A Walk in the Woods Pt. 9 Philmont Memories

Tuesday, July 6, 2010 – Wild Horse to Clear Creek

7 AM – Everyone has slept in this morning. All in bed before 9 last night. 40 degrees F this morning – glad I have long pants. Slept in long underwear, wool socks, and fleece cap – kind of sweated in the bag. Changed into dry clothes as soon as we arrived at camp last night. Really looking forward to the next shower (tonight or tomorrow?). Woke up in the middle of the night to the sounds of mountain lions calling. Couldn’t go back to sleep, not because of fear, but because I had been woken up.

Wild Horse camp lacks the larger rocks we’ve had at other campsites, but it makes up for this deficiency with its abundance of large mosquitoes.

Do not feel yesterday’s nine-miler like I thought I would. Tomorrow’s eleven miles might be a different story, however. Mt. Phillips is tomorrow – This will be a killer. Today’s three miles to Clear Creek will be relatively gentle – a few ups and downs, but we finish the hike at the same elevation.

This about sums up the attitude at Philmont

10:35 AM – Made it to Clear Creek in under two hours, even after a 30-minute pack repair/breakfast break. Took a photo of a great t-shirt from an all-girl cons crew (conservation crew).


Clear Creek is a staffed site that is set up as a fur trapper’s camp. After having read Blood and Thunder, I was somewhat familiar with the life of isolation Kit Carson experienced during his fur-trapping years. There is actually a staff member who portrays Carson; he’s about Carson’s actual size – 5’4”. I wondered if he had ever read up on Carson’s exploits.

Jackson, our hatchet-throwing champion

Staying in campsite #9. Boys enjoyed hatchet throwing – Rob hit five in a row, but Jackson was the champ with eight in a row (including successful double-throws for the last two tries). I nearly missed the entire competition due to an unplanned ten-minute nap in the tent, but I awoke in time to watch the throw-off at the end.

Aaron and Rob loading at the black powder range

The trapping demonstration did not enthrall the boys. Black powder rifle, however, was a great hit. A few of the boys placed their hats or bandanas on the range to be shot. After a few misfires, I was able to hit Justin’s toboggan, blowing it off the post on my second shot.

Definitely cooler up here, so I’m triple-layered with my fleece cap on. Also very windy.

Even though we had not yet seen any bears, we had heard that, because of a dry winter, bears were having to come into lower elevations to find food. In a typical summer hikers have about a 30% chance of seeing a bear; this year the odds were around 80%. Because of the early reports of attacks and sightings, we had expected to see a bear by now, but it wasn’t meant to be – not yet anyway.

Guys on the range said that a bear was spotted down the trail about an hour ago.

Vegetable Lasagna at Clear Creek - as usual, there were no leftovers


Boys are cooking supper now – vegetable lasagna. A hot meal will hit the spot. Planning on topping it off with some hot chocolate on the porch around 7 PM, and then off to bed. We hope to get up around 4:30 AM to break camp so we can get on top of Phillips by breakfast and into Cyphers Mine early for program (gold panning and mine tour). The first two miles are straight up, then three miles down to camp. We had originally thought that tomorrow was an 11-mile trek; knowing that it is only five miles is the best news I’ve heard this week.

Two mule deer came through camp during dinner prep. Vegetable lasagna is tasty, especially with Tabasco.

Kip, our "naviguesser," gives Travis a preview of our next day's hike

A Haiku (why not?):
Sleep well tonight, men.
We have to hike Mt. Phillips.
We all must make it.

I cannot exactly remember what inspired poetry at that moment, but I’m sure it had to do with mental self-motivation. I felt pretty good about that day’s march; I was starting to believe that I wouldn’t die on a mountain that week.

Dan rocks out for the Clear Creek staff on a borrowed guitar

8:30 PM – Enjoyed an hour on the porch talking with Clear Creek staff and other crew advisors. Dan played guitar a bit and I took a short video – he’s really talented. Returned to campsite around 8 PM to find all the boys except Patrick in bed already. Temperature has come up a bit since this afternoon’s windstorm (very few sprinkles). Probably around 55 degrees F, but it will get colder if the clouds blow away. Travis and I are the only ones still up in our site – waiting for dusk to turn to dark.

My Roses:
1) Shooting Justin’s hat
2) Finding out that tomorrow’s hike isn’t 11 miles.

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One response to “A Walk in the Woods Pt. 9 Philmont Memories

  1. Jeannine Payne

    The back of the shirt you showed in this blog has names of several people from my town! My boys went to school with some of them! I am really enjoying your blog! Thanks!

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