Hike On {Part 6}

How did we come to the day we leave the back country?  Even though it’s taken all of this summer and fall and what seems to be the start of winter to bring the conclusion of our time at Philmont the actual 11 days went by in a flurry.

Ponil

Tuesday morning we broke camp for the very last time on the trail.  Jerry and Randy worked alongside the other adult leaders at Ponil to make a Chuck Wagon breakfast of pancakes and orange juice.  Breakfast was a perfect way to end our meal times on the trail.  Before leaving Ponil we rode horses throughout what was the original base camp of Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp. It was a lovely change of pace and a relief for the footsies. The canyon valley takes on a whole new beauty when atop a horse.  We leisurely rode with about 30 other scouts for an hour and made our way back to the stables before walking the 10 minutes to the buses waiting to take us back to base camp.

Ponil

Riding in the school bus on the way back to base camp and driving past the site where we first hit the trail brought a flood of memories.  Only 11 days ago we crammed ourselves into a Red Roof Inn with 30 of our closest friends.  Just 11 days ago we looked fresh and dust free.  On July 12 we hiked the first four miles of our 97 miles.  That Saturday our history together as a crew was just taking shape.  Making our way off the bus on July 22 we were no longer the newbies.  We were veterans. You could tell by the cakes of dirt on our legs and the sheen of our hair and the scruff on Jerry and Randy’s faces we had not just survived Philmont we had lived Philmont.

Ponil Turnaround

Over the next few hours we enjoyed a meal we did not have to prepare from dehydrated foods, we walked into air conditioned buildings, we unloaded our gear and crashed onto cots…cots!  Going through the final steps of a “Home Bound” crew we managed to return all our gear, visit the trading post and most importantly SHOWER!  Some of us threatened to take a shower and then don our trail clothes from the train ride home.  The idea was quickly vetoed!  Once we were all duded up we hopped the bus headed for Cimarron, New Mexico.  Hitting up the local stores, stopping for ice cream and ordering fresh pizza was the perfect cap to a wonderful adventure.

Cimarron, New Mexico

There is a tradition at Philmont Scout Ranch when leaving Philmont property.  It is said when you look over your shoulder at the Tooth of Time fading into the distance you are bound to return to this enchanting land.  As we made our way to Raton every single head was turned to catch one last glimpse of the Tooth of Time in hopes to be able to return.

Philmont Scout Ranch

I Want to Go Back to Philmont.

 

 

Hike On {Part 4}

We were gently reminded of a very large time lapse concerning our Philmont escapades.  Hopefully we’ll wrap it up in a couple of posts and move onto more recent adventures.  So here it is, Part 4 of our time at Philmont Scout Ranch. 

 

Just when we thought the hike to Iris Park was about to reach completion we realized we had a long ways to go.  We leap frogged with our sister crew the whole way from Upper Greenwood to Iris Park.  The valley walk was beautiful but the road stretching for miles was excruciating.  We were on our eighth morning and everyone was feeling it after hiking for 5 hours.  So to lift our spirits we sang more songs and ate plenty of snacks.

Iris Park

On our way to Iris Park

This lovely stretch of land belongs to Leave No Trace camping and boy could you tell.  It was a beautiful landscape change from Upper Greenwood.  We saw remnants of a widespread forest fire.  The roaming cattle could be seen everywhere and the skies were a brilliant blue.  No one wanted to say it but we were SUPER excited to be walking in dry weather.  We were afraid to jinx ourselves but we enjoyed it while it lasted.  Iris Park was a beautiful expanse of sparse Ponderosa Pines and open prairie grass.

Iris Park Sunset

Iris Park Sunset

The only problem with prairie grasses…restroom facilities.  Leave No Trace camping means no Red Roof Inns which means finding a rock in a land full of grass can be tricky…we survived.  We had to hike about a mile to retrieve water so we split into teams.  We had a water gathering party and a set-up-camp and get-dinner-going party.  Everything was not dry from the previous day’s deluge and we quickly spread out gear on any and every surface.  The previous two days had taken its toll on our merry band with Amariah getting a fever and a start of a head cold and the boys burying themselves in their tents to catch some shuteye before dinner.  Never did a warm meal and a sleeping bag feel more inviting.

Getting Dry

Getting Dry

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Hike On {Part 3}

We thought we published this but…oops!  Enjoy round three of our adventures. 

After two wonderful days in Ewells Park and enjoying the meadow’s beauty it was time to head over to Upper Greenwood in the Valle Vidal.  Going into the Valle Vidal was unchartered waters for our merry little band.  We decided to break camp early so we could take part in the programs at French Henry.  It was an extremely good thing the first 1 hour of hike was relatively easy after the long haul to the peak of Baldy.

 

It is not very often a group of people become excited to see porta potties.  When we walked down the hill into French Henry the questions were flying, “Can we use those?  Are those for us?  Are those only for staff?”  It doesn’t take a lot when you’re on day six without plumbing.  Does a porta potty even count as plumbing?

Panning for Gold

Panning for Gold

We were greeted by a very enthusiastic Paul the geologist and a hearty welcome to hot water to make oatmeal a cup of joe or hot chocolate.  The mountain stream offered refreshing and first the first time in days COLD water for drinking.  We all attempted a little gold panning.  No success stories, we will not be retiring anytime soon.  The question was asked and yes, every day someone finds gold in the streams at French Henry.  It was not our lucky gold panning day but luckily for Ashley her camera was restored by the talents of Jerry!  She lives for pictures.

 

While at French Henry Ross and Tanner became smithy apprentices and showed their talents and trained their muscles.  Unfortunately, their tool did not live to leave the forge.  Oh well, the rest of us had a good time watching their efforts.  We loaded up and began the arduous climb out of French Henry to stop at the Aztec Ponil 2 mine up on the bluff.  The climb was exhausting but the mine was fascinating and the stories told were equally spooky for some.  Randy led us out of the mine without use of flash flights.  Who knew 300 feet could take so long when avoiding rock and low ceilings.

working the biceps

working the biceps

After roughly 28 switchbacks we made it out of Copper Canyon to only be met by the rain on the north side of Baldy on our way to Upper Greenwood. Upper Greenwood is really quite decieving when coming from Ewells Park.  You go up 28 switchbacks which takes an eternity and then spend three hours going DOWN!  We got caught in quite the rain storm and were hit by our second round of hail.  The hail was intense.  We had to take shelter in the Ponderosa Pines and even then the sting of the hail was enough to leave red welts on bare legs.   Shoes were soaked, rain jackets did not do the trick and we still had hours of hiking remaining.  By the time we made it to Upper Greenwood everyone was ready to call it a night.

 

#17 and Still Going

#17 and Still Going

But when living in the back country there is no rest until camp is set up, bear bags are hung, dining fly is strung, water is purified, sleeping bags are hung out to dry and food is prepared.  We were all moving a little slow but some how we managed.  We had quite the water purification system.  Ashley opened the empties, tossed to Ross across the stream, Ross tossed back to Ashley and Ashley handed off to Randy who tossed to Jared and Trevor for the Micropur.  Randy challenged Ashley and Ross to timed throwing of water bottles.  They rocked it; impeccable timing!  Trevor traded out spots with Trevor and the line of purified water continued to grow.  Everyone slept well and woke to semi-dry apparel.  The bushes were lined with drying socks, boots, rain jackets, sleeping bags and tent flies.

Fresh Mountain Water

Fresh Mountain Water

Dusting our feet of Upper Greenwood we started the never ending march to Iris Park.  Despite our gear being soaked through and through the sun was shining and the meadows were drying.  We enjoyed a lazy stroll through Greenwood Canyon.   We buckled and unbuckled our packs as we crisscrossed the stream running through the meadow.  If it were not for the sun it would have made for one soggy 10 mile day.  Just when Ashley thought her feet would be dry for the rest of the day, she slipped off a rock.  Oh well, there was still 6 miles to go and plenty of drying opportunity.

 

Water Everywhere

Water Everywhere

We played an age old hiking game, “My Father Owns a Grocery Store.”  If you’ve never played, the whole point is for your group to guess an item in a grocery store by just knowing the first letter of the item and then playing twenty questions.  Try it sometime and when you correctly guess Wrigley or barcode or tomatillo you know you’re a professional.

What's a Tomatillo?

What’s a Tomatillo?

Hike On {Part 2}

Hiking with a 40-45lb pack can be exhausting.  After the ill fated game of Uno in the boy’s tent naps were had by almost everyone.  Jared and Ashley started dinner and then another bout of rain had us scurrying under the dinning fly.  While in transit the first of three hail storms came upon us.  This hail wasn’t tiny!  But what’s a good camping story without a little hail!  After clopping through the mud to hang up bear bags it was off to bed.

Venture Crew 91

We gave ourselves a little break and broke camp around 7am to head to Baldy Skyline for our conservation project.  The views on the way to Baldy Skyline were pretty fabulous.  We caught a glimpse or two Mt. Baldy, the highest peak at Philmont.  Tanner busted out his sketch book and took down a few notes for future sketches.  Trevor wished he had his sketch book but whipped out his iPod to snap a few breathtaking pics instead.

 

View of Mt. Baldy

View of Mt. Baldy

By now we’re used to the afternoon rain but hoping it holds off for us to complete our conservation project.  The fellas at Baldy Skyline put on quite the informational show.  Tanner volunteered to be their accident prone scouter and demonstrated how to wear all the PPE required for the project.  We threw rocks and logs and trees and branches for three hours to help in the completion of the Baldy Skyline trail to Ewells Park.  It was a cacophony of voices bellowing “Rock, Tree, Twig, Log” every time something was lofted into the air.  Beware, don’t stand downrange of a rocks, trees, twigs and logs being thrown in your general direction.  Thank goodness for hardhats and sturdy trees!

 

After a short 10 minute walk from Baldy Skyline to Ewells Park we made camp.  Everyone was super excited to be setting up camp in the same spot for two whole nights!  Everything was wet from the night before, including Megan’s sleeping bag.  We thought we’d catch the sun while we could, set up camp and hunker in for the afternoon.  Ross and Tanner made their way to the Red Roof Inn while the rest of us started setting up camp.  It wasn’t too much later when we hear these perturbed cries from the woods.  Tanner and Ross somehow managed to toss the toilet paper out of reach and needed to be rescued.  Jared could have let them suffer but they were disturbing the wildlife.  We just held it over their heads when we needed a good laugh.

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Hike On {Part 1}

When you spend 11 days hiking in the back country of Philmont Scout Ranch it is hard to squeeze everything into only one post!  So much happened we’ll need to share over a few days.  Hold onto your hats, we did a lot of hiking.

Venture Crew 91

Our grand adventure started off with a bit of excitement.  Crew 711-G was the honored recipient as the designated 1 millionth crew of the day when we arrived on Friday, July 11.  Our fearless Crew Leader, Trevor, was presented with a folding sheathed, engraved knife to commemorate this being the summer of the 1,000,000 scout to attend Philmont Scout Ranch.  We were quite shocked and honored.

Venture Crew 91

Mr. Sam Moore was introduced to us as our Ranger and we hit the ground running.  It did not seem possible for over a year of planning to finally be upon us and we were taking everything in with wide eyes.  From the dining hall lined with crew Class Bs to the opening ceremony to the gathering of our crew gear we were as ready as we could be.

Venture Crew 91

Saturday afternoon brought us to a Leave No Trace campsite where Sam filled us in on all the important stuff we needed to know.  Like how to put up bear bags, the importance of the Bermuda Triangle and the Human Sump.   Thanks Tanner for  sacrificing your gut on our first night! For some unknown reason girls always catch the blame for talking late into the night.  Not so on this first night in the back country.  Tanner, Ross, Trevor and Jared could not stop talking…they were not quiet folks!

Venture Crew 91

Campos Heck

Venture Crew 91

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We’re Off

Well we’re Philmont bound! We’ve landed on the train and are making our way to an amazing adventure.

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Trevor is as happy as a clam getting ready to ride his first train. Megan is ready for her first high adventure with the crew and for 12 days of camping. Tanner, Jared and Ross are enjoying all the room for their long legs. Amariah is pumped to be returning to Philmont for round two.

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The adults are crazy excited to be going on this incredible adventure with these amazing young men and women. It’s going to be an amazing trek! Here we come!

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A Grand View

Only in the scouting world do crazy youth and adults, pack up their backpacks and head to the local parks to lug around 35-50lbs on their backs.  To some, we’re crazy.  To us, it’s just a regular Saturday morning.

With only 10 days before we depart for Philmont Scout Ranch we made our way to the trails of Forest Park Nature Center for an early morning prep hike.  We decided to be adventurous and take the Pimiteoui Trail up to Grandview Drive in Peoria Heights.  It’s a nice hike to Grandview Drive with trails very reminiscent of Philmont.  And as the name implies, the view is quite spectacular.

Venture Crew 91 Grandview Drive

Grandview Drive

After a few hours of wandering around and running into a few turkeys we made our way back to Chillicothe sticky and sweaty.  To escape the heat for bit we had lunch indoors and reviewed a list of “Do Not Forget to Bring With You” items.  Number one item not to forget: Hiking Boots!  Sounds a little crazy but you’d be surprised how easy it is to leave for the train without your boots.

Venture Crew 91

A quick shakedown of everyone’s gear and a run through on using backpacking stoves and the water filter made for a very productive Saturday.  And that was all before 3pm! There’s sure to be a competition between the ladies and the fellas on tearing down tents while on the trail.  The adults can’t wait to see how long it takes for the teams to tear down their tent and be ready in the morning!  We’ll let you know the outcome.

Rerolling the tent...the fifth time

Rerolling the tent…the fifth time

Just 10 days.  Wow.  It’s going to be amazing.