June 21st, Day One – Philmont is a Reality
The five hour bus ride to Philmont Scout Ranch.
I recall the first time I wanted to go to the magical land of
Philmont; I was 12 years old and received a brochure from my council. I signed
up and was ready to go once I passed my interview with the council. However,
my council turned me down because I did not have enough backpacking experience.
I was willing to pay $1,300 back then. Seven years later, I found myself pulling
in to Philmont Scout Ranch, finally fulfilling my dream.
My day started when I caught a 9:40am flight with a connection. I landed at
the Albuquerque International Airport at 3:30pm (Mountain Time). Thankfully
the airline did not lose my luggage, so I was ready to go. I was the last Arrowmen to arrive and quickly boarded the bus to
leave for Philmont after I got my luggage.
Road sign pointing the way to Philmont.
While on the bus, I got to know the other Arrowmen traveling to Philmont,
including some Philmont staff members. We drove for about five hours, breaking
for snack at what seemed to be a highly cultured New Mexican gas station. It did
not take long before I felt apart of New Mexico. The sights of the country on
the bus ride really hit me. Coming from a place where if you look down the
street you simply see trees, buildings, cars and smog,
I was used to suburban areas with hills and forest. Here, however, was open
land. It was almost identical to the scenery from the movie "Dances with
Wolves," where open grasslands and prairie painted the landscape.
Philmont Scout Ranch's welcoming sign.
Everyone cheered once we got off the single lane road called a "highway" in
New Mexico and saw the sign noting the direction of Philmont Scout Reservation. We arrived on base at 7:37pm after an extremely long day of traveling.
We stepped off the bus and before stretching our legs and unloaded our gear.
Someone assigned us "out-going trek" tents. These tents were assigned
to all the people getting ready to go on a trek the next day. After our trek,
we were to sleep in "post trek" tents. There was no program or check-in
that night. After we loaded our gear in our tents, the rest of the night was
ours, though everyone was all but willing to stay up. Before we took to our
tents, we did what any kid does when they go to a new place: explore. Having previously attended
both Florida Seabase and Northern Tier National High Adventure Base, Philmont
had the largest base camp.
"Tent City" at Philmont Scout Ranch, where
the "out-going trek" tents are lined up.
If there is one thing I noticed whenever going to a Scout camp, the trading
post is usually the first building I find. We all went to the trading post and
got some well needed junk food. We sat around the table and got to know each
other while munching on nachos. Soon, we headed in for the night.
The night was clear in the dark chocolate sky. The desert-like ecosystem of
the base camp proved to be a haven for wind, making the night briskly cold.
The warmth of the sleeping bag was relaxing, but the fact of lying down in a
cot after a long day's worth of traveling was more fulfilling than anything.
I had seen Philmont on web sites, magazines and videos. I had listened with
great admiration to countless "when I was at Philmont" stories. As I drifted
away to sleep, I realized I was finally here!
<< Introduction < Pre
Trip - Next Day > Post