July 2011
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Philmont - Day 6 - Harlin

Today was an early day. I awake at just after 5:00 am and the younger members of the crew were up at 5:30. It has usually been taking just over an hour and a half to strike camp. We had almost finished packing when we looked at the instructions for breakfast. We discovered it required hot water.

We started heating up water to bring it to a boil. We normally added the food to the pot and let it cook there. However, this morning, we were going to do it differently. Everyone packed everything but a spoon, the stove and the pot for water. We added the water to the pouches that the food was in, let it set for the time it needed and then ate out of the pouch. We licked our spoons clean and ran them through the remainder of the water left over from breakfast. We were then on our way in short order. The first stop was going to be the Dean Cow staff cabin to sign out and drop off the breakfast trash. When we arrived, we walked up through the meadow like area. The staff told up that in years with normal rain the meadow would be filled with flowers waist deep.

It was then on to the trail which was steep and had several switchbacks as it climbed out of Dean Cow and Dean Canyon.

From there we hiked across the ridge and then down in to Turkey Creek Canyon, which had a dirt road that we traveled on which delivered us to the state highway, which we crossed under and then over the Cimarron River. We had hiked about five miles and I seriously thought about cooling off in the river. We stopped there to eat lunch. If you have not guessed by now, we were headed back up. We needed to climb from just over 6000 feet up to 7400 feet and go about five more miles. At least we were on a trail and not a road. Trees grow better around the trails, go figure.

As we were getting closer to Harlan, we passed by Vaca campground and a well for that area. The solar powered pump should be obvious. We walked past. However, the sky was getting cloudy and we wondered if we were going to get more rain.

At the well, we turned left. The map showed a straight line into Harlan, however, there were more switchbacks as we hiked over the hill to the other side. Upon reaching Harlan, one of the first staff members looked at us and said,”Welcome to Sawmill.” Some of the crew were concerned that we were in the wrong spot. As we reached the staff cabin it was obvious that we were at Harlan. We received our porch talk and were scheduled for some activities.

We ate our lunch there and waited for our first stop, the reloading building. We started on the porch with a safety talk.

Next we were inside reloading shotgun shells.

Then it was back outside for the shotgun safety talk. We recited the fundamental rules of 1. ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction. 2. ALWAYS keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot. 3. ALWAYS keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

Then it was off the range. On the trail there were nice signs and pictures of the plants in the area. It was kind of like a nature walk to a shooting range. Once we were there we had to wait for another group to finish. Of course by now we were used to sitting on the ground. There was no real furniture in the forest.

Each boy got a chance to fire off the rounds that they reloaded as well as a few more. They even had the opportunity to purchase a few more rounds if they liked.

Once finished at the range it started to rain. At least the weather was being consistent, rain every afternoon. We went back to the staff cabin, got the campsite number that we were staying at and headed off to set up camp. Dinner was under way and soon enough and it was being served.

We enjoyed dinner that night. Practically everyone had a seat around the fire ring. As we ate, we realized that time was moving fast.

We put our dirty dishes in a bear bag along with all our smellables and headed off for the last event, The Burro Races. I looked down the field as the burros and their teams lined up.

At the blast of a shot gun the race was on. For the most part, the burrows were running uphill at the urging of their leader. Some burrows were not going very straight. I remember one burrow that seemed to veer off into the forest.

They would race up the hill, around the stump and then back downhill.

As it was the crew came in second place. They were happy with the performance of their burrow. There were lots of smiles to be had. We like pictures with smiles.

We then went back to camp. The dishes were done and we did our torn, roses and bud. There were many thorns over the hike to Harlan. There were unanimous roses over the burrow race and shooting shotguns.

We also knew that we wanted to make it to the service project at 7:00 tomorrow morning, which meant an early morning start.

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