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Philmont – Day 7 – Comanche Creek Camp

It rained through most of the night and the wind started blowing. It was also the coldest night that we have had so far at Philmont. Being above 10,000 feet has also contributed to the weather and temperature difference.

When I got out of the tent there was also a lot of moisture in the air. The clouds were low, the trees were dripping and the wind had a bite to it. I checked my thermometer and it was below 38 degrees. Needless to say, if you stopped moving you became cold. On the other hand, it was cold and difficult to get moving. I had everything packed up except for my tent, which I strap on the back of my backpack. I was hoping that it would dry out a little so I would not have to carry as much water in the fabric. Everyone else was working to get packed up. Some of the young men did not sleep well and it was difficult to get out of their tents and get ready for the trail.

I went back to my tent to see if it was warmer out of the wind. As I lay on the ground in the tent, I could feel that the ground was cold in and of itself. I was cold and I wanted to see the sun. I knew that everyone was cold and the sun would be a welcome change. I prayed that we would get some sun and warm up. I did not want to spend the next 6 days in a damp foggy rainy existence. I got out of my tent and began walking in a large circle to stay warm. Even as cold as it was, there were still some smiles to be had.

We finally got onto the trail. We needed to head up over Comanche Peak and then down a couple hundred feet and then start up towards the peak of Mt. Phillips.

On our way up Mt. Phillips we could see small blue patches through the clouds.

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As we got higher we began to see more blue through the massive layer of clouds. As for the view, the clouds obscured the tops of some of the peaks around us.

As there was hope of sun, we saw a mini bear out looking for the warmth of the sun as well. As I inched closer to take a picture, he was not interested in moving. I think he had his heart set on catching some rays.

We made it over the peak and to the other side where we ate the rest of breakfast and started on lunch. It also gave us the opportunity to get a picture.

We then headed down the trail to Clear Creek, a staffed camp on the Rayado Creek. There were still lots of clouds in the sky. However, out in the south west, there were patches of blue sky headed our way.

The trail off Mt. Phillips when you are headed south is a very steep descent. Before we left for Philmont, when I told someone we were going over Mt. Philips, they asked, “Are you going the right way or the wrong way.” The reason they asked is that they went over Mt. Philips a few years earlier, headed north from the southern side and it was a very steep climb. When the got to the top and down the other side, they determined that they had gone the wrong way. If they were ever to go over Mt. Philips in a future trek, it would defiantly be from the other direction. So according to my friend, we were going the right way.

Soon enough we were closer to Clear Creek Camp and things were leveling out.

We got to the Staff Cabin and had our porch talk. We set a time of 2:00 for black powder rifles and had some free time. We also saw the sun for an extended time. Eating the remainder of lunch was on the agenda and it went quickly. That leaves you with free time at Clear Creek Camp to do something like throw tomahawks.

You also can chase the only chicken at the camp. If you are lucky you can look at the grizzly bear rug in the staff cabin, one of the last grizzlies to roam the area.

Or you can play that Egyptian war card game while the adults hone their tomahawk throwing skills.

Soon enough we had our safety talk and were headed to the range. Today was .50 caliber black powder rifles. Everyone had a chance to shoot. Some of us shot the one with the gritty and difficult trigger and others shot the one with the incredibly ridiculous trigger pull. Yes, you can use two fingers to pull that trigger. I guess that gives new meaning to “squeezing the trigger” when it takes effort with two fingers. You cannot slap that trigger with your finger.

As we still had a few miles before we would be at our camp, Comanche Creek. The trail was nice and easy with the exception of the water on the trail from all the rain. It followed the path of the Rayado Creek as it headed east.

There were plenty of wildflowers along the path with the creek babbling in the background.

Then again, the trail also did a little babbling of its own.

We finally arrived at our camp. We chose wisely the one that had the flattest spots to sleep. The dining fly was placed on the ground so that a few damp sleeping bags could be put out in the sun. Damp socks were hung on anything where the sun shone. And of course, when you have damp or wet wallet in the wilderness, you put it out in the sun to dry along with all you cash.

The solar panel made it out as camp was set up. It was nice to have slightly damp ground to put a tent on rather than soaked ground.

While at Crooked Creek camp I asked a staff member, who was splitting wood, if I could get a piece of dry wood. I got a couple of pieces. One was mall enough I could carve up some kindling to start a fire. It was nice to have a fire to warm the spirits up. It was also nice to have some sun to dry out socks.

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In the evening we had a few visitors, a couple of young bucks. They just wander through camp and look for the plants of their liking to munch on.

It was truly a miracle that we had some sun, dried out damp sleeping bags and could look forward to possibly having more sun in the next few days. We had talked about the scripture mentioning that there must be opposition in all things. You cannot know joy unless you know sadness. You cannot know the joy of light and warmth unless you have experienced the cold and gloomy. We hope we have had enough gloomy and cold. It is time for warmth and light.

Speaking of light, there are a few things that need light to exist. Yes, it is time for the flora. Today we have the limber pine and a daisy. Which daisy? I cannot get a better description than that.

And of course our fungus section where we have the fly agaric or fly amanita (Amanita muscaria) and the yellow coral mushroom.

Philmont – Day 6 – Comanche Peak Camp

There was some rain last night and a lot of gear is wet. Some of us attempted to get from our camp to the staff cabin to watch the sunrise. I was a little late getting up to the see the sunrise as the previous mornings had just been cloudy. There was better color in the sky as I started down the trail to the staff cabin. However, I did get a picture of the sun behind the clouds.

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With a little sun, it was a chance to try to charge up some batteries. We had a little time this morning to so out came the solar panels.

The sun was also a welcome participant in the morning to hopefully dry up the tent a little before packing it for the days travel.

As today was the day we were going to travel to a dry camp, one with water anywhere close, we chose to cook our dehydrated dinner for breakfast. As we waited for the water to boil, we broke down camp. As we broke down camp, more things ended up in the sun.

That process continued and things moves to anywhere the sun would shine. The less water on the gear makes the backpack lighter. I would rather carry the water needed at the dry camp in a water container rather than in all my gear.

We got on the trail later than we wanted. However we made good time.

We also stopped at a picture spot where we stopped in 2011.

Looking at the picture from 2011 you can see Baldy Mountain in the distance as well as two of the young men that went in 2011 that are on this trek.

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On many of the trails we need to cross bridges. This is one good example of a simple bridge on our way to Comanche Camp.

As we hiked the sun was being threatened by the clouds. Knowing that the moisture was coming from Mexico in the south and the clouds were moving in a northern direction, we knew we may be in for some bad weather.

The clouds were getting closer to us. Fairly soon, we would lose the sun for the day.

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We made it to Thunder Ridge for lunch. Thunder Ridge is called that because it is one of the places at Philmont that sees a lot of lightning. As we ate lunch it started to sprinkle and we put on our raingear as well as made sure our packs were covered.

A couple of days ago, I really did not get the moss. Now that we were hiking through a damp cloud in drizzly weather with high humidity, I get the moss. It is just hanging our looking for a little sun or some moist cloud to keep it doing what it does best, hanging out.

As we continued to climb the switchbacks up to Comanche Camp we were not happy about getting all laden with moisture as we had dried out much of our gear earlier in the morning. When we arrived, the first thing we did was set up the dining fly. That would give us a place to keep dry.

We started to look for dry wood to get a fire started. That was a difficult task as everything was so damp. It was about four and we saw a spot of sunshine in the camp. Out from under the dining fly we emerged to stand in the sun. The problem was that when it stopped raining, the trees kept dripping and they never really stopped by the time it rained again. There is nothing better than a spot of sun in the afternoon.

I decided I was going to set up my tent. It was lightly raining again and I felt it was best to just get it done. Some thought that we should wait until later in the evening as the rain typically slows down. As for the thunderstorms, the pretty much fade away by six or seven at worst. I just did not get the feeling that this was the typical thunderstorm. I thought it was just a bunch of heavy clouds that wanted to dump on us.

We had all set up our tents and we were back under the dining fly. We collected some wood. We had whittled what damp wood we could from the sticks we found to get to dry wood. However, now it was now raining fairly hard and no one wanted to get out in the rain to try to start a fire. In fact it kept raining moderately to heavy now and then. It was much better to sit under the dining fly.

We prepared for the night, brushing our teeth and pulling any smellables in our packs out and putting them in the bear bag. We also had our usual roses, buds and thorns as well as a spiritual message from our Chaplin’s Aid and a presentation on invasive species from out Wilderness Gila. Soon enough it was a dash to the tents through the rain to try and get a good night’s sleep.

As for the flora today, we have Fireweed and Scarlet Paintbrush to lead off the flowers. Of course the flowers are followed by the Saprophytic Wildflower section and then the fungus section.

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Saprophytic Section – For this section we have Pinesap, a waxy while, flushy herb. Pinesap lacks chlorophyll so it is not the green plants in the picture. Pinesap obtains its nutrients from decaying organic material in the soil.

And of course the Fungus Section.

Philmont – Day 5 – Sawmill

There was lots of rain last night. For a few hours there was plenty of thunder and lightning with real heavy rain. We were greeted with a cloudy sky and it seemed like nothing was dry. We struck camp quickly and headed to the trail.

On the way we stopped by the Staff Cabin to check out. The Crew Leader checked on the best way to make it to Sawmill. Their suggestion was not on our map. It included the road by the shower house, which was also not on the map. From there, the road would lead straight into a trail that would take us to a junction where we would catch the trail up Sawmill Canyon.

We made it to the junction and started up Sawmill Canyon. The sun was nowhere to be seen and it was still damp out. On the other hand, the trail was a nice trail.

As we made it further up the trail we passed several areas with wildflowers, like the Mexican Hat. There was also plenty of water running down Sawmill Canyon. If it was not so cold and wet, a drink out of a cold stream could sound good.

We reached another trail junction and checked our location. You can line young men up at a trail junction. However, when you get out the camera and they see you, they hide their faces.

There were more wildflowers as we continued up the trail.

We came to a familiar location so we took a picture. In 2011 this is the place we stopped when one of the young men noticed that they had a blister on one of their toes. At least when I say this one in for mom, smile, they cooperate.

We arrived at Sawmill and had our porch talk. We ate lunch, put up our bear bags, and set up camp before our 2:00 appointment to reload .30-06 cartridges for the range. After reloading cartridges, because it was real cloudy and due to safety issues on the range we were to wait for it to be clearer before shooting. We went back to the porch where the adults sat in rocking chairs and the youth played some war game with playing cards.

Almost two hours later, we got the all clear and headed to the range. Everything was wet. The clouds that were blowing through were so laden with moisture that they dropped it everywhere. As the clouds could travel under roofs, the moisture was on all surfaces. We really did not care about the water. We had our raingear on and the powder was dry, so bang the firearms went.

After the range we went back to camp to cook diner. It was a wet and cold evening. Everyone found a place under the dining fly. Some more comfortable than others and as usual, some were shy about being photographed.

When dinner was finished, the adults headed back down to the staff cabin for “Scoutmaster Coffee” where I consume cookies and the other adult drinks hot apple cider or chocolate. This evening from the porch we were treated with a double rainbow. The one rainbow could be seen from end to end. Soon enough we were made our way back uphill to our campsite.

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As for miracles for the day, we made it to Sawmill and I felt a lot better than I did in 2011. The weather on the trail was good as compared to what it was like once we arrived. We did not have any thunder and lightning as I loath the lightning position. It is tough on knees. I think the youth did great. Perhaps they have personal miracles. The can share those with their parents.

As for the flora, there was plenty. Not much that I could identify. The first one is New Mexico Vervian. There was also a good helping of mushrooms to see on the trail.

Now comes the fungus section.

Philmont – Day 4 – Cimarroncito

We were up early today as we wanted to get moving before we had any rain. The sunrise was on the edge of the meadow and it was nice to see some blue sky. It had rained last night, sometimes a little heavy.

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After getting a few things done, we went on a meadow walk. Our ranger, Chris had us walk out into the meadow and think about why we were at Philmont and what we wanted to get out of our being there. It was a beautiful morning and it was nice to be in the sun. My answer was to have fun.

As we made our way back to our camp we came across some turkeys and their young moving through the tall grass. Depending were they were at, you could see the young.

We also had a chance to get a photo of all of us.

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Soon enough we were on the trail. It was a nice walk in the forest as we made our way to Ute Junction to pick up food.

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One of our stops in the past has been at the edge of the ridge overlooking the valley where Ute Gulch is. It is a good place for a group picture.

It also seems to be a better place to get on the edge of things.

We were a bit on edge as well as the sky seemed to be filling with clouds. It was after 10 and we still had a ways to go.

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We got to Ute Gulch, picked up our food and ate lunch. We still had a few miles before we made it to Cimarroncito. Unfortunately those miles were mostly uphill. Just the thing you want to be doing after picking up four days worth of food. The good thing was that the trail was nice.

As we neared Cimarroncito, we could see more large rocky outcroppings. Hence the activity there is rock climbing.

We made our way to the porch for the porch talk. The clouds were getting a little darker and more ominous. We chose to leave our packs at the staff cabin to go rock climbing. I always am fearful of leaving my pack with mini-bears lurking as they like to eat holes in packs. That is just a chance one takes.

We climbed up at one spot.

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We then rappelled down another spot.

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There was also a nice view from up on the rock. It was also not a surprise that it rained lightly for a few minutes when we were climbing. A few weeks before the rock was so hot people were blistering their fingers. A little moisture is not a problem either. The problem that will get you off the rock is thunder and lightning.

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When we got back to the staff cabin we chose to shower before going to our camping spot and setting up camp. We got two keys for two showers for an hour for the seven of us. I was ready to go so I got a key and headed to the shower. It started to rain lightly when I entered the shower. As I showered, I could hear thunder and the rain was heavier. By the time I got out of the shower there was hail. We were lucky that by the showers there is a laundry area that is covered. We waited there before showers and after showers. It also rained the whole time we were there with a fairly heavy downpour. You could say the laundry was not drying very well.

In a light rain we made it back to the staff cabin, got our packs and headed up to our campsite. We set up the dining fly, hung the bear bags and set up our tents while dinner was started. We needed to be careful with our bear procedures as a bear was seen that afternoon in one of the other campsites just lumbering through.

As it was fairly drizzly and cold, most everyone retired early. As for the night, it rained most of the night with some fairly close lightning and thunder. It was a little difficult to sleep when you see a flash and start counting and waiting for the thunder in the middle of the night.

As for the flora, we have Scarlet Beardtounge (Scarlet Penstemon), Mexican Hat, Cactus and an unidentified yellow clustering flower.

Philmont - Day 3 - Deer Lake

We woke up to some blue sky which was good as it had rained a little overnight.

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We finished up more training and prepared to travel to Harlan. Things were damp like the dining fly and our tents.

Once on the trail, we were back at the Vaca meadow where we got a picture of the group. The blue sky began to disappear.

At Harlan we received our “porch talk” and then waited for our time to reload 12ga shotgun shells and then shoot at clay pigeons.

As we waited, some played cards and other chased the wildlife, or should I say domesticated wildlife types.

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We then went to the reloading shed where we reloaded 12gs shotgun shell that we would use in shooting at clay pigeons. Then there is the gun safety talk going over gun safety. Once all that is complete it is down to the range to shoot at those bright orange clay pigeons.

We then made our way back to the staff cabin to pick up our backpacks and prepare lunch. The sky looked a little threatening and there was some rain so we set up our dining fly to keep our packs dry as we all put on our rain gear. We got the stove started and a pot of water set on top to heat up to boiling so that we could prepare our dinner for lunch as there was no water at our next camp.

The lightning and thunder was in the distance, however, it got closer. It was getting closer so we assumed the lightning position, kneeling down or squatting and keeping our heads low. The lightning only got closer. It was to the point you could not count between the flash of the lightning and the sound of the thunder. However, for the 40 plus minutes we were in the lightning position, the water came to a boil so that we could prepare dinner for lunch.

After lunch we packed up and headed for Deer Lake. There was still off and on rain coming down. The trail up to Deer Lake was a bit muddy. Then there was the road as the last part of the trail has not been complete. This road is steep. It also had water flowing down it. It was most efficacious to walk where you could see the stones peering through the mud rather than walking on the mud. As you would expect, walking up a steep muddy road also includes sliding down with each step.

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Once we got close to Deer Lake, we could see that there were plenty of clouds in the sky and there was no indication of when they would move on from the area.

Later in the evening, the rain stopped for a while. There were plenty of clouds still in the sky so we had no indication of how long not having rain would last.

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We had the opportunity to eat our lunch for dinner. It was tuna fish and saltine crackers along with some other things. Many of us were hungry and no problem eating the tuna. One young man opened his tuna to try it and gagged and intimated that he was going to have a physiological reaction that included hurling the small piece of tuna and anything else he ate today into the atmosphere.

We had been concerned because some of the young men were not eating enough calories. You can be picky eaters at home because there is other things you can find around the house to eat. In the wilderness, you eat what you have because you need it. A couple of us finished up the tuna so we would not have to pack around an open can of tuna. That would get real disgusting.

Dinner went well and Chris, our ranger brought out a pound cake and icing for us to eat. I was thinking that if you ate your tuna, you should be able to have some. That was just me. Everyone had some of the pound cake. We then cleaned up and finished anything we needed to before we hung the last bear bag with anything that had a smell that a bear may be interested in.

It rained late into the night and we really did not know what we would be in for the next day. As for a miracle for the day, there was enough time without rain to get things done. Everything seemed to fall into place.

As for the flora and fauna, I took several pictures. Many of them were not in good focus. However, for today we have wooly mullen or “cowboy toilet paper.”

Philmont – Day 2 – Vaca

Today we got up early and got ready to get to the Welcome Center to wait for our bus to the trailhead. At 9:10 we were loading our packs on the bus and waiting for the adventure to begin. I tried to get a picture and it appears that this group has a few that want to run and hide from the camera.

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At the trailhead we received more training. We then picked up our packs to begin our trek on the trail and one of the packs broke. It was the rented pack. We were lucky to have cell coverage and could reach base camp. They advised us that they were going to bring us a replacement pack. Within 40 minutes we had the replacement pack.

We got ready and put our packs on and began the hike towards Vaca. The first mile was a long one as it took us almost an hour. There were a lot of pack adjustments as most of us had more weight in our packs. Additionally, some of us were not used to having the extra weight. The next two miles passed quickly as we hiked each mile in under 30 minutes.

As for Vaca, I remember it from 2011 when I took a picture of the well there. It was dry and brown.

Vaca Well - 2011

Vaca Well – 2011

As for this year, it was a lot greener. It is amazing what some water can do.

Vaca Well - 2014

Vaca Well – 2014

We got to the campsite, hung our bear bags and continued with some training. The process of cooking dinner was covered as that includes sterilizing the dishes before you eat.

We also had a campfire, which took a little work to get going. Rain has a way of making combustion difficult. Ranger Chris is in the foreground.

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Some of the miracles for the day are 1. receiving a replacement backpack so quickly; 2. making it to camp without any trouble and; 3. getting a fire started.

And new for this year is the flora and fauna of the day section. The pictures at the bottom of the post will all be dependent on what we see of may have seen as we trekked and camped in God’s country. Today we have a member of the Aster family, most likely a daisy and the One Seed Juniper.

Daisy

Daisy

One Seed Juniper

One Seed Juniper

Philmont – Day 1 – Base Camp

We arrived at Philmont Scout Ranch this morning and checked in. We met our Ranger, Chris from Texas. Our first task was to unpack the van and take our backpacks to the trail-bound tent area where we were assigned our tents. The young men did well as they learned the tasks they needed to accomplish to get ready for the trail. We all had a medical recheck and picked up our crew gear and tents.

One thing we did was get our picture taken. While there, I heard a familiar name, Brother Cardon. I turned to look and it was Brother Cardon, who once lived in Riverside, California where we are from. They had moved to New Mexico several years ago when the youngest was very little. Now he was at Philmont to do a Trek with his son and their Crew. We met up again at the commissary and snapped a picture.

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In the early evening we had meetings for the adults, Crew Leader, Chaplains Aid and Wilderness Gila. As the evening meeting started, it started to rain. Then as the meeting progressed it rained even harder. There was about 40 minutes of a good heavy downpour. It has been dry in the area so the rain is welcome.

After the meetings we attended church. It was Sunday evening so there was a regular Sacrament Meeting. Church was very spiritual and I was touched. The speakers talked about the characteristics of Christ. We were also challenged to look for miracles when we were in the backcountry, which is commonly referred to a Gods country. I really felt the spirit as we sang the closing song; I am a child of God.

From there it was off to the opening campfire. The campfire was held at the Welcome Center, which is covered, as opposed to its usual outdoor location. The reason, more rain. As we were at the campfire, more rain came. We walked to our tents in the rain. In fact, it rained most of the night.

Philmont – More Journey

Today we got off to a good start down I-40 and headed to the Petrified Forest National Park. We started from the North side of the park and headed South. Our first stop was the Badlands and the Painted Desert Inn. There was a gentleman on vacation proudly wearing a t-shirt from a troop in his hometown that took our picture.

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At the Inn, there was a bonus, a geocache. We found the geocache and prepared to tour the rest of the park. We then stopped at Jasper Forest to look around.

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We headed further south to the Rainbow Forest Museum. There was lots of information there as well as skeletons of prehistoric creatures. After looking around we ask the quickest way to get going east and were told, take State Route 180 to Holbrook and then head east on Interstate 40. Had we known, we would have entered from the south side and traveled to the north side and just got on I-40.

We continued or journey to Galup New Mexico. While looking for a place to eat we came up with the West End Donut and Deli from reviews on Yelp. The sandwiches were great. We even grabbed a dozen doughnuts to go.

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We continued our journey all the way to Cimarron New Mexico and our resting place for the night, the Ponil Campground. It was dark and late so the tents went up and we went to sleep quickly.

Philmont - The Journey Begins

This afternoon we gathered together the pack a minivan with backpacking gear so that we could make the trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Truth be told, I am writing this and the next several posts from my journal that I kept on the trek as well as the pictures that I took. I am posing them as if I actually had a computer available each night as I wrote the days happenings in my journal.

So with that said, the picture as we were ready to climb into the van and hit the road.

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On the way across the desert of Arizona, there was thunder, lightning, dust storms and pizza at Costco. The wind was also crazy bad and it showed its force by slowly tearing away at the tarp over our equipment. Then again, wind blown sand tears up a lot of things.

This day would not be compete without without a picture of the van in front of the motel that evening in Holbrook Arizona. Yes, that evenings accommodations made me realize that I would get a better nights sleep in my tent because it has bug netting. Nevertheless, I was tired and had no problem going to sleep.

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Operation On-Target - Mt. San Gorgonio

Today was the July Operation On-TargetOperation On-Target where scouts climb or drive to peaks and see if they can send mirror flashes from peak to peak. that the scouts do every year. The peak I usually climb to is Mt. San Gorgonio.

It was a great day for a hike to the top of San Gorgonio from Fish Creek Saddle where we sent the night. A little light drizzle now and then kept the air cool. The clouds kept the sun off us as well.

Upon our arrival to the peak, we signed the register and took the obligatory picture of each other while standing on the peak. We then moved to the west where we could sit down and be comfortable while sending flashes to other peaks. Upon our arrival the wind picked up with some moderately heavy rain. It was then into all layers covered by rain gear. We were questioning if we were going to be able to use the sun to flash anyone.

Within 20 the rain went away so we ate lunch and waited for the small blue patches of open sky to the east to blow over us so that we could get some sun. We watched as the rain moved west raining on the groups at Keller Peak, Box Springs Mountain and Baden Powell. We got setup and started looking south.

While waiting we were able to receive flashes from Palomar which is 51 miles away from Mt. San Gorgonio. Unless you can pick out the pixel in the small version of the picture you will need to click on the picture to make it bigger.

Palomar

We finally got enough of a patch of blue sky to signal Palomar so we grabbed the mirror and sent some photons their direction.

There is a video of the flash from Mt. San Gorgonio that we sent to Palomar. It is difficult to see unless you view it in full screen.

As for the trip up to Fish Creek Saddle last night, there was a good selection of flowers along the path. Any report would not be complete without that.

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There was also more to see on the way up to the peak.

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Of course there is more to look at than the flora.

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We made our way back down the mountain to Fish Creek Saddle to pick up our backpacks in fairly good time. The trip back to the trailhead this afternoon was pleasant. The clouds were fluffy and the sun was bright. We arrived at the Fish Creek Trailhead about 5 and headed home. Just another 26 hour adventure.

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Box Springs Morning

Today I tried to get out of the house early and beat the heat. It was early, however, the sun was already up in the sky. At lease the air seemed relatively cool. Then again, the weather showed 80 percent humidity with a temperature in the upper 60′s. I know that would not last long as the forecast was to be in the high 80′s.

Today I was continuing my practice hikes. That included a 35 pound backpack that I really did not want, but it is part of getting ready. Once on the trail, about all I was was lizards out for their morning sun bath. This one just sat there while I took his picture.

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The hike went well. It was 6.7 miles long with an elevation gain of 1,800 feet. When the trail was steep, the going was slow. However, on the relatively level places I moved fairly quickly. 45 minutes was my slowest mile going up and 17 minutes was my quickest, and of course I was moving down a fairly level trail. It also was beginning to get fairly warm. Probably low 80′s as I got back to the trailhead.

As for the view, there was some haze in the air. Mt San Antonio is off in the distance. I think I will go back to the top of there this fall.

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Box Springs in the Heat

Soon I will be climbing Mt. San Gorgonio so I need to stay in shape. It has been hot and my desire to stay in where it is cool is greater than my desire to go out and hike up a mountain. This afternoon I forced myself out of the house. The outside temperature was over 90. It looked like 93 as I made my way out the door.

It was a tough first mile and a half before a little breeze kicked in. As I climbed up the Two Trees Trail, there were a couple of surprises. The first was some sunflowers that seemed to pop out of the dry foliage that one was thriving earlier in the year.

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As I climbed further to where the Spring Trail comes near what is know as Box Springs, there was a new plant with red blooms growing among the nettle.

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A also thought I would try my luck in getting a picture of a small flower that is about the size of the end of a finger. The camera always seems to focus on the ground below as the flower is small. Tonight I focused on my hand which was at the same distance from the lens as the flower. The flower is now in focus and I cropped my hand out of the picture.

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Of course I also got to see a small deer. I was a little surprised as it came bleating around the side of the hill.

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Soon enough the sun was going down and the heat was lowering so that I would consider it tolerable. I was glad that I got out tonight as I was able to see things that I would have missed if I was sitting at home in an air conditioned house.

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Independence Day – Range Style

A couple of days ago Eric called up and asked if we could go the the range on Independence Day. I told him I would think about it. Did I want to get up early to beat the heat and the crowd and go to the range or did I want to sleep in and relax. I called him last night and told him that we could go and he needed to be here at six in the morning as the temps for today were forecast to be well into the 90′s.

When we got there we only saw a couple of vehicles. That was a good sign. We determined that we were going to shoot handguns first. Eric has this affection or affliction with the Dan Wesson 1911. He is like a little kid stating, “I get to take this home with me” almost continuously. Just like a dad, I continuously state, “No” as if times have not changed for 21 plus years.

Of course, he thought he should have the Ruger Blackhawk 41 Magnum as well. It shot well and was a pleasure to shoot. It is a nice firearm. I just need to go find something to hunt with it. As for the Desert Eagle, it is really a heavy Beast. It shot good as well. The recoil was less than shooting 44 Magnum in the Ruger Super Redhawk. Of course you would expect that as it weighs less.

Eric plowed through a lot of 22 as I shot the Smith and Wesson M&P .40 and .45. I really like the .45. It shoots well and I am comfortable with it. As this was the first time I had shot the .40, the trigger seemed a little gritty. I am sure it will either smooth out with a couple hundred rounds or it will get upgraded.

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Of course the day would have not been complete without Eric shooting his .30-30. We also sent a lot of rounds through the Smith and Wesson M&P 15. The highlight, if you will, was shooting a few rounds out of the Savage 116 Alaskan Brush Hunter in .338 Win Mag. It Independence day and we wanted something that would go Boom. As for why someone in Southern California need a big boom stick, I have some fishing in Alaska on my bucket list. If I am in a stream or river in grizzly country, it is appropriate to have a big boom stick handy. It is also appropriate to fire on off on Independence Day. Just do not fire one off in the City on Independence Day. Unless of course you leave the front door open and a grizzly bear happens by. Have a great Independence Day.

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Dry Lake

This weekend I had the opportunity to go on an overnight backpacking trip to Dry Lake with some youth. This was a first time backpacking trip for a couple of the youth. One of the challenges was three of the five young men weighing in at under 115 pounds. Dry Lake was dry and so was Lodgepole Springs. That created a slight logistics problem on how to efficiently get a lot of water to Dry Lake existed. We started with two to three liters of water for each of us.

We started out with a couple of liters of water per person. We moved at an acceptable pace making sure everyone was hydrated and packs and boots were adjusted and fitting right. Along the way there were wild flower blooms to see. Also the obligatory Leave No Trace lecture. In the past several years of teaching Leave No Trace, it seems that the young men are more aware and are better at following the Leave No Trace principals. Then again, it could be that one of my motto’s helps, “If you drop food on the trail you Leave No Trace by eating it off the trail.”

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The one flower the boys know and identified on the side of the trail is what they call pokemon. It seems that pokemon is easier to say and remember than pestemon. However, they also said that it was pestemon after the pokemon declaration.

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Once we got to the South Fork of the Santa Ana River, we filtered a lot of water, almost 4 gallons worth. We then began our trek towards Dry Lake with heavier packs. Everyone did well and before we knew it, we were close to our destination as the sun was still illuminating the mountains above us.

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Dinner was cooking and tents were going up. Soon enough the dishes were done and everyone was turning in for the evening. A good nights sleep was had by most everyone. For may self, I slept well until the lights were turned on and a gaggle of birds started to sing. I was convinced to get up and enjoy the morning.

We cooked breakfast, ate and cleaned up camp. A couple of the young men were thinking that we should run down the hill to A&W immediately. We stated, the permission slip said that we return you at five this afternoon, so we are going to hang out here until we need to go.

We hiked over to Lodgepole Springs to that it was dry. A couple of boys looked closely and the report was, damp sand and a lot of bugs. We put to use a small tripod and got a group photo.

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We headed to the other side of the spring and worked out way back to the south side of the lake doing a little map and compass work. We even drew a large clock face in the sand to demonstrate how to find north with a clock face and lining up a shadow with the hour hand. One of the boys pulled out his compass and said north is not the way 12 o’clock pointed on the clock face. We then had a discussion on true north and magnetic north. When asked what the magnetic declination was, one young man stated 12 degrees. He must have been listening on one of our previous hikes. Much to my pleasure, when accounting for the magnetic declination, 12 o,clock on the clock face was pretty darn close to true north.

In our travels we saw a deer in the middle of the lake bed. It appeared that it was looking for water. It is sad to think that there is wildlife around Dry Lake that is in need of water. Then again, on Saturday morning, a man walked up to us in the Dry Lake campground with his empty water container and asked were he could find water. Then we ran into hikers on the way down asking if there was water at Lodgepole Springs. As it looks, there will be a lot of wildlife and not so wildlife looking for water this summer.

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As for the trip down, we took a little extra time and got some pictures of the flowers.

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Overall it was a great trip. One of the young men that had never been backpacking before really enjoyed the trip. He wants to go on the next trip to Fish Creek Saddle overnight with a day hike to the top of Mt. San Gorgonio.

Dry Lake

Tonight I am at Dry Lake in the San Gorgonio Wilderness enjoying the great outdoors. I can tell you what Dry Lake does not look like. I went there at the end of May in 2011, and Dry Lake was full of water. From what I hear now, it is not more than a mud patch. Enjoy the picture and I will enjoy the outdoors and the lack of water in the lake or snow on the mountains.

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