Saturday, June 24, 2023

Rest for the weary

A group of Boy Scouts in uniform placing emphasis on new Philmont patches on their uniforms
The crew modeling their new Philmont arrowhead patches.

Friday evening, Crew 612-N made it back to base camp after covering over 70 miles of backpacking across Philmont’s backcountry.

Group of boy scouts backpacking on a trail
The crew hiking out of Miranda on the final leg of their Philmont trek.
Although the crew planned to sleep later than usual and arise at 7:30 a.m., a leader in an adjacent campsite had other plans — deciding to awaken his crew by banging on a metal pot at 6:00 a.m. The upside was that there was plenty of time to eat breakfast and pack up before heading over to the Miranda range to shoot .50 caliber black-powder rifles. The mountain men provided instruction on loading and firing the weapons and how to handle them safely. Then, each member of the crew was allowed to load and shoot three rounds apiece at a variety of metal targets and some carefully placed bandanas belonging to various crew members. Everyone had a good time and some of the bandanas were returned with holes in them.
Group of boy scouts sitting as a group in camp chairs eating lunch
The crew's final time together on the trail enjoying lunch and reminiscing, before heading back to base camp.

Following this, the crew loaded up its packs and headed up the trail — for the last mile-and-a-half — to the Maxwell turnaround to meet the bus and head back to base camp. They had time to eat their last trail lunch and share some reminisces of their time on the trail before the bus arrived.

Group of boy scouts sitting together on a bench
The crew all cleaned up and prior to the closing campfire.
Once back at base camp, the group scurried to get all of the Philmont gear cleaned and turned in at the proper places before they could get cleaned up and back in Class A uniforms before dinner. The crew looked (and smelled) quite different after a thorough scrubbing. After dinner, they attended the closing campfire and received their Philmont arrowhead patches.

During the 12-day trek, the group enjoyed a wide variety of experiences, including climbing spar poles, gold panning, challenge course events, and shooting. The food preparation also ran the gamut from crunchy cheddar rice to chicken and stuffing — and a nice dehydrated beef stroganoff. Of course, everything tastes great on the trail.

The trek also included a good deal of fun and inside jokes. The next time you meet a member of Crew 612-N, be sure to ask what the water word for the day was, who held the position of High Cardinal, why the crew always seemed to be plotting a coup against crew leader Jake’s authoritarian regime in favor of forming a communist collective, and why you should never ask a member of the crew to say grace.

The crew hits the asphalt trail (i.e., the paved road home) to Auburn on Saturday for the two-day return trip, arriving Sunday with plenty more of stories to share.

Check out all of the crew's Philmont adventures here on the troop blog and check out photos of the trip in the troop's online photo album.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Who wants to be a 'mountain man'?

Two Scouts working with a staff member in period attire in a blacksmith shop.
Jake (left) and Rhett (background) blacksmithing in French Henry.

The crew was delayed at Baldytown on Wednesday, so they skipped the hike over to French Henry in favor of going Thursday morning. French Henry is a mining camp with numerous activities. The crew started in the blacksmith shop, where they made an S-hook they can use as a lid-lifter for the troop’s Dutch ovens.

Scout holding a hand-made S-hook
Jackson and his new S-hook addition
to the troop's equipment inventory.
Next, the Scouts received a history lesson on placer mining and hard-rock mining around Baldy that occurred from the late 19th century through the 1940s. This led to a chance for the crew to pan for gold in the spring-fed creek that runs through the center of the camp. According to the staff, they find flakes of gold fairly regularly, however, the crew struck out today despite their best efforts.

The crew then took a short hike up to the former Aztec mine, where they donned hard hats with headlamps and traveled about 100 yards into the mine. The name is attributed to 1776 when friars settling the area finding large, ancient ruins that were believed to have been built by the Aztec Indians of Mexico. The staff member explained the process of drilling out the rock in preparation for blasting. In addition to the history lesson, a few ghost stories were told as well. The Scouts didn’t seem fazed at all.

Group of Boy Scouts standing outside of an entrance to a mine with a sign reading Aztec Ponil 1
The crew outside the Aztec Ponil 1 Mine

Lunch outside the mine followed before the group began an approximately seven-mile trip over to Miranda. The theme at Miranda is mountain man life that includes tomahawk-throwing, trapping and black-powder rifles. The crew is scheduled to shoot in Friday morning. Tonight, the crew will attend the mountain man rendezvous, where music and tale-telling are promised.

Continue to follow the troop's 2023 Philmont adventures on the troop blog and check out photos of the trip in the troop's online photo album.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

On the Rooftop of Philmont

Group of Scouts sitting at the top of a mountain
The crew summits Baldy Mountain

On Tuesday, the crew hiked into Baldytown then on to Copper Park, which is their staging camp for hiking up Mount Baldy. Officially known as Baldy Mountain, this scenic peak is often the centerpiece of Philmont photography. The highest peak at Philmont, it stands at 12,441 feet above sea level—making it the challenge to conquer for Philmont backpackers. 

Group of Scouts backpacking with mountains behind them
Always happy for a photo spot, the crew takes a break for a scenic pose.

Scouts standing on top of of a pile of old wood with one Scout throwing a snowball in the background
At least one Scout was able to muster enough
snow for a snowball fight.
This morning, the crew left Copper Park at 6:30 a.m., had breakfast along the trail, and summited the mountain at 10:08 a.m. The weather was beautiful and perfect for the hike. On the way down, the crew had lunch in a meadow next to a snowbank. The Scouts took the opportunity to have a snowball fight after lunch.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the crew is back in Baldytown, where they will take a respite before heading to French Henry for some gold panning. Hopes are high that enough gold will be panned to offset the cost of the trip.

Continue to follow the troop's 2023 Philmont adventures on the troop blog and check out photos of the trip in the troop's online photo album.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Father's Day on the trail

Scouts toast their dads from the trail as they observed Father's Day.
Scouts toast their dads from the trail as they observed Father's Day.

While the crew has been out of contact with the civilized world, it’s been easy to lose track of the days. When Scoutmaster Andrew Baird reminded the crew that today was not only Sunday, but was Father’s Day, they wanted to send out a salute to their fathers. Scouts paused along the trail this morning to toast their dads with their water bottles.

A scout climbing a spar pole.
Scouts took their turn climbing spar poles.
Following lunch on Saturday, the crew continued across Wilson’s Mesa where they ran across a bear on the trail. Fortunately, as soon as he spotted the crew, he went running off in the opposite direction. The crew continued on the way to Pueblano, which is home to the Continental Tie and Lumber Company. They quickly put the crew to work climbing spar poles. With harnesses, belts and gaffs on their boots, most everyone made the attempt to get to the top of the poles. It was a good chance for the Scouts to try something very different.
Today, the crew hiked up to the Head of Dean—admittedly unsure who Dean is or why they have his head 😉. They were greeted from the porch of the staff cabin with a loud “War Eagle!” The camp director is a current Auburn University graduate student in wireless engineering. He was happy to see a crew from Auburn. The crew is identified by its crew number, 612-N, which they pronounce using the NATO alphabet as “612 November.” However, when asked the crew number at Head of Dean, they changed it to “612 NoBama.”

Scouts passing logs to one another as part of a team-building exercise.

The program at Head of Dean is challenge course events. The crew spent the afternoon on a variety of elements, trying to plan and work together toward a successful conclusion. On Monday, they will work on a conservation project before moving on to next camp at Baldy Skyline.

Continue to follow the troop's 2023 Philmont adventures on the troop blog and check out photos of the trip in the troop's online photo album.