Troop 868 in Action
SCOUT RANCH (July, 2008)
Expedition # 713-O Trek # 13
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Our last morning on the trail we rose before sunrise and hiked to the top of the Tooth of Time by flashlight in order to watch the sunrise from the summit. This was an awesome experience that everyone will long remember. The photos we took capture only a fraction of the majesty of the event.
We had our only encounter with dangerous wildlife the last day of our trek as we hiked along the trail from Tooth Ridge back to base camp. This came in the form of an 8-foot prairie rattlesnake. The snake was asleep under a large rock in the center of the trail. The first four hikers of our crew to pass by managed to awaken it as they hiked over the rock. The last boy to cross over heard the snake rattle and was alert enough to call out for the scouts behind him to stop and back up as the snake crawled from under the rock into the middle of the trail. Thankfully, prairie rattlers are not particularly aggressive. We gave the snake plenty of room and within a few minutes it stopped rattling and retreated back under the rock. The rest of our party detoured around the rock and we were able to continue on our way.
Throughout our trek we had seen dozens of chipmonks (Philmont calls them "mini-bears"), numerous deer (often grazing calmly within only a few feet of our campsites), hawks, rabbits, and even a few squirrels. Cattle wandered through our campsite a Beaubien. We got to see horses, burros, and goats "up close and personal." We were both disappointed and relieved not to have seen any bears or mountain lions.
We hiked back into base camp around 9 AM on Day 12 and were promptly assigned quarters in the home-bound tent city. The first thing everyone wanted to do was retrieve their clean clothes and personal toiletries (that we had stored in our crew locker rather than carry with us on the trail) and hit the showers. Turning in some borrowed equipment to the quartermaster and the rest of the official check-out process went as smoothly as check-in had gone. The meals in the dining hall somehow tasted much better than the meals we had had there prior to enjoying 11 days of dehydrated trail meals!
On the afternoon of Day 12 we visited Tooth of Time Traders to purchase souvenirs and toured Villa Philmonte. The closing campfire program was excellent ... much better than the opening campfire (that had been OK but not outstanding). The next morning we took a camp bus to Rayado and toured the Kit Carson Museum. We returned to base camp for lunch then basically waited until it was time to board our shuttle bus back to the Raton train deport mid-afternoon. On the way to the train station, the bus driver stopped at a local grocery store so we could purchase snacks for the train ride then made a second stop at the local Dairy Queen so we could get burgers and blizzards rather than have to eat dinner on the train. We got to the train station about 20 minutes ahead of the train.
We boarded Amtrak's Southwest Chief about 5:30 PM Mountain Time on Friday afternoon and arrived in Chicago around 3:00 PM Central Time on Saturday. We had dinner in the food court at Union Station before boarding Amtrak's Cardinal that we'd ride back to Indianapolis around 5:00 PM. The Cardinal ran late and we arrived at the Indianapolis station around 12:30 AM Eastern Time on Sunday morning. We hiked with our backpacks about four blocks to the lot where we had parked the troop bus and got some puzzled looks from the Saturday night patrons of several nightclubs we passed along the way. We boarded our old reliable bus and were soon headed south down Interstate-65 toward Shepherdsville. Making only a single stop for fuel, we arrived safely back at the Community Center just before 4 AM Sunday morning to find parents and other family members anxiously awaiting our return.
The troop hosted a dinner on Thursday evening following our return in honor of the crew that featured a slide show and an opportunity for each crew member to get up and tell what the Philmont Experience personally meant to him. Family members and all troop scouts were invited.
Collectively, our crew took more than a thousand photos. So many photos of and stories about Philmont are already posted on the Internet, it seems silly to post dozens more. Thus, the handful of photos below simply showcase a few of the highlights of our trip.
|Our beloved Scoutmaster, "the old guy" Bob Meek, posed for a photo on a peak with a rather awesome background.||Since every ounce of weight counted, a deck of playing cards was one of the few non-essential items anyone brought along.|
|Sunrise viewed from the top of the Tooth of Time our last morning on the trail was a sight that few of the crew will soon forget.||A scout from another crew took this photo of our entire crew watching the sunrise from atop of the Tooth of Time.|
|This is a view of "The Tooth" taken as hiked down Tooth Ridge en route to base camp.||Back in base camp, the crew posed for a photo under the camp gateway. Note the pairs of hiking boots thrown over the top.|
|At the Kit Carson Museum, "Mountain Man" Patrick donned some animal pelts and posed with an 1851 musket.||Also at the Kit Carson Museum, scouts had an opportunity to help work on a buffalo hide that was being tanned.|
|During the train ride home scouts entertained themselves by playing cards in the observation car. Pictured clockwise in this game are Jon, Trey, Patrick and Clinton (back to camera).||Most of the boys also spent a large part of the train trip sleeping. Pictured here are Philip and Patrick. While not fully reclining, Amtrak seats are much better than airline seats.|