Saturday, August 18, 2012

Philmont Journal: Day 11

Day 11: June 20, 2012

            Today we climbed Mt. Blady. If you have ever participated in this endeavor, those words are quite enough; however for those who have not, I will elaborate. (also this would suck as a journal if I didn’t tell what had happened)
            We rose at the ungodly hour of 4:15 this morning. Apparently Dad has an internal alarm clock because he was the one that was waking us up. I wonder if he just tells himself to wake up at a certain time or if he has to pop open a panel in his back and put the time in with an array of buttons. We crawled out of our tents and stumbled around, getting our gear together. Keep in mind that it was still dark as we did this. Dumping out a pack full of stuff to find what you need is easy when there’s light, but it because more difficult when there is only darkness around you. Small things (always the important ones) tend to roll off and never be found again. We put on our day packs and headed up the trail with several other crews. I wore my sunglasses, either because I’m just a whack-a-doodle or because it was that early. Who knows.
            It was incredibly dark as we climbed the first few miles and I remember little of it. I know that we stopped at 7 or so for breakfast which was voted “The Best Breakfast Every” by our crew. The pepperoni sticks were a real hit; it was probably the first time that everyone ate everything in a given meal. We stopped at Black horse mine for the meal. It consisted of several empty buildings. It was rather boring since we couldn’t go into them. Apparently there are a lot of rats in the abandoned buildings and breathing the dust of their feces is no good for you. Go figure.
            We started hiking again and the trail gradually grew steeper until we were going straight up. Then it got stepper so we were walking upside down. At least that’s what it seemed like. In reality, we were probably going up a 45 degree angle for a good part of the way. It’s hard to believe, I know but it is true. We hiked until the air was too thin to breath, and then we hiked some more.
            Eventually we breached the tree line and saw the final summit and boy did I want to hill myself. How in heaven’s name did I get talked into this hiking trip? About a thousand more feet (in elevation) stretched before us. The only good news was that it was mostly straight (about a 60 degree angle) so it was only a bit more than a 1000 feet total! By now the air was so thin that we had to resort to the 30 step method, that is we would hike for 30 steps before collapsing to the ground and trying to catch our breaths with a lot of gasping. It was really that bad for a long, long way.
            We finally reached the top by 9:30. 4 ½ hours of climbing and it was not even 10! It was ridiculous. The weather had been nice and calm but when we hit the top, the wind hit us. The gusts (actually I was fairly constant wind) were probably 50 to 60 mph and the temperature felt considerably cooler. We staggered to a wind break and hunkered down behind it for a moment. Of course, we were only satisfied with that for a few moments. We left our stuff out of the wind and went to the edge of the mountain, enjoying the breeze and looking off for miles in all directions. We located the Tooth of Time which had seemed impressive when we had climbed it earlier, but from here it just looked pathetic. We took a lot of pictures on what was the top of the world for as far as we could see. The Elevation was 12,441 ft which is sort of, kind of, not really, almost half the height of Mt. Everest. We tied our American flag to a nice long stick and took a bunch of pictures with the flag blowing straight out. I had also lugged the Frantic Orange all 6 miles to the top just so that he could see the top of the world. We took close to a billion pictures (actual count was 999,999,976) before retreating to our cover. There we broke out the big surprise: Mashed Potatoes! (or Nashed Potatoes as we called them for the guy who had brought them) I had lugged a stove, small pot, water, and dehydrated mashed potatoes all of the way up the mountain, but these were not just any mashed potatoes. No, these were LOADED ones. It was amazing! So we ate awesome potatoes on top of the world. No big deal. Just like hiking in cotton shirts: It’s what we do.
            After eating and repacking, we headed down the far side of Baldy, following a ridge trail. The other option was going down a trail that pretty much dropped straight down the side of the mountain. It would have been bad except for all of the loose rock that covered the path. I guess it would have softened our many falls at least a little bit. Needless to say, the decision was difficult: fall off the side of the mountain or take a longer but not as steep ridge trail. Looking across a valley to where the ridge trail ran, we could see several large patches of snow which sold me on that route immediately. What could be cooler than chilling in the snow in the middle of the summer? I should also mention that our leader that me had left back at camp was vindicated in his story. Fgrom Miranda we couldn't see any snow, and he said that that was because all of the snow on our side of Baldy was taken down to Baldy town for use in snow cones and that the only snow left was on the backside of the mountain. Two points for total guessing!
            We slid down the back of Baldy and hit the ridge that our chosen exit trail ran along. We were officially outside of Philmont and the trail disappeared and was replaced by piles of rocks that marked the way. We hiked around to the snow patches that we had seen earlier and took pictures in them. The frantic orange was momentarily promoted to being the head of a snowman. We threw a few snowballs before continuing on our treck. The rest of the way was long and hot and we were tired, especially when we hit the swtichbacks. It was hell on earth. We ate lunch shortly after returning to Philmont long and took a nap in a campsite before hitting the trail again and heading to Baldy Town to pick up our food. What followed was some of the worst trails of our entire trip including one that dropped at a 45 or 50 degree angle and consisted of sand-sized gravel. Despite the hiking conditions, we arrived at Baldy Town and picked up our food without a hitch. We took a trail over a ridge and back to Miranda, arriving about 10 hours after we had left.
            That might have been the day's end at any other camp, but not at Miranda. At 7, there was a game of Mountain Ball. I didn't play (I watched) but it looked amazingly fun. It was sort of like baseball on the side of a hill with a few major rule changes.
1) There were 4 bases (posts) plus home. The four bases were arranged in a square with 1st and 2nd diagonal from each other and the same with 3rd and 4th. Home was apart from all four.
2) The game was self pitch with 5 strikes
3) a runner could run to any base at any time but could only score by running all four in order
4) multiple players could be on a single base at any time
5) runners could grab the ball and throw it
6) there was only one out per inning per team
7) if there were no members of the hitting team at home to bat, they received an out
            The game looked absolutely fantastic and I'm kind of regretting the fact that I didn't play. The highlite of the game was Paul getting in the baseline from 1st to 2nd and accidentally tackling a runner. It wasn't legal but it was hilarious.
            All told, Miranda was a great campsite for two nights and I'm going to be sorry to leave tomorrow.

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