Buffalo Trail Council
Philmont Scout Ranch
Crew 707 G 1986...Troop 152 from Midland
By Tom Florer
This trek starts out in grand fashion, as we pull into our starting camp (Sioux Camp) and get the tents up seconds before a huge thunderstorm hits. Ranger training is finished up while drinking root beer in the cantina at Ponil. The next day is a long haul up South Ponil Canyon, where we stop and do program at Pueblano Camp. While perched atop one of the spar poles, David manages to completely unhook his safety line, but he manages to get everything put back together correctly. This prompts our ranger to say “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen anyone do!” Ironically enough, our ranger would say that two more times over the next 24 hours.
After program, we head to Pueblano Ruins, where we’ll camp for the night. We do come back for the campfire at Pueblano, though. From the Ruins, we follow the stream (which is rising fairly quickly) to French Henry, where we participate in the Blacksmithing program. Lunch follows, then we head up what is known simply as “the Wall.” The trail climbs steeply up to Copper Park Camp. Part way up we take a small side-trip and take the tour through the Aztec Mine. This evening at Copper Park, we have a water-chugging contest (not really the best way to hydrate yourself), and also set out to decide just how hot a fire has to be in order to melt quarters (answer: pretty hot). Tomorrow will be a very long day.
We are up well before dawn…the goal is to see the sunrise from the top of Baldy Mountain. It’s a steep climb, and we think we see a bear part way up (probably just a bush), but we do make the summit before sunrise. We’ve carried our sleeping bags up with us…as soon as the sun is up we hop in them and go to sleep. After about an hour another crew comes up and starts celebrating that they are the first ones on the summit that day. They stop short when they notice us in our sleeping bags.
We make our way down on the Baldy Town side. We have a hot breakfast part way down…as windy as it is, we still manage to get a stove going. You can light a Svea anywhere. We have a food pickup at Baldy Town, then it’s across Aztec Ridge and back to Copper Park for a second night.
Miranda is our next destination. As luck would have it, we are assigned the campsite with the grave in it. For real- there’s a fenced off area with a grave in it. Dinner is eaten and cleaned up early, and before campfire we have time to watch a very impressive lightning storm taking place on the other side of Touch-Me-Not Mountain.
The next day is a fairly easy trek over to Head of Dean, and the Challenge Course program. The day after is a long trek straight down Dean Canyon, to Dean Cow Camp, where rock climbing is the program. After Dean Cow, we have a long trek which takes us down almost the entire length of Turkey Creek Canyon, across Highway 64, and up the side of Deer Lake Mesa to Harlan Camp.
The program at Harlan is Mexican Dinner, and Burro Racing. The Mexican dinner is lame by Texas standards, but the crews from New York were quite impressed. After dinner, all crews gather in the meadow for the chaos brought by the burro races.
From Harlan, we round the side of Deer Lake Mesa, and after a food pickup at Ute Gulch, we set up camp at Aspen Springs. From Aspen Springs, we go to Clarks Fork for Western Lore and horse rides. Our camp for the evening is Upper Clark’s Fork. Since it’s so close, the Clarks Fork staff agrees to let us stay for the Chuck Wagon Dinner. After dinner, we head up to Upper Clark’s, then decide that we’ll go all the way to Schaeffer’s Pass, to make tomorrow’s hike a little shorter.
We don’t even set up camp at the Pass. The weather is clear, so we hang the bear bags, thrown down our ground cloths, and sleep under the stars. The next day’s hike in over Tooth Ridge is only moderately eventful, and another great trek has come to a close.