Most of the crew had not ridden Amtrack before and we were all excited. The train was a double-decker with passengers on the top level and restrooms and baggage on the lower level. It had several baggage cars behind the engines, 6 or 7 passenger cars, an observation car (soup nazi in the lounge on the lower level), a dining car and several sleeper cars at the end. No caboose. To walk on the upper level from car to car you had to push the "open" button and the door slid to the side. The train had originated in Washington, D.C. around noon the day before and had traveled through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky and Cincinnati. Most of the passengers were waking up as we boarded. The ride can be described as "rocky".
The train pulled out of the station at 6:12 a.m. and some of the crew began to explore. About half an hour later we slowed to a stop and the conductor came on the loudspeaker to inform us that we had been involved in an accident with a garbage truck that we "nudged" when he stuck his nose out onto the tracks. It turned out that the impact flipped the truck on its side and the driver was seriously injured. At least one of our crew saw the truck on its side as we passed the intersection. The impact could not be felt as anything other than the normal rocking of the train. We waited 2 hours on the tracks while the police investigated the accident and news helicopters flew around taking video.
On the way again at 8:50 a.m. and enjoyed the ride until 12:20 p.m. when we again stopped to wait for a new train crew. Federal law limits their shift to 12 hours and the accident had put us behind. A new crew was coming from Chicago. We waited some more and the conductor informed us that the cab did not show up so they decided to come down in someone's personal vehicle. We were on the way again at 1:45 p.m. with the new crew. Stop-go-stop-go as we had to radio ahead to get permission from 5 rail companies to use their tracks to get into the city. Amtrak does not own any rail. Arrived in Chicago at 3:55 p.m. almost 6 hours late. We got off the Cardinal and saw the damage to our engine. The headlight was knocked out; there were scrapes down the side and a couple of gouges in the aluminum. We immediately boarded the Southwest Chief heading to Los Angeles. No time to sightsee as we pulled out at 4:45 p.m.
The same delays on the way out as we got permission to use the tracks and finally got rolling at 5:25 p.m. This time we were seated on the lower level in a handicapped car that was very roomy and we had it all to ourselves. The announcement came that the dining car was open and the guys feasted on chicken, ribs, steak and hamburgers.
We met and talked to another Philmont crew who were a contingent troop that had come from Toledo on the train. They had 67 in their group and looked sharp in their trek t-shirts. The train crossed from Illinois to Iowa as we settled in for the night with 5 guys sleeping on the floor (no sleeping bags - they were in baggage compartment). The A/C was too high and we were cold. Petro bought an Amtrak souvenir blanket.
Friday, July 17 - Day Two
After an uncomfortable cold night trying to sleep in a chair we went to breakfast to dine on French toast, pancakes eggs and hash browns. Stopped in several towns throughout the day (Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado) to pick up and drop off passengers. Arrived at Raton, New Mexico at 1:00 p.m. and boarded a school bus (with many other crews) for the ride to the ranch. Our driver stopped at Dairy Queen on our way out of town for ice cream cones. Warm and sunny.
Arrived and checked in at the Welcome Center at 3:00 and met our ranger-Eric Meyers-a college student at the University of Wyoming-Laramie-an all around great guy. Dropped off our gear at "Tent City", went through logistics and lined up for dinner where we were entertained by the rangers 4 of whom climbed up 5 feet on the bell and did the "We want to go back to Philmont" cheer and fell backwards into the arms of the rest of the rangers to the cheers of the crowd.
Dinner was Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes and gravy, peas, salad, PB&J and strawberry cake. After dinner went to chapel services and then the opening campfire to see the Spanish blade, the sheriff and the Hotel lady. Animals for the day: Antelope and gopher ? cold at night in the 50's.
Saturday, July 18 - Day Three
First day on the trail - Rick and I got first showers since Englewood. Breakfast was eggs, hash browns, fruit, and cereal. Got our official picture taken (it helps the staff identify the victims), moved out of tent city and did our shake down. Lunch was McRib's sandwich, corn on the cob, salad and chocolate pudding.
We picked up our crew gear and food. Rick took the valuables to the safe in the office. No lockers were available so we put our extra gear in boxes and stored them in the backcountry warehouse. (Apparently a common phenonomen). Caught a bus to Zastrow Turnaround with a crew from California who we ended up seeing the whole week. Did some map and compass training and hiked 2 miles to Old Abreau. Eric advised us that we needed to drink at least 2 gallons of water a day to prevent dehydration. Turkey noodle dinner, chicken noodle soup, peaches and cream for dinner. Eric brought pound cake and cherries for a treat. Purified water with iodine crystals (Polar Pure), pumped filtered water and hung bear bags. Warm night ? Eric slept in a bivouac sack under the stars. New animals today - Deer.
Sunday, July 19 - Day Four
Breakfast -cereal, banana chips, O.J. Sunny and warm day. High in the 70's or 80's. Tough hike up the Urraca Mesa (which is supposedly haunted). Stopped for lunch at the water tank at Toothache Springs ? Lunch ? Squeezables, pineapple & jerky. Saw a mule deer. Beautiful view from the top. The area had been burned by a "controlled" fire that got out of hand. Justin saw a "bear" with an orange hide, horns, hooves and a tailÉa cow. Hiked across the top of the mesa seeing lots of deer and over the rim to Urraca camp. Met the "I hate Oakies" ranger. Did a cope course ? "Smurfs" 9 points of contact on a 18" by 18" board. 5 blind men "handcuffed" together going through a tire "porthole" without letting go. The crew worked well together. Started dinner.
Roger went to the advisor's coffee on the porch. No hummingbird feeders this year. Crews were in camp from Connecticut, California and Wyoming. Dinner was Beef stew, Minestrone soup, dried apples for dessert. We ate quickly, hung the dishes in the bear bag and raced to the campfire. Great show - 3 guitars and 1 singer. Stories about the lost scout, The rancher whose hair had turned white, The girl who got pulled through the window of the cabin and the ranger who was sleeping alone heard 4 knocks on the door that got faster and faster as they raced around the cabin. Did "thorns and roses and buds" before turning in.
Monday, July 20 - Day Five
Some of the guys got up early to watch the sun rise. We washed the dishes from the night before and had breakfast ? pop tarts, cereal, beef sticks, banana chips.
Broke camp and hiked back up on the mesa and over to Miner's Camp ? a good camp. Hiked through Stone Wall Pass and past Lover's Leap Camp. We got a late start (9:30 a.m.), warm day - Lunch was Squeezables ? ham salad, turkey salad, ham spread, crackers and gorp. Some of the guys didn't care for the spreadables. Hiked into camp at 3:30 ? missed the activity (climbing). Dinner was ministrone soup, macaroni and cheese, peach cobbler washed down with Gatoraide. This camp had hot water! The first opportunity to take a shower and wash clothes since base camp. Rick and Roger went to advisor's coffee while most of the crew played volleyball. Two of the advisors from another crew came in with a stove that wouldn't work. It turned out it all it needed was some oil in the pump. They had bought 4 stoves for the trip but had left 3 at base camp. Poor planning.
Since this camp had a large staff they rated a cook! The cook had a huge pot of rice leftover and our guys devoured it! Justin amused everyone by eating some rice that had fallen on the ground. Animals for the day: mule deer. Allen discovered that he had left his camera at the last water stop back down the trail so we dispatched a four-man search team but failed to find it. (When they returned Allen found it in his pack).
Tuesday, July 21 - Day Six
Day 4 on the trail - Got up bright and early, ate breakfast (cereal, dried pineapple, energy bar, hot chocolate) and broke camp at 7:40 a.m. for a 7.1 mile hike up the North Fork of the Urraca Creek. Arrived at 12:10 p.m. Saw a family of quail along the way and ate lunch of squeezables and crackers, Survival or chocolate bar, jerky. The activity was black powder rifle shooting and blacksmith demonstration. Our crew made a "S" hook. The weather was beautiful most of the day but it clouded up and we had a light shower at 5:30 p.m. New animals: burro and dog. Dinner consisted of turkey stew and chicken soup, peaches and pudding. Rick lost his watch and was looking everywhere. He found it after a few minutes on his other wrist (must be the altitude). Two of the mountain men (scratcher, picker and flicker) came to the campsite and wanted to see Rick privately. We all thought someone had gotten into some trouble. When Rick came back to the campfire he said he had some newsÉMike and Ryan got final approval of the rank of Eagle!!! High fives all around! Tomorrow: Beaubien, Phillips Junction, Porcupine, Crooked Creek and Comanche Camp.
Wednesday, July 22 - Day Seven
Light rain last night. Allen and Eric lost their tent bags. Breakfast was oatmeal, jerky, energy bar. Hiked to Beaubien and saw the cows. Next was Phillips Junction to get re-supplied with three days supply of food. Refilled two fuel bottles and hit the camp store for cookies and chips. Eric found the tent bags in his hat in his pack. Lunch was squeeze cheese and crackers, beef jerky, dried apricots. Eric spelled his name in cheese.
The weather was excellent as we hiked up past Porcupine Camp and to Crooked Creek for homesteading program. Saw the log cabin, cats, sheep, chicken, mule, cow and teeter totter. We cut down some small trees for the roof on the shed. Removed the branches and bark and nailed them on.
It started to rain with some hail mixed in as we hiked into Comanchie Camp to set up camp in a drizzle. Joe saw a bobcat near the camp. Dinner was spaghetti and breadsticks. Everyone thought it was great. Rained lightly all night.
Thursday, July 23 - Day Eight
Wet in the morning but not raining. We packed up damp gear and hiked about one hour up the Rayado Creek towards Clear Creek Camp and the Rocky Mountain Fur Company when Scott thought he had left his smellable bag with his film back at camp. After a search of the backpacks it was decided that 4 guys (Scott, Joey D, Ryan and Joe S.) would go back to find it but to no avail. (It was later found in his tent bag).
At the R.M.F.C. we threw tommy hawks into a log target and heard a great cabin talk including the caution not to feel around under the bunks for fear of getting caught in the rat traps. We unpacked our gear and dried it out in the sun while munching on lunch (Louisiana red beans and rice, strawberry cheese cake, etc). We loaded Aaron up with extra water since the next camp dry.
Back on the trail to Mt Phillips (11,721 feet) the highest point on our trek. We noticed lots of troops had arranged light and dark colored rocks at the summit into little memorials showing their troop number and date. Strange ? almost like graffiti. Lots of crews showed up while we were there. Great view of Mount Baldy. We took LOTS of pictures. It turned gray and a storm (with lightning) blew up so we left for Comanche Peak Camp where we substituted a lunch for a dinner (dry camp). It never did rain much but the wind blew most on the night. Some went to the rock outcropping to watch the sun set.
Friday, July 24 - Day Nine
Some of the guys got up to see the sun rise. After breakfast we hiked past Thunder Ridge Camp into Sawmill Camp ? All downhillÉEric slipped and fell down on a 4WD road and had to dig gravel out of his hand. The program activity was 30.06 rifle shooting and the weather was cool. Each of us learned how to reload 3 cartridges. It started to rain but we hiked to the range anyway and shot up targets and personal gear. Back at camp we had squeezables and set up the tents. Lost 8 tent stakes. The rain stopped and some took the opportunity to take showers and wash clothes (tub and washboard). This water heater was wood fired.
Saturday, July 25 - Day Ten
Broke camp (found the 8 tent stakes) and headed for Cimarroncito camp for our conservation project. We sawed some huge logs with a 5-foot 2-man cross cut saw and stacked a bunch of firewood. Sweet Sara was in charge of our project and the crew really enjoyed the work. We checked out a council ring with a lot of old totem poles, many from Ohio. On our way to Ute Gulch Commissary for a new supply of food Justin nearly hiked right into a barbed wire cattle gate. The staff was starting lunch break when we arrived so we had to wait on them.
After getting our food, the crew voted to hike up and over Deer Creek Mesa to get to Harlan Camp. The climb was tough and it started to storm. We were treated to a spectacular light show as the storm approached. We hiked past Devil's wash basin and Deer Lake Mesa Camp and down the other side of the mesa arriving at Harlan at 5:15 p.m. Dinner was chicken noodle soup, chocolate pudding, etc. Cloudy and threatening rain at dinnertime. Burro races after dinner were enjoyed by all. Some of the crew had finally developed some very interesting blisters.
Sunday, July 26 - Day Eleven
A WET day! Light rain overnight. Got up and ate a leisurely breakfast of golden grams, nutrigrain bars, hot chocolate and orange drink. We hiked to shotgun shooting at 9:00 a.m. in a light rain. We crowded under a corrugated roof with the launchers. Jake and Roger nailed 3 of 3 pigeons. Our day's hike was in 3 or 4 hours of rain as we went past Cathedral Rock and Cimarroncito Reservoir. We waded through knee deep water at the base of the reservoir and climbed a steep rock canyon wall with backpacks to get to Clark's Fork Camp. Obviously not the correct trail!
At the camp we crowded onto the porch with 5 other soaked crews and slurped up hot chocolate. We were all wet and cold as we began to set up camp. Luckily the rain stopped and the sun came out to warm us up. With dry clothes on we ate a squeezable lunch and relaxed.
Dinner that night was the much-anticipated chuck wagon dinner cooked for us. It consisted of beef stew, peaches, crackers cookies and hot chocolate. It really hit the spot! Then we met "Larry the movie star". Larry was on the staff (of course they all wore cowboy hats, boots and clothes) and helped us brand our boots, souvenirs, clothes, hats, etc. He told us the story of his 15 minutes of fame: When he was about 14 years old he was in a movie with Cary Grant. It is called "Portrait" and is on TNT once in a while. He had TWO parts in the movie ? a waiter and a guy that rode his bicycle into Cary. Watch carefully. (Let me know if you see that it is going to be on TV). His famous quote is "I made more in 5 minutes on the screen than I will make all summer at Philmont". Advisor's coffee and campfire that night was cancelled due to the rain. Later, a few of us braved the weather and went back to the staff cabin porch were Larry and some of the others were playing violin, guitar and harmonica.
Monday, July 27 - Day Twelve
It rained lightly all night and we were all at least damp. Jake, Justin and Joey D went for a horseback ride in the morning. They rode over past the base of the Tooth of Time and saw some wild turkeys and deer.
We packed up late and hiked South to Shaefer's Pass where the trail turned West and up to Schaefer's Peak. Two maps conflicted as to the correct trail and we got turned around and were "misplaced: for awhile. We figured it out and hiked back up the other side and saw the ladybugs at the top. We continued East along the Tooth of Time Ridge, past the base of the Tooth and arrived at camp at 6:30. Dinner was chicken & rice and apple brown Betty. Rick injured his knee when he jumped over Mike at camp.
Tuesday, July 28 - Day Thirteen
The next morning everyone except Joe, Justin, Alan and Mike hiked up to the top of the Tooth. Great view!
Breakfast was pop tarts, oatmeal and hot chocolate. Rick, Aaron and Roger compared beards. The weather was cool and overcast. Alan, Jake and Eric climbed on some huge boulders. Loaded up and pulled out at 8:30 a.m. hiking for Base Camp. Rick lost his camera lens cap and found it a short distance back on the trail. We passed a strange tree trunk decorated with old cow (I think) bones on the trail. Base Camp was in sight much of the time as we hiked down the last mountain. At 10:30 a.m. we went under the gate that proclaimed "YOU MADE IT!" and hiked into Base Camp a lot more scraggly, skinny and stronger than when we had hiked out 11 days before. After getting tent assignments at the Welcome Center we got showers and ate lunch (hot dogs, baked beans and mixed veggies) ? Delicious REAL FOOD! Then we turned in the crew gear and visited the Post Office where Ryan, Scott and Roger got mail. After checking in at Logistics and getting our money from the safe and making reservations for the following day for the Rayado tour at Administration we hit the trading post. Next we caught the shuttle bus to town (Cimarron) where we feasted on pizza at Simple Simon's and ice cream malts and shakes at the Art Gallery.
Upon returning to camp some of the guys immediately ate dinner, others did laundry or played basketball.
Closing campfire consisted of singing some songs and skits including news and sports and several "top ten" lists. The Crew Chiefs were recognized and our patches were passed out. An Indian closed the evening as he spoke about how young men build up stature and strength as they mature, then we hiked back to tent city. Roger went to the cracker barrel to talk to and compare notes with other leaders.
Wednesday, July 29 - Day Fourteen
We were awakened to Justin yelling "There's a skunk in my tent"! Apparently skunks like Cliff bars. The skunk beat a hasty retreat to another tent in the next row. After a breakfast of eggs, sausage, coffee cake and oranges we hopped on the bus to the Kit Carson Museum where we saw the blacksmith shop, tack room great room and kitchen. Luckily there was an encampment there that week which consisted of adults and children dressed in clothing of the era. They were a branch of the army - topographical engineers and surveyors who made maps for explorations in the area. They sent reports to the Congress describing plants and animals the found on their explorations. Our tour got cut short and we did not get to see the Dragoons on horseback because the bus arrived and we had to leave. After a lunch of McRibs sandwiches we went to the Seton Museum to get souvenirs and gifts. Back at the Welcome Center we saw the Toledo contingent come in off the trail as we waited for our ride to Raton. Joey D and Mike did some patch trading with a troop from Japan. Mike tried to swap his troop shirt with all the patches sewn on for some stuff but the guy could not get to his packed duffel bag. At 3:00 p.m. we boarded the bus for home and headed for town. The driver asked if we wanted to be dropped off at El Matador for some EXCELLENT Mexican food so we accepted the offer. Then a quick trip to the grocery store for some "train food" and on to the station where we were informed the train was running 2 hours behind schedule! We all sat around and explored the area while Rick was trying to get some pictures on the other side and almost got caught by the Train Master. At 8:00 p.m. the train finally showed up and we loaded our gear and settled in for a long night sleeping in a chair ? a bad thing.
Friday, July 30 - Day Fifteen
The next morning's breakfast was eggs and French toast. As the scenery flew past we could see many flooded fields from recent rains. At the Kansas City stop we lost Flounder when Troop 216 got off for good. It was overcast and cloudy as I got off for 5 minutes to stretch my legs. We were only running one hour late now. Stop and go all day ? running 3 hours late ? may get in around 6:30 or so. The weather cleared up and was sunny as some of the guys made friends with some girls on the train. Changing trains at Chicago we headed Southeast to Indy arriving after midnight. We loaded the Troop van and trailer and headed for Englewood arriving around 3:30 A.M.
Written by Roger Forney.
Return to Troop .