August 2014
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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.


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