Thursday, August 7, 2014

Philmont – Day 12 – Base Camp

Rumor was that there was a 9:00 bus at Rayado.  We were scheduled for the 11:00 bus and we thought why not take a chance and get on an early bus back to base camp.  With that in mind, the young men decided to wake up early.  We were on our way out of camp at about 6:00 in the morning.  We checked out at the staff cabin and took a picture with the sky painted with the signs of a beautiful morning.


The trail for today was the road that led to Rayado from Zastrow.  We were all happy to be on the road early in the morning as the trip was over five miles.

Trail to Rayado

With the sun in our faces and Fowler Mesa and Trail Peak behind us enjoyed the cool morning air.

Trail from Zastrow

We asked for directions the night before as we had heard that the usual spot to cross the Rayado River was deeper than normal.  That could mean a lot of wet feet.  As we came to the place where the road crosses the Rayado River, we kept going east on a road that was less traveled.  Soon the road turned into a skinny trail through the brush.  I might add that this trail is on the staff maps, but not on the map we had.  Yes, another unmarked trail.  

Another unmarked trail at Philmont

However, with a little perseverance through the brush, we made it to a river crossing.  You come out of a barely noticeable break in the brush along the river and there it is.

Crossing the Rayado River

We made it to Rayado before eight when it opened.  We checked in and waited for the Kit Carson Museum to open.  In addition, we had some young men that wanted to do a little blacksmithing.

Kit Carson Blacksmith

At about 9:00 there was a bus and it had room for us.  We hustled and got on the bus back to Base Camp.

Before we get to Base Camp, we are going to do a little flora and fauna.  There is the unidentified pink flower followed by the sunflowers.  They are two different groups of sunflowers, one picture taken while facing west and the next facing east.  You will note that when you take a picture of sunflowers in the morning they are generally facing away from you.  We also have a foal looking for breakfast.

Pink Flowers



Foal with mom

We arrived at camp, took showers, returned the gear that we needed to, attended to paperwork and of course took time to relax.  There was also lunch were we did not have to eat trail food.  We also had time to do some laundry.

Base Camp - Philmont

Then came our trip to Cimarron for ice cream. 

Cimarron Art Gallery 

We had dinner, all you could eat and then we went to Sunday services.  The meeting was very good.  After church we caught the sunset over Trail Peak in the distance.  At least all of us could say that we have been over the top of Trail Peak.

Sunset over Trail Peak

We had our closing campfire.  What a warm welcome to be outside on a nice evening.  The Crew Leaders all were called up front to get a plaque.

The evening went fast and we were all eager to get to bed so that we could get an early start on our journey the next morning.

There were many miracles over the course of the 10 nights in the backcountry.  We all did well and we had no injuries.  A couple of blisters, a broken shoestring, broken pack, a lost water bottle, cold weather and weather that some said was too hot.  We all persevered and made it.  It was not easy at times.  The travel uphill was slow.  The weight of the packs at times seemed burdensome.  There was even the morning where I asked myself, why am I here, as I was cold, damp and tired of the rain.  You just get up, get packed and put one foot in front of the other so that you will get closer to the Welcome Back sign.  And you count you many blessings along the way because you know Heavenly Father is looking out for you. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Philmont – Day 11 – Zastrow

We woke up to a beautiful morning in Carson Meadows.  We had decided that we would wait until today to do our breakfast that required cooking.  As breakfast cooked, the young men got camp torn down and everything ready to go.

The adults stayed behind and the young men took their backpacks up to the staff cabin to do the program for Carson Meadow which is search and rescue.  We finished up the dishes and took our time packing up.  It was peaceful as we were the only two people for several hundred yards around.  We made our way up to the staff cabin and sat on the porch waiting for the young men to finish their program.  Soon enough they were done and we took a picture in front of the staff cabin with the Tooth of Time in the distance behind us.

Carson Meadows

The trip to Abreu was less than two miles and it did not take long to get there.  We had a quick porch talk and then made our way to the cantina where cold root beer was available.  It was a good time to eat lunch as well.  There is nothing like actually sitting at a table and eating when you have been sitting on the ground, a rock or stump for over a week.  The root bear was great.  I think everyone had three glasses full.

Abreu Root Beer

With less than two more miles to go we arrived at Zastrow.  We had our porch talk and the young men chose a campsite.  As it was nice and warm, one of the first order of business was laundry and showers.  It had been several days for the young men so they each took a turn in the shower.  There was also the added benefit of heated water.  Soon enough, with the sun out, there was a sock tree forming from people doing their laundry.

We then went back to the staff cabin to do the program.  The youth chose a Geocaching activity and had a GPS and made their way from point to point.  As adults, we chose the orienteering course.  Both activities were times.  If you had a quick time for the activity, you got pudding.  As adults we made our way to the starting point and the timer started.  Like young men, we started running.  We made it to the first point and stamped our paper.  While that was happening I determined the direction of next point and started running.  When I spotted it, I let the other adult continue towards it and I stared to the next one.  Sometimes the other adult would find the points first and sometimes I would.  However, once spotted I would be studying the map and start running while yelling the distance and direction to the next point.  We ran past the youth a couple of times.  Or should I say, ran past, walked to catch our breath and then continued running.  I did not take any pictures while doing this activity, but I did take a picture the next day of what we were looking for.


As it turned out we did the course in 18 minutes, well enough for pudding.  As we were still breathing heavy from running we decided to wait on the pudding.  My thought was to wait until the young men came back so that we could eat pudding in front of them, which we did.  We checked the map later and discovered that we had been running around at almost 7,000 feet above sea level.  It must be due to spending the last 9 days at an average elevation of 8,912 feet and the 60 miles of backpacking or hiking to get from place to place.

We soon enough gathered for dinner.  We were having chili-mac served in a tortilla in our bowl.  We had been waiting a couple of days to have the chili-mac and tortillas.

One of the other activities at Zastrow is Dutch oven cobbler.  The youth had their choice of several cake types and fillings.  By popular vote the chocolate cake and cherry filling was chosen.

The sun was gone for the evening and we wanted to make an early start to get to Rayado for our bus back to base camp, so everyone quickly went to bed for the last night on the trail.  What were the miracles for the day?  No one got sick from drinking too much root beer.  We traveled safely and made good time.  How about, all the young men took a shower.  More sun during the day, which is always appreciated.

As for the flora and fauna we have several on this segment.  We have the white daisy, pink geranium, an undefined orange bloom as well as the saprophytic pinesap




Then for the fauna, I captured a couple of undetermined insects in a picture after one of the young men pointed them out.  Where is a bird when you need one.  They just better stay our of my tent as well.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Philmont – Day 10 – Carson Meadows

We woke up early and broke camp quickly as we had a long day ahead of us.  We had to make it over Trail Peak and on to Carson Meadows, about 11 miles away.

Beaubien Camp

Once on the trail we made good time.  We did not need to take a lot of water and we only had a couple of day’s food left at this point.

Trail to Trail Peak

We passed through one of the meadow areas that we rode through the day before.  There were some clouds in the sky.  However, there seemed to be a good deal of sunshine available as well.  We were about to cross Bonito Creek for the first time for the day.  We would be crossing it a couple of times during the day.

Crossing Bonito Creek near Beaubien

We must be in better shape as we were traveling rather quickly.  On the other hand, no one wants to be on a peak in a thunderstorm.  Due to all the rain that we have experienced, the crew wanted to be of Trail Peak before 11:00 AM.  That is not hard to do when you get there before 9:00.  On trail peak is the wreckage of a B24D Liberator.  There is a plaque on a tree as a memorial for the ill fated flight.


Toward the top of the peak is a wing of the airplane.

B24 wing on Trail Peak

Another picture looking out from the wing gives a different perspective.  Trail Peak is 10,246 feet and several of the peaks in the distance are 10,000 feet in elevation and above.  Some of the ones in the far distance are closer to 12,000 feet in elevation.


Of course there is the obligatory group picture from the peak itself.


I guess it was nice to be on a peak and be able to see without an over abundance of cloud cover so I took several pictures.  It is beautiful country when you can see it.


On our way down a scoutmaster going up with his crew had to warn us all to tighten up our boots.  Apparently the day before two people rolled their ankles pretty good.  If the young men do not know by now, as we have stopped to tighten up the laces before going downhill to prevent blisters I do not know what more can be done.

We then made our way to a place to sit down and finish breakfast.  From there we headed towards the Bonito Creek.  In our haste, we missed a right turn.  Or should I say the map show the right turn and no trail going straight.  There is actually a trail going straight.  No problem, when we got to the road, we just turned right which would lead us back to the trail where we would turn left onto the trail.  Well we took a left on a trail and thought we were on track.  Except the map does not show the trail we took a left on as the trail we should have taken the left on is about 100 yards further.  We followed the trail and lo and behold the crew kept going.  The trail was there to see, just not a trail that had a lot of use.

The question then is where are we?  The young men looked around.  We were on a trail that did not show on the map.  There was a trail in front of us that did not show on the map.  One of the young men spotted a trail sign off in the distance on the other side of Bonito Creek.  With a little help from a GPS devise we located exactly where we were.  We determined that we would follow the trail, which was not on the map, heading south west towards the sign across the creek.

Once we arrived, in the vicinity of the sign, we determined that now we were actually on the trail that we were supposed to be.  Nothing like a little “shwhacking” (bush whacking) on perfectly good trails that do not show up on the map.  That being said, Philmont seems to always improve their trails and take trails off the map that are too steep when they have built a replacement or want to reroute traffic through a less sensitive area.

After the nice relaxing walk along Bonito Creek in the meadow like setting, we got in the canyon.  This is when the trail really dropped in elevation.  There is one part that drops 300 feet or more in a quarter mile stretch.  The trail is also known as the Stairmaster.  Yes, the picture is from the trail looking down the “stairs” with Bonito Creek in the background.

Stairmaster - Lower Bonito Trail

Soon enough we made it to Carson Meadow camp.  We arrived on the porch to get a view of the Tooth of Time in the background some 6 miles away between Fowler Mesa and Urraca Mesa.

Tooth of Time from Carson Meadows

Soon enough we were walked to our campsite.  We were at the bottom of a meadow.  As the meadow was used for ultimate Frisbee and other activities, it was acceptable to move into the meadow a bit to set up tents.  Then again, there was not much place else to go to get out of the bearmuda triangle.  We needed to sleep at least 50 feet from where we cooked, our dining fly and the sump.  I was just glad to be on dry ground.

Of course, there was some thunder a couple of miles away.  The sky was blue where we were.  However, to the north, you could see thunderheads.  Out of habit, the dining fly became the place to be.

The evening was beautiful and it was warm.  In fact, believe it or not, one of the young men complained that it was too hot.  I thought back to our talk a few days before that there is an opposition in all things.  We must know pain to enjoy joy.  How about bone chilling cold to enjoy warmth?  Yes, it was warm.  However, it was nice to be warm.  It was also nice to get some laundry done and put it out to dry.  I also took a sponge bath to remove the dirt and cool off.  I was happy to do that and it was nice and warm so I dried off quickly.  Warm is good.

Camping in Carson Meadows

The adults made their way to the staff cabin for scoutmaster coffee as it is called.  Tonight was a little different.  There was some store purchased cookies that I ate. Then there were the chocolate cookies with chocolate chips fresh out of the oven.  Warm cookies while sitting in a swing on a porch on a warm evening is much better than drizzling rain and cold weather.  What a great day.  Miracles – We made the trip to Carson Meadows quickly and without getting way off track.  In fact, the swacking saved us a mile or so.  The young men are playing ultimate Frisbee and having fun.  Perhaps the fact that we made it safely to our destination without any injury is a miracle.

As for the flora we have a few more new ones today, Shrubby Cinquefoil which has a nice yellow flower and Creeping Holygrape, which also has a nice yellow flower before the fruit forms.  Then there are the yellow flowers next to Bonito Creek.

Shrubby Cinquefoil

Creeping Hollygrape

Monday, August 4, 2014

Philmont – Day 9 – Beaubien – Black Mountain

We woke up early today.  However, we did not need to pack up to go to a new campsite.  However, we did need to be at the corral at 7:45 for our horse rides.  The horse ride was nice because we got to see parts of Philmont that one normally gets to see.  The ride was going to last an hour and a half so we were going to be on the horses for awhile.

Beaubien Corral

When we were headed back to the corral, I got a picture of the horses that had the morning off.

Once we were back at the corral, I got off the horse and my legs were not the same as when I started.  I thought, I am going to hike to Black Mountain Camp three miles away on these legs?  After walking around for a few minutes my legs felt better.  No problem with going on the hike.  Soon enough we then started our day hike.

When we arrived at Black Mountain Camp we checked in and set up shooting after lunch.  We ate our lunch and listened to the three staff members at the camp.  As the camp is a little isolated, it appeared that they were suffering from some sort of symptom of that isolation.  Then again, the theme of the camp was during the Civil war era and we were going to be shooting.  It could have been a backwoods theme.
As for the shooting, it was black powder in the caliber of .58.  The rifle seemed to be extremely accurate at the distance we were shooting.  The triggers were also much better than the last muzzle loader that we fired.

Black Mountain Rifle Range

As it was one of the young men’s birthday, the camp staff helped him celebrate with a few more grains of powder and a slice of cheesecake.

Black Mountain Cheesecake

The only other thing that any young man would want to do on their birthday is wear a mask from a deer pelvis.  I think the staff at the camp wore off on him.  Either that or the cheese cake was special.

Black Mountain Deer Pelvis Mask

We then hiked back to our campsite.  The adults took a shower, an unheated shower.  It was a wonderful thing.  It was also a chance to do a little laundry.  Where do you hang your laundry when there is a chance of rain? You hang it under the dining fly.  It is also were you play cards.

The adults decided to leave while the youth prepared dinner.  They had prepared dinner several times and we thought no problem.  After relaxing for a time, a couple of young men arrived at the staff cabin to tell us that we were needed in camp.  Apparently the stove was not working as intended and a stump was caught on fire.  As I remember, the words were, “They had a problem and they lit a stump on fire.  The fire is out.  We just need help with the stove.”  Needless to say we returned to camp, the stove lit right up and dinner was then in process.

After dinner the adults returned to the staff cabin for cookies.  The young men came after they had cleaned up to play some horseshoes.  Other youth from other crews tried roping a stump or the metal steer.

Soon enough it was time to go to the campfire.  Tonight we were a little early so we got a front row seat as opposed to the last row the night before.  The campfire was good.  After the campfire we quickly retired as tomorrow was going to be a early day with a long trail ahead of us.