Friday, September 14, 2012

Philmont Journal: Day 13

Day 13: June 22, 2012

            We only had 4 or 5 miles to go today so we didn't start right off. We were unable to get signed up for program yesterday so we did it today at 8 am. The activity was spar pole climbing which is essentially climbing really tall, wooden poles with no handholds whatsoever. Instead, you climb using boot spikes and a strap that run around the far side of the pole. Again Nash bragged that he was going to beat us all and again he was beat. My youngest brother beat him by the most. The whole experience was fun; there's just nothing quite like hanging out over empty space by nothing besides two spikes on your boots! Out crew went quickly (because we were awesome and competent like that) while some of the other crews had issues. of course, the problems always seemed to be with that one kid. You know the one that I'm talking about; the one that probably joined scouts because his parents made him and looks like he hasn't seen the like of day in two or three years. Invariably, they try and try to get up the pole but just manage to look like a cat trying to climb a sanded down, greased tree trunk. One that's made out of metal.
            After the program we headed down to the burrow pen and tried to wrestle our two devil spawn into their packs. Murphy seemed to be a lot better from the previous day and went into his pack much more easily. Within 28 minutes, we were on the trail. With the end of our trip in sight, the hiking went by quickly and we arrived at Ponill, our last camp, at 2 or so and took our burrows down to the pen to return them. The wrangler that we were returning them to was really funny in a straight-faced, sarcastic sort of way. It was at least a quarter of a mile from the porch (where we left our packs) to the burrow pen, so when Michael left our crew sheet with his pack, the wrangler made him go get it. Michael went running up to get the sheet and running back. The wrangler took the sheet, looked at it, and said, "Have you gotten this thing stamped yet?" Of course Michael looked at him a little weird because stamps aren't a thing but answered that he hadn't gotten it stamped yet since we had just gotten into camp. The wrangler told Michael that he would have to get it stamped before we could return our burrows. The look on Michael's face was hilarious until the wrangler told him that he was kidding.
            After turning in our burrows, we headed up to the porch for a talk which turned out to be incredibly entertaining. I arrived to it about 10 minutes late, and the first thing that I remember was the girl who was giving it talking about the shower schedule. Essentially there was a set number of times that crews could shower, and one of the adults from a different crew was not happy about it. Later we speculated that this man was drunk out of his mind when he signed up for this trip because he thought that he was at the Hilton with the way that he expected to be treated. I mean seriously dude, have you ever heard of roughing it? He wasn't pleased with the schedule, the fact that only one shower slot was open for the rest of the day, or anything for that matter. Naturally he was ticked off that the schedule only ran until 3 pm (to conserve water for dinner. I guess he would have rather gone without food)and that all of the times left open for the following day were too early. He was on a real role, chewing out the (female) ranger in what I thought was a very un-Boy Scoutly manner and it seemed like he would go for a while until he said irritable that he hadn't had a shower in eight days!
            "Wow!" I said. "You had a shower eight days ago?! You're lucky!" (we hadn't showered in 12 days) That kind of took the wind out of his sails and he shut up after that.
            We did arrive in camp in time to sign up for a pistol shooting event called the "Action Cowboy Shooting" program. We sat through yet another ridiculously long safety briefing like we did before any semi-dangerous event at Philmont (these events included rifle shooting, spare pole climbing, rock climbing, whittling, preparing food with sharp knives, preparing food with dull knives, eating marshmallows, and sleeping on foam). Once the great brief was over, we headed to the range. Before we could shoot, we had to come up with western names and catch phrases. I gave up my best name to Paul and went with Pistol Pete (Paul's name was Presto Paul the two toed cowboy. "Sometimes I don't get the pistol all of the way out of the holster," he explained). My catch phrase was "Help your local medic...double tap!"  As you can imagine, this went over like a lead balloon with the staff, but for that to matter to me I'd actually have to care what they thought. After all of the hoops that we had to jump through, we got to shoot a whopping 5 shots out of the .38 specials. It was fun but seemed like a bloody lot of work to go through for five shots. It's be like going through a huge long safety brief and such so that I could climb five feet on a climbing wall (I'm over 6 feet tall).
            It was close to dinner time, so we headed back to camp to get ready. Today we had a "Chuck Wagon Dinner" which meant that we didn't have to cook. We were happy to see that though we were not eating dehydrated meals, they stuck to their policy of not feeding us enough food. There's nothing quite as bad as actually being, oh I don't know, FILLED UP by your meals. Too much energy is bad, or something like that. Anyway, while we were getting our dishes from camp, Nash spotted a baby bird being fed by its mother. It was so cute; there's nothing quite like seeing an animal throw up into another animal's mouth in terms of cuteness! The mother finished and flew off, followed moments later by the baby. Near as I can tell, this was the figurative 30 year old bird who still lives in his parents' basement.
            The final highlight of the evening was the cantina show that the staff put on. They were very talented (probably still are) and sang songs and played the guitar, fiddle, piano, and even an upright base. The best part of the show, however, was our fire safety briefing. "There are 3 signs that something is on fire," the guy said. "1. smoke, 2. heat, 3. THERE'S FIRE ON IT!" He also had such gems as, "Statistically, 99% of deaths by forest fire happen in the forest while only 1% occur in tents. So should you find yourself in an inferno, head for your tent and wait it out. Statistically, you are more likely to survive." My personal favorite was, "We all remember Stop, Drop, and Roll. Should you find yourself on fire, Stop next to your friends, Drop them with a fire punch, and Roll all over them."
            All in all, Ponill was a good camp for our last night of the trip.