T-31, T-76, T-30 Philmont 2017 Journal

T-31 sent two crews to Philmont, and we invited members of T-76 and T-30 to fill out our roster. The crew IDs start with "623", indicating the date we arrived at Philmont, June 23, 2017. Each crew had 8 scouts and 4 adults, including one older Eagle Scout (Evan and Greg) in each crew that counted as an adult because they were 18 or older (Evan was 18. Greg was 22.) We were "sister" crews with the same Itinerary, #12, which was a South Country trip of about 70 miles that featured a climb over Mt Phillips.

Crew 623-P-01:

Crew 623-P-02:

June 22, Travel to Albuquerque

Up at 4:40AM so we can leave the church at 5:30. Carpools are organized, no one arrives late, everyone has crew T-shirts and Med forms and Blue Sky permission slips are signed. We get to OAK (Oakland Airport) about 6:20. David Herzl has left his Driver's License at home! But he gets through TSA w/ credit cards and a medical insurance card. Our flight is at 8:45 and it goes smoothly. All packs get to ABQ (Albuquerque). But, Noah's watch has fallen off his wrist (it had a bad buckle.) Blue Sky takes us to the hotel. We walk about a mile in the heat to 5 Guys for lunch. Christian realizes he has lost his wallet! He's bummed but comes around. (At the end of the trip, Southwest has found the wallet, w/out cash.) The boys swim in the afternon. I take a nap! Dinner buffet is at 7:00 in the hotel, then the adults chat about gear, and food (already!) More swimming after dinner. It is very hot (100+ degrees) but a "cold" front is expected Sunday.

June 23, Travel to Philmont

Up at 5:30 for 6:00 breakfast and 6:30 departure on the Blue Sky Bus. Breakfast was good. Green Chillis for the eggs! An uneventful bus ride, and we arrive at Philmont just after 10:00 AM. We checkin and meet Nikolai, our ranger. (He is originally from Denmark, but has lived in the states a long time.) The other ranger is Rachael. It is the typical checkin day. Find our tents. Do logistics where they go over the route w/ crew leaders while the ranger does First Aid with the crew. Lunch at 11:30. Med re-check at 1:00 which went smoothly (yay!). Then crew gear and food pickup. After that we do a shakedown where we go through our packs. We drag the cots out of the tents and use the cot to lay out everything. The ranger asks us to show each item we need (sleeping bag, boots, rain gear, etc. etc. etc. Kids forget stuff.) I need to buy a whistle and a sewing kit. We get keys for 2 lockers for our crew of 12 for the stuff we aren't going to take on the trail. We pack our food and divide up crew gear: 2 big 10-liter pots (brand new!), 6(!) rolls of TP, strainer, water purification & soap, bear bags and ropes. (We also have a dining fly, two stoves and fuel bottles.) Dinner is early at 4:45, and was pretty good - meatballs and they didn't kill the vegitables. Leadership meetings at 5:45. Then I went to the church service at 7:00 w/ Nathan, Jim Healy, and Adam. Finally campfire program at 8:00-ish until 9:00. It was better than years back - more songs, less bad humor. I was tired after all the walking around base camp!

June 24, to Rayado River trail camp

Wake up to camp noise and light at 5:30 AM. I get out of bed at 5:45 and we rally for breakfast at 6:30. We have a 2:00 PM bus (ugh!) so plenty of time. Clean out of tents by 8:30. Meet our ranger by 9:30 for Wildreness Gaia and Chaplan Aid training. By that time I realize I've lost my credit card, but I found it back at the Tooth of Time Traders, the outfitting shop there at base camp. I had spaced it out after I went shopping yesterday. Whew! We have a 10:30 tour of Villa Philmonte, and then a 11:30 lunch. The Villa was Waite Phillip's summer home, and it is large and full of beautiful artifacts. One final repack and a trip to the locker. We weighed packs and loaded up the bus at 1:45 for a 2:PM departure.

Pack Weights (in pounds):
Michael J38
Michael W??

We drive a school bus to Zastrow turn-around. The Rangers do Red Roof (latrine) training, and map and compas training. All the scouts pile into the Red Roof, and the ranger explains that you should not urinate in them to keep the smell down. After the map and compass training we take a short trip to Zastrow, where we take a short break to play horseshoes. Then we go on to Rayado River trail camp. We do bear bag training, and after some struggles we have success. Then the scouts set up the dining fly while the adults set up their tents. I wasn't thrilled with the spots for tents, but it came out OK. We boiled a huge pot of water, and Michael J. cooked his gluten free food in a small pot, and ate soonest. Water started at 6:05 - eating at 7:10. We saw and heard cicada's. Then a few turkeys came by camp. Conner and Malik cooked. The alfredo was a little crunchy. It rained a bit so we covered up, but it only rained hard for a few minutes, then sprinkled. We had a fire going while waiting for dinner, and I helped get wood. There was a ton of wood available. After cleanup Nikolai talked about Bear and Mountain Lion safty. Nathan (Chaplan's Aid) had asked us to think of a goal for the trip, so some shared those after "Thorns and Roses" in which people share what they liked (roses) and didn't like (thorns) and what they were looking forward to (buds). We do that every night at the end of the day. My goal is to have a smooth trip and for all to have a good time. We put out the coals and went to bed about 9:45. We had heard thunder and had sprinkles, and it sprinkled a bit at night. Most didn't hear it, but I'm a light sleeper. In the morning, it was still dusty, so it really didn't rain much.

Rayado River trail camp. 1.76 miles. 7090 ft elevation.

June 25, hike to Crags

Up at 5:35 because people were stirring. I made coffee by 6:10. Pack up went smooth. My tent was dry and you could barely see the rain in the dust. Abrau is close, and we get there by 7:40. We had biscuits and gravy, so we had to cook and chose to do that at Abrau. They showed us a camp site about 1/4 mile (more?) up the road toward Carson Meadows (groan). We cook and get back to the homestead at Abreau by 9:00. So much for being able to play with the chickens while we cook. Instead, we learn how to use the clorination tablets. 1 per liter, and you bleed the water bottle (turn it upside down and let it leak a bit) to kill the germs on the threads and mouth of the bottle. 30 minutes later the water is safe to drink. We did better on the biscuits and gravy (compared to the alfredo last night.) Back at Abreau, the scouts played with chickens. Phillip and Christian had chickens on their head for a long time. Later I helped to clean chicken poop off of Phillip's shirt... After a tour of the cabin, with a cool tin roof, we hit the trail. Oh! we first had a root beer at the cantina. $1.00 each. Nathan was navigator and Eric was pace setter up to Carson's Meadow. There is a beautiful view of the Tooth from the porch of the cabin there. The scouts do search and rescue. First they look for "Hosey", a manikin made from hoses. Then they had to find their ranger! I cought up on my journal and enjoyed the view. We lunched at Carson Meadows. Tuna. I had brought Mayo from the dining hall and added some spices - (garlic, chilli etc.) Also crackers, gorp, chew gells, and gatorade. We climbed about 500 feet up to the notch, about 1 mile, w/out stopping! (I was reminded about how hard this stretch was for Mike 4 years ago.) It was hot, about 2:PM and we could hear thunder and see rain on the other side of the valley and out on the plain. Nikolai spoke of the wilderness pledge and had the scouts meditate a bit. We couldn't linger longer, however, because we were on a rock outcropping with great views, but totally exposed with a storm coming. Better safe than sorry so we took off for Crags. The tral followed a contour (i.e., it was mostly level) and the scouts set a fast pace. At Crags there is a trail down to camp with a few switch backs. We camped on near side (4 years ago we camped across the river where P-02 was this time.) Scouts set up camp quikckly. I got a bee bite, but it only hurt at the time and is fine now. A couple scouts snuck down to the creek to soak their feet. I visited P-02 and found Mr Marshall putting up a privacy screen in front of the latrine, which was close to their camp. Dinner will be chicken & rice, and it looks like too much already. My bowl went up w/ the bear bag, so I'll use the tortilla's. It turned out much better than expected (chicken fried rice -very good! later in the trip we have the dreaded chicken with rice - very bad!) Michael J started another great fire and we had rain again, this time more - enough that the ground was still wet when we got up in the morning. We had an "oops" so I helped Eric with the oops bag and was able to put my chapstick in there too! (The bear bag has two parts. The first bags go up with long term food and smellables, but a second rope is hung to get last minute things like toothbrush, trash, etc. This is the "Oops" bag. We encourage scouts to speak up and make sure left over candy bars and sunscreen go up in the bear bags, even if it means taking down the "oops" bag a second (or third) time.) Nikolai gave a debrief to the adults and to the leaders, and had the scout leaders explain to the crew what their job was. Michael J did a great job with an eloquant speech about the environment and taking the Wilderness Gaia principles back home. (Frankly, I was blown away by his speech.) Finally, since this is the last night with our Ranger, they bring out a pound cake and frosting (yes, really!) and the scouts are tasked with icing the cake (harder than you might think) and dividing it up. Yes, the pound cake weights one pound even.

Crags trail camp. 8.48 miles (+6.72 miles), 8066 ft elevation (+976 ft).

June 26, to Lost Cabin

Up at 5:30. Broke camp quickly and made the climb back to the trail where we said goodby to Nikolai. He will hike all the way back to Zastrow turn-around to hitch a ride back to base camp. A short way up the trail was a great view point back to the Notch, which you could see against low clouds in the valley. We gave a "Pa Pa One" holler that the other crew could hear. It was a beautiful hike to Fish Camp. We did fly tying and most fished for an hour or so. Many fish were seen, none caught, although yesterday some were. Eating lunch I had my freshly washed wool socks out to dry and took off my pack cover. It rained, so we took off just before P-02. There were a few creek crossings and P-02 caught up. Michael Jones (pace setter that day) asked if we should pick up the pace and we cruised up the valley. We took a pack off break before the climb up to Lost Cabin. (We walked right by cows, by the way.) The crew was playing "Contact", a word guessing game. The switch backs made the climb easy, and we found Lost Cabin. We saw two rabbits. There was a little creek where we could get water. I showed Adam and Eric how to find a good spot and how to avoid getting dirt and leaches into the bucket. At 5:30 Phillip jumped over a log in camp and tweaked a muscle below his knee. It looked like half a golf ball under his skin from the swelling. We treated w/ Ibuprofen, rest, elevation, and cold pack from stream water. Meanwhile, Malik had lost hold of the bear rope while throwing it, and the whole thing was hanging out of reach! We used a long tent pole to hook the rope and get it down. Dinner was mashed potatoes w/ chicken, peas, carrots - pretty good! I found the actual lost cabin at the top of the hill. About 5 logs of wall were left. I was tired and turned in early and did a little journaling. My tent was right by the brook, which sounded nice.

Lost Cabin, 15.6 miles (+7.12 miles), 9220 ft elevation (+ 1154 ft).

June 27, to Crooked Creek

Up at 5:45. Phillip is doing much better. We used Sports tape and an ace wrap on the knee. It is an easy 1 mile walk to Apache Springs. The staff look over Phillip, and they can either give him Ibuprofen or if he can't walk or does not want to walk, they would take him to base camp. Of course, Phillip wants to stay. "Zero pain" while walking. Halleluja! We get a big food pickup - 72 food packs. We don't give any to Phillip, plus we have 6 lunches already. I carry 10 food packs. We get a quick Tepee tour and see pelts, bow and arrows, pots, etc. Then it is archery w/ 3-D targets. The scouts shoot well. The staff member is training for the Olympics, so he knows his stuff. When we leave, the packs were heavy with all that food! But the crew did great - we caught P-02 at the high point of the trail and had lunch, right at 10,000 ft elevation. We had to linger a bit to let them and another crew get ahead. It is a nice hike down to Crooked Creek that is in a beautiful meadow. No power or treated water at this staffed camp. They have a cow, 2 goats, 2 donkeys. And 6 or 8 deer are sharing the meadow and hanging out near our camp site. We can't find our water purification tablets. Tempers almost flare. I eat a snack. I end up having everyone dump out their pack, but we cant find it. So we have to filter water and we got some tablets from P-02. The bear rope was high, and Phillip got it over w/ a rock wrapped in the rope (which is against the rules.) This is our first staffed camp. We have Advisor's coffee at 7:00 PM (boy was that good!), then Animal Shenanigans for the scouts at 7:30. The scouts shoveled manure. Then they fetched the goats from the meadow. Phillip had a goat, which was running across the meadow. He was strugging to slow down the goat, jumping over the creek etc. I was pretty far away taking pictures and had to yell at him and others to get someone else on that goat. I think I may have thrown my hat down in anger. Clearly he was feeling OK, but I was mad! I know how easy it is to re-tweak an injury. ("What was he thinking?") After feeding the goats, the scouts chased chickens (again).

Crooked Creek, 21.83 miles (+6.23 miles), 9380 ft elevation (+160 ft, but a high point of 10,000 ft).

June 28, to Clear Creek

Slept in 'til 5:45! And we found the water purification tablets in the bottom of a bear bag! But we had a slooow morning and I was a bit annoyed. Again deer visited us. 2 crews left before us, including P-02. We passed one just a half mile down the trail taking a break. P-02 took a water filter / breakfast break where the trail crossed Rayado "river". We kept going w/ Michael Jones in the lead. The wildflowers were pretty as the trail followed the creek. We did take a 30-min pack off break about 1 mile from Clear Creek camp. Clear Creek is just over 10,000 feet, and some of us are feeling the altitude. At camp, we got a nice spot by the creek. The mosquitos were thick, both on the trail and in camp. We eat lunch, then have a little time to kill before 2PM Black Powder Rifle, so I take a nap. Shooting is fun. I aim at the biggest target and hit it on my third shot. Phillip sets up his hat but does not hit it, so Nathan helps out and puts two holes in it. The scouts enjoy throwing tomahaks, and Eric is very good at it. The scouts enjoy the down time, chatting around camp. Dinner takes a long time because the pot had too much water, so I have them take out a few cups. I'm a little worried about fuel, but I think it will be OK. (We can pick up fuel in 3 more days at Phillips Junction.) Spagetti and meatballs were pretty good. I go to advisor's coffee and have just a little w/ my hot chocolate. I hear about taking the Train to Raton, which could be a good way to go (instead of flying to ABQ) You end up w/ an extra day at base camp, but it only costs a few dollars more.

Clear Creek, 27.3 miles (+5.47 miles), 10320 ft elevation (+940 ft)

June 29, over Mt Phillips to Red Hills

Up at 5:30. We see P-02 leave for Phillips as we are watering up and going through the swap box (a box with left-over food that you can put and take from). We catch them and another crew about 10 minutes up the trail (the other crew had stopped and P-02 was waiting.) We just don't stop. Adam sets the perfect pace and we barely stop on the 2+ miles to the summit. We pass a third crew, and take one "pack on" break before making the final push. 90 minutes to the summit! We wait a while for P-02, and then 4 of us head down to see if they need help. They are just 5 minutes away, making the top about 45 minutes after us. We take some group pictures and then P-01 starts down. It takes longer (1:45) to get to Red Hills, and we have lunch there. Lots of flies! After setting up camp Erno and I side hike Big Red, which is just over 11,000 feet. It takes us 30 minutes to go up, we linger for 20 minutes at the top, and then take 45 minutes to return down a longer path. We go up a steep gorge we had gone down 4 years ago. We take the longer way down (which we will go up with packs tomorrow) Back at camp, we were worried about P-02, but they were up in campsite #1, so it took us a while to find them. They too, had got to camp before lunch, about 45 minutes after us. We filter some water, and an exuberant scout breaks the handle on my pump. It still works. P-02 saw a bear at lunch (Tuna) up by Commanche Peak, but we only see one deer at camp. Dinner was a rice dish, and we toasted tortilla to go with it - not bad! (Waiting for the tortilla toasting probably helped a great deal with making the dish better!)

Red Hills, 32.27 miles (+4.97 miles) 10335 ft elevation (+15 ft net gain, Phillips is 11,774 ft.)

June 30, to Beaubien

Up at 5:45, leave at 7:45 - 45 minutes up to Big Red, taking the longer, nicer path. We meet another crew there and chat a bit. I get cell coverage and am able to post an email w/ a picture from Mt. Phillips. It is a nice hike to Bonito Peak, and we get a viewpoint to Black Mountain. In the distance Baldy is cloud covered. It is cloudy and cool - perfect hiking weather. It is a long downhill to Beaubien, and we get views of Trail Peak. We arrive just before noon and have lunch at camp. Beaubien is a pretty camp with large meadows, horses and cattle. We arrive just before noon, have lunch, and set up camp. There is a shower house with wood burning heat. I do laundry: 2 T-shirts, 2 underwear, wool socks, liner socks. One bag w/ water and soap, then three rinses! The warm water feels great (my nails are clean for the first time in a week!) The shower is open after I wash - hot water! and fantastic! I take a short nap after that while camp is quiet. It is still cool. P-2 is by the main cabin playing footbag, so I join them. Dinner was stuffing with canned chicken - one of the better meals. [Oh - the Red Roofs are brand new! Just built days before so they are perfect!] I leave the scouts to get all cleaned up before campfire at 8:00 and I go to advisor coffee. Right as I am pouring hot chocolate, Adam tells me that Phillip's knee is hurting badly. I hurry back, and the swelling has returned. We re-wrap. He had just stood up and re-tweaked the injury. Less than an hour later he is able to walk to campfire. The program is good: Bass fiddle, mandolin, 2 guitars, ganjo, percussion box, harminica. They played songs like Ghost Riders, Cowboy from Lorado, Pancho - it was an outlaw theme.

Beaubien, 39.16 miles (+6.89 miles) 9375 ft (-960 ft net. Big Red is is just over 11,000 ft.)

July 1, Beaubien lay over day

We sleep in to 7:00! Phillip is a little better. We have buiscuts and gravy, then Phillip and I visit the staff cabin to have him checked out. A paramedic checks his knee out - A OK! It is a burst bursis, which hurts but is not as serious as I had feared. Phillip, Greg and I stay at camp while the rest of the crew goes to Phillip's Junction (no relation) for a food pickup. I sit looking over the Beaubin meadow and catch up on my journal.
The food trip returns at 11:50 - 43.3 miles (+4.14 miles).
After lunch we go horseback riding at 1:00. Mike doesn't have his crew leader paper work (i.e., his "Life"), so has to run back to camp to get it and then run back to the stables - the cross country training pays off. Then it takes almost an hour to get 33 riders on horses. My horse is "Leo". Very nice. I rub his head and neck waiting to get saddled up. We take an easy walk about 1 mile down the valley, along a road then through the meadow. My horse breaks into a trot once for about 20 feet. We have all left our rain gear at the stables because it was hot. Now it is threatening to rain and we feel a few rain drops. Just as we are getting off horseback it starts raining hard. Then hail. ("Biblical", as Erno describes it.) We wait at the stables a bit, then I go up to the branding station. I collect small dry wood from the trees as the hail starts to come down very hard. I help get the fire started and we watch the hail. Wow! I get a /S Brand on my hat. This is the horse brand, and is my 4th on this hat. I have two each of the /PS and /S (with the S reversed.) I also have a Northern Tier brand on the hat. Chuckwagon is at 5:00, and the rain has stopped. The beef stew, buiscits, and peach cobbler are fantastic. I have seconds on everything. I kick footbag with the scouts after dinner. It turns out Nathan is upset at being assigned cleanup "3rd day in a row" and he goes off in a huff. During advisor coffee Dave Herzl and I go looking for him. He shows up at camp about 7:30 and we discuss it. Mike forgot Nathan volunteered to cook buiscits and gravy this morning, and assigned him cleanup at chuckwagon. We all go to the campfilre program, which is different than last night. The girls do a pretty acapell lulaby, and Kyla reads "The glow", a great poem about fire. Nathan is reluctant to share at Thorns' and Roses, but I insist and he goes last. He does explain why he is upset, and Mike realizes he forgot Nathan cooked breakfast. He apologizes and things go back to normal.

The Glow

(As transcribed from memory by the Philmont staffer Kyla that shared the poem at Beaubien. Original by Bill Simpson.)

Well, what's in a fire that pulls a man's desire
to stare a hard gaze at a campfire blaze.
From the bright amber coals to where the blue flame rolls,
the glow is sure there and it will draw your stare.
Men set for hours while red flame flowers without a thought in their head
like their mind's gone dead.
No want and no care it'll just hold you there,
in a blank state of mind with nothing to find.
Well the poppin' and a cracklin' goes on unobserved
it's the flames that hold you so reserved.
They're leapin' and reachin'
and tryin' to find a way to penetrate man's simple mind.

July 2, over Trail Peak to Crater Lake

We get up and out early (7:20) and retrace our way through the meadow that we took with horses. Then we take the trail up to Trail Peak and the B-24 crash site. The Grind Squad does great, as usual. 2 hours for the 4 miles to the peak. We spend a long time at the plane. The views of Philmont are good and I walk all the way down the debris field, following Malik who is identifying all the plane parts. Mostly a big wing, but some fuselage and a piece of the tail. P-02 joins us, and then we leave for a short look around at the very top of Trail Peak, including views of the Tooth, then a long mile straight down the other side. Feet and knees are hurting. Then it is an easier hike from Fowler's Pass to Crater "Lake", which has a nice view of the Tooth of Time. We arrive at noon, well in time for our 2:00 conservation project. We have lunch, then set up camp, and head to the cons site. They built a new trail, and now they are filling in the old. I take Log duty with other adults and some scouts. We first trim branches off some cut logs that are 8 to 9 ft. long and about 10 inches in diameter. Then we use Log Tongs to carry them a couple hundred yards to the work site. They are heavy! 4 scouts on one log. 4 adults on another. Then 8 people on the last big one. The rest of the crew has been placing other logs across the old trail and filling it in with dirt and duff. I help a bit with the Maddux Adze as we prepare the spot for that last big log. We get it into place right before 5:00 quitting time. Whew, that was tiring! I help the scouts get the water going for dinner and then go to the main cabin to fill my hydration pack. Dinner is quite bad. They haven't let it soak long enough, and they didn't taste it. Earlier in the trip I made a big deal about tasting the food before serviing it. In french: "Ill faut Goute!" (One must taste!, which is what my french chef that I worked for would say to me.) The scouts look at me and say straight out "And, we didn't taste it." OK, so we all know went wrong. By that time they had served everyone. I add a little warm water to my bowl and ignore it for 15 minutes, but it doesn't help much. I leave for Advisor's coffee at 7:00 and leave the scouts to tidy up (cleanup, bear bags) before the 8:00 program. Kyla is at the cabin (visiting from Beaubien on her way to base camp) and is already writing out "The Glow" poem for me thanks to Evan's request. The music program at the campfire is excellent. We had heard about it at base camp already, and there are several staff members that have stopped by from other camps. The 5 guys have sweet harmony and mad skills on their instruments, plus they told great stories to set up each song. We stay for the After Party and they do a good job on Hotel California. A Rayado crew is here, and they go Spar Pole climbing after the show (we will do it in the morning; they do it by moonlight.) Most of us walk back to camp in the moonlight w/out flashlights. It is the Mr Welch Challenge. There were great views of the Tooth from the campfire, and so we consider getting up early to see sunrise from there.

Crater Lake 50.5 miles (+7.2 miles) 8342 ft (-1,033 ft, Trail Peak at 10,035 ft)

July 3, to Shaffer's Pass

I wake with the bird song and first light a little after 5:00. I manage to get up and go to the campfire. Erno is already there. As I greet him he shushes me and I realize the Rayado Crew is sleeping out there. We remain quiet and watch the sunrise. Their Ranger gets up and takes a few pictures. Their alarm goes off at 6:00 and the crew leader says "It's 6 oclock", but there isn't a lot of motion from the sleeping bags. We leave at 6:10 to wake our crew. We have Spar Pole climbing at 8:00. The scouts do well. The belayer is called "the Donkey", and before climbing and before coming down, the climber has to give the Donkey a Pick-Up line. (e.g., "Hey Donkey, you are one Bad Ass!") Then we hike 2 miles to Miner's Park, a staffed camp with a climbing program. There is a 12:20 Rock Climbing slot, but only a couple of scouts want to go. So we just try out the climbing wall. We also get a piece of fruit and a milk! (It is a commisary where crews pick up food.) We water up, then we hike 1 mile to Uracca River tail camp and have lunch. One last water fill, and we use clorination tablets, then it is time to climb 800 feet to camp at Shaffer's Pass. We decide not to carry an extra 10 liters of water because there is a spring we heard was running at 1 liter per minute. We grind 2 miles in one hour w/ just one break. It is hot! (It is early afternoon.) P-02 is already here and they say the spring is dry. Drat! We unpack and I head to the spring with our 10-liter water bag. The spring is flowing, but just a trickle. I put the bag under the pipe coming out of the spring and catch up on my journal. Julian and Jeff come to visit. I get 8 or 9 liters in a little over an hour. We have a nice campsite (#8) at the very top of the pass. Several other crews are there, and some arrive pretty late. Dinner is Jambalya, which was pre-hydrated and pretty good. We visit with P-02 after dinner. A couple of rangers ask them to re-tie their bearbag because they had all 4 ropes to the same post. We go to bed early, but not before I lean against a tree and get sap on my puffy down jacket. (We had heard there where 8 active bears in the area, but we did not get a visit. As a scout back in 1973, I woke up with a bear next to my tent here at Shaffer's Pass.)

Shaffer's Pass 56.3 (+5.8 miles) 8840 (+ 498 ft)

July 4, to Base Camp via Tooth of Time

We get up and out early, then grind to Shafer's Peak in 35 minutes. P-02 is just leaving the peak. We have breakfast on the peak. The scouts spot the ladybugs clustered on bushes and tree bases. In past years we've been later in the day and seen lot's of them moving around. (We do see some on the Tooth later in the day.) I love the Tooth Ridge hike, but it is hard for some - very rocky. At the Tooth we put up a bear bag - a first in 4 times I think. Then we all head up, but forget poor Phillip who is using the bathroom. He catches up with us at the top, but he is upset at being left behind, and understandably so (it was a failure of the buddy system.) We meet P-02 that is already there and take pictures together. You can see Mt Baldy and mountains all the way up in Colorado. The hike out to base camp is long, as we know well. It is called "The Trail of Tears" because it makes Loooong switchbacks across the ridge, with basecamp coming into view, only to turn away and hike all the way across the ridge to get views of Baldy. About noon, with about 1 hour left to hike, a few scouts declare it is lunch time. Some, me included, want to grind on, but it is a good idea to break for lunch. We have a short, 30 minute break and push on to base camp. We check out crew gear, arrange for the stoves to be mailed, buy ice cream for the scouts, do laundry, and take a shower (!) My planning is inefficient and it feels like I walk across basecamp 5 or 6 times before everything is taken care of. Dinner was "OK" - chicken breast. The salad was the best part. I repack before the closing campfire, which is "OK" as usual. (A few years ago, an ex-scout professional musician was at closing campfire, so that will always be a very high bar to match.) But I love the songs anyway. A final Thorn's and Roses and we turn in.

Base Camp 66.5 miles (+10.2 miles)

July 5, Return Home

Up early and have everything done (tents clean and swept, all backs down to the welcome center) by 6:30, including the various long form surveys from Philmont. We line up for breakfast with the last of the TrailBound crews, and just slip stream in to the dining hall. We are served right at 7:00, with a long line behind us. We make the 7:30 bus early. (Two years ago I was 5 minutes late to the bus, and another scout leader was totally upset, even though his crew had 3 hours to spare at the ABQ airport.) This time Dave Herzl has a longer wait at the ABQ security. (Remember, he has no ID...) His TSA guy was on the phone on hold for 15 or 20 minutes! Then he got a pat-down with manager supervision / training, so it was super thorough. We had hours and hours of extra time, so it wasn't a problem. But he makes it through. Then we have lunch. I have a fabulous Rio Grande Burger with a deep fried green chilli. And a flight of Beer (4 kinds) including one with green chilli! Julian realizes he has left his phone on the bus, but luckily it is taking the other Troop to Old Town ABQ, so they find it and he picks it up when the bus comes back to the airport. It turns out Christian has also left his boots on the bus (memories of 2015) and we got those as well. We had a connection in San Diego, and that airport has two terminals. We arrive at Gate 3, but depart at Gate 1. Gasp! We have to exit security and re-enter to get to Gate 1. Dave H is once again hung up, and it doesn't look like he will make it. However, our plane is a bit late, and they linger for him, and he makes it after all.


This was a great trip, as all Philmont trips are. The itinerary had lots of program (10 staffed camps, although we didn't camp at all of them.) The hiking distance was shorter than some years (70 vs. 80 or 90 miles) and so every day was just 6 or 7 miles, except the last day hiking out over Tooth Ridge (10 miles.) We got into camp by lunchtime on some days. In contrast, in 2015 we alternated short days (6 to 7 miles) with long days (10 to 15 miles). Comparing the trips (2017 vs. 2015), it turns out both trips went through 10 staff camps that had various programs, but one scout observed that 2015 felt like it was all hiking (he was two years younger, of course.)