The boys came back from Philmont last Thursday. The flight home was late and it meant that the boys stepped into the house at midnight from BWI. Jeremy and I spent the flight texting each other over WhatsApp which is free over their wifi system. Jeremy said that 24,000 scouts were suppose to go through this summer and although they hiked more than 60 miles, they were never really far from anyone. Philmont works like this, you hike about 4-6 hours a day, and there is usually an activity where the day’s hike ends or begins. They were working really short staffed and they were actually doing trail hires where if you were 18 hiking with your troop, they’d offer you a job right then and there and you just call your mom and tell her you aren’t coming home until later. None of our boys did that.
You can pick a hike heavy trip with fewer activities or a trip with more activities and less hiking or a good mix of both. Vince’s group picked an itenerary with a good mix of both hiking and programming, but a little longer on the hiking. The troop sent 19 people and split up into two groups. Vince and Jeremy went with the younger crew, so the hiking was just a tad easier. The other crew had older boys and did a more strenuous hike. So there was mountain biking, tomahawk throwing, pole climbing, blacksmithing, etc.
Jeremy said the mountain bikes were nice. Nicer than his mountain bike. He thinks the boy scouts get them at cost and it’s a nice product placement for the companies. Thousands of scouts will ride those bikes. Jeremy said the food was terrible. Mismatched and weird. He thinks also a lot of food gets donated, so there were items like sriracha peanut butter.
Vince’s troop hadn’t gone in 50 years to Philmont and the last time they went, a scout died when he was hit by lightning. All the boys knew about this and were actually telling it as part of meeting other troops on the trail. The whole lighting thing was nerve wracking for Jeremy because they were slated to climb Mt. Baldy, the highest peak in the area. But this involved an hour of hiking on clear, exposed rock. So they hiked up there, early to avoid afternoon summer storms. But when they got to the top, all the boys wanted to call home. They all knew this was the only spot to get cell service. And of course Jeremy was the only person to not let his phone completely run out of charge, so all the boys wanted to use Jeremy’s phone to call their mothers. That meant they were on the peak for an hour – the whole time, Jeremy could see the afternoon storm clouds come closer to the mountain. Anyways, as soon as the conversations were over, he grabbed the phone and hustled everyone off the mountain safely.
About 20% of the treks are burro itineraries. All over youtube and the chat groups, everyone thinks the burros are a pain in the ass. The advice is clearly – do not pick a trek with the burro. But the boys picked a burro trek and I asked Vince why and he said, the burro will be a pain in the ass, but there will be awesome stories. And there was a crazy story involving actually losing their burro. They had penned him up for the night and when they went to fetch him from the pen in the morning, the gate was wide open and the burro was nowhere to be found. They blamed their sister crew who also had penned their burro up for the night, but left a few hours early the next morning with their burro and probably left the gate loosely closed. Anyways, the burro was loose, but then about 80% of the way through the hike, they found the burro again, just happily eating grass on the side of the trail. The burro just followed them without a harness or anything to the next campsite.
A few videos for your amusement. Reentry into real life has been hard on all of us. I’ll tell you why in the next blog post.