A Long Time Ago
A Trip a long time ago at Philmont
I belonged to Boy Scout Troop 884 of Whittier California. Each year the troop would send 4 boys to Philmont High Adventure Camp. August 1978 was my turn. I was chosen to go with Dave Wilson, Lyle Bidler and Stan Hansen. Lyle’s parents volunteered to drive us out. We piled our packs on the top of their Ford station wagon and headed out. We stopped the first night in Flagstaff and we talked all night about what it was going to be like.
We were attending the camp by attaching our selves to provisional teams. This was basically a patrol size unit lead by a camp ranger. We were being split up. I had never hiked anywhere without my troop before and I think we were all a little nervous. All four of us had achieved the rank of Life, members of the OA and all had held the post as an ASPL or SPL but with all this experience we were a little nervous.
The next stop on the drive was not planned. The car broke down outside of Albuquerque New Mexico. We spent most of the day wandering around a mall trying to kill time while Lyle’s parents had the car fixed at good ole Sears. The car was fixed but we spent the night in town. In the morning we drove to Raton and we stayed at the Kit Carson Inn. Not one of the nicer spots but it had a pool.
In the morning we were driven out to the camp and checked in. I wrote my girlfriend Carol now my wife and I was moved into “Tent City and met my Ranger and the rest of our group. We had a pack inspection that afternoon and then we locked up our extra gear. We ate in the dinning room that night and I saw Stan, Lyle and Dave. We said our goodbyes and thought the chances of seeing each other for the next 10 days seemed slim. We were wrong.
The next morning all four provisional teams were dropped off near the Rocky Mountain Scout Camp at the Urraca Creek Crossing. It was a short day for us we hike up to the top of Urraca Mesa and dropped down toToothache Springs Camp. A few of my new group were already at the mole skin. We had one guy from Colorado, he was a short one but he could walk us all into the ground. He lived around Vail. He was complaining that all these city boys were going to slow him down.
In the morning we were off to Fish Camp on Aqua Fria Creek. We were shown how to tie flies and given a chance to fly fish. All these years later I have the fly still with my Scout junk.
After a good breakfast we hiked to Beaubien Camp. This is still a semi working cattle ranch and they gave us demonstrations on how to rope and tie cattle. We also had a chuck wagon dinner. We also had a crude shower here and a chance to wash out the socks!
I am not sure where we stayed the next night but we soon knocked off two peaks Mount Phillips 11171 feet and Comanche Peak ( I cannot read my notes on the elevation on this one.).
I again am not sure if we stayed at Cyphers Mine Camp or Lambert Mine Camp but we were able to get hot showers, climb down a mine shaft and we had story telling and Banjo playing that night. I do remember vividly the next portion of the hike. This was the first time I saw a mountain lion in the wild we were following Middle Fork Creek and he or she was stalking us on the other bank. We started banging our Sierra cups against our pack frames and he ran off.
Our next stop was Hunting Lodge. Our Ranger had a key so we had bunk beds and a wood stove to cook on, nice!
This next stop on this trip was a trail camp not listed on the map it was about two hundred yards from the highway. We took up a collection that afternoon and our ranger hitched a ride into town. He came back with a package of hamburger patties, sack of potatoes and three six packs of coke oh and I almost forgot a watermelon. We ate it all.
A few more days and we were at Baldy Town. We hit the sack early it was raining and when we awoke about 1:00 am it was drizzling. We scrambled up to the top thinking we were the first of the four groups to make it and it turned out we were the third. It was about another hour to sunrise and we hunkered down behind the winds breaks made of rocks. The sunrise was spectacular!!!!
We spent our last night on the trail in a stand of aspen next to Ute Creek. Our last morning we were picked up on a dirt road just a mile from where we slept. That night our ranger took us into town, Cimarron and we had dinner at a Mexican restaurant that was someone’s home. We then smoked cigars, I am not sure of the name but they looked like what Clint Eastwood smoked in a Fist Full of Dollars.
A bus took us to the train station the next day and the four of us spent the next 24 hours on the train swapping stories.