Tuesday, June 19, 2007
I have three crews coming off of Philmont in the morning. They have been hiking in the New Mexico wilderness for 10 days, probably in the heat, probably in the rain, probably in the cold and definitely in the altitude. The 36 individuals making up the three crews of four adults and eight Scouts each have trained for a year for this trip, but the trip itself has been in the planning stages for nearly two years.
In the morning the crews return to base camp.
Since I haven't received a call from Philmont I can safely assume that the crews didn't melt-down, have a medical emergency or otherwise fail in their trek. It's a tribute to planning and preperation.
I have been the coordinator for this trip. I've been to Philmont twice before and I volunteered to do the logistics for this expedition, but not go myself. It was a tough call to remain behind but others deserve the experience I've already had. Ever the mother hen I will be anxious to hear from the crews, share in their stories, ooh and aah over their pictures and marvel at their experiences.
There are always stories about a trek to Philmont.
Philmont can change a person and I remember one day in particular many years ago...
It was the hike to Sawmill Camp. We knew it would be tough, nearly 13 miles with the final 5 miles uphill. Not only uphill but 2,000 feet uphill; over half a mile uphill. To compound the difficulty we would be taking on a 4-day supply of food before embarking on the ascent to Sawmill Camp, so we were loaded down with food and water. Our heaviest, averaging about 50 lbs each if not a bit more.
Loaded up we set off, found the trail and hiked along relatively flat terrain. It was a creek bed. About two miles into the trek it started to drizzle, then rained, then poured down with rain. We pulled to the side of the trail and tried to shelter under a rock ledge and some trees.
Eventually, the rain let up and we pushed forward only to be confronted my more squalls as a line of thunderstorms passed over the canyon we were in. The rain was relentless and the trail unforgiving, but step after step we kept on and up and finally reached the summit at Sawmill Camp.
After resting for a bit and pitching our tents in the rain, I finally rolled into the tent exhausted. Moments later my son, Chris, crashed into the tent and lay flat on his back on his sleeping pad.
He said, "Dad, the day didn't beat me but I can tell you without shame that I am done.":
Philmont tests the limits of a man and that day my son learned where his were. So did I.
But, the next day we continued our trek and completed it a few days after that. The march to Sawmill has since become legend and a tale to tell around the campfire. We not only survived it but we grew from the experience.
Now, a new crew continues the tradition.
I can't wait.
Update June 21
I talked with the crew leader this morning and they have checked out of Base Camp and are on the bus back to Houston. By all accounts a successful trip. Heavy rains in May greened up the trails and there was water available in every camp. Must have been a sight to see! The crew should arrive around midnight and I'll be there to meet and greet.
Just think, if we get lucky we can start planning for a trip in 2009!