Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Philmont Journal: Day 9

Day 9: June 18, 2012

            Today was better than yesterday. Instead of hiking 10 miles after a disappointment, we had 10 miles to hike but without the disappointment. Boy, can you spell a better day! If you talk to our sister crew, the hike was 12 miles, all uphill but they clearly cannot read a map. (I tried to explain to them that you didn’t gain altitude every time you crossed a contour line and that sometimes it’s actually a decrease in height, but they weren’t really that receptive. They argued that they had already gained 65,000 feet this trip! Incidentally, they can’t estimate pack weight either but that is a different story for later) The first half of our trip was rather terrible except for two things: 1) crossing a river and dunking ones head in it which is particularly refreshing even at 9 in the morning, and 2) well, now it’s time for that story. Last night while hanging bear bags (actually the OOPS bag which is named because as soon as you get it hung a scout comes up and says, “Oops! I forgot to put this stuff in,” so you bring the oops bag back down and stuff that particular scout in) Anyway, while we were hanging the bag, we briefly encountered two members of our “sister” crew also hanging their bear bags. I use the term “sister” loosely here because you usually do stuff with and maybe actually like your sister. Such was not the case here unless you count liking to mock them. As we were finishing hanging the bag, one of their guys asked how heavy my pack was. I thought that it was a rather odd question because why would he give a rat’s behind about my pack, but I answered anyway. He proudly proclaimed in a condescending tone that HIS pack was only 32 pounds and that it was the heaviest in the crew. I found this odd for two reasons: 1) at my house when we brag about pack weights it goes something like this. “What?! Your pack is only 220 lbs? You’re such a girl! Mine is 230 lbs.” 2) When we began to crunch numbers, here’s how things fell out. 32 pounds total – 6 lbs for water – 10 lbs for food – 5 lbs for tent = 11 pounds for sleeping bag and pad, camping essentials, dishes, a stove, the backpack itself, extra clothing, and whatever else he brought. Paul (he thinks too much) expressed disbelief and the guy purported that the reason that his pack was so light was because he had UnderArmorTM clothing and not the nasty cotton stuff that we wore. (This was actually funnier because earlier, one of their crew members had asked one of my brothers how in heaven’s name we managed to hike in cotton t-shirts. My brother answered, “It’s what we do.” Boy did that shut him up) We decided that this guy (the one with a 32 pound pack) had UnderArmorTM that must have weighed negative pounds to maintain a pack weight that was so light. Paul (I told you he thinks too much) also pointed out that there was no scale out in the wilderness upon which to weigh one’s pack. Moral of this story? Don’t try to make sense out of male bravado; it doesn’t work. Incidentally, we hiked faster than them today even with our “heavier” packs and a leader with a bum ankle. What’s that tell you?
            Nash’s back got progressively worse and tonight he went to see the staff about it, partly because it really hurt but mostly because the medic was a girl. Hopefully it will start getting better.
            Oh, one last thing: the ropes course. For those of you who are not familiar with ropes courses, they are essentially team building obstacle courses. We did really fun things like stand on boards, wiggle through a spider web, walk backwards, and scale a 15 foot wall. Don’t ask me how standing on boards and walking backwards got crammed in with the rest. I guess it was to give us a rest. Altogether, the thing was a blast.
            Anyway, hopefully we can do our conservation project tomorrow since it is a short hike of only 4 miles. Fingers crossed.

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