July 2011
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Philmont - Day 7 - Ute Springs

Today we needed to start early. I was up at 4:45 to start the water boiling for breakfast. At least this time we looked at what we needed to do before we went to bed. The boys started getting up just after 5:00. Our quickest time to strike camp has been 1.5 hours. That is all the time we have this morning because we need to be out of camp and on our way at 6:30. We were making our final preparations as the sun was coming up.

At just after 6:30 we were on our way up hill to Deer Lake for a conservation project. We were told that it would take an hour, maybe about an hour and a half. The conservation project started at 7:30 or 10:30 or 1:30 and the crew wanted to get it done at 7:30. The navigator for the day was moving quickly up hill and the boys were following right along. Those more than double their age were falling behind. I told them, just go and get us checked in. We all arrived by 7:20 and had time to sit down, rest and eat what we did not eat out of our breakfasts.

Soon we were called around for our safety talk and tool instruction. The instruction for the shovel was the most memorable for me. It started, “This is a shovel. It is used for moving dirt. Most of you may be used to staking the point of the shovel into the ground first. In case you have not noticed, there are lots of rocks in the dirt, hence the name of this mountain range, the Rockies. Please do not use the point of the shovel as we do not want it chipped or broken. Use the side of the shovel to scoop the dirt” as the conservation leader showed using the shovel in a sideward sweeping motion. As this was happening I was thinking, really, perhaps that is why all 18 of my tent pegs are a pain to get into the ground. Soon enough we were off to the site of our service, cutting down small ponderosa pines. When they get big they can suck up to 60 gallons of water a day. They had crept closer to Deer Lake, which was a mud hold due to the drought. You can see the brown mud in the middle of the green area in the distance in the picture below.

After we walked to the West side or far side of the lake and did our service, we walked back to the East side. We picked up our packs and walked back to the west side of the lake and the up a hundred feet or so. It was then declared time for lunch.

After lunch we resumed our trek for Ute Springs Camp. As headed North we could we got to a point we could look in the westerly direction and begin to see Ute Gulch. Much to our surprise, the trail would give us a front row seat to Ute Gulch and the mountains that surrounded it. We have a look to the North,

a look to the South,

and a look to the West.

We continued north and then cut back south as we lowered elevation. It seemed like we were way above the gulch. Another cut back to the North on a switchback as we continued to descend. I was getting used to the up and down thing. We go up in the morning, down just before or after lunch, sleep and then do the same thing the next day.

It was beautiful country and it was worth taking a stop to look. It was looking much different that the North Country where we started, more trees and greener. Of course, we were about a thousand feet higher.

Before we got to Ute Springs, we needed to stop by Ute Gulch to pick up another four days worth of food. It would be our last food pickup. The grid on the side of the building was electrified at night. It was a “Gatorade” vault that most any bear would want into.

When we got there we rested. They also had fresh fruit to eat and flour tortillas. Most of us had an apple or pear.

Jacob and I hung out on the swing for awhile.

Fairly soon we had to get going. The sky was getting a little darker and our familiar afternoon thunder and lightning had been underway for some time. Of course about the time we got to camp, is started raining and it was time to get set up to cook dinner. There is nothing like sitting in the rain waiting for water to boil.

Of course one of the most intriguing things was the stone chairs. Jacob found a nice large comfortable chair. When we got to camp he was always thinking ahead about his comfort. There is nothing like lounging around waiting for dinner.

Soon enough, dinner was over and it was time for a torn and roses and a bud. Of course some things remained constant, same boy, same thorn – rain. Everyone thought that we did well; we got up and out on the trail timely.

Tomorrow we would be going to Sawmill. It was not a long way in miles, just over 5, it was just all up. We decided that we wanted to get there so we could shoot the 30.06 rifles.

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