A Walk in the Woods Pt. 12 Philmont Memories

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.

Charlie investigates Troop 1's gear

Off to Cons (conservation project) in the meadow

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.

Stewart got friendly with a deer on the way to Ute - I'm sure this breaks at least one Philmont rule

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.

Charlie, the last time I saw him

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.”

My Roses:
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

My Buds:
1) Hot, comfort food is around the corner (pizza in Cimarron!)
2) Talking with Jackie


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A Walk in the Woods Pt. 11 Philmont Memories

Thursday, July 8, 2010 – Cyphers Mine to Hunting Lodge to Cimarroncito

6:32 AM – Everyone in shack #4 woke up around 6 AM, but no one wanted to get up. We’re nearly packed up, but I would be surprised if we’re out of Cyphers by 7 AM.

Hopefully, that will be the last cold night under 40 degrees. Being off the ground on the plank floor of the muck shack made it seem colder.

That was definitely not a good night’s sleep. I’m not sure why, but flimsy, vinyl tent walls offer more psychological protection from bears than an open-front muck shack. After last night’s bear report, sleeping on the ledge of the shack left me restless. I kept envisioning being the bear’s first course if he happened along to our site by the creek.

The trail from Cyphers to Hunting Lodge

Today, on through Hunting Lodge to Cimarroncito. We’ll drop elevation from 9,420’ to 8,000’.
The first part of our hike down out of Cyphers was one of the prettiest we have seen – a gentle, soft trail that follows the North Fork Creek. Lots of vegetation. Half way down to Hunting Lodge, the trail becomes rocky but is still pretty. Lots of “stairs,” but we still made good time.

This hike was truly beautiful. We hiked through what seemed to be a narrow, deep canyon along a creek that could have, for all we knew, cut this crevice over many centuries.

Enjoyed meeting Corey Randall, son of Scouting friends Eric and Mindy. Corey is working staff at Hunting Lodge this summer. Also met another troop from the Memphis area; they are sponsored by Covenant United Methodist Church in Cordova. One of the Scouts recognized me from White Station.
Made it to Hunting Lodge by 9:30 AM and to Cito by 10 AM. Boys are signed up for rock climbing at 2:45 today and for cons (conservation project) at 8 AM tomorrow. Since we’re on a layover, we’ll also go pickup food at Ute Junction to the north and maybe take a side hike to Window Rock. Really looking forward to a hot shower here.

11:15 AM – Setting up camp in Cimarroncito. Had to run a bear out of our site – our first bear sighting! Ranger and his dog are trying to scare him off again, this time with rubber bullets and rocks. He’s a pretty, cinnamon-colored black bear – about 350 lbs – not exactly the smallest of his kind. The ranger promises that we will see our furry friend again. Also, there are three others that visit this camp regularly.

Ranger chasing a 350-lb black bear from our new campsite at Cito

It was not lost on me at the time that we had heard that hikers had an 80% chance of seeing a bear this summer, and here we were, on the 8th of 10 hiking days, with a real, live ursa major in our campsite. It was quite reassuring to see it amble away with a lone human (I resisted saying “ranger”) in pursuit. The bear honestly seemed to be timid. Little did we know that the carelessness of other campers would help the bear overcome his shyness soon enough.

Travis, Edwin, and I washing clothes

5:30 PM – Washed all of my clothes and took a trickling but warm shower. Edwin and I made it back to camp just before the rain hit. Saw a male mule deer on the way back to camp. We decided to stay back in camp and nap instead of going down the hill to watch the boys climb. Knew that the thunderstorm would cancel climbing. Turned out to the BEST sleep I’ve had out here. Woke up 1 ½ hours later. A little chilly now – wish my long-sleeved clothes were dry.

I hated that the boys’ climbing appointment was cancelled – this was the one part of the program that they had most wanted to do. Before requesting our trek, John had found a computer spreadsheet that suggested a particular trek according the results of a poll given to the boys. Loving spreadsheets already, I thought that this data-sorter was pretty cool.

Justin tacles the climbing room at Cito

Instead the boys had to settle for the small, indoor climbing cabin, which smelled of hikers’ feet.

8:30 PM – What a great surprise tonight! Twirling her whirligig, Blaine walked into camp as the boys were cooking supper. She caught up with us on her day off – she brought Aaron a new frisbee, Patrick two promised Almond Joys (for sumping the pot at Zastrow), and all of us two bags of chips, a jar of salsa, and a jar of cheese dip. She spent time with us adults on the porch tonight and then joined the boys in the climbing cabin.

Blaine and Patrick at Cito

Blaine’s visit was a great surprise. The boys could not believe that she would have taken her day off to track us down in the backcountry. The treats also brightened everyone’s day. With all of the news about bears, part of me believed that she wanted to check to see if we were the following bear procedures she had taught us. It was a most welcome visit, whatever the case.

My Roses:
1-3) Blaine, bear, bathing
4) My nap during the rain

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A Walk in the Woods Pt. 10 Philmont Memories

Wednesday, July 7, 2010 – Clear Creek to Mt. Phillips to Cyphers Mine

6:10 AM – Everyone’s about ready to put on packs and go. Got up around 4:30 AM but was awake at 3 AM – It’s 36 degrees F.

9:05 AM – WE MADE IT to the top of Phillips! We took only two 15-minute breaks – “the Caterpillar method” worked great! All of the adults did well! 11,711 feet!

The crew celebrates it ascent of Mt. Phillips

I should try to explain about “the caterpillar.” We first heard of this uphill hiking method while on our previous break at Phillips Junction. All hikers walk single file, with about ten paces between each person. As the group hits the uphill, the first two hikers step off the trail while the rest of the group continues. After ten paces, the next two hikers step off, and so on. As the tail of the line passes, the first two hikers fall back into line for another ten paces, when the fall back off the trail. The result is each person takes ten steps and then catches his breath before continuing. The continuous forward momentum of the group has a psychological effect that reinforces an uninterrupted group effort tackling the mountain. For once, I did not feel as if I were holding our young mountain goats back.

The view from Mt. Phillips was incredible. Second only to Mt. Baldy, Phillips is one of the highest peaks at Philmont. We could easily see higher peaks, “the Fourteeners,” to the north in Colorado. Other mountains for which we had no names could be seen in almost any direction. We lingered on the peak for photos and a snack. There was quite a bit of fist-pumping here as groups reached the top. Other crews who were already there, resting with boots off, smiled and nodded, as if to say, “We know. That was us an hour ago.” There was a great camaraderie among hikers as people volunteered to take group photos for newcomers.

Panoramic shot of Mt. Phiilips - The hiker in the red hat is twinned because he was moving about as I used "stich assist." Mt. Baldy is visible on the right.

While on Phillips, I located and photographed the official geographical marker and recorded a short video clip of each of our crew member’s thoughts about this accomplishment. This was, after all, to be the pinnacle of our hike, the ultimate goal for the trek we had chosen.

We soaked up the view and then pushed on. I took many photos for the guys, but I was now ready for a shower. My last encounter with warm, clean, running water was in Zastrow on Day Two of our trek. This was Day 7.

Another Haiku:
My pits reek with stench
Three more miles til Cyphers Mine
Showers, here I come!

11:30 AM – Lunch on Commanche Peak. Ominous clouds moving in – need to get down off this peak. Two birds following us since Mt. Phillips.

1:00 PM – Made it down to Thunder Ridge camp at 10,328 feet.

I was tired at his point, but one cannot overestimate the boost gained from descending nearly 1,400 feet into “thicker” air.

Our "Muck Shack" at Cyphers was situated next to a creek.

2:25 PM – Arrived at Cyphers Mine about 30 minutes ago. We’re staying in “muck shacks” instead of tents. My feet hurt worse than any other day so far. Dan and Edwin are stoking the tobasco donkey so we can have hot water for showers.

Edwin feeds the Tobasco Donkey

A tobasco donkey is a cylindrical-shaped woodburning stove with an iron water pipe running through it. When a fire is burning inside, the water running through the pipe is heated. I’m not quite sure how these devices were named; a quick search on the internet yielded no results, except for the band by the same name that was formed by former Philmont staffers. If you like bluegrass/folk music, you should check them out: The Tobasco Donkeys. They are also on Facebook.

The pipe coming through this particular tobasco donkey fed the water supply at the shower house at Cyphers. A shower house with separate sections for youth and adults. Each with four shower stalls. The one-inch pipe fed all eight showerheads. Seven of which were apparently in use when I stepped into the eighth stall.

The passages inside the Contention Mine were tight

5:45 PM – I was a bit disappointed after a very cool shower; however, the tour of the Contention Mine brightened me up. Our tour guide, Katie, was very good with the boys. She explained all the dangers of mining in the 1850s (lack of oxygen, methane pockets, unexploded dynamite, collapsing veins, etc.). After going 400+ feet in to the hill, Katie began to lead us back to the entrance. She stopped to explain how the miners would save money on oil by finding their way out of the mine without their lights. The then collected the lights from each of us and demonstrated how to place our left hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us and our right hand on the wall. Upon encountering a post on the wall, each person would signal to the person behind to duck.

There was something oddly twisted in Katie’s voice when she asked, “Is everyone ready?” She turned out her light and RAN through the tunnel, leaving us behind, the Scouts squealing like girls. It was without a doubt the highlight of the day.

I knew that I was a bit twisted, too, for finding enjoyment in that.

Escapees from the mine

Some of the guys were not the least bit uncomfortable in the dark mine. To tell the truth, I would have been unnerved if left alone in there. One of our crew, Justin, did not seem to mind at all. In fact, he lingered a bit at the back and took his time emerging from the mine. I think he actually wanted to stay behind and help Katie frighten the next group of unsuspecting tough guys. I think he enjoyed seeing his friends momentarily unhinge every bit as much as Katie and I did.

9:15 PM – Evening on the porch with the advisors was a bit sobering – we heard news of a second bear attack, this time in Zastrow, our first staffed camp. The bear was put down.

The evening program at Cyphers is known as “the Stomp.” The mining music was pretty good, but the “real man” story contest was a hit. The cabin was totally packed and smelled of kerosene.

The Cyphers staff provides music for "the Stomp"

I really wish I had taken a headcount. Not sure why it became known as the Stomp; there was barely enough room for folks to sit with their knees in the air. The musicians actually had to enter and exit through a window behind the stage.

Like those at few other camps, the staff at Cyphers all had musical abilities that became the central feature of the evening program. Guitars, a fiddle, a galvanized washtub provided the backdrop for the vocal harmonies that characterize bluegrass music. This group seemed to be new at playing together, but each was accomplished in his own right.

Although the previously-mention Tobasco Donkeys never played together as a group at Philmont, I suspect that the band members all staffed a camp like Cyphers Mine.

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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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A Walk in the Woods Pt. 8 Philmont Memories

Monday, July 5, 2010 – Aqua Fria to Phillips Junction to Crooked Creek to Wild Horse

The DAC: Me, Dan, Travis, Edwin, and John.

5:50 AM – Adults began getting up around 5 AM – still breaking camp. 50 degrees F according to Travis’s thermometer. Slight breeze, no clouds. Stick of sunscreen probably wouldn’t spread right now.

Even though I thought I would never use my fleece hat in July, I was so glad that I had packed it. I was also glad that I had bought trek poles for this hike, but my hands were chilly this morning.
6:48 AM – Made it back to Fish Camp in 25 minutes. Hiking in my rain gear this morning to stay warm. Hope they sell gloves at Phillips Junction. Male mule deer walked past camp last night during thorns and roses.

Food pickup at Phillips Junction

Made it to Phillips Junction by 8:30 AM. Hike was very tiring. Very worried about my last two miles today.


We had an unusually long stay at the Junction considering that it was just a food pickup with no program. I knew there was a small trading post here. Like at Abreu, there was an assortment of treats, souvenirs, and camping supplies. We were tipped off by the staff at Fish Camp to ask for fresh fruit at the P.J. commissary, and we were not disappointed.

10:20 AM – About to leave P.J. Lots of food to haul. Picked up hat and gloves for Patrick and gloves for me. Good pears at the commissary here.

The cabin at Crooked Creek

The next stretch of trail took us to Crooked Creek, another staffed camp.

Spent most of the afternoon at Crooked Creek. The program was homesteading – to the boys, it sounded more like work (digging a root cellar, cutting logs, chopping firewood). The cabin tour was interesting. The family who had settled there in the 1860s was named Casey and was from Tennessee.

The staff member who gave us the cabin tour was definitely one of my favorite characters we had encountered so far. He was humorous and maintained an accent and mannerisms, even when he seemed to be speaking confidentially with you.

Aaron hauling water at Crooked Creek

The staff at Crooked Creek claimed to live off the land while there for the summer. We were shown the vegetable garden, the milking cows, the chickens. I vividly recall sweet potatoes cooking in the wood oven during our tour. These guys were actually living a life removed from electricity, plumbing, and packaged food.

We probably lingered too long at Crooked Creek. It was mid-afternoon when we finally lifted our heavy packs and lumbered up the trail. I knew that there were some uphill stretches ahead of us, and I was wishing that we could have stayed put for the night.

Hanging bear bags at Wild Horse

7:35 PM – Just finishing up a hot supper and thorns & roses. Long underwear and pants feel good. The last ¾ mile up to Wild Horse nearly killed me. We’re now at an elevation of 10,400 feet – probably the highest I’ve ever been.

Wild Horse seemed to be the most remote camp we had been in so far. This was not a staffed camp, and I do not remember seeing any other crews in the area that afternoon or evening.

Claw marks?

Camping in site #9. Three parallel scratch marks are visible on a birch tree near the spring. Could be from a knife (there are a few fraternity-looking symbols on the same tree). The marks start about 6’6” and travel straight down the trunk. I took a picture of Dan next to them.

My Roses:
1) Pears at P.J.
2) Oreos!
3) Making it up the hill with Edwin’s coaching
4) Cabin tour at Crooked Creek

Proper bear procedure: Nalgenes go into the firepit at night, out of the sight of bears

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A Walk in the Woods Pt. 7 Philmont Memories

Sunday, July 4, 2010 – Carson Meadows to Fish Camp to Aqua Fria

The cabin at Carson Meadows - arguably the most scenic porch we visited

6:10 AM – About to leave Carson Meadows.  Got up at 5 AM.   Beautiful stars in Carson Meadows last night.  Wish I had Jackie and a blanket.

Breaking today’s hike into three parts.

It seems strange to me now that we did not need any alarms to wake up in the mornings.  We were able to get up, pack up, and get moving pretty quickly.  One thing we did to get a fast start was to hold off on breakfast until we hiked a few miles.  This gave us more time to enjoy different scenery during breakfast and more time to set up and to explore the next camp.

8:05 AM – Stopping for breakfast near Crags after a terrifying stop at “The Notch.”  Boys enjoyed climbing on the rocks, but I couldn’t even watch.  Good breakfast this morning. 

The Notch - our trail goes through the gap on the left

I’m not exactly sure if I have some form of vertigo or not.  What I do know is that I am very uncomfortable in high, open places where there is a dropoff.  I do not even like standing on a chair that is in the middle of a room.  I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had a real difficulty approaching the pass at The Notch.  The trail passes through a wide crevice at the top of a crag, and there is no alternate route that would not depend on harnesses and rope (another activity that I am not meant for). 

View of the valley from the Notch - a layer of clouds can be seen below our position

Travis, a fellow dad, shared my concerns.  It was difficult for either of us even to watch the boys scramble effortlessly to the top of the rocks.  I found that I could handle this better while looking through the viewfinder of my camera, but my knees sill quivered.  Both sides of the Notch offered beautiful views.  I took my photos and was happy when we moved back to the trail among the trees.

11:00 AM – Made it to Fish Camp at 8,560 feet.  Uphills were very difficult, especially when trees are absent.  Determined that hiking among the trees is easier (more oxygen?).

My feet have a few hot spots; feels good to be out of boots.  First part of morning hike was easy and we made good time, but lots of stops after breakfast.  Boys are working together well.  Aaron retrieved Patrick’s hiking stick when he dropped it at the Notch.

Morning program at Fish Camp is full (1 PM is next available).  Boys are cooking supper for lunch (burritos) since we have two hours before flyfishing.  Getting the turkey bags out for the first time.  Nashville Troop 1 has just arrived.

The use of plastic turkey bags was a suggestion made by Scouter from another troop who hiked a trek the previous year.  The idea is that your meal can be mixed in the oven-proof bags and then submerged in boiling water to cook, making cleanup of the pot much simpler.  On the one hand you save time cleaning, but you also have to pack out the dirty bag (and any leftover food).  However, leftover food was never an issue with this group. 

The boys found rocks to climb above the Aqua Fria Creek at Fish Camp (click on photo to enlarge and find Patrick near the top)

Boys enjoyed climbing the rocks above Fish Camp.  They also tied flies and flyfished in Aqua Fria Creek.  Adults soaked their feet in the creek.  I particularly enjoyed Waite Phillips’s cabin – lots of personal touches (fire grates and screens, etc.) and all original furnishings.  Also decorated with game shot by Phillips (brown bear, mountain sheep, mule deer, white tail deer, and a grizzly killed at another property).

Also learned that Phillips had an identical twin (White Phillips), who died young.  Phillips earned his money in oil (Phillips 66).

This was the first of the staff camps we visited that is interpretive: the staff here wears period clothing and claims to be part of the Phillips family.  Having a fondness for history, I found Phillips’s personal belongings and furnishings interesting.  The cabin had been built so that he could bring guests out into his little wilderness to hunt and fish.  Originally Phillips would bring guests in by horseback, but a road was later built to the cabin.

the hike from Fish Camp to Aqua Fria

Left Fish Camp around 4:30 PM and made it to Aqua Fria by 5 PM (good time).  Since we cooked our supper for lunch back at Fish Camp, we didn’t have to cook tonight.  Sun is behind the hills, but it will not be dark for another 30 minutes or so.  Hoping to get another good night’s sleep tonight.

Getting chilly.  Rinsed my face, arms, and legs in the creek before supper.  This campsite looks like it will be the least comfortable so far.  Camping at 8,700 feet tonight.  6 ½ miles today.  8 switchbacks.


My Roses:

1. Aaron getting Patrick’s walking stick

2. Hiking at a lower elevation in the trees.

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A Walk in the Woods Pt. 6 Philmont Memories

Saturday, July 3, 2010 – Zastrow to Abreu to Carson Meadows

Beautiful morning sky at Zastrow

Woke up uncomfortable many times during the night. Arose before 6 AM and took some nice sunrise pictures above the Zastrow staff cabin – afraid this might mean more rain for us today. Clothes that I washed yesterday still not dry because of all the moisture in the air. Weather is due to “Alex,” the tropical storm that was scheduled to hit Mexico and southern Texas a few days ago.

Saying goodbye to "Mama Bear" at Zastrow

The weather relented and favored us on the way to Abreu. Another staffed camp, Abreu was a stopover in the middle of the day. The program there involved homesteading; the staff here keeps livestock and has campers help with the chores.

Crossing a stream between Zastrow and Abreu

Nice short hike through trees and under cloud cover to Abreu. Boys enjoyed goat milking. Patrick and Rob walked the Enrique and Salvador, the donkeys who live here. Great porch here, complete with rocking chairs and swings. Looking forward to root beer after chores are done. Learned that Robert Fudge and Trip Corder are out here this summer and that a friend of Fudge’s works here at Abreu.

Patrick learns how to milk a goat at Abreu

Root bear was a nice treat. Surprisingly, the little tavern at Abreu sold everything from postcards to tent stakes to Toblerone chocolates. Chess and checkers were also available diversions.

I had taken several pictures by this point and decided to experiment with a feature on my camera that allowed me to see part of the previously-taken picture and align it with the next shot.

Tried “stitch assist” on the camera for the first time to try to capture the homestead at Abreu.

The homestead at Abreu

Met Ralph from Troop 1 out of Nashville on the porch at Zastrow last night. They are following the same trek – about an hour behind us.

After a few hours at Abreu we moved on to our destination for the evening, Carson Meadows.

Bear trap at Carson Meadows

Hike to Carson Meadows was steep but mercifully short. The porch here has a gorgeous view of the Tooth. The meadow for pitching tents at site #4 is good for drying our clothes from yesterday. Our site’s campfire area has decent shade courtesy of Ponderosa pines and piñons. Passed a bear trap close to our site – would be neat to see a bear if he were to be snared tonight while we are here. Jackie and the other kids would love these views.

The staff here reports that the bear hasn’t been seen in two days. I would really like to see the bear – from a distance. There are actually two bears here; a large, older black bear that hasn’t given the staff any problems. The other, a yearling, is more curious and is responsible for the scratched advisor. The staff has treed it once. They hope to catch, tag, and release it. We’re in the bear’s home, so he gets another chance.

Rocky day with the boys; not going to program tonight.

Altitude at Carson Meadows is 7,820 feet. We gain another 400 feet tomorrow at Aqua Fria (after a stop at Fish Camp).

Good “thorns and roses” tonight. Two compliments paid to Patrick for his going back to Abreu with Justin to retrieve his forgotten water bottle.

My Roses:
1) Watching the boys become more proficient at setting up and breaking down camp
2) Seeing the boys milk the goats
3) Learning that Dan plays guitar


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