896 (above Santa Claus)

June 26, Day 9 to Cimmaroncito

Sleep in until 6:00, on the trail a little before 8:00. We have a short day to Ute Gulch Commisary and Cimmaroncito. The mesa trail is easy, and as we descend to Ute Gulch we have views of the Tooth of Time. We stack up gehind a crew that likes to sing, so we wait 5 minutes. At Ute Gulch we wait a few minutes to get our food and enjoy chocolate milk and fresh fruit while we wait. I buy batteries. The crew is efficient with the food and we are one of the first crews to leave. It is a short hike to Cimmaroncito via Grouse Gulch, which is a pretty narrow canyon w/ a clear stream in it. Our campsite is relatively close to the main cabin, and we get the 12:45 Rock Climbing slot. We set up camp and eat lunch, and get to the cabin just at 12:30. There are 3 or 4 crews in our shift, but T-31 is near the front of the line and I get pictures of the climbers. I climb (the easy route) very last, and take pictures from the top. The valley is super green compared to 2011 and 2013.

We use the climbing wall for a bit before our shower. Peton, Christian, Joseph and Mike W do well, getting around the corner to the back side. Noone can do the whole thing (so far). We queue for showers as the clouds build up. The shower is great, of course. Then we cook and cleanup in time to get to program, which is more climbing. We sit on the porch talking to some advisors from Minnesota, Grand Rapids. As we sit in the dark doing Thorns and Roses we see flickers of Lightening up in the clouds (faintly) but no Thunder. Just as we get into tents there is some light rain. After an hour of not much, the storm builds and it seems like almost continuous lightening and rolling thunder. I check my watch at 12:30 during the storm. Eventually it fades and I fall to sleep, only to wak as the second wave comes around 3:30. This is the most intense lightening I've been in, and I spend all night trying to count the time from flash to thunder. It is difficult because subsequent flashes come before the thunder. Most seem to be 1 to 4 miles aways, but there were two strikes that came with a concussive blast.

5.0 miles. 8325 ft to 8245 at Cimmaroncito. Min 7817. Max 8634.

June 27, Day 10 to Tooth Ridge

We had planned to wake at 5:00 to get up to Tooth Ridge early, but I reset my alarm to 6:30 to let people sleep. A few are up and about by 6AM anyway. Peyton and Christian have a very wet tent because they fly came unstaked. My tent was dry, although at times during the storem I felt mist from the spashing rain. We have a long way to Tooth Ridge, so we pack up wet and leave Cito a little before 9:00.

It is a quick 3 miles to Clark's Fork. We collect some wood for the branding station, and the crew gets various things branded. We hear there is water at Shaffer's pass so we start up w/out extra water. The sky is grey and I worry about hiking Tooth Ridge in the afternoon. We go about a mile to Upper Clark's Fork and have lunch. I lead as we trudge up to the pass. It is after 2:00 as we are filtering water at the spring at Shaffers. We start up toward the peak about 3:00. While we have heard a couple of rumbles from the mountains, the coulds are thin overhead. It has been cool all day after the big storm. It is a long climb to 9300 feet near Shaffer's Peak, and then a rough 2 miles to the Tooth of Time. It is both fun and hard, and I'm so glad the weather is good. We pass the Tooth and go about 1/2 mile to the Tooth Ridge Camp. Deer come through and stay quite close. Through no fault of our own, dinner is quite bad. We have lots of candy (still), and make the last Jiffy Pop over a white gas stove, so it isn't all bad. Christian's down sleeping bag has dried out remarkably. We prep the bear bag for an early breakfast, including coffee, then to go bed early.

9.6 miles. 8245 ft to 8266 at Tooth Ridge. Min 7423 (Clarks Fork). Max 9290 (below Shaffers peak).

June 28, Day 11 to Base Camp

Up at 4:40 about an hour before sunrise. Scouts are ready quickly and we hurry up the Tooth. It is about 1/2 mile to the base of the climb (and a steep 1/2 mile at that) then a short, very steep scramble. I was greatful for the breaks as I took pictures of the pre-dawn sky. Most of the scouts beat me to the top. Our sister crew was already there. Mr Marshall made it a few minutes before the sun came up. I made dcoffee and we hung out as the other group left us alone on the Tooth. We descend and as I approach the scouts they ask for a First Aid kit, which is back at camp. Christian has taken a tumble, w/ scrapes an both legs and a gash on his forearm. He did not bump is head, thankfully, and we walk back to camp. I get to use the irrigation syringe, and the wound closure bandage. (Later the Dr's at Base Camp would complement us on our work.) As we break camp a deer w/ tiny fawn move through the end of the meadow. I find a pair of XXL hiking pants hanging in a tree, which I pack out. Mr Marshall sets the pace on the way down. We leave camp about 8:30, and fly down the 5.5 miles to base camp. I have to work hard to catch up after each stop I make to take pictures. It is pretty and green, which is unusual. We make it to Base Camp in good spirits, check in, and turn in our gear. Christian and I stop by the Infirmary but they decide to wait until after he showers to redress the wound. We have lunch, which tasted great even though it probably wasn't. Julian and I do Laundry and the scouts scatter to the gift and snack shop. Then we shower, and even though it was not hot, it was wonderful. Large thunderheads build up over the mountains and we get some rain. Dinner is ribs! Those really were good. We kill time before the last campfire. It is still very windy, and I kick footbag under the large welcome center shelter w/ Evan, Christian, and two scouts from our sister Crew out of Cinncinatti. The closing campfire is in the Protestant chapel, which is a large, open wall closed roof building that is relatively new. The campfire program is only OK compared w/ previous years. We assemble for our last Thorns and Roses and go to bed. I look through the 800 pictures I took w/ my Samsung camera and go do bed.

7.2 miles. 8266 ft to 6729 at Base Camp. Min 6720. Max 9005 (Tooth of Time).

At dinner we chatted with the crew that lost 10 backpacks in New Dean in the flash floods. (By this time we have heard there as another crew that lost a scout in the floods. Very sad.) The scout leader described seeing water outside his tent and thinking it was a puddle from all the rain. Then he saw his tennis shoes floating and starting to move away. Then the water changed from clear to brown, and he knew it was bad. Other scouts were already shouting as he grabbed his boots and got out of his tent, which promptly washed away. They huddled together under a tarp for an hour or so until the sun came up. They hiked up to Head of Dean, about 2 miles, mostly in just socks. There they got clothes, including all the camp shoes from another crew. They were given a lift to Base Camp, and Philmont outfitted them with all new gear. We spoke at dinner, after which they were getting a ride out to Baldy Town. Tomorrow they would be hiking Baldy and be back on their itinerary.

Dean canyon (with Head of Dead, New Dean, Upper Dean, and Dean Cow camps) is one valley south of South Ponil creek. South, Middle, and North Ponil creek come together at Ponil staff camp. The cabin there was lifted from its foundation and carried downstream. A staff member was in the cabin at the time, on the radio to base camp. After the cabin lodged on a tree he climbed out to safety.

A troop from Sacramento had 4 scouts that were caught in the flood waters. 3 got out safely, but one scout died. They found his body 1 mile downstream. They were in Indian Writings, on the North Ponil creek. We were there early in our trip. Reportedly the whole wide valley filled with water during the flash flood. The crew was on day 2 or 3 of their trek, and they elected to return to the back country to honor their fallen crew member.

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June 29, Return Home

Some are up at 5:00 so they can shower. I sleep until 5:45. We have breakfast at 7:00, and our bus leaves at 7:30. We clean up, then fill time before breakfast working on Philmont surveys. We assemble for breakfast at 6:55, but there are already lots of crews there. We don't get served until 7:20, and I take my food (biscuits and gravy and sausage) over to the welcome center to check in with the bus driver. I wolf my food and start loading packs. While I eat, a scout master from the other troop sharing the bus comes over and dresses me down for having hot breakfast instead of contenintal. (I've done this three times now and we always had hot breakfast.) I ask when his plane leaves, and get no answer. We leave at 7:35 after getting the scouts to hurry up. Of course, their plane doesn't leave until hours and hours after we get to the airport, so leaving 5 minutes late didn't matter at all. We elect to go straight to the air port instead of getting time to visit Old Town Albuquerque. All we can think of is the burger place at ABQ. As we finish checking in, we hear that our in-bound plane is late, and we'll miss our connection in San Diego. We get on a different flight, but eventually change all together to the non-stop flight that leaves at 6:55. We have to kill several hours at the airport, and I run into a number of folks I know from Los Alamos and Sandia National Labs. I sit with a friend from LANL and we have a nice chat on the flight. Other than the wait, the flight is uneventful and a few parents are at OAK to pick us up.