Philmont Shakedown Hike (4/23)
Our first hike to get ready for Philmont. Unfortunately only Steve from our Troop was able to make it. We drove up and met the guys from Troop 4 at Blue Rocks Campground. After some talking we headed off on the yellow trail to the Appalachian Trail (AT). We then turned off to the Pinnacle. WHAT A VIEW! I heard it was great, but we hit a perfectly clear day so we could see forever! It was also fun scrambling down to the cave below the Pinnacle. It was very crowded on the Pinnacle and we even met two other Troops from our council. After lunch, we headed North (on the trail). Then we turned off the AT at, what was called the LZ. We 'road hiked' back to the AT just north of Pulpit Rock. We went to the rock, but the rest of the crew would not sit down and figure out our next move. They wanted to cut cross country to their camp. Finally I figured out where the trail was (thanks to another day hiker from Blue Rocks Campground). Well once they knew we were going in the right direction tensions eased and everyone was happy to get back (especially a young scout who is NOT going to Philmont, but came on this hike for his last 1st Class requirement. Overall we hiked approx 5.5 miles.
Philmont Council Shakedown Weekend (5/14 - 5/15)
Well the Chester County Council Philmont Shakedown went just fine even though there was little communications to prepare for the event. The guys from Troop 4 were supposed to come down to our troop meeting a few weeks ago but they did not show up then, but they made it to the weekend.
As for the weekend itself, the crew seemed to form a little, but far from how I would like to see it. They did go around and do all the training classes. I think that at least the 3 hikers from my troop (Bo, Steve and Keith) did not learn too much they did not know, but Ian (who has not been on a 'big hike' yet) and the guys from Troop 4 seemed to pick up a few things. After the classes, the crew hiked around Ware/Horseshoe Scout Reservations. As usual, the leaders were the slowest hikers but, as for the scouts, it looks like we will be ok. Allen had a problem with his hipbelt cutting into his sides and Bo is still recovering from his lung problems, so we had to stop a few times for them. Hopefully these problems will be corrected before Philmont.
The crew did make a few decisions. First we will BRING TENTS with us. Second, we will use MSR stoves for Philmont.
As for me, well I still wonder if I am coming on too strong to the guys in Troop 4. I am so enthusiastic about hiking and Philmont that I might put people off...I hope this is not the case, but when we are at Philmont maybe I will calm down.
Had the best time after lights out talking to Bo about almost everything...it was one of THOSE special times.
Well the next time we are all together will be when we head off to Philmont.
Oh I forgot that Keith joined us late because of a track meet. He did have a good hike looking for us around the camp, I was glad he made part of the weekend, since it was only the second time the crew was all in one place.
PS (part 2) – We still need to get the 2 Troops to interact...but I think it will happen at Philmont.
PS (part 3) – Another crew also has itinerary 14!
Approx hike millage was 5 miles.
Last PS (honest) – I should have brought a hat for sleeping!
Philmont Log Entry 7/18 10:30pm)
Well , we left Sunday morning and this is the first chance I had to write anything so here goes.
The flight out only had a few minor problems. 1st I checked my bags before Jay showed up at the airport. He did not have his pack in a bag and my bags and tape were in my baggage. Well another crew saved me. The second was that the plane out of St. Louis had a technical problem that they said would take an hour to fix. They let us get off the plane and before we got too far they said they fixed the problem. So that was the flight part.
Once we got to the airport in Colorado Springs we met the other part of the contingent (who took and earlier flight) we got onto the buses and got lunch at McDonald's. We then went to the Air Force Academy to sight see. Unfortunately, we could not go into the chapel because of a wedding. We did get to see Pike's Peak get blasted by lightning and a B-52 that actually shot down a Mig.
After that we ate at an all you can eat place. Then we drove to the Abbey to stay overnight.
Between the kids rolling money and the trains rolling thought every hour or so, I did not get much sleep.
Today, we got up, loaded up the bus, ate breakfast at the Abbey then headed off to White Water Rafting.
Had a GREATE TRIP once again. Some how we (that is Keith, Bo, Ian, Steve and I) got in one raft (with two others from our contingent) with the same guide I had last year. Dallas, that was his name, even remembered Leo. We had a great ride. We even had Steve and Bo take an unexpected swim!
Philmont Log Entry 7/19 7:40pm
We did most of the stuff we did last year, the bounce off the rock (that is where Bo and Steve went in) the spin though the last rapid, etc. This year we also ambushed another raft and almost got sunk when another raft almost deflated our raft by removing the air plug.
After rafting we headed for lunch then sat on the bus for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally we stopped off at Bent's Fort which was an old stop off on the Santa-a-Fe Trail. Nice but HOT! Most of the time there was spent downing water, since the bus was so hot (100+deg).
After the fort we went to the Keva. THANK GOD we got to stay at the college and not the middle school gym! It was MUCH BETTER. The show was great as always.
The next day we headed off to Philmont (or should I say today). The trip was uneventful as last year.
We got into camp at about 10am and we met our ranger. Wouldn't you know but it was DON!! yes, another case of deja-vu. I could not believe that he remembered and recognized me. How many times is thins going to happen on this trip? Well than of course things happened quickly again. Logistics, food/equipment pickup, medical recheck, security and pack shakedown. All went well and it seems we are ready!
Now, dinner is done along with the leaders meeting. In a few minutes is the Philmont story campfire and tomorrow we hit the trail!
Philmont Log Entry 7/21 4:38pm
Not too much earth shattering at the leaders meeting or the campfire. It was nice to sleep in a tent, actually a COOL TENT!!
The next day we did not have a bus out until 2:30pm. So we got some stuff around base camp done. We had to get out of our tents by 10am so we did divide up crew gear in camp. We then formed a pack line @ the visitor center. We then went to the crew lockers and got rid of our non-trail stuff. After a few things happened....we cleaned our uniforms and got fuel at the same time. We then all gathered to go over to the Seaton Museum. It was nice but the most interesting thing to the boys was old “Boy's Life” magazines. Keith found that the Air Car has been in the Ad's since 1974. Paul wanted to get to the 'Casa” but we just couldn't work it in. After lunch we did some Ranger training and before we knew it it was time to go! We had a very short Ride to Lover's Leap Turnaround. After some more wise words from Don we headed off down the trail. Right about when we reached Lover's Leap it started to thunderstorm and boy was it a big thunderstorm. At one point, just after reaching the field after the 1st campsite there was a ZING....BOOM....FLASH. The ranger knocked Jay to the ground and started yelling RUN!! We were almost hit by lightning! Once we got out of the field we got on our raingear but for some it was too late. We finally found a sight and quickly set up the rainfly (still in a thunderstorm). We all got underneath it and had a good time talking while it still rained. When the rain let up we got camp set up and sent people out for water. Got the water was far from camp. Dinner was ok and the ranger, Don, made the apple cheese cake since a fire was pretty much out of the question for ranger cobbler. After dinner, and one more downpour, we hung the bearbags and talked a little and headed off for bed.
As for today...We woke up about an hour after we wanted to, but for the most part breakfast and take down went according to a 2+1/2 hour schedule normal for 1st take down. Keith and Ian (???) went to get water for the trail and we were to meet them at a trail intersection when we were ready. Well we waited quite a long time. Then once we headed off a number of things happened. 1st we missed a trail intersection we were supposed to take. The ranger stopped them before it was too bad. Next, Bo had an asthma attach and had problems relating to that most of the hike. Next, the crew all thought we were heading to stonewall pass but we were not. After an hour or two of hiking they realized they were not where they thought they were. Luckily we were still going towards Uracca Camp...just the harder and hotter way. Last Steve had a little problem with his pack and a lot of problems with dehydration. But it was curable and we made it into camp just before our sister crew 719L-10 only difference they did conservation today (that other way must be easier). We then scheduled program, set up camp and ate lunch. Time went quickly and program time soon arrived. The program was “The Challenge Course” which stresses team building and communications. This is THE PROGRAM for a crew just starting off. It got the crew talking, laughing and working as one. It also taught me that the hardest thing to do is NOT to put my two cents in a brainstorming session. The crew faced 3 challenges and did better and better at each one! Great program to build up a crew!!
Right now I am finishing this while in my tent waiting out the afternoon rain which just stopped. Now just waiting for dinner.
Philmont Log Entry 7/23 7:43am
Right before dinner, Ian threw up and was really showing all the classic symptoms of Altitude Sickness. He did not even eat supper, just went to sleep.
Leader coffee was the usual and after wards was my first Philmont (back country) campifre. I did not know that Uracca is haunted (also screws up a compass – it IS true).
The next morning Ian tried to eat and thew up again. We took him (we being me and Don) to the staff cabin. They said have him drink liquids and they would evaluate him again in an hour. Two or three hours latter, and after finding out that he might not be able to return if he went back to basecamp, we left hoping that Ian would make it over the masa. He did and, because we were late, we SAW A BEAR!!!! (We did conservation in here as well, but only for a ½ hour due to a thunderstorm).
Philmont Log Entry 7/23 8:30pm
Of course, we were rather late pulling into Abreu, not only because of the medical situation, but because we thought we took a cow path when it WAS the trail. We doubted ourselves for no reason.
Well we got to camp and had Tacos with real meat and fresh veggies. They were great but I could have done without the grease. (And they wonder why Abreu has Bears?)
They did get into the second heat of the burro racing, but I did not attend. Then the cantina opened. Tom was right....it IS the best rootbeer!
Then we turned in for the night.
Today, we started by taking showers and washing cloths. I even shaved. I almost felt human.
We had a little gripe session before we left. It did seem to help.
The hike was hard but enjoyable up to what was called the 'Notch'. We had lunch then continued to Fish Camp. Unfortunately, we all ran out of water a long time before we reached camp. This caused people to become tense and we were already tired from hiking. Needless to say, problems arose.
We did get to Fish Camp at about 2:30pm and had the tour of the cabin that Waite Phillips built (great Place). We set up the dinning fly and then some slept and others fly tied and fished. Most tensions from the days hike were worked out by food and talk (no punches or yelling took place). Steve is really learning a lot on dealing with people. I think this experience as crew chief will mean a lot to him for years to come and teach him lessons he will use for life.
As I write this I am in my tent listening to everyone laughing and trying NOT to be eaten by mosquitoes.
Philmont Log Entry 7/24 2:30pm
Today we hiked from Fish Camp to Phillips Junction (for food pickup) then to Bear Canyon Camp.
Outside of Fish Camp we spotted a bear. 2 guys went back to camp to report the sighting and after they did the bear showed up at Fish Camp.
Food pickup was a pain since it added about 10 lbs to my pack. I did get a third water bottle (because of yesterday) as well as a third pair of polypro socks.
On the way to the next camp we stopped for lunch. After lunch Bo didn't feel to well and almost threw up once.
We got to camp and set up very quickly because of a threatening storm. Then, Paul wanted to start going to program down at Apatche Springs. Thats right stupid....try to hike though a mountain storm! Luckily they (2 leaders and 3 boys) ran into the sister crew's leaders coming back (because they have some sense) and that made them think twice.
Right now the rain is coming down and I can see lightning though my tent walls.
Hopefully the rain will pass so we (the whole crew) can get to program safely.
Philmont Log Entry 7/25 10:05am
es we did get program without getting hit by lightning. A sweat lodge is GREAT! Also making arrowheads is tough.
Our sister crew arrived after us but were to late to sweat.
Dinner was late but very good.
This morning we are staying late since we have an easy day and Bo is still not feeling great. We also got the pancakes and bacon out of the way.
We can see why this is called Bear Canyon, There is bear crap all over the place.
Philmont Log Entry 7/25 3:10pm
Made it to 'Crooked Creek Camp' a while ago (before the afternoon thundershower) and ate lunch and set up camp. The rest of the guys set off for their homesteading program, except for me and Bo who still isn't feeling well.
As I write this I hear the first of the rain hitting my tent.
Philmont Log Entry 7/26 3:00pm
The guys had a good time making hiking sticks at the program. Dinner was great.
Afterwards the crew had a meeting and decided to wake up at 5am and to skip program at Clear Creek camp then went to bed.
We did wake up at 5am and were out of camp by 6:30. The hike up to Clear Creek is nice, but I started feeling the altitude.
We arrived at Clear Creek at around 10am and decided to eat lunch. Randy and Paul insisted we do program, which was ok since we were cooking lunch anyway. But the WAY they insisted SUCKED! The quote of the day was “If we don't do program I am going to have a problem.”
Most of the scouts did end up doing program and had a good time. I gave Ian my hat from last year and the Program guy killed it (the program was Mountain Man Rendezvous – and my hat jumped in front of the guy while shooting a black powder riffle).
After lunch, and a crew talk to clear the air of some bad feelings, we headed to Mnt Phillips. God it is a hard hike with a 3 gal bag of water and altitude sickness.
We did get buzzed by F-14's on the way up.
Almost at the top and we hit a thunderstorm. Bo also had an attack, but we managed to set up camp at Mt Phillips Camp before it really started. Nothing like being camped at the top of a mountain during a thunderstorm.
PS Before leaving camp this morning we heard a pack of coyotes howling!
Philmont Log Entry 7/27 after dinner
We did manage to set up camp and have our dinner (which was really a lunch). After that the clouds broke up enough to really enjoy the view from the top. After that it was early in bed for all.
During the night the WORST storm I have ever been in a tent for. Hail was reported as big as a penny in diameter. Lightning and thunder were almost constant, and a good wind to top it all off.
The next morning we were going to wake up for sunrise, but we didn't since the storm was just finished at about that time.
During breakfast, we had a few birds eating (or bitting) out of our hands.
The hike from Mt Phillips to Saw Mill was a BITCH! From Mt Phillips to Thunder Ridge wasn't bad and was the most scenic hike of the trip so far. I got great photos of Baldy and the Tooth, but after Thunder Ridge it was mostly down hill which killed my knees.
Once we got to Sawmill we got the WORST SIGHT, basically a washout. The guys did get program (30-6) even though it started to rain. I took a shower (which was wood heated). GOD A SHOWER FELT GREAT!!!!
After that the guys had a fire in the camp (mostly to stay warm and dry off) Dinner wasn't much but it was hot.
Philmont Log Entry 7/30 9am
In the morning we started out a little late going over to the commissary at Ute Gultch. We got there just at Noon, which was when they closed for lunch. We ate and waited, which I think the crew needed some down time anyway. When they opened, Jay recognized one of the girls on staff and the rest of the crew took care of getting crew food and personal junk food.
When we finally got out of there is was threatening to storm, which it did a ½ hour latter. We had to head for the hills and stay put. This is when the problems started. The adults from Troop 4 were really getting hammered by Troop 2 Scouts, then, after the storm broke up, Troop 4 took off and my guys had to stop so that Jay and Steve could get on dry cloths. The other group did not stop hiking down the road even though we called to them. Finally we (the Troop 2 group) realized we missed the turn, but the other group kept hiking. Finally the other group turned around and we joined back up (about 45 minutes elapsed). Once we got back together Steve just TOTALLY SPAZZED OUT on Randy for not listening to him and trying to take over ½ the crew. I really thought Steve was going to hit him. (Rule # 1 at Philmont is the GROUP STAYS TOGETHER when hiking!)
Well after the blow up, we (the crew) decided to go back to the intersection that we ran by during the storm. I kept on saying it looked like the right one even though no sign pointed to Harlan Camp. Sure enough I was right.
To say the least the hike to Harlan was quiet. The crew was split into two distinct groups (Troop 2 and Jay / Troop 4) somehow we got to camp, set up and ate, but there were no “Happy Campers” in the group. After dinner some of the crew played volleyball (teamed up with our sister crew) and beat a group from Texas (Which seemed to help a little).
The next day we had to wake up early to get though Turkey Creek Canyon [before the heat of the day] and the crew was still in 2 parts. Camp breakdown was a little slow (but not bad) but all Randy and Paul could do was BITCH! To complicate matters, Bo twisted his ankle the day before and was very sore. He had to walk very slowly so, most of the Troop 2 guys stayed with him. Allen tried his best to stop the “other” part of the crew but every time we (that is Bo and I) got close, Paul would say “Lets Go”. This of course pissed off all of Bo's Troopmates. This kept going all the way to camp. Steve, Jay and I all wanted to kill both Paul and Randy! This had the effect of keeping the “Two Crew” mentality.
Finally we got to Dean Cow Camp. Things were so bad, I requested the Chaplin come and talk to the group. There was one on the way so I thought there might be some hope. But IT HIT, the WORST hail storm of the trip. Hail as big as golf balls kept on coming. The temperature dropped to below 40 degrees. If the staff did not let us stay on the porch and give us hot drinks we would have had a number of cases of headaches (due to hail) and hypothermia. I tip my hat to the staff!
Finally the storm broke, and just as we were about to be shown to our camp, our sister crew showed up. I was glad we got there before the storm!
Once we got into camp things once again got worse. Paul and Randy tried to take over the crew. Then told Bo to “SHUT UP” (and not that nicely) and made a comment that I “did not care that the boys hadn't eaten since about 9am”. I wanted to hit them SO BAD! Around that time I was told that the Chaplin was NOT coming due to the weather. I had to do something! Bo came to the rescue! He suggested that I go and vent my frustrations on our sister crew. He did not have to say it twice. I talked to Dan Myer and Sam and that REALLY Helped!! When I got back to camp Bo had all the boys talking about what happened. This really started to bring the boys back together. Then having two dinners (since we ate two lunches in one day) helped some more.
Philmont Log Entry 7/30 2:35pm
After desert, almost all the scouts went down to the repelling tower and had a great time. We then spent some time looking for shooting stars and satellites (saw 2 and 1 respectively).
Today we had a very leisurely morning. Finally a great weather morning. The guys did program and loved it! In the meantime I took a 15min HOT Shower! I felt almost Human!
We then ate lunch, packed up all dry stuff, since the sun finally dried out all of the stuff, and headed out of camp around 12:30.
Right now we just finished our hike to Six Mile Gate and we are waiting for a 3:30 bus. The guys did see a baby rattle snake just before we reached the gate.
Philmont Log Entry 7/31 3:20pm
Luckily the bus was about 20 minutes early so we missed the rain that was threatening us once again.
Check in went well and I even had time to shower and get into Class A's for dinner.
The only thing I can say about dinner was WE GOT SECONDS!! and REAL FOOD!
Afterwards I went to services. It was very interesting since it was just me and one scout with a very orthodox rabbi and neither of us knew much Hebrew. After services he invited us back to his lodge for Shabbat's 3rd meal and discussion and songs. It was the first time I had really spent an orthodox shabbat. It was extremely interesting to say the least and as always (so it seems) the rabbi's wife COULD COOK!
After that we met back at camp to pass out crew photos and then go to campfire.
At the campfire the comedian did NOT impress me like last year, but overall it was an ok program.
As is tradition, they called the crew chief and lead advisor down. The crew chief, Steve, was told to present me the Flag he was carrying during the trek as a thank you and present it in his own spacial way. So what does he do, he turns around, puts his thumb up to his nose and gives me a raspberry. I almost died of laughter!
Then the super hiker (he had 19 treks) gave each crew leader the crews arrowhead awards. When each crew is called, the crew gives a cheer. I would have be it would have been “Give me the copper Pot” since that was the crew's ongoing joke, but instead they yelled “That's a bunch of crap” which was one of our rangers favorite sayings.
Oops, I forgot to mention that I did see Don when we got to base camp, we had a great talk and I got his address.
After the campfire everyone went for food. I did get all the scouts some ice cream which they liked. Once the commissary closed we went back to camp and Steve gave everyone there arrowhead badge. Then we went to bed.
Today we got up, formed a pack line, ate breakfast, ran to the trading post, ran to the bus and left. We did see buffalo in the pasture by the road which was nice.
The crew did earn the “we made it plaque” but since we were 3 troops I thought we were going to get into a fight over who would keep it. I knew Troop 4 wanted it and that it would be unfair for it to go to just my troop as well. I think my solution of neutral ground was great. We all agreed to put in in Horseshoe's Dinning Hall since it was our home camp.
The bus ride was uneventful except for my two crew chiefs for next year, Keith and Ian, were looking at the Peaks book for ideas. I also let them know that a crew told me that if you send “the cards” of two crews in together with a note saying “please give these two crews the same itinerary” that Philmont will oblige you (but you might get your 3rd or 4th pick) They liked that idea.
After waiting at the airport, after an all you can eat lunch, we are finally boarded on the plane for our first leg of the trip home.
One last joke I got to mention: “1025% of all accidents that force people off the trail are caused by horseplay!”