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
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
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
Written by Scoutmaster John Combs.
Last revised: September 20, 1997
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