Philmont - Day 6
Today was the big day, the day that the boys all had been working towards, today we climbed Baldy. Baldy is a 12,444′ peak, and we will have 9 miles today with a 3,200′ elevation increase. It was promising to be a butt-kicker for sure. We got up early and got ready, as we filtered our water, we were greeted by a small herd of deer that was roaming the area between our camp and our sister crew’s campsite. The herd of deer was obviously accustomed to people as they had no fear of us at all. We got ready and started our trek to Baldy Town. Baldy offered activities for the boys and was also a food stop at the commissary, where we picked up the food for the next few days. The climb to Baldy Town wasn’t too bad, and the boy chose not to pan for gold and instead got to Baldy as a storm was coming Philmont will not allow you up on Baldy when there is a threat of lightning. When we got to the area next to Baldy where all the crews stopped to rest before making the final climb, our crew stopped for a few minutes to rest, but, I was done, I had nothing left in me, I was officially physically and emotionally spent. For the past 45 minutes, I had lost sight in my left eye, which is a clear indicator that I was done and had little use of my arms. I was literally dragging my trekking poles. The leaders pulled me aside and had me sit down, I was crying and I couldn’t stop. I wasn’t in pain (well I was, but not enough to make me cry), I was crying because I made it to the base which is at 11,800′ and I couldn’t make it to the top. For years my son and I talked about this and damn it was going to make it. My son was so understanding and was happy not to push me, but the Marine in me was not done. I convinced my fellow adults to allow me to move forward. I had them help me get my pack on and they put my hands in the loops of the trekking poles my son and I slowly climbed up to around 12,100′ and I could not go any longer, I was done. We found a little spot off to the side of the trail and we stopped and sat down. He consoled me and told me that it was OK, but I knew that I let him down.
Since the climb to the top is a self-paced climb, the crew was basically spaced out taking their time to climb to the peak. My son and I spent a good 20 minutes sitting and waiting for me to recover enough so we could enjoy the sight of the world below us and we could take the photo that planned to take when we went to the top. We have an American Flag that we take with us on every hike we go on and we take a photo of ourselves holding it on most of our trips. The flag was going to make it to Baldy and we were going to get a photo of us holding it. My arms were still very much made of rubber, but we managed to get our photo and the world just seemed right for a few minutes. To this day, I still beat myself up often knowing that I let him down like that. There isn’t a week that goes by that I replay that moment in my head, just for a brief second. It helps me to remember to push myself and not let my loved ones down ever again.
The trek back to Ute Meadows was pretty much uneventful as it was all downhill. The crew sat around that night and the boys played a game of Uno as the adults chilled, with me sitting in our tent and reflecting on the day.
Until next week