Friday, July 9, 2010 – Cimarroncito layover day
7 AM – Best night’s sleep at Philmont! Think I’ve slept better since seeing the bear run away from the staffer yesterday. Woke up around 6:30 AM.
However well I had slept that night, we were in for a surprise when we emerged from our tents:
Bear wandered into Troop 1’s campsite this morning – looked larger than yesterday’s bear. Travis and John ran him off while I looked for my camera – too late for me, but John took a decent photo of him.
Seeing him run off the night before had diminished the fear factor considerably, but now here was, just 150 feet from our tents, going through another troop’s gear. This was a persistent bear.We did our cons project in the meadow leading up to Cito – dug up Hounds Tongue plant that is invading the meadow. The boys’ climbing activity was rained out for a second time, so they hiked up to the commissary at Ute for our final food pickup. Edwin stayed behind for a nap; I stayed on the porch.
While I was chatting on the porch, boys from another crew ran down to report another bear sighting in their camp. A young and wiry 20-something-year-old ranger with a cowboy hat jumped for a chance to run the bear off again. Hover, he returned sans swagger a few minutes later with his own report: This time, instead of running away, the bear had paused and turned to inspect his rock-hurling pursuer. Surely the bear had wondered why he, at 350 pounds, was leaving behind the promise of a snack at the insistence of a 150-lb guy in cowboy boots. “I’ve just been sized up by a bear,” the shaken ranger said. He was sort of laughing at this new experience…sort of.
On a whim, I walked down past the showers to the old fire ring and totem poles at the north end of camp. Apparently, Cimarroncito was once one of the three main base camps at Philmont.
Three staffers drove down to where I was and began tracking the bear that has appeared in sites twice today. I followed them over the ridge and down a hill but saw nothing.
Disappointed, I returned to our campsite, wondering what I would have done if I had accidentally crossed the bear’s path while out by myself.
5 PM – Boys are trying to corral a minibear while water boils for supper…Ralph (Troop 1) just came through and told us that our bear has been treed in the same area.Went right after supper to see the bear – eventually found him in the top of a huge tree. Was asked to leave the area by a staff member. The State Game Warden was on the scene and was livid that this bear had been around for three weeks now and has still managed to find food in a campsite.
The Game warden’s frustration was not with the bear, but with Scouts who had not been following bear procedures. It is the prevailing philosophy that Philmont campers are visitors to the bear’s habitat and that steps can be taken to minimize our impact. Still, bears are opportunistic eaters. Once campers fail to place Gatorade-filled nalgenes or a shirt stained with beef stroganoff into raised bear bags, the bear will return to the buffet again and again.
On our way back to the campsite, we heard the shots. Careless campers killed “Charlie.”
1) Having a day off
2) Realizing what drew Kevin Keel to work in the outdoors after his Philmont trek
3) Taking a hot shower
4) Getting to see the bear alive
1) Hot, comfort food is around the corner (pizza in Cimarron!)
2) Talking with Jackie