Monday, July 09, 2012

Philmont Journal: Days 4 and 5

Day 5: June 14, 2012

            As you can see by the date, I skipped a day of journal writing. I actually had halfway legitimate reason as you'll find out later on. So here's the story of the last two days.
            Yesterday we woke up at an ungodly hour to get breakfast in the mess hall. In retrospect, perhaps that was a bad idea. After breakfast, we moved our packs to our bus pickup location and played hurry up and wait. We ate lunch in the mess hall at noon, also probably a bad decision. Our bus didn't show up until one, so we played blackjack. Nash fell asleep, so we used his climbing carabineers to attach him to the table. It was the frantic orange's idea.
            When the bus arrived, we loaded up and were off, finally on the real adventure. The bus ride lasted for about twenty minutes, and it was here that I started to feel bad. I chocked it up to motion sickness; boy was I wrong.
            We arrived at the Kit Carson Museum and unloaded our bags. Before beginning, we visited the museum, a representation of an old western homestead. We got to do some blacksmithing and throw tomahawks at cookies. You have to be pretty good to hit a cookie with a tomahawk at five pace, but my crew had a fairly good record over all (though some were definitely better than others). Our crew leader never managed to stick a single one until the last throw. I don't know why they taught us how to throw tomahawks. Perhaps it was to drive off angry bears. ("Excuse me, Mr. Bear, could you stay right there so I can pace of 5 steps. Thanks! One, two, three, four, five. Crap, I missed! Don't move!")
            The museum was entertaining, and we didn't start hiking until about three in the afternoon. By that point, my stomach ache and nausea was in full swing. Based on the pain, I think it was food poisoning from the mess hall. Well, hiking with stomach pain isn't that bad, but here's the problem. When backpacking, a hip belt keeps most of the pack weight off of your shoulders. For this to work, the belt must be tight, something that I was unable to do because of my stomach pain. That meant that all of my pack weight was resting on my shoulders which is not really a good feeling when you have forty-five or fifty pounds in your pack. I believe that I was pretty out of it the entire hike. I remember making up some whacked out hiking songs, but that's pretty much it. I remember putting on six layers and crawling into my sleeping bag without eating dinner.
            I woke up several times during the night, sometimes shivering, sometimes sweating. My goal was to induce a fever and burn off my sickness. Whether it worked or not is up for debate, but in either case, I felt much better by the next morning.
            Breakfast was quite unsatisfying, and by 8:30 we were on the trail. We had not gone more than a mile down the trail, when we arrived at an old style Mexican Homestead and Cantina. We were given a "porch talk" on, you guessed it, the porch of the house. I'm not exactly certain how it came up, but we ended up talking about how humming birds will stab you in the eye if you are wearing reflective sunglasses, (apparently a problem at Philmont) and about the Wright brothers in conjunction with flight plans. We figured their plans would have gone something like: Departure at 11:33. Landing at 11:33. This is going to be a new record, boys! We also talked about important things, but they are significantly less memorable.
            After the porch talk, we got a tour of the house. Actually, I should say that the rest of the crew got a tour since I was using the fantastic facilities. Not only was a hole in the ground with a seat over it, but it also had walls! Bonus for the staffed camps! I caught the very end of the tour and was given the highlights of it by other people. Apparently there was a "courting candle" and suitors only had until it burned down to court the daughter. A device allowed the father to lengthen or shorten the candle based on how much he liked the young man. My dad told Nash that in our house, he would get a "courting match."
            After the house, we went down to the animal enclosures and milked a goat. It was...different. I was refusing to do it at all, in fact, until my masculinity was called into question. I still refused (seeing as though there isn't much there to call into question ;) until the "farmer (actually a guy from my ROTC detachment) made a joke about me being the "Last" one to milk. At that point I had to try milking. Probably my favorite quote of the day was when the farmer was milking and got some on his hand. He said, "No matter how much I milk, that still feels like urine."
            After visiting the corral, we headed to the cantina for some stiff drinks, stiff as they come at Philmont anyway. We sat around and shot the breeze over some tall, cool cups of rootbeer. The atmosphere electrified as David and Steven stepped to the bar to participate in a spicy pickle eating contest. The rules were simple: eat the large, spicy pickle and drink the juice. There was a lot of smack talk before the fact, but David pretty much destroyed Steven. After the contest, talk in the cantina began to slow down. Of course, you can figure out where it went when I tell you that the bar keep was a girl. She felt obligated, given the attention that certain members of our crew gave her, to tell us the 6 rules of Philmont with special emphasis on rule 4b.
            1. Look Good
            2. Don't Die
            3. If you do die, look good doing it
            4a. Don't hit on male staff members
            4b. Don't hit on female staff members for they are more manly than you and will beat you            down.
            5. Don't burn down Philmont
            6. No naked at Philmont

            There was some confusion of rules 4a and 4b, so the barkeep clarified and said that she figured we wouldn't have a problem with 4a. Of course me, being my smart aleck self said, "Well, actually..." My brother cut me off saying, "Woah! You sir, have a girlfriend." To my chagrin,  the barkeep referred to my girlfriend as my "kissy face." The whole crew burst out laughing, more than they should have. I think it was some sort of inside joke.
            After the cantina we continued our hike. One of our adult advisors has a bum ankle so our pace was slow but steady. We stopped for lunch at an awesome overlook. Right now, it's probably time to back up and mention our ranger. He's been with us for our whole hike so far. He stopped us for lunch at the awesome overlook. You could see for miles off of it over the ranch and probably other land too. The road wound around below us and one crew member noted that a bus on it looked like "a block of cheese." A river and lake were also visible. We sat on the overlook for a while and enjoyed the view.
            It was at lunch that our crew first experienced the great "back to back" latrines that Philmont has to offer. Literally, these things are nothing more than a wooden box over a hole in the ground. There is a seat on either end of the box and a back between them. They are great or at least better than having to dig a cat hole. After lunch, we hiked to camp and arrived early enough to set up at a leisurely pace. Dinner was Mexican rice and beef with refried beans. It was horrid and the reason that I started to refer to trail food as "trail trash." After dinner, our awesome ranger pulled a whole lot of tasty things from his pack and made us Philmont mud, a delicious desert. Maybe it was just the hunger and bad cooking talking, but this mud was epic. Bards will write songs about it one day.
            The day was winding down but I think one more thing deserves mention. We were doing roses and thorns or as Nash calls it, "sharing and caring time." When it came to Michael, he couldn't come up with a rose so I said, "What about the girl at the cantina?" He turned bright red. Robert, another scout, noted that he was so red that couldn't tell where his bandana began. Anyway, today was definitely interesting. Hopefully tomorrow will continue the trend.

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