2017 Philmont 0813-Q

Passport to Adventure: Crew 813-Q Philmont 2017

Map & Itinerary 7-10 listed at 41 miles of hiking over 6 days; 7360' Min and 9360' Max

The reality was 46.25 miles with 22199 ft of Vertical change, 31 hrs hiked.  See our photo gallery and explore PSR at Boys Life

The method for planning hiking time is to estimate 2 miles per hour and add 1 hr for every 1000' elevation +\-. Using this system our estimated rate would be 1.025 mph but our actual rate was 1.51 mph.

Note that High Adventure Trips are planned by the Patrol Leader with assistance from the Adviser. Once boots hit the ground the Scouts have all the responsibility and decisions; the adult Advisers accompany the Crew offering advice to the PL as needed but remain in the background. There are 17 (7 day trek) itineraries each with a different program available during each week of summer often with 2 crews on the same trail but camping and participating seperately. 


SAT     Dulles - Colorado Springs

After eating at the Moonlight Diner just outside Denver Airport (DEN) we got stuck in traffic south of the city around Castle Rock. The Philmont Crew at Garden of the GodsScouts spent a bit of money eating at the airport this morning and at lunch and now realize that it goes faster than you think. We met David and Andrew in Colorado Springs and they took us on a tour of the US Air Force Academy. We learned a little of the history and daily routine of cadets, the places they live and learn and how things work there. Some of the Scouts needed reminders about behavior (especially in uniform) and about reverence around the Chapel. 

As we only had an hour the tour was brief so we headed to the Garden of the Gods state park. It's a set of rock formations which are cool and unique. We drove around in circles looking for parking and finally found some once the rain commenced. Despite the drizzle we hike a short way and enjoyed the vista. Another brief stop at the visitor center (which was about to close) and then to the hotel. Once we checked into our rooms the Scouts turned on TV and several adults headed out for Pizza. We encouraged the crew to head to bed early as it would be an early rise and long day.

DAY 1     Philmont Scout Reservation: Base Camp

Our day began with repacking the van, stopping for bagels and donuts and a long drive to New Mexico.  Most of the Scouts are not outwardly excited but I see a few smiles and hear some interesting conversation. Check-in is a relatively smooth process and we're assigned a Ranger for the next 3 days. Jack Rodgers is a 19 year old sophomore studying Environmental Science at U of Minnesota and haling from Chicago. I'm hoping that the Scouts can pull together and work as a crew to conquer the challenges that await our journey this week. Philmont is experiencing a lot of rain this summer and we may get more than we've bargained for, hopefully every Scouts gear is up to the task. We ate lunch, attended meetings, stowed our gear in “tent city” and collected all the equipment we'll need to survive the trek. PL goes to the planning meeting which isn't truely planning as our course is already defined but he's given a map and reviews the daily treks, trail camps and program locations. We're informed that trek Q is shared by two crews and while we will see them at program it is likely that we will only meet occasionally on the trail. After dinner and more meetings we all attended a religious service of our choosing and attended the opening campfire. It was about the history of this great open space and the people who settled it over the last 100 years. 


DAY 2     Camp HQ (CHQ) - Vaca

CHQ - Turnaround via Bus - Intro and Navigation with Ranger - Navigation - Vaca Trail Camp

End
DistanceVerticalElevation ChangeExpected RateActual RateComparisonTime
Vaca
3.564 mi1275 ft804 ft1.37 mph1.39 mph-0.01%2.5 hr


We're up early as the camp was stirring about 0530. This is a good time to pack gear and reorganize for the tenth time now that we have crew equipment and food. After a hardy breakfast the crew leader distributed the rest of the gear and food and everyone needed to accommodate for the share they're given (stuff your pack!). We weighed our packs and found that some were slightly lighter or heavier than others but on average about what we expected. Some of the Scouts are less eager to volunteer and lend a hand, watching more than participating. Brendan is looking a bit overwhelmed at the moment. The Scouts are not applying the knowledge given by the Ranger and I'm feeling a bit apprehensive but it's their trip. The PL reminds the Crew that Leave No Trace applies to everyone. The Scouts disperse as we're not departing until 1000 and we have nearly two hours to fill; most are heading to the Tooth of Time Traders to look at stuff they might like to buy. 

At 1000 we load the bus and have a short drive to Turkey Creek Turnaround where Jack gives the Scouts a few pointers about hiking, navigating and safety. There is a lot of emphasis on hydration and keeping the Crew together because the high desert is an unforgiving landscape. After a short hike we find that navigation skills need some work and we head the other direction with a few other troops.  Hail and Rain, oh my! The rain contributed to the existing mud making the trail challenging but we persevered.  The weather is scary given the recent weather here and the stories from other Scout Leaders just returning from their treks (5 of 7 days raining...).  We found a site at Vaca camp and Ranger Jack taught the crew how it should be set up at Philmont including bear bags, space allotment, bear-muda triangle, sumping, waste and rain-fly; all while the sky was getting darker gray and thunder rumbled. Luckily the rain stopped as we were preparing camp and the scouts got to relax a little before and after preparing dinner. We did have some drizzle while we ate under our tarp. It's was a bit crowded  but we managed. Some stories around the small campfire saw everyone tired and ready to sleep before long. Did we mention mosquitoes? Jack says he's never seen them so bad anywhere at Philmont in the two years he's been a Ranger. Does this portend?

http://philmont.wikia.com/wiki/Vaca_Camp


DAY 3     Vaca - Deer Lake

Vaca - Harlan (Shotgun) - Conservation Project - Deer Lake Mesa

End
Distance miElevation ASL ftElevation Change ftExpected Rate mphActual Rate mphComparisonTime Hr
Harlan0.3855711451.141.16-0.02%0.3
Conservation1.891715171.692.27-0.25%0.83
Deer Lake Mesa3.90610936911.192.02-0.03%1.00
D3 Summary4.291 mi2159 ft gain1355 ft1.34 mph1.18 mph-0.35%2.13 hr


Alarm 0550. The day started fairly quick (for our crew) with the tents and gear packed in just over an hour (0700) then a short hike to Harlan Camp (0720) for our first activity of the week. We received an introduction to shotguns then ate breakfast while another crew reloaded shells, then we got our chance; each Scout and Leader loaded 5 shells. The shooting was fun though many of the Scouts weren't hitting all the targets. The Adults were fairly good and several of the crew took the opportunity to purchase and shoot additional rounds. Our next campsite is on top of Deer Lake Mesa where there is no water supply so the crew elected to cook dinner at 1200 rather than carry additional water to the top. Tonight we'll eat lunch instead. The meal is chicken, time for an alternate. Wyatt seems less tired but Riley keeps coughing so we need to keep checking. After reloading, the Scouts fed burros. Wyatt was the only one comfortable near them from the outset but the rest of the Scouts worked into it after a bit. Ranger Jack is departing in the morning so we'll give him our Troop T-shirt and patch then. He's headed home to Chicago then school by the end of the week.He is a thin congenial 19 year old, impressing us with his knowledge, skill and endurance. The  Scouts enjoy his company and stories; several may be inspired to apply when they're 18.  The Ranger program is special and takes a unique individual, we're glad we were assigned to Jack. The marching order is guide, navigator(s), crew and then the adults; we expect to keep this pattern with the navigator position rotating through the crew members daily.

We depart Harlan at 1300 hiking about a third to half of the mesa before arriving at our Conservation Service Project at 1350. As our adventure is at the end of summer there is less work to be done on this particular project. Bryan and Gillian discussed the safety, merits and details of the project, then we work on naturalization by removing logs and debris from the completed trail, sawing a tree and moving equipment. The sawing was slow and not fruitful as the equipment wasn't made for the task. We depart at 1715 and climb Deer Mesa until 1815. Our project leaders suggest a viewing spot at the highest switchback before attaining the top and what a view it is. We decide to go back to the spot for sunrise. The Deer Lake Camp is primitive but nicer than we'd expected and the lake isn't the muddy puddle most of the staff members claimed. We found a nice spot with a great view and settle in for the evening. While we're setting up camp a bear wandered down the hill. The Scouts went crazy banging dents in the pots in the attempt to scare the bruin away. Once Dennis (the menace bear) departed we ate lunch (dinner) and Jack revealed a treat: chocolate cake with thick frosting. Andrew made a cheery little fire enhancing our last night with Jack.

http://philmonttrailguide.com/camp_pages/HARN.html


DAY 4     Sunrise - Upper Sawmill

Deer Lake Mesa - Sunrise Hike - Deer Lake Mesa - Devils Wash Basin - Ute Gulch Commissary (Resupply) - Upper Sawmill

End
Distance miElevation ASL ftElevation Change ftExpected Rate mphActual Rate mphComparisonTime Hr
Sunrise RT1.6624060---1
UGC5.002810 -4051.721.82-0.06%2.75
Grouse Canyon0.712920-1111.531.00-0.35%0.72
Sawmill Canyon0.5031442241.050.74-0.29%0.67
Lower Sawmill1.2234683241.311.820.40%0.67
Upper Sawmill0.8437612941.182.531.15%0.33
D4 Summary
8.27 mi1602 ft gain691 ft1.36 mph1.58 mph0.19%6.13 hr


Awake 0520 and moving toward the switchbacks at 0550 for sunrise. It was a bitter sweet moment because Jack said goodbye to the Crew. It wasn't a difficult hike but it held a lot of meaning and wonder; it's really something to sit in the dark and watch the entire horizon Sunrise on Deer Lake Mesaslowly begin to glow. Then all at once a bright yellow orange ball of fire crests the mountains in the distance and day has arrived. Jack shared a poem by one of the first Philmont Rangers and his thoughts on the meaning of our experience. We hiked back in silence, took down the tents and ate breakfast; the Scouts took 90+ minutes to wrap things up and get moving. Nearly the entire time the ranger for our sister troop squatted like a statue in the tall grass near the lake's edge; sort of surreal. The trail across the mesa was muddy and our Guia (Spanish for wilderness guide) needed to remind the crew to stay on the trail (LNT). 

So far most of the trail has been under tree cover with plenty of light but not blazing sun. Once we crossed the width of the mesa there was a fantastic view of Ute Gulch and we could see the commissary nestled in the pines at the base of the canyon. The rest of the hike to Devils Wash Basin was nice and we encountered five or six buck (deer) with huge racks (6 to 8+ points). A few mini-bears (chipmunks) and some mountain lion scat were visible but luckily no big cats; I did keep looking back at the trail behind us, and the trees and the slopes, and... Down the side of the mesa we trudged into the Ute Gulch Commissary grounds a few minutes after noon (1210) and plopped down for lunch and a quick visit to the store while the QM discussed our resupply with the staff. 1317 saw us repacked and on the trail down the gulch.Down the Mesa from Devil Wash Basin

We anticipated the promised scenery of Grouse Canyon and were delighted to enter the verdant climb up the mountain at 1400. The deep canyon was pretty with lots of vegetation and a stream but it was rather tight quarters (narrow canyon, boulders and stream) with a fairly steep grade. We arrived at Sawmill Canyon at 1440 and began the next climb; it wasn't as consistently steep but had a few challenging sections and quite a few stream crossings. Mr Meyers and I took photos along with Wyatt and Brendan. We arrived at Upper Sawmill Camp at 1520 to find a latrine (red roof) surrounded in wasps; pull out the trowel instead. The Scouts are still in good spirits mostly but have begun to pick on one another, one in particular has comments for nearly every occasion and disagrees or argues every point. Our Crew Guide (point position) Wyatt has been a consistent in calling out features like streams and switchbacks and cheering the progress of crew members. Brendan has been very positive but still looks stressed. The only negatives today were our slow start and the lack of crew camaraderie.

http://philmont.wikia.com/wiki/Sawmill_Camp

http://philmont.wikia.com/wiki/Ute_Gulch_Commissary

DAY 5     Upper Sawmill - Cypher's Mine

Upper Sawmill - Sawmill - Thunder Ridge - Comanche Mt - Thunder Ridge - Cypher's Mine (Blacksmith, Mine, Stomp)

EndDistance miElevation ASL ftElevation Change ftExpected Rate mphActual Rate mphComparisonTime Hr
Sawmill1.6537615961.161.650.42%1.0
Thunder Ridge4.25548411271.311.420.08%3.0
Comanche0.4756912061.070.95-0.11%0.5
Thunder Ridge0.475897-2061.071.420.33%0.3
Cyphers Mine2.546928-10311.102.341.12%1.1
D4 Summary9.70 mi3167 ft gain2571 ft
1.141.560.37%5.92 hr


0635 Depart Upper Sawmill Camp and head to Sawmill Staff Camp with the hope that they may let us participate in their high power rifle program. We arrive at 0735 and the crew takes a break while PL and Adviser talk with the Staff; unfortunately their program is 3+ hours long and we have a very long hike today so no bonus program. After breakfast we get packs on and hit the trail at 0835. Today we climb up the canyon to our highest elevation  ~10,400' passing Whistlepunk along the way. The trip was difficult but we reach Thunder Ridge Camp at 1125 and the Scouts beeline for the red-roofs. We were given high-altitude drink mix in our breakfast rations and we've been encouraging the Scouts to drink more. Despite the guidelines presented by our Ranger many of the Scouts refuse to drink the volume of water required. As a result several have had nose bleeds from the combination of dry air, altitude and lack of moisture in their body tissue (nose). That aside the Scouts seem to be in good spirit and we haven't had any other issues.

This ends up being a brief stop and we're ready to depart by 1135. The Crew Advisor talks to the Navigator about the next leg of the journey and he is certain the route crosses the road and heads up the mountain. One of the strengths of Scouting is allowing the Youth to take the responsibility of leadership and make their own decisions. The Adults drop back to their position at the end of the crew and follow the Scouts up the mountain. After 35 minutes of climbing we call a water break and discuss the route with Navigator and eventually the PL. Delicate negotiation between the Scouts and a short trip up to the next switchback provides the impetus to reverse course; the hard uphill becomes the hard downhill and we return to Thunder Ridge by 1225. 

Heading East and down the valley above and along the north-fork of Cimmaroncito Creek we follow the switchbacks through the pine forest and at 1330 discover some very old wood buildings and equipment which ends up being Cypher's Mine. Settin' on the porch of the Mine Headquarters is Ruby Taylor, manager of the Contention mine site. Cyphers is true historic site and the staff here are in character making the Scouts (and Adults) feel like it is 1910. Ruby encourages the adults to join the staff for coffee on the porch at 1900 and has one of the staff take us to our 'muck shack' where we'll be staying tonight instead of tents. The shack (adirondack) has 3 sides and a roof and we set our gear down to attend our first tour as “new mine employees” in the blacksmith shop.George and Jasper deliver a quick description of the needs provided by the smithy along with the effort, long hours and dangers of the occupation. The Scouts are given a choice of projects to build but it ends up that each crew only builds one as a group and we're limited to 60 minutes. As the Scouts were really looking forward to this program in particular, it's somewhat of a disappointment. Given 5-10 minutes each at the bellows and forge the Scouts pump and hammer, shape and file to make a 3 inch triangle. Tragically the iron gets bent too far and snaps ending the project and the promise of smithing.

From here we head over the hill and up a gully to the Contention Gold Mine. Beau gives us a description of the work done inside and the effort necessary to mine for gold (none actually ever found here). We're given helmets, lanterns and encouragement as we plunge into the cold dark wet hole. There is water throughout the mine, dry spots being less frequent; some is shallow some ankle deep but all of it is cold.  The timbers are as slimy as the walls and floor and we slowly make our way into the mountain; one way in, only one way out. We learned a lot about the hard life miners had in the 19th and early 20th century. The dangers were extreme and the pay was only $2 per day with no benefits, no days off and all housing and food 'sold' to the miners by the company. Effectively this was indentured servitude and anyone who got injured and couldn't work was fired immediately.

We turned off the lanterns about 500 feet into the mountain at the face of the mine finding out just how dark Zero light could be. Those of us with luminous watch dots needed to cover our wrists because it was significant with no other light source around. It was eerie and Beau (Everett) told ghost stories, BAM! He dropped the lid to the metal box and scared the who-ha out of everyone. He explained that Ruby, Beau & Jasper on the lodge porch
you only received enough fuel for the shift and only 5 matches, once those failed you needed to work in the darkness or make your way out by feel sometimes connected to your fellow miners by hands on shoulders. Several of us departed with Beau and some stayed to make the trek out without light. Beau encouraged us to stop in a side shaft and make scraping sounds and groans as the 'miners' approached. The crew made it out with great relief and headed to the shack to set up bedding and dinner.

Dinner preparation took forever but we did get some grub before departing for the Advisor Coffee at the main building. The 'coffee' on the porch was a social for adults while some of the staff practiced their skills on guitar, cello and mandolin; they are really tallented young people. Just before 2000 the Scouts arrived for "The Stomp” which is a musical miracle comprised of all the staff members playing string or wind instruments, drum and singing songs about mining life. They played and sang for an hour before releasing the various crews to their camps. The staff invited us to stay and hear additional music which many of us did. It was especially poignant because it was the end of summer and the final stomp of the year. Many of them finished the night with tears and hugs. The songs were sad but very moving, this was by far the best program we attended.

http://philmonttrailguide.com/camp_pages/CYPH.html


DAY 6  Hunting Lodge - Clark's Fork - Ponderosa Park

Cypher's Mine - Hunting Lodge (Tour) - Navigation - Clark's Fork - Corral (Ride) - Chuckwagon - Navigation - Ponderosa Park

End
Distance miElevation ASL ftElevation Change ftExpected Rate mphActual Rate mphComparisonTime Hr
Hunting Lodge3.367800-14851.061.370.29%2.45
Clark's Fork
1.797519-17700.671.951.91%0.92
Ponderosa1.9280465281.291.28-0.01%1.50
D6 Summary7.67 mi2159 ft gain3786 ft1.01 mph1.53 mph0.73%4.87 hr


The shack was a litte crowded and it was difficult to breath/sleep because of the coal dust in the air from the nearby smithy. Awake and
packing by 0630 and on the Cimmaroncito Creek North Fork Trail at 0800. We were warned against this route while planning (at base camp) because it had been very wet lately and both the water and mud promise to make the trail difficult. The trail meanders across the stream numerous times (54) but Kelly the staff camp manager said we'd be ok because the last few days had dried things up a bit. The trip down the valley was beautiful, very scenic and yes wet too. We did cross the stream a lot and some of the crew got wet feet but it is Scout hiking and that happens; it was totally worthwhile. Arriving at Hunting Lodge 1100 we asked the staff for a tour and Jacob was pleased to oblige. For 30 minutes he told us about the history of the lodge, described its contents and some of Waite Phillips' adventures. We had lunch and departed a little later than expected 1205 but Fred told us it was an easy 45 minute hike to Clarks Fork where we would have our afternoon program. Our navigator was challenged by the many trails through the site and it took a bit to get going on the correct trail. The crew guide took us up the trail double-time through the demonstration forest to arrive exactly at 1300. Here the staff was occupied by some crisis in the cabin and we didn't get the normal "porch talk" which a welcome to the camp, the site description and the instructions for our program. They should have sent us directly to our horseback riding program at the stables a quarter mile away but it was nearly 15 minutes before they discovered their error.

We RAN up the trail to the corrals because there was no guarantee that the trail boss would wait. Since it was the final ride of summer head wrangler Hanna let us in despite the tardy arrival but she wasn't having a good day. The tacking of the horses was interminable but we finally got saddled up and on the trail with a few nervous Scouts who had never previously ridden from our Crew and our sister crew as well. During the process one of the Scouts got nipped by his horse and we thought it might need medical attention but fortunately after some care he was able to rejoin the group. The trip was more walk than ride but a pleasant trip through the forest and rolling hills. The views were spectacular, especially the Tooth Ridge which inspired the Scouts for the final hike tomorrow. After the ride we cleaned up and headed to the chuckwagon dinner. 

Ample beef stew (from a can?) and sides were served though it was a heavy meal and we still needed to climb a few miles to our campsite so we missed the evening campfire. This was made harder by the necessity of water; during our planning the staff adviser told us we'd need 8 litres of water per person for the last day as there is no water above (or beyond) the Clarks Fork camp. Our instructions weren't clear on this, but we needed to make due. The result was Mr Kraatz replacing everything from his pack (distributed among the crew) with two five gallon water jugs mostly full. The remainder of the crew carried as much as possible but minimally 4 litres. It is a hard slog up a mountain carrying that much water! As it was we arrived at dusk and hiked further than necessary before finding a campsite. Set up was brief and everyone hit the sack as soon as possible because we planned to get up in the wee hours to begin our final day.

http://philmonttrailguide.com/camp_pages/HNTG.html

http://philmont.wikia.com/wiki/Clark%27s_Fork_Camp


DAY 7  Schaeffer's Peak - Tooth of Time - Base Camp

Ponderosa Park - Navigation - Shaefer Pass - Shaefer Peak- Tooth of Time - Tooth Ridge - Camp HQ

Note that the actual hiking rate was less than 1% greater than the expected rate but this includes stops for water, bodily needs, nose bleeds, rest and navigation errors. Overall the Scouts did a great job of keeping pace and covering miles.

End
Distance miElevation ASL ftElevation Change ftExpected Rate mphActual Rate mphComparisonTime Hr
Shaefer Pass1.3487667190.961.150.19%1.17
Shaefer Peak
1.2092795131.082.391.22%0.50
Tooth of Time2.358944-3931.190.95-0.20%2.25
Camp HQ6.326717-18341.232.430.97%2.42
D6 Summary11.2 mi1330 ft loss3786 ft1.11 mph1.73 mph0.55%4.87 hr
Trip Summary46.26
15296
1.221.610.37%26.9 hr


Oh My awake at 0350 in an attempt to make Schaeffer's Peak for dawn. The patches of sky between the tree tops allowed a look at stars densely filling the darkness, truely amazing to be somewhere there is almost no light. Speak too soon and... most of the Scouts turned on headlamps to pack. We planned to be out of camp within 30 minutes but only the adults were packed and ready by 0430, the Scouts departed a few minutes after 5 AM. Compounding our late departure, we needed to be quiet so we wouldn't wake the other crew Ponderosa Parksleeping nearby and the darkness confounded our navigator so we didn't actually hit the trail until ~0520. The Scouts were weary, the path was steep, we were carrying a Lot of water and it was pitch black so it is little wonder that we arrived at Shaefers Pass (trail camp) at sunrise which was still a mile short of the intended goal. Here we took a break and discussed the Scout Law. After a few minutes, navigation was discussed and the trail determined; onwward and upward. When we reached the trailhead for the peak most of the Scouts dropped their gear, grabbed breakfast and took off for the peak. Several others took the opportunity to sit still for a while and enjoy a leisurely meal. Did we mention that every breakfast included jerky? Many kinds and most spicey, thankfully there was dried fruit and high-energy snacks as well. 

Our trails to this point were mostly dirt with the occational rocks, streams, rivulets and puddles; and mud too. But leaving Shaefers the trail became rocky, not like a pebble beach or gravel driveway, rocks of varying size and shape comprising the great majority of the path. Shaefers Peak trailNeedless to say this irregular terrain was challenging and dangerous to feet, ankles and knees, slowing our normal pace. The crew was mostly quiet on the way down but our guide continued to cheer us on at switchbacks or significant points One of the hardest parts of this trail was the weight of our extra water. We were completely in the sun now (and for the first time this trip - the prior days were wooded) and the high desert climate proved the need for hydration. As we neared the Tooth of Time, quite spectacular and easy to spot for quite a while, we happened upon some scouts with another troop who had reached the area before us. They'd decended the mountain a different way than their compatriots and informed us that there was no actual path up the peak from the trailhead so it is easy to confuse your route down. We had more nose bleeds from lack of hydration.

We continued down the path and eventually found the Tooth Peak trailhead. The Scout leadership was strained at this point and some of the Scouts wanted to depart immediately leaving their packs without removing the food. We discussed the necessity of bear awareness and the lessons taught by our Ranger about smellables, water and keeping together. Eventually we unloaded and ate lunch to lighten the load before hanging the remainder on the bear cable. As our Scouts debated, our sister crew arrived, organized, hung their bag and departed. Throwing caution to the wind, most of our Scouts raced up the boulders ignoring wisdom and the need to keep together. Some of the crew took longer to reach the top but in the end we all made it with words of encouragement from our sister crew and some of our leaders. Coincidently one of their crew was challenged by the boulders but had an older Scout and an adult to help guilde his ascent.

Tooth of Time Peak panorama

At the top we gathered for some photos and a remarkable view in all directions. Because we were hearing ominous rumbling and the sky was becoming darker we didn't spend much time on the peak. With a reminder to keep together the crew started down. Once we all arrived there were snacks and a quick restocking of gear to get quickly on the path before weather. We were warned early on that stormy weather could suddenly crest the Tooth Ridge from behind Shaefer and we should not be caught if it is severe. It is easy to believe that hiking down is easy but you'd be wrong. It's tough on your knees and seeing CHQ for several hours but never seeming to get closer is demanding as well. Not too far along we are stopped abruptly when Wyatt jumps back two feet (and several Scouts run pell mell toward the adults) because a rattle snake has decided to rest under a log less than a foot from the trail. Careful maneuvering and a little coaxing gets everyone past the danger.


Only a short time after leaving the Tooth we are pelted by hail, marble sized and painful so we take shelter under the scattered pine trees
Trail Entrance to Base Campwhich surprise! are infested with bugs which are now crawling all over some of our jackets and packs. Luckily the hail slows and turns to just rain. We head down the thirty(?) switchbacks toward camp, turn away for a mile then hit level ground and u-turn toward civilization. The rain has stopped and the wind picked up but at this point everyone is tromping around in wet boots and irritable. At 1500 we arrive at the Camp Gateway with the quote: "Welcome Home, You Made it!" There is a water station here and several Scouts yell at those attempting to refill. They're reminded that any member can call for water and we should all respect and rely on one another. 

We enter Camp HQ and trudge (truely) to the Check-in then Logistics, Admin and finally to tent city for our last night accomodations. We set gear out to dry then head to the van for our clean clothing, dry shoes and washing supplies. The shower was heavenly, everyone used lots of soap and soaked in the hot water returning to the tents before dinner. We had hoped to visit Villa Philamonte this afternoon but time slipped away so reservations were made for first thing tomorrow (Saturday) morning. After dinner most of the Scouts revisited the camp store and many attended the evening services. At 2000 we gathered at the mess hall to go as a group to the evening show but we were missing a Scout. Brendan located him (another nose bleed) and they caught up moments later en route. The closing show was not as good as the opening but the crew was awarded a plaque and flag and we all returned to the tents by 2200 for a well deserved rest.

http://philmont.wikia.com/wiki/Tooth_of_Time

SUN     Base Camp - Denver

Base Camp - Villa Philmonte - Pikes Peak - Denver Airport

0600 There are Crews preparing to depart and not so quietly, though we'd like to sleep a little longer the adults are up and moving followed shortly by the Scouts. 0700 Breakfast and then several Scouts make a last minute run to the Philmont Traders (store). We gather at the Philmont sign for photos and a few of the Scouts toss their hiking shoes up on the beam (its a tradition). We dash to the van and arrive five minutes late for our 0800 tour at Villa Philmonte. No shoes in the villa.. so socks onward. We are taught some history, art and architecture about Waite Philips' short time home and his huge contributions to BSA. It ends quickly and we head north to Trinidad (CO) for Sonic Milkshakes then back on the road to Pikes Peak. Not suprising most of the Scouts fall asleep and the adults converse to make the time pass. Mr Kraatz takes the hardest job, driving and we're thankful. 


We arrive in Colorado Springs and head to Pikes Peak which is a little out of the way but is supposed to be worth the trip. Luckily there is a scout discount (we're all in uniform) and we drive slowly up the mountain. As we continue we're anxiously looking at the clock; we allot 20 minutes at the summit and we're there almost 40. The trip down is slower than up and dispite better judgement stop for a quick lunch. This and the huge traffic jam cause great consternation as our departure time is rapidly approaching. In Denver we must get fuel and Scouts beg for the restroom. Race to the airport, drop off the van and pace while we await the van to the terminal. When we check-in the reservations attendant wishes us luck and we make speed to the Security check-in. Nightmare! The lines are crazy and despite several of the crew having Pre-Check the TSA guard will not allow the remainder of the crew to go that way (but they did at Dulles a week ago). An interminable process sees our arrival at the gate less than 5 minutes after boarding closed. They will not allow us on and told us they had no intention of waiting despite knowing of our arrival at check-in.

Phone calls, discussions and time passes. We're re-booked on the 0600 flight and it's getting late. The deision is made to make the best of it, get some pizza and spend the night on the terminal floor.

MON     Denver - BWI

0600 The flight boards and we depart, no complications other than we need to ask family to drive to Baltimore for us at 1100 and the adults miss work. It was an awesome adventure, we learned a lot about ourselves, hopefully strengthened our friendships and committment to Scouting. Looking forward to Northern Tier in 2018.