1988 Philmont Scout Ranch

Saturday, June 25 - Day One

We met at the Webb's home at 6:30 a.m. (EST). After loading and waiting until 7:00 a.m. for Mike Stelzer, we left for the Indianapolis Amtrak station. We crossed the Indiana/Ohio border at 7:25 a.m. and finally got to the station at 8:42 a.m. We boarded train number 317 and headed for Chicago. At 2:36 p.m. we arrived in Chicago and ate at a McDonald's. While waiting for our connecting train, Jeff A., Jeff H., Mike, John W., and Rick visited the Sear's tower and Jason, Jim, Don, and Jeff B. went shopping and played video games. At 5:40 p.m. we boarded the train for New Mexico. During the evening of our train ride, we watched "No Way Out", ate dinner in the dining car, and played Pictionary. At 11:15 p.m. we retired for the evening in the comfort of our nice upright chairs.

Sunday, June 26 - Day Two

We awoke stiff at 6:30 a.m. (MST). Some of us ate in the lounge car while others ate a classier meal in the dining car. Around 1:30 p.m. we hit the highest point on the train ride, Raton Pass. Here, we traveled through a 1.5 mile tunnel. At 2:00 p.m. we arrived at the train station in Cimarron. With rain pouring down, we loaded our gear and ourselves onto the bus that would take us to Philmont. We arrived at Philmont at 2:45 p.m. and discovered that John, Terry, and Laura had followed us by car from Cimarron. After checking in at the Welcome Center we were assigned a ranger. He walked us through our check-in procedure which took the rest of the evening. We attended church services at 7:00 p.m. and an opening campfire at 8:00 p.m. Just as the campfire ended, a huge thunderstorm struck and drenched us thoroughly. We finally crawled into bed around 10:00 p.m.

Monday, June 27 - Day Three

We awoke at 6:00 a.m., took showers and ate breakfast. At 7:30 a.m. we picked up all our patrol gear, tents, and food. Greg, our ranger, conducted our backpack shakedown and showed us what items we should leave at camp. After lunch we had a medical recheck and then visited the lockers to store all our gear and extra items. Next, we dried out our stuff that got wet in last night's rain. Everybody then had a little free time to shop and eat ice cream at the snack bar. At 3:00 p.m. we boarded the bus and rode for over half an hour to the trailhead. We hiked a short distance and got caught in the rain just before we got to camp. We found an empty campsite and set up camp. Greg gave us instructions on everything! At 7:00 p.m. we started cooking a supper of turkey stew, chicken soup, and chocolate shakes. Greg prepared us a peach cobbler in a dutch oven. We washed dishes and hung bear bags under Greg's ever watchful eye. Shortly after 9:00 p.m. we retired to our tents for another wet night.

Tuesday, June 28 - Day Four

Everyone was moving very slowly when we awoke at 6:50 a.m. We took down our wet tents and ate a cold breakfast. Greg then had us clean out the fire ring by hand, scatter the ashes, and clean our hands in the sump. At 10:30 a.m. Greg gave us a wonderful map refresher course which would prepare us for the trek ahead. It was noon before we hit the trail, but we finished our morning hiking in less than an hour. We arrived at Indian Writings, checked in, and ate lunch. In the afternoon, we went on a tour to see the Indian scratchings and managed to get caught again in the rain. We toured the one room museum which display artifacts of the area such as arrowheads and railroad ties. Around 3:30 p.m. we continued down the trail. After crossing many rain swollen creeks (a few of us got our feet wet), we arrived at Cottonwood. We set up camp and cooked our now legendary meal of Pinto Bean Soup! When clean up was finished, we played pine cone baseball and explored a nearby ridge that revealed every major mountain in the area. Greg gave us a short nature talk and our Wilderness Pledge cards. We then quickly hit the sack.

Wednesday, June 29 - Day Five

We woke up, cooked breakfast, broke camp, and started the trail by 8:30 a.m. The trail was very, very strenuous, but revealed some wonderful views. We stopped for lunch on the trail and had our trek's first sampling of squeeze cheese and crackers. We hit the trail again and were faced with many tough ups and downs before reaching camp at 4:30 p.m. This time we were able to set up camp before the rains began. We ate dinner, cleaned up, and hung the bear bag before heading to bed at an early 8:00 p.m.

Thursday, June 29 - Day Six

We woke up very early and ate our lunch instead of breakfast in hopes of making it to the next campsite in time for the horse rides. The day's hiking was fairly easy and we finished in about two hours. We arrived at Ponil just before 8:00 a.m. and met up with John. We checked in and a staff member lead us on a very long hike to our campsite. Our long hike back paid us a special reward of getting a campsite that was on a somewhat steep slope. We set up camp and cooked a breakfast of hash browns and eggs. We also finished what was left of lunch and other leftovers. At 1:00 p.m. we went to the horse stables and received a short lesson on horseback riding. We then mounted the horses and went on a pleasant ride through field, forest, and stream. Don lost his Scout hat and nearly every horse got the opportunity to step on it. After 45 minutes of riding, we returned to the stable, put away the riding equipment, and headed to the lasso program area. Everyone got a chance to throw the lariat at the "steer", a pivoting wooden beam with a plastic steer head attached on one end and a pair of metal legs on the other. Before long the Scouts began trying to lasso each other. So, we took a break and headed for the Cantina for a cold glass of root beer. Next, it was off to the campfire for some old fashioned branding. Many of the Scouts branded their boots, but Jeff Hopper, wanting to be different, branded the bottom of his tennis shoes and just about anything else he could get his hands on. We returned to camp and fixed an excellent dinner of taco salad and chocolate pudding. After dinner we had our first deer sighting. Most of the Scouts spent the rest of the evening learning to lasso. Jeff A. became an expert at snaring the steer's back legs. By 9:00 p.m. we were all in bed and began a long night of "slide to the bottom of the tent and crawl back to the top."

Friday, July 1 - Day Seven

Don's wake up call came at an early 5:35 a.m. Getting up early would give us the opportunity to take showers before we left Ponil. We had a cold breakfast which included the now famous 420 calorie Pemmican "brick" bar. After breaking camp, we headed to the showers for a long overdue body scrub. While at the showers, the Scouts discovered that turning on the wash stand water changed the temperatures of the shower water. At 8:00 a.m. we started our hike. The trail started out with a series of steep switchbacks which eventually turned into a very pleasant and gentle incline along the ridge. About half way through our walk we made an unexpected sighting of a pair of wild turkeys. After about three hours of hiking, we arrived at Pueblano, the home of the Continental Tie and Lumber Company. We shared a cup of cold water with Bean and then walked a very short distance to our campsite. After setting up camp and eating another cheese spread lunch, we walked to the spar pole climbing area. It was here that we met Sphinxter, God's gift to the human funny bone. He taught us the fine art of pole climbing while coining such memorable phrases as "eat tree", "kiss the carabineer", and "How's it going, Doug?" Each of the Scouts successfully climbed the pole. When it came Don's turn to climb, the Scouts made very sure that his equipment was on good and tight. Next, we went over to the lumberyard where we met Spit, another employee of the C. T. and L. He told us some of the lumbering history of the area and also gave us a chance to make a railroad tie. Rick and Jeff A. took the cross cut saw challenge and set a new (but temporary) record. Also, we got some unexpected excitement when an adult from another troop lost his temper and ripped a Scout's shirt. Thus, it was a good time to go over to the pond and cool off through the sport of log rolling. Jeff A., Jim, and Jeff B. all gave it a try with the "assistance" of Mike, a Scout from another Dayton troop. The Scouts again got some unexpected excitement when a group of female backpacks entered the area. John W. went into action. Returning to camp, we fixed an excellent dinner of spaghetti, applesauce and bread sticks. While cleanup was in progress, the adults went to a leader's meeting. At 8:00 p.m. all the troops gathered for a truly memorable campfire. Bean, Spit, Cow, and Sphinxter took turns leading songs and telling stories. "Mountain Dew", "Slew Foot", The Philmont Story, "A man's man, the first real man, the last real man, the only real man", and other gut busters helped to keep us warm as the temperatures plummeted. Just before 10:00 p.m. we crawled into our warm sleeping bags and enjoyed a good night's sleep.

Saturday, July 2 - Day Eight

At 7:00 a.m. we were greeted by Don's wake up call and a sky full of sunshine. Breakfast was a repeat of hash browns, eggs, and "brick" bars. After cleaning up and breaking camp, we started up the trail to Ewell's Park. Along the way we met Troop 359 from Alaska and yet another troop from the Dayton area. Soon the trail began following a stream through a sparse forest. The trail turned very muddy and rocky and made numerous stream crossings. As the trail got steeper, it entered a forest of quaking aspen. And then suddenly, it opened up into a flower covered meadow which yielded a breathtaking view of Baldy Mountain. We had arrived at Ewell's park. We set up camp in an aspen grove that bordered one side of the meadow. After a quick lunch, we left for Miranda. Since Ewell's Park is an unstaffed camp, we had to walk over two miles one way to get to our skeet shooting program at Miranda. We followed a very steep rock talus trail which eventually joined a steep jeep trail. Upon arriving at Miranda, we were given a short course on shotgun safety and use. Each Scout gave his best effort of shooting the clay targets. We headed back to Ewell's Park and were excited at seeing three deer in the meadow. After many snapshots, we fixed an excellent dinner of macaroni and cheese, green beans, bread sticks, and fruit cobbler. When cleanup was finished, most of the Scouts played Frisbee in the meadow. By 8:30 p.m. we were all in bed, resting up for our long hike tomorrow.

Sunday, July 3 - Day Nine

Don shattered the quiet morning silence with a 5:30 a.m. wake up call. We ate a cold breakfast of granola cereal and banana chips and left for Baldy by 7:30 a.m. We arrived in Baldy Camp, picked up our food and supplies for the next four days and left them under one of the buildings for safe keeping. Mike bought a 50th anniversary Frisbee at the trading post and carried it with him all day. It even went with him to the top of Baldy. By 8:40 a.m. we were on the trail to the top of Baldy Mountain. The walk was a series of moderate switchbacks through a sunlit pine forest. Eventually we got above the tree line and were treated to some outstanding views of the surrounding mountains. Pushing on, we started the very steep walk up the slope. Rick made it to the top first with John W. close behind. We made it to the top of Baldy in two hours. The view from the top of Baldy was one of pure incredibility. After finishing our lunch of peanut butter and graham crackers, we discovered that we had a shortage of water. Oh boy! As rain clouds began to roll in, Jason held a quick religious service which finished with the hymn, Amazing Grace. At noon we began the decent down the other side of Baldy. This was indeed a memorable moment as we slid down a 60 degree slope of loose rock and dirt. Before we reached the bottom, we encountered a small snow field which produced some flying snow balls. It was here that Rick used his water purifier and quenched our parched mouths. After hiking for three hours, we arrived at French Henry and the Aztec mine. Seeing that the waiting line for tours was too long, we went down to the stream and panned for gold. Much to their delight, many of the guys found gold flour (powder) in their pans. We returned to the Aztec mine and went on a half hour tour into the dark recesses of the mountain. The tour ended with a pitch black ghost story that made us jump out of our fragrant socks. Returning back to Baldy Town, we bought propane for our stoves, took showers, picked up our supplies and headed back to camp. Lasagna, green beans, bread sticks, and vanilla pudding filled our empty stomachs. The warm meal and 15 mile hike took its toll, sending us to bed at 9:00 p.m.

Monday, July 4 - Day Ten

Don's wake up call came at a laid-back 6:30 a.m. We ate cereal and "brick" bars and broke camp. We were on the trail by 8:30 a.m. making a brief water stop at the spring. The trail followed an old jeep road which had a little uphill, but was mostly down, down, down. We were greeted at the Head of Dean by an enormous man who could backpack no farther. He would eventually take a bus trip back to camping headquarters. We stopped under a pine tree while Jeff A. checked us in for Dean's Challenge. Since it would be 45 minutes before we could take the course, some of the Scouts played Frisbee golf while the rest played cards. At 11:00 p.m. we started Dean's Challenge. First, it was all of us getting up on a platform to escape a sea of Pemmican bars. Next, we had to hoist one of our members up to a diamond on an upright board. Challenges abound as we escaped through the porthole of a sinking ship, or swung across a canyon to get medicine to sick people, or climbed over a wall to get to McDonald's which was closed for the holiday anyway. Finally, we all had to get over a ten foot wall to get our clothes back. As it turned out, Don needed to get his clothes back just to cover up his bruises. Under threat of rain, we followed a gentle sloping trail along a small stream. This merged with a jeep trail that continued on through Dean canyon. By 3:00 p.m. we were in New Dean, an unstaffed camp which would be our home for the evening. Card playing and resting were the activities of the afternoon. A huge horsefly bit John C. on his big toe causing his whole foot to swell up. Doctor Don came to the rescue, preparing a mysterious potion in which to soak John's foot. Dinner was chicken noodle soup and apple delight. After dinner, Rick (in bare feet) and Jim climbed a neighboring ridge. On the way back down, Rick shook hands with a local cactus, and acquired over 200 new friends. In the evening the crew played Frisbee, talked, played cards, read books, and wrote postcards to help rid themselves of boredom. Boredom finally won and everyone crawled into bed around 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 5 - Day Eleven

Rick's wake up call came at 6:00 a.m. We treated ourselves to an unforgettable breakfast of pancakes, maple syrup, and bacon. By 9:00 a.m. we had broken camp and started the trail, a simple walk of four miles. We polished the hike off in less than two hours and set up camp in an open field. Lunch was again the world famous cheese and crackers cuisine. Around 1:15 p.m. our good luck with weather finally changed and we were greeted with a heavy shower. Our 1:30 p.m. rock climbing was rescheduled and we instead met with a ranger for our environmental awareness lecture. We started the lecture on a nearby trail, but had to return to camp due to lightning. The whole talk took 20 minutes, a nice substitute for three hours of conservation work. We went back to camp and sat around waiting for our 3:30 p.m. rock climbing session. Don confessed to reading his clothing labels out of shear boredom. Finally, the sun came back out and soon after we headed for the rock walls. After receiving a short instruction session on rock climbing, the Scouts began scampering up the rock walls. Jeff Hopper had a tough time climbing once the staff discovered that he had two sisters. Don made the mistake of thinking he was skeet shooting and shouted, "Pull!" The staff member at the top eagerly complied. When the session ended, we returned to camp and prepared a delicious (?) meal of stew and onion soup. It was Mike's favorite meal of the trip. Don, Rick, and John went to a leader's gathering while Jeff B. and Jim performed clean up duties in record time. Rain again rose it's ugly head at 7:30 p.m. causing everyone to turn in for bed by 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, July 6 - Day Twelve

The rangers advised us to start today's hike early so as to beat the heat. Therefore, Don and Rick got us up at 5:00 a.m., our earliest wake up call yet. We had a disgusting Cream of Wheat breakfast, broke camp, and hit the trail by 6:30 a.m. The trail started out very tough, using a series of steep switchbacks to gain access to the top of the ridge. We peaked the ridge after only 40 minutes. The trail then went down a very steep and rocky hill through a mosquito filled scrub forest. Upon reaching the bottom of the ridge, the mosquito population increased drastically, forcing us quickly on our way. Eventually we joined with a jeep trail which stayed in the sunshine, thus driving away the mosquito hoards. The rough jeep trail quickly dropped in elevation until it reached the canyon floor. We continued on this jeep trail until it stopped at a major highway, our first look at civilization. We picked up the trail on the other side of the road and began hiking up a series of tough hills and ridges. The heat became very intense, causing all of us some discomfort. After four hours of challenging hiking, we entered Harlan, our final camp of the trek. We set up our tents and fixed a unique lunch of cheese and crackers, nut bar, and beef jerky. With our next program two hours away, we spent our free time playing cards and/or sleeping. At 1:30 p.m. we met at the corral for our burro demonstration. One of the staff members instructed us in the proper method of burro packing and unpacking. We then divided into two groups, got our burros, and packed them up. When the starting gun sounded, the Webb, Walsh, Brining, Amos (WWBA) group gunned their burro into the lead. With the Hopper, Stelzer, Karl, (HSK) group eating burro dust, the WWBA team finished the course and carefully unpacked their burro. Out of nowhere, the HSK group pulled up, unpacked their burro, and beat the WWBA crew to the finish line. This surprise finish left onlookers remembering the story of the tortoise and the hare. Upon returning to camp, the crew was again plagued by boredom. Several of the guys went on a side hike to Deer Lake while the rest of the crew quietly vegetated. Jason, with the help of Don, made some repairs to his hip belt. Dinner was a special treat with several of the crew preparing a Mexican feast of refried bean tacos, chili beans, and deep fried bread smeared with honey. After dinner, the Scouts cleaned the dishes with soap and water while Jeff A. cleaned Don's poncho and pillow with hot chocolate. After dinner activities included card playing, pack cleaning, and girl watching.

Thursday, July 7 - Day Thirteen

Upon waking up, the Scouts were rewarded for their great hiking performance with a breakfast of apricot bars and apricot fruit leather. At 7:45 a.m. we started the trail which would lead us to our final destination. Unfortunately, Don forgot his camera in a tree back in Harlan and had to make a return trip for it. The day's trail was a jeep road that provided us with views of Webster Lake and the Tooth of Time. We finished the trail in under two hours. Rick, Don, Jim, and Jeff B. took a side hike to Cathedral Rock while the rest of us rested and participated in a rock throwing contest. The hikers returned at noon, just in time for a thunderstorm that would force us under a small bridge to eat our lunch. During the rain, two rescue vehicles headed for the Cathedral Rock area. We would lake discover that six people were struck by lightning while trying to retrieve a bear bag. As the rains subdued, the Scouts played guns to "kill" time. Finally, at 1:20 p.m. the bus picked us up and returned us to camping headquarters. We checked in to the welcome center and got our tent assignments. With showers on our minds, we went to the equipment issue area, dried out our tents, had them inspected for damage, and returned them along with the rest of our equipment. Hastily, we cleaned out our crew lockers and made a dash for the showers. Even guys who normally hate to bathe relished the incredible beauty of a warm smiling shower. Upon leaving the showers, many of us discovered that we were not quite as tan as we thought we were. At this point, we all went our separate ways. Some of us went straight for the pop machines. Others begged leaders to check for mail from home. Some went to the trading post to make sure it was still there or had not gone out of business. Some simply collapsed on their bunks in a fatigued stupor. At dinner we gorged ourselves on chicken fried steak, salad, rolls, scalloped potatoes, and chocolate cake. Fat, clean, and happy, we spent our post dinner time playing Frisbee and wandering around camp. At 8:15 p.m. we attended a closing campfire that will be long remembered. Todd played guitar and sang his renditions of "Stairway to Heaven" and "Your Momma Don't Dance and Your Daddy Don't Rock and Roll". Both our cheeks never touched the bench at the same time. Several staff comedians kept our eyes watering and our stomachs hurting. But the most surprising moment was yet to come. With rain pouring down on our clean bodies, the staff asked if we wanted to forget the 50th anniversary slide show. All Scouts who wanted to see the show were asked to applaud. A heavy roar went up from the audience. Next, all Scouts who did not want to see the show were to applaude. It was then that the most amazing thing happened. The crowd grew deathly silent. Only the sound of the raindrops against ponchos could be heard. Baden Powell would have been proud. On went the show! The slide show and campfire ended traditionally with the singing of the Philmont Hymn. It still sends chills down my spine remembering that multitude of voices, young and old alike, affectionately singing those words. Soon after the campfire was over, we turned in for our first night of comfortable sleeping in almost two weeks.

Friday, July 8 - Day Fourteen

Some of us got up for breakfast while others slept in. Everybody spent the entire day doing whatever they wanted to do. Some hiked to the top of the Tooth of Time and back. Some visited museums or the Villa Philmonte. Some drooled in the trading post or did laundry. We met at lunch to feast on roast beef, bread and butter, peas, mashed potatoes, and ice cream. After lunch we again occupied our time in our own way. Dinner was butter, green beans, pineapple, salad, and Jell-O. Again we all looked for ways to ease our boredom. We read newspapers, listened to music, took pictures, visited the snack bar or simply got lost in the shuffle. Finally, we all climbed into bed for our last night at Philmont.

Saturday, July 9 - Day Fifteen

Again some of us got up for breakfast while others spent time getting reacquainted with the inside of their eyelids. After breakfast, we packed up our gear and cleaned out our tents. We moved our gear down to the parking lot and looked for things to kill time until the bus came to take us away. The bus finally came at 2:30 p.m. and we eagerly hopped aboard along with the Miami Valley contingent. As the bus left Philmont, we saw a large thunderstorm coming toward us. The storm was an incredible send off. High winds forced the heavy rains in around the edges of our windows. As we entered Raton, we were surprised to see that the streets were badly flooded. We got off the bus at the train station and went inside. It came as no surprise to us that our train was running late. The other Scouts went to Pizza Hunt for dinner while our Scouts took the long walk to McDonald's. The train finally came and picked us up. Upon entering our car, we received a "better be good" lecture from one of the Amtrak employees. Our evening on the train was spent doing our own thing. We watched "Moonstruck", or slept, or read, or ate, or played cards, or listened to music, etc.

Sunday, July 10 - Day Sixteen

After an interesting night's sleep, we spent our day doing normal train activities: eating, sleeping, drinking, playing cards, cruising chicks, reading, listening to music, etc. Jason received a special message over the train's PA system from a special young lady. The train was running behind schedule and many of us had a terrible fear that we might miss our connecting train in Chicago. However, we made our Chicago connection and had 30 minutes to spare. Our Chicago conductor, an obnoxious man of cream puff stature, forced us to get our dinner before the train started moving so that we would not inconvenience the other passengers. After eating a variety of rare delicacies, we settled down to rest. Jeff A. presented Jeff H. with a going away gift from our crew, a Philmont belt and buckle. Jeff A. also received a Philmont neckerchief for serving as crew leader. Rick then passed out our arrowhead and 50th anniversary patches. We then spent the last part of our trip earning the backpacking merit badge. Finally, we rolled into the train station at Indianapolis, got off the train, and met our drivers. We said a final goodbye, especially to Jeff H., and headed for home.

Written by Scoutmaster John Combs.

Last revised: September 20, 1997

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