June 23rd, Day Three – My New Home
OATC622 off to the work campsite.
We woke up to an early sun. The crew packed the tents and took down the bear
bags. We started for the north side of Baldy Mountain. Baldy Mountain is one
of the largest peaks in Philmont and with a distinct sight. Named Baldy because
of mining in the early 19th century, the mining prevented trees from growing;
giving the mountain a bald or treeless look.
We hiked up to Miranda, a staffed camp, were I met fellow Section NE-4C Chief
Wes Heyser. Wes was out serving as program director for the Miranda camp. What
a small world. We took a brief break where we filled up our water bottles. There
are two types of camps in Philmont, a staffed camp and non-staffed. In the latter,
there are no program elements. The staffed camps usually have running water
and if you are lucky, showers.
OATC622 hiking through a meadow leading towards Miranda.
After we caught our breath, we took to Baldy Town. This was a testing hike,
as I questioned my stamina and shape. I said to myself yesterday that this hiking thing was going to be no problem. Though
little did I know yesterday was not a hike, but a simple stroll in the park.
We arrived at Baldy Town where we had lunch. I was tired. My body was in pain,
though nothing that peanut butter and jelly with crackers couldn't solve.
We then made our way to the lower part of Baldy. Every step I took was concentrated
and planned. My pack got heavier and heavier. If this is only my second day
of hiking, how will the rest of the trip be? Sweat poured down my face and the
straps of my pack were like sweat sponges. I was ready to drop. But alas, we
found our campsite.
Lamp hanging from Miranda overseeing the grassy meadow.
There are two metal bear-proof boxes with
large camp stoves equipped with propane. Instead of using bear bags, we simply
put the food and other smellables in these boxes. Here in the campsite (like
other Philmont sites) is a latrine, sump and campfire ring. A sump is used when
cleaning up after a meal. All the liquid smellables (food oils, toothpaste,
etc) would be poured into this sump which brings the food out of the smell and
reach of bears eight feet below ground.
We set up our tents and started a fire. The fire made all the mosquitoes go
away. The temperature of New Mexico was very surprising. I anticipated highs
in the 80's with lows in the 60's. Yet again, my Northeast Region weather intuition proved wrong,
as the temperatures went down to 35 degrees that night. It was cold! Where did my
Bear boxes where the food supply is protected for
We started dinner and made buffalo burgers with chips. Needless to say, it
was good. After cleaning up, we all sat around the fire and participated in
Personal Introductions which we were referred to as PIs. This is where everyone
would go around and tell their life's story and experiences. Each person
didn't have a time limit. Everyone was to share, if they were up to it,
at least five minutes of their lives without any interruptions. They told us
of who they were and how they got here. While this exercise might seem simple
and easy, it was an awaking experience. We began to get to know one another. We were not strangers anymore, we were becoming closer brothers. Everyone seemed to be learning more about themselves
as they talked to the group. As telling your life's story is time consuming,
we only went through about five people for this night.
Sump that extends eight feet below ground to protect
against bears encounters.
We closed the night up with thorns and roses. After the nightly reflections,
we changed into our night clothes and went to sleep. To protect ourselves against
bears, the camp was set up in that the tents are located apart from the dining
area, packs and bear boxes. Anything that smells (toothpaste, food that you
eat in, film, deodorant) has to go in the bear bag or box. The night clothes
are reserved only for night wear, where we can't get any food on them
when eating, preventing encounters with bears.
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