Philmont – Final Days
We are on our last day and today we only have to hike 7 miles mostly downhill to get to Cito Turnaround. The problem with today is that everything is wet, our tents are soaked, our sleeping bags are wet, and some of our gear is wet. We packed up and headed out following our sister crew. It seemed that our sister crew beat us to the trail most days. It was a very rough hike to the turnaround. At spots, we were in calf-deep mud and our packs were extra heavy. But we trudged on to Cito arriving at the turnaround 1.5 hours prior to the scheduled bus pick-up. Both crews chilled under a group of trees, eating what was left of their food sharing more stories, and goofing off.
When the bus arrived the two crews intermixed and talked on the ride back to base camp. Once we arrived at base camp, we waited for a few hours to be assigned tents for the night, but the two crews didn’t mind, they played cards, goofed off, and even celebrated the birthday of one of our sister crew members. Once we got our tent assignments, it was time to pull out our soaking wet gear and allow it to air dry, while everyone took showers (there are separate camps for males and females and then there are separate bathroom facilities for youth and adults. Once we showered and the adults shaved, the crew put on clean clothing that had been stored in lockers at base camp, and we headed into Cimmeron and made pigs out of ourselves at a local pizza joint. Back at base camp, we had to switch into scout uniforms to attend the evening event and closing ceremony, and then we all turned in for the night.
On the morning of day 12, it was breakfast at the chow hall, some shopping at the trading post and then time to pack up and leave. We helped our sister crew pack up their vehicles and said our farewells to them and then we boarded our bus shortly after that for a trip to the airport and back to the real world.
Since our wonderful experience, Philmont had had a nasty fire in 2018, which closed the ranch for the entire year. The Ute Park fire started on May 31, 2018, and still remains under investigation. The fire burned over 26,000 acres at Philmont, damaging 200 plus campsites, twelve structures and impacted 37 backcountry treks. Reports that all of Head of Dean and Harlan had major damage with Harlan losing one building and Dean Cow being entirely destroyed.