September 2014
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Constitution Day

Perhaps there are those that do not realize that September 17 is Constitution Day. This day recognizes the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become U.S. citizens. It is normally observed on September 17 which is the day the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787 in Philadelphia. The day has been around awhile. As I get older, it seems less people understand the Constitution much less celebrate the day it was signed.

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Running from the Heat

Today Elizabeth and I went on a road trip to Idyllwild to help get some GPS coordinates for a scouting event. We had fun walking around the forest talking about big oak trees and baby oak trees or big cedar trees and baby cedar trees.

Elizabeth was a good sport. Once she got in the tire the only thing she could think about was swinging around. Little did she know, we needed to move on to get more points for the event.

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She had her first encounter that I know of with a cedar log bridge. She was not too sure about it. Walking on logs with a curve above the ground was perfect opportunity to hold grandpas hand. She wanted to be put on three and four foot high rocks. No problem. However, a log bridge was not her cup of tea.

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She enjoyed setting in the big oak tree. She did have fun throwing the little sticks that she found on the huge limb of the tree. This tree experience was a lot better than the last time I put her in a tree. This time she looked like she was having fun.

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Our trip to the mountain was a lot cooler this morning than what it was going to be like down in the valley. However, about 5 this evening, when it was still over 100 degrees, we went out for some pizza. One of my favorite things is to run through the water feature downtown. So after pizza, we walked about 50 feet and I walked through the streams of water. You know, the ones that come up here or there and change all the time. Last time Elizabeth would just run around the area not getting wet. However, tonight it was hat and she went for it. We both got caught in a bad place and got a little wet.

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Then again, there is nothing better than some water on a hot summer evening. Overall, it was another great day.

Smokey Sunset

Tonight there was a lot of smoke in the sky because of the wildfire in Silverado Canyon. On my way home from the grocery store the sky was a bright orange. By the time I got the milk, cheddar cheese and bread put away, the sun had made its way down. I still got a picture of a somewhat orange sky. Hope all goes well in Silverado Canyon for homeowners as well as our fire fighters.

Smokey Sunset

An Evening Hike

Today Elizabeth came by the office to do a little coloring. It was a joy to see her smiling face. Soon enough we went grocery shopping. Of course she fell asleep on the way to the grocery store and I had to carry her around. But that is what you do when you sit in a car without much to do.

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From there we took the groceries home and went to get my hair cut. She was good for that. It is pretty tough to sit in a chair and watch grandpa get his hair cut. That has to be considered unexciting.

Back home we went to get ready for a walk. Of course that means Elizabeth gets carried in a backpack. We walked towards Mt. Rubidoux and then up the Buena Vista dirt trail. The dirt trails are much more pleasant that the throngs of people on the road. Once at the top we took a break and watched the sun set and a few small airplanes make their way into Flabob airport.

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As the sky was getting darker we made our way back down to the road. Elizabeth walked and ran for about a half mile before I convinced her that she could go back in the backpack. Of couse that was not before getting a picture of her with the city lights in the background.

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It was a fun evening. It was also good to get a little exercise in. I walked a couple of miles a couple of days ago with Elizabeth on my back. Today it was a walk of over five miles with Elizabeth on my back most of the way.

Living on Earth post 9/11

Several years have passed from 11th of September in the year of 2001. I remember turning on the radio on my way to work and hearing reports of what was going on. At work the internet provided more information. During lunch at home I was able to watch the television. The feelings of that day and images that I saw have left an impression on me that has not seemed to dim in the years hence.

Just recently I was in the Downtown Fire Station museum where they have some twisted steel from the Twin Towers. As I touched the steel there I could help but think about all those that perished that day. The thought also crossed my mind, are we any better off now than we were 13 years ago.

Life on earth is fragile. We live each day not knowing if it will be our last. If we have our choice, we will do everything right to survive another day. However, there are people or situation out in the world that can make things a little difficult to make it another day. For the most part, we are all successful to wake up another day and make our way out into the chaos or lack of chaos that may meet us any given day.

Heavenly Father has blessed me while I have been on earth. I have survived relatively well. Yes, I am getting older like everyone else on this planet. I would hope that I will continue on for many more years. I still have several things in my bucket list to do. I still have time to spend with my family. I still have the opportunity to watch my children and grandchild grow and learn. The excitement in the eyes of a two year old grandchild is amazing in and of itself.

Even if life is fragile, there is no reason to not have the excitement in our eyes each day. For we have been blessed to be on earth one more day. There are those that due to misfortune and the acts of others do not have that option. May we never forget September 11, 2001.

Hole in the Head

Today I had the pleasure of taking a trip to the dermatologist to remove a tumor from my nose. It took a couple of attempts to get all of the invading growth. The doctor let me know that they got all of of it. They asked me if I would like to see. I said, why not. What was one a small pimple like bump on the nose was nor a circular hole. I said it looked like 12.5 millimeters. The doctor measured, it was 11.25. Pretty good guess on my part. Then again, it looked slightly bigger than the diameter of a .45 cartridge to me.

Now that I am all sewed up and enjoying a little rest, I thought I would do something productive. Every year there is a fundraiser, Kilted for Cancer. Additionally, I also think about purchasing a kilt to go hiking in during this fundraiser.

Cancer is not a fun thing. It took my father in 2009. More specifically to this fundraiser is prostate cancer. One in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. So with that thought, it is time to Donate Here

There is also a special limited offer for a autographed edition of The Book of Barkley available. Click on the link for the details.

I will tell you that donating to this cause is easier and less painful than getting a hole in your head.

Sailing with Elizabeth

Tonight was our last summer sailing event. It is a signal the the summer will be over soon. I knew I would have to take advantage to the event and get on the water with Elizabeth. As we were getting ready to leave, she grabbed her life jacket and said, “wa wa” as an indication that we were going to the water.

We arrived and put on our life jackets and picked out a sailboat. We took it to the dock, placed it in the water and got ready to board the small vessel. Soon enough we were out on the water.

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We sailed around for a while. she really enjoys it when the wind blows harder and we pick up speed. She also likes saying hello to the other boats.

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Trying to keep control of the boat while taking my phone out of the protective ziplock bag and take a picture is always a challenge. Then trying to get a picture with a smile is sometimes a little more difficult. We were smiling back and forth and making faces as I clicked pictures. I always s seemed to be slow and miss the smile.

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Knowing Elizabeth, she wanted to touch the sheet, the line used to adjust a sail against the force of the wind. Pretty soon she was in the back of the boat with me demanding that she take hold of the tiller. I let here put her hand on the tiller and she thought she was promoted from two year old to admiral by the smile she had on her face.

We will have to get back out on the lake soon. I also think swimming lessons are in order. Of course then she will want her own boat.

Elizabeth Turns Two

It is amazing how fast this year has passed. Elizabeth has turned two. We are a little late in celebrating her birthday as I was in the back-country in the state of New Mexico and Janet, my lovely wife was in northern California on the exact date. We decided to have a little party, cake, ice cream and presents.

Elizabeth loved the cake. She liked opening the presents. However, the best part was the balloons. We had put up balloons above the table with a banner and balloons in a few other places in the house. After the cake, ice cream and presents, she wanted to have all the balloons. We took the balloons down and Elizabeth threw them in the air and chased them around the house. She made sure each one of us had one to wiggle around.

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It was great fun. I cannot wait to do it again soon.

Philmont – Day 12 – Base Camp

Rumor was that there was a 9:00 bus at Rayado. We were scheduled for the 11:00 bus and we thought why not take a chance and get on an early bus back to base camp. With that in mind, the young men decided to wake up early. We were on our way out of camp at about 6:00 in the morning. We checked out at the staff cabin and took a picture with the sky painted with the signs of a beautiful morning.

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The trail for today was the road that led to Rayado from Zastrow. We were all happy to be on the road early in the morning as the trip was over five miles.

Trail to Rayado

With the sun in our faces and Fowler Mesa and Trail Peak behind us enjoyed the cool morning air.

Trail from Zastrow

We asked for directions the night before as we had heard that the usual spot to cross the Rayado River was deeper than normal. That could mean a lot of wet feet. As we came to the place where the road crosses the Rayado River, we kept going east on a road that was less traveled. Soon the road turned into a skinny trail through the brush. I might add that this trail is on the staff maps, but not on the map we had. Yes, another unmarked trail.

Another unmarked trail at Philmont

However, with a little perseverance through the brush, we made it to a river crossing. You come out of a barely noticeable break in the brush along the river and there it is.

Crossing the Rayado River

We made it to Rayado before eight when it opened. We checked in and waited for the Kit Carson Museum to open. In addition, we had some young men that wanted to do a little blacksmithing.

Kit Carson Blacksmith

At about 9:00 there was a bus and it had room for us. We hustled and got on the bus back to Base Camp.

Before we get to Base Camp, we are going to do a little flora and fauna. There is the Mirabilis multiflora or Desert Four O’Clock in pink flower followed by the sunflowers. They are two different groups of sunflowers, one picture taken while facing west and the next facing east. You will note that when you take a picture of sunflowers in the morning they are generally facing away from you. We also have a foal looking for breakfast.

Mirabilis multiflora

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Foal with mom

We arrived at camp, took showers, returned the gear that we needed to, attended to paperwork and of course took time to relax. There was also lunch were we did not have to eat trail food. We also had time to do some laundry.

Base Camp - Philmont

Then came our trip to Cimarron for ice cream.

Cimarron Art Gallery

We had dinner, all you could eat and then we went to Sunday services. The meeting was very good. After church we caught the sunset over Trail Peak in the distance. At least all of us could say that we have been over the top of Trail Peak.

Sunset over Trail Peak

We had our closing campfire. What a warm welcome to be outside on a nice evening. The Crew Leaders all were called up front to get a plaque.

The evening went fast and we were all eager to get to bed so that we could get an early start on our journey the next morning.

There were many miracles over the course of the 10 nights in the backcountry. We all did well and we had no injuries. A couple of blisters, a broken shoestring, broken pack, a lost water bottle, cold weather and weather that some said was too hot. We all persevered and made it. It was not easy at times. The travel uphill was slow. The weight of the packs at times seemed burdensome. There was even the morning where I asked myself, why am I here, as I was cold, damp and tired of the rain. You just get up, get packed and put one foot in front of the other so that you will get closer to the Welcome Back sign. And you count you many blessings along the way because you know Heavenly Father is looking out for you.

Philmont – Day 11 – Zastrow

We woke up to a beautiful morning in Carson Meadows. We had decided that we would wait until today to do our breakfast that required cooking. As breakfast cooked, the young men got camp torn down and everything ready to go.

The adults stayed behind and the young men took their backpacks up to the staff cabin to do the program for Carson Meadow which is search and rescue. We finished up the dishes and took our time packing up. It was peaceful as we were the only two people for several hundred yards around. We made our way up to the staff cabin and sat on the porch waiting for the young men to finish their program. Soon enough they were done and we took a picture in front of the staff cabin with the Tooth of Time in the distance behind us.

Carson Meadows

The trip to Abreu was less than two miles and it did not take long to get there. We had a quick porch talk and then made our way to the cantina where cold root beer was available. It was a good time to eat lunch as well. There is nothing like actually sitting at a table and eating when you have been sitting on the ground, a rock or stump for over a week. The root bear was great. I think everyone had three glasses full.

Abreu Root Beer

With less than two more miles to go we arrived at Zastrow. We had our porch talk and the young men chose a campsite. As it was nice and warm, one of the first order of business was laundry and showers. It had been several days for the young men so they each took a turn in the shower. There was also the added benefit of heated water. Soon enough, with the sun out, there was a sock tree forming from people doing their laundry.

We then went back to the staff cabin to do the program. The youth chose a Geocaching activity and had a GPS and made their way from point to point. As adults, we chose the orienteering course. Both activities were times. If you had a quick time for the activity, you got pudding. As adults we made our way to the starting point and the timer started. Like young men, we started running. We made it to the first point and stamped our paper. While that was happening I determined the direction of next point and started running. When I spotted it, I let the other adult continue towards it and I stared to the next one. Sometimes the other adult would find the points first and sometimes I would. However, once spotted I would be studying the map and start running while yelling the distance and direction to the next point. We ran past the youth a couple of times. Or should I say, ran past, walked to catch our breath and then continued running. I did not take any pictures while doing this activity, but I did take a picture the next day of what we were looking for.

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As it turned out we did the course in 18 minutes, well enough for pudding. As we were still breathing heavy from running we decided to wait on the pudding. My thought was to wait until the young men came back so that we could eat pudding in front of them, which we did. We checked the map later and discovered that we had been running around at almost 7,000 feet above sea level. It must be due to spending the last 9 days at an average elevation of 8,912 feet and the 60 miles of backpacking or hiking to get from place to place.

We soon enough gathered for dinner. We were having chili-mac served in a tortilla in our bowl. We had been waiting a couple of days to have the chili-mac and tortillas.

One of the other activities at Zastrow is Dutch oven cobbler. The youth had their choice of several cake types and fillings. By popular vote the chocolate cake and cherry filling was chosen.

The sun was gone for the evening and we wanted to make an early start to get to Rayado for our bus back to base camp, so everyone quickly went to bed for the last night on the trail. What were the miracles for the day? No one got sick from drinking too much root beer. We traveled safely and made good time. How about, all the young men took a shower. More sun during the day, which is always appreciated.

As for the flora and fauna we have several on this segment. We have the white daisy, pink geranium, an undefined orange bloom as well as the saprophytic pinesap

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Geranium

Pinesap

Then for the fauna, I captured a couple of undetermined insects in a picture after one of the young men pointed them out. Where is a bird when you need one. They just better stay our of my tent as well.

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Philmont – Day 10 – Carson Meadows

We woke up early and broke camp quickly as we had a long day ahead of us. We had to make it over Trail Peak and on to Carson Meadows, about 11 miles away.

Beaubien Camp

Once on the trail we made good time. We did not need to take a lot of water and we only had a couple of day’s food left at this point.

Trail to Trail Peak

We passed through one of the meadow areas that we rode through the day before. There were some clouds in the sky. However, there seemed to be a good deal of sunshine available as well. We were about to cross Bonito Creek for the first time for the day. We would be crossing it a couple of times during the day.

Crossing Bonito Creek near Beaubien

We must be in better shape as we were traveling rather quickly. On the other hand, no one wants to be on a peak in a thunderstorm. Due to all the rain that we have experienced, the crew wanted to be of Trail Peak before 11:00 AM. That is not hard to do when you get there before 9:00. On trail peak is the wreckage of a B24D Liberator. There is a plaque on a tree as a memorial for the ill fated flight.

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Toward the top of the peak is a wing of the airplane.

B24 wing on Trail Peak

Another picture looking out from the wing gives a different perspective. Trail Peak is 10,246 feet and several of the peaks in the distance are 10,000 feet in elevation and above. Some of the ones in the far distance are closer to 12,000 feet in elevation.

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Of course there is the obligatory group picture from the peak itself.

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I guess it was nice to be on a peak and be able to see without an over abundance of cloud cover so I took several pictures. It is beautiful country when you can see it.

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On our way down a scoutmaster going up with his crew had to warn us all to tighten up our boots. Apparently the day before two people rolled their ankles pretty good. If the young men do not know by now, as we have stopped to tighten up the laces before going downhill to prevent blisters I do not know what more can be done.

We then made our way to a place to sit down and finish breakfast. From there we headed towards the Bonito Creek. In our haste, we missed a right turn. Or should I say the map show the right turn and no trail going straight. There is actually a trail going straight. No problem, when we got to the road, we just turned right which would lead us back to the trail where we would turn left onto the trail. Well we took a left on a trail and thought we were on track. Except the map does not show the trail we took a left on as the trail we should have taken the left on is about 100 yards further. We followed the trail and lo and behold the crew kept going. The trail was there to see, just not a trail that had a lot of use.

The question then is where are we? The young men looked around. We were on a trail that did not show on the map. There was a trail in front of us that did not show on the map. One of the young men spotted a trail sign off in the distance on the other side of Bonito Creek. With a little help from a GPS devise we located exactly where we were. We determined that we would follow the trail, which was not on the map, heading south west towards the sign across the creek.

Once we arrived, in the vicinity of the sign, we determined that now we were actually on the trail that we were supposed to be. Nothing like a little “shwhacking” (bush whacking) on perfectly good trails that do not show up on the map. That being said, Philmont seems to always improve their trails and take trails off the map that are too steep when they have built a replacement or want to reroute traffic through a less sensitive area.

After the nice relaxing walk along Bonito Creek in the meadow like setting, we got in the canyon. This is when the trail really dropped in elevation. There is one part that drops 300 feet or more in a quarter mile stretch. The trail is also known as the Stairmaster. Yes, the picture is from the trail looking down the “stairs” with Bonito Creek in the background.

Stairmaster - Lower Bonito Trail

Soon enough we made it to Carson Meadow camp. We arrived on the porch to get a view of the Tooth of Time in the background some 6 miles away between Fowler Mesa and Urraca Mesa.

Tooth of Time from Carson Meadows

Soon enough we were walked to our campsite. We were at the bottom of a meadow. As the meadow was used for ultimate Frisbee and other activities, it was acceptable to move into the meadow a bit to set up tents. Then again, there was not much place else to go to get out of the bearmuda triangle. We needed to sleep at least 50 feet from where we cooked, our dining fly and the sump. I was just glad to be on dry ground.

Of course, there was some thunder a couple of miles away. The sky was blue where we were. However, to the north, you could see thunderheads. Out of habit, the dining fly became the place to be.

The evening was beautiful and it was warm. In fact, believe it or not, one of the young men complained that it was too hot. I thought back to our talk a few days before that there is an opposition in all things. We must know pain to enjoy joy. How about bone chilling cold to enjoy warmth? Yes, it was warm. However, it was nice to be warm. It was also nice to get some laundry done and put it out to dry. I also took a sponge bath to remove the dirt and cool off. I was happy to do that and it was nice and warm so I dried off quickly. Warm is good.

Camping in Carson Meadows

The adults made their way to the staff cabin for scoutmaster coffee as it is called. Tonight was a little different. There was some store purchased cookies that I ate. Then there were the chocolate cookies with chocolate chips fresh out of the oven. Warm cookies while sitting in a swing on a porch on a warm evening is much better than drizzling rain and cold weather. What a great day. Miracles – We made the trip to Carson Meadows quickly and without getting way off track. In fact, the swacking saved us a mile or so. The young men are playing ultimate Frisbee and having fun. Perhaps the fact that we made it safely to our destination without any injury is a miracle.

As for the flora we have a few more new ones today, Shrubby Cinquefoil which has a nice yellow flower and Creeping Holygrape, which also has a nice yellow flower before the fruit forms. Then there are the yellow flowers next to Bonito Creek.

Shrubby Cinquefoil

Creeping Hollygrape

Philmont – Day 9 – Beaubien – Black Mountain

We woke up early today. However, we did not need to pack up to go to a new campsite. However, we did need to be at the corral at 7:45 for our horse rides. The horse ride was nice because we got to see parts of Philmont that one normally gets to see. The ride was going to last an hour and a half so we were going to be on the horses for awhile.

Beaubien Corral

When we were headed back to the corral, I got a picture of the horses that had the morning off.

Once we were back at the corral, I got off the horse and my legs were not the same as when I started. I thought, I am going to hike to Black Mountain Camp three miles away on these legs? After walking around for a few minutes my legs felt better. No problem with going on the hike. Soon enough we then started our day hike.

When we arrived at Black Mountain Camp we checked in and set up shooting after lunch. We ate our lunch and listened to the three staff members at the camp. As the camp is a little isolated, it appeared that they were suffering from some sort of symptom of that isolation. Then again, the theme of the camp was during the Civil war era and we were going to be shooting. It could have been a backwoods theme.
As for the shooting, it was black powder in the caliber of .58. The rifle seemed to be extremely accurate at the distance we were shooting. The triggers were also much better than the last muzzle loader that we fired.

Black Mountain Rifle Range

As it was one of the young men’s birthday, the camp staff helped him celebrate with a few more grains of powder and a slice of cheesecake.

Black Mountain Cheesecake

The only other thing that any young man would want to do on their birthday is wear a mask from a deer pelvis. I think the staff at the camp wore off on him. Either that or the cheese cake was special.

Black Mountain Deer Pelvis Mask

We then hiked back to our campsite. The adults took a shower, an unheated shower. It was a wonderful thing. It was also a chance to do a little laundry. Where do you hang your laundry when there is a chance of rain? You hang it under the dining fly. It is also were you play cards.

The adults decided to leave while the youth prepared dinner. They had prepared dinner several times and we thought no problem. After relaxing for a time, a couple of young men arrived at the staff cabin to tell us that we were needed in camp. Apparently the stove was not working as intended and a stump was caught on fire. As I remember, the words were, “They had a problem and they lit a stump on fire. The fire is out. We just need help with the stove.” Needless to say we returned to camp, the stove lit right up and dinner was then in process.

After dinner the adults returned to the staff cabin for cookies. The young men came after they had cleaned up to play some horseshoes. Other youth from other crews tried roping a stump or the metal steer.

Soon enough it was time to go to the campfire. Tonight we were a little early so we got a front row seat as opposed to the last row the night before. The campfire was good. After the campfire we quickly retired as tomorrow was going to be a early day with a long trail ahead of us.

Philmont – Day 8 – Beaubien

We woke up and got camp taken down fairly quickly this morning. Everyone slept better as sleeping bags had dried out and they were warmer. We also have a couple of early morning visitors.

Soon enough we were on the trail. We were back to following the Rayado Creek. Our initial destination was Crooked Creek, a staffed camp with the theme of homesteading, which was a few miles away.

The trail was nice a scenic. The creek had become wider due to the confluence with Comanche Creek ad a few others.

Of course the trail still had plenty of moisture on it in areas.

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There were also plenty of wildflowers along the way.

Soon we reached the place where we were to cross the creek. There was a pathway of rocks to step on to cross the creek. However, several of them were under a couple of inches of water.

Once we arrived at Crooked Creek, there were some activities to do. We put out the solar panels to collect some photons and the young men tried out the swing. A few of us took a tour of the cabin. I learned about the courting candle holder, an adjustable candlestick holder. The young man can stay as long as the candle is above the top spiral of the candle holder. It seemed that dad set the time by how high the candle started above the top spiral.

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Other activities included visiting with a couple of burrows.

There was the cow touching event. We were told at our porch talk that the caw as not friendly and that she may try to head butt a person. They did milk the cow everyday so it did have human contact. It was that the cow was just a little unfriendly. With that in mind, one young man decided to touch the cow. He slowly moved up to the side of the cow and reached out and touched the cow on the shoulder. The cow quickly turned to the young man as he had jumped when the cow turned, he was soon enough running away.

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Of course there was more chicken holding as well.

Soon enough we were on our way back down the trail. We had to go to Philips Junction to pick up food. From there were going to make the climb up to Beaubien. At food pickup I sorted out all the food that I did not need as I was one person getting food for two. As for the trail up to Beaubien, it was a little bit of a climb. We made good time getting there.

We had our porch talk and then we were headed to our 2:00 conservation project. As we were about to get started with our conservation project it began to rain. It continued to rain all afternoon. We had chuck wagon dinner, beef stew and cobbler. We were under a shelter for dinner which was good because it was raining for most of dinner. After dinner, we got a break, went back to the staff cabin and picked up our packs so that we could head to our campsite.

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As the sun was setting we put up our tents and prepared for our Sunday services. We had a brief sacrament meeting and then hiked to catch the last part of the staff campfire. Soon enough we were on our way back to camp for a good night’s sleep.

As for the miracles of the day, we definitely were blessed to get up the hill to Beaubien, with four days worth of food on our backs, in time to do our conservation project. We were also blessed by having dryer weather while hiking. It was actually a beautiful and we were protected from the rain when it rained.

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.