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


1 Comment

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One response to “A Walk in the Woods Pt. 8 Philmont Memories

  1. JS

    This is the exact hike my boy is on now 7/2011! He is right where you left off…Need to hear more. Very interested in the Mt.Phillips portion.

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