Today is the first day of our hike! We awoke to a beautiful morning.
I woke up at around 5:30, and on my way to the bathroom bumped into Pat, who gave me the keys to the car. Pat was heading back home, taking public transportation to get back to Colorado Springs. I went down to the Protestant Chapel to watch the sunrise while I put some moleskin on my feet in preparation for the hike. The troop had breakfast at 6:30 AM and then we went to our tent and did our final packing, and put anything we didn't need into our cars.
I made one more run to the Trading Post to get some small containers of Gold Bond powder, some caribeaners, and some bug spray (I never needed it). AJ came and met us before our bus left at 9:30. He was carrying a guitar!!! He played that thing constantly as we hiked on the trail; it was great. We took the bus to the trailhead, hearing funny stories from AJ and another ranger along the way. We were hiking with a troop from Philly on the same trek, so we would see them quite a bit during our time at Philmont. On the bus trip we passed a rock formation up at the top of a cliff that looked a little bit like JarJar Binks. See if you can make it out:
When we got off the bus, AJ taught us about:
- Lightning position should we be caught in a large field during a lightning storm (crowch down, hands on head, make sure you're no closer than 30 feet to anybody).
- Map orientation, understanding the symbols on our map, and trail-passing etiquette (who goes first when troops are passing each other on the same trail).
- How to go to the bathroom in a latrine or the wilderness. In a latrine, grab a "pooh" stick and rattle it underneath the toilet seat to make sure nothing bites you. In the woods use whatever technique you like, pole climber, Superman, partner hand-grasp, etc., etc. Quite humorous, but all good advice, especially the part about banging the toilet seat, because there were huge spiders under there.
Matthew led us in prayer before the trip, and then we all made individual toasts, and started our hike!
AJ advised us that when we took a rest on the trail we should either (a) rest for less than 5 minutes, or (b) rest for more than 20 minutes, due to lactic acid build-up related to leg cramps. He told us that the number of barbed-wire strands on a fence meant something: 3 strands horses, 4 strands cattle, 5 bison, and so on. When he said 7 for zebra, we thought he was joking, but apparently there are zebra in the park.
AJ also taught us the 4 Ts of trail signs: don't Touch (animals lick the salt), don't turn (screws up the directions), don't Tinkle, and don't TRUST!!! Trust your compass and map first, then look at the sign for a 2nd opinion.
We hiked to Lover's Leap; the view was incredible (as demonstrated by Carter and Matthew), and a steep drop. Steve actually saved Carter's life, pulling him back from the cliff's edge, by the ankle . AJ told us the legend of the Indian brave who through himself off the cliff when his marriage request was rejected. We ate lunch.
We left Lover's Leap and took one look back at Philmont Base Camp, where we had woken up that morning:
We hiked to our campsite, we stayed at #8. He told us to look for the "Bear-muda" triangle: bear line, fire pit, and sump drain. All tents must be set up (together) no less than 50 feet from this triangle. He also mentioned the 5 Ws of setting up camp: look for Water, be aware of Weather, check out the direction of the Wind, don't set up your tent under a Widowmaker (dead tree that could fall on your tent), and be on guard for Wildlife (use your bear-bag)! AJ taught us to erect our dining fly using hiking poles and the Lark's Head knot (punch the alien in the head and rip out its guts). Always face one corner of the dining fly into the wind. Then he showed us how to set up our bear bags.
Matthew and I started collecting wood, but it started to rain. It rained for a couple of hours. A lot of people took naps.
AJs boss Matt came by to check on things. A light, cool rain was falling, but warm breezes were blowing through our campsite. Some of the crew fetched water, and AJ showed us how to make it potable with our purification tables. He showed us how to use the stoves, and how to drain our food waste into a sump frisbee, and then hike out the leftover scraps in the frisbee. The scraps, and the frisbee, had to go up into the bear bags by using the "oops line" (so we didn't have to necessarily lower all the bags at night).
We cooked our dinner, and I said the Philmont grace. Matthew wanted everyone on the trip to take turns saying grace, so we could all earn the "Duty To God" patch. After dinner we put our pack covers on our packs and put them under the Dining Fly.
We did "thorns, roses, and buds" (what was good, bad, and what to look forward to) for the day, and then everybody went to bed except the advisors, AJ, the crew lead (Dave) and chaplain's aide (Matthew). We talked about how the day went and what we could improve on.
We hit the sack around 10PM.