June 29th, Day Nine – A Change in Scenery
OATC622 with Baldy Mountain in the background.
We woke up early and took down camp as fast as we could. The tents were wet,
but no one complained. It wasn't going to be long before we would set them up
again to dry out. While the campsite at work site was at about 10,000 feet,
we were at noticeably lower elevation and thus we had WARM temperatures. In
fact, the low temperature was about 45-55 degrees; 15-20 degrees
warmer than the previous nights because of our change in elevation.
Without having breakfast, we took a quick hike to where the bus was going to
pick us up. It was a very muddy hike because of last night's rain. Regardless
of mud, the morning was sunny and provided everyone with high spirits. This
was our first warm morning with bright sun in a week; it was like a different
world, or should I say a normal world.
Sign located at base camp showing the direction.
We got to the pick up location and ate a quick breakfast waiting for the bus
to arrive. Once it came, we went back to base camp. On the bus, we sat with
our respective crews and our foremen selected crew leaders of the day. From here
on in, a leader was to be selected each day by the foremen of each crew to take
leadership over the crew. Ross and Gram were selected for crew "A"
and "B" respectively. We arrived at base camp and unloaded our packs.
We organized our crew gear, picked up our food for the next few days and got
our personal gear from our lockers. We put our work clothes in our lockers,
which drastically reduced the weight of our packs. We then took a long awaited
shower. If you have been counting, it has been about a week since the crew took
a shower. The simple practice of taking a shower can go along way. I shaved
my itchy neck and kept the beard that I discovered I’ve grown. I changed
into my class "A" uniform and then took to the trading post, buying
some items before we headed back to the trail. I called my mom and my girlfriend
to tell them that I was alive. Having a cell phone in Philmont is just about
as good as having a can with string. I wouldn't have been surprised if
my phone displayed negative bars. As Philmont is in a remote location, there
are no cell phone towers around. Lucky enough for me, I was prepared with a
phone card and used one of the many pay phones at base camp.
OATC622B with their packs.
Probably one the most beneficial aspects of stopping back at base camp was
the ability to stock up on coffee, thank the Lord. Perhaps it's a Long Island
thing, as I seemed to be the only one longing for the substance, but it made my
day. At 11:15, we had some lunch. Our crew got to meet 2004 National Chief Jeff
Hayward who joined us for lunch. Jeff was in Philmont teaching at the National
Lodge Advisers Training Seminar. He just got back from OA Wildness Voyage at
Northern Tier in Ely, Minnesota. It was great seeing Jeff. He showed his love
for the National OA High Adventure programs by eating with us. I also
ran into my predecessor David Dowty, who is now the 2004 National Vice Chief.
After lunch, we changed into our hiking clothes and put our personal gear (namely
our uniforms) back in our lockers. We made a pack line (a orderly row of everyone's
packs to save space and instill organization) and started waiting for the busses.
This was the point where each crew would go its separate way for the week. We
said our good byes and departed on different buses. We went back into the country
of Philmont, where we would go to call our home again for the next week.
"Crew Advisor" Steve (right) getting ready
to race the burro.
We got off at the "Turkey Creek Turn Around." I was designated
by Crew Leader Gram as "navigator extraordinaire." If we were to
get lost, it was to be my fault. Our foremen Stephen and Sean took new roles
as "Crew Advisors." We hiked about four miles to Harlem (a staffed
camp) on the first trail the OA Trail Crew built back in 1995. We got to our
campsite and checked in with the staff. They informed us of the programs available
at the campsite and important times we need to take note of. We cooked our first
trail dinner: macaroni and cheese.
After dinner, we partook in Burro Racing. Yes, Burro Racing. I didn't
know what that meant either at first, but it proved to be lots of fun. At the
campsite, there are different 'sub-campsites' that all the different
crews stayed in. Everyone came together at a field located in the middle of
camp and competed to race Burros. This consisted of a relay race where members
of the crew run with these burros. The catch of the gig is to get the burro
to cooperate. There were some burros enthusiastic of the idea, and others, well,
felt eating grass was a better way to spend their time. Luckily enough for us,
our burro liked to run (or more accurately, trot). We came in third place of
the campsite; not too bad for our first time. I admit it; I was scared that
the burro was going to kick me in the face and eat me alive. I got to learn
(only when the race was over) that these animals were friendly.
Reflecting on the ridge.
Before we went to sleep, we hiked up to this ridge behind our campsite which
overlooked the entire city of Cimarron. Cimarron is right outside of Philmont,
meaning wild and unruly in Spanish. In the vast horizon, we saw lighting from
a distant storm that resembled fireworks. It was an awesome site to take in.
We stayed up there for hours, just talking about life over the few city lights
of Cimarron. With people from all over the country that only met a week ago;
California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Nebraska and New York,
we were now friends and true brothers. It was like we have known each other
for years. As I gazed through this postcard view, I thought about the wonders
of life and relaxed. I know I will never forget this view and night. This was
the great start of an adventure.
We had thorns and roses on this ridge. We climbed down and made our way back
to our tents to go to sleep. As I drifted to sleep, I wondered what the next
day would bring.
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