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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Woot woot! It is hard to believe in exactly 30 days we will be hitting the trails of Philmont Scout Ranch. Who knew over a year of planning would go by so quickly. It seems hard to believe we are finally in the last stages of preparing for Philmont.
Just keep hiking
Our prep hiking has been kicked up a notch and living rooms and garages are becoming sorting grounds full of equipment. With Philmont just 30 days away we’ve picked up the hiking pace to 2-3 times a week. Everyone’s doing great and the enthusiasm is building.
the fearless ladies
The merry band of nine is full of newbies and a smattering of veterans. With five of the six youth experiencing the backcountry of New Mexico for the first time it is sure to be a delight. There is really nothing better than conquering the initial climb of the trek, setting up camp, purifying water and throwing your first bear bag line. It will be a trip of firsts and we could not be more excited.
On our Way
Keep an eye out for more details of our trek and we’ll be sure to keep you posted as we travel by train from Central Illinois to the beautiful Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
When we told our friends, family and co-workers we were going to go camping this past weekend we received the, “Are you crazy?” look. You know the one. It’s the look where one eyebrow raises, the mouth gapes open and a slight gasp for air follows. Here in good ol’ Chillicothe, Illinois we are having all kinds of fun in the extreme cold.
The Camp Wokanda Face
But a subzero temperatures were not going to keep us from our annual cabin camping at Camp Wokanda. There it is, the key word, cabin. We don’t mind the cold but we’re not completely off our rockers!
Wash your dishes with a sock?
The weekend was laid back and easy. We snuggled in Friday night for chili, snacks, games and a movie. A new member joined us for her first campout with the crew and here’s hoping we didn’t scare her away. Sleeping did not even require the sleeping bag!
Service & Fun
No need to get out into the frigid weather too early on a Saturday morning so we had a late start to breakfast. Made our way to a little service project clearing felled trees and took a break to sled. It’s slightly tricky to avoid trees, stumps and people. We managed to survive and get back in time for lunch and the remainder of the service project.
Never a dull moment
Nothing too exciting but the weather was brisk, new friendships were made and most importantly we presented a crew member with the rank of Life Scout. Times are always good when spent among friends, especially while ‘camping’ at Camp Wokanda.
We like to party. Plain and simple. Party we did right before Christmas. We had a little snow and as a special treat one of committee members brought everyone a snowman. The little card read as follows:
Money is scarce and times are hard.
So I’m giving you this instead of a card.
Something to use, something to share.
So bottoms up, just ’cause I care!
A few fancy games were played and most scrumptious food was enjoyed. There can’t really be anything better than embarrassing yourself in front of your whole crew. It’s a good thing we don’t embarrass very easily. To get things started we played No Hands Cookie. It is fairly simple really, you place any old cookie on your forehead and without using your hands you must get the cookie into your mouth. Oh the many faces you’ll discover while trying to move a cookie across your face!
We take gift wrapping very seriously, as we should. We wrap loads of gifts every year for the Chillicothe Community Needs Agency. We took wrapping to a whole new level this year. In teams of three with each team member allowed to use only one hand, teams had to wrap two packages complete with creased edges and bows. There were points added for bows matching the paper, strict adherence to the one arm per person rule and bribing the judge. The creative juices were flowing when figuring out how to cut tape with only one hand.
Following instructions is important, especially when drawing what you cannot see. Some were more capable at scribbling on the plate atop their heads while others shouldn’t quit their day jobs. Using a paper plate and instructions read by one player we had to draw exactly what was read, a fire place with a mantel, a Christmas tree with a shining star. Some even attempted to cheat! Who would ever think of cheating to get ahead in a little old party game? Let’s just say we are not hitting the road anytime soon as local artists.
We are hilarious, that’s all there is to it. We had each other cracking up at our funny faces ‘eating’ cookies. Laughed at each other’s strategic plans to wrap gifts with only three hands. And enjoyed scoring each others paper plate masterpieces. Just too much fun was had by all. What can we come up with next? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
This past weekend, despite the heat, we made our way to the track at Illinois Valley Central High School for this year’s Relay for Life of Chillicothe. We had quite the showing of Crew 91ers and played a supporting role in many different capacities.
We kicked off the morning helping to clean out the concession stand. There was a ridiculous amount of dust and the nacho cheese machine hadn’t been cleaned before the stand was closed for the season! Once the stand was cleaned we made our way to the football field to set up games for the kids.
Though there were not as many kids in the past that did not stop us from having a good time. We blew bubbles, jumped in the bouncy house, played with the water, attempted Hilly Billy Golf and had ourselves a grand old time.
Yes, yes, we were there to walk the track and we did that too we just enjoyed ourselves in all the different activities. Derick even participated in the 5K Glow Run and came in first place! After Relay we made our way to the Bannister’s lawn and camped out. Two individuals, who will remain nameless, stayed up through the night. The crazies!
We had another successful year raising $2,170.37 for Chillicothe’s Relay for Life! All in all, a wonderful way to spend a weekend!
Our little rendezvous at Ingersoll Scout Reservation this past weekend was full of fishing, hiking and freezing. However, we had a fabulous time and despite our years of camping there were some lessons learned.
Now, we did not forget anything pertinent to our survival but there were some things that would have been helpful. 🙂
Lesson #1: Fire before fishing! Yes, fishing is important especially if you want to eat dinner. Nevertheless, locating firewood (dry firewood to be exact) is vital to warmth on a cold May evening.
Lesson #2: The age of a match! Busting out an age-old patrol box and replacing ancient matches with new ones is very beneficial! Thank goodness there were two boxes and two persistent ladies present.
Lesson #3: Know your friends! When the ladies who actually get the wet firewood burning are in need of warmer sleeping bags the gentleman should be willing to relinquish their own. Just when you thought you could count on your fellow man.
Lesson #4: Frying fish requires batter! The fish have been gutted and cleaned. Dinner is about to be fixed…no batter to fry the fish. No worries Venturers can make batter out of anything: Corn Chex and Graham Crackers to the rescue.
Lesson #5: Check for seasonings! Homemade sweet potato chips are the best! Seasonings for said chips make them even better! Never fear, the dregs from the pretzel bag will work in a pinch.
All in all a superb weekend! The hiking was amazing, the fish delicious, the potato chips seasoned perfectly, the nights still freezing and a patrol box soon to be updated!