July 2010

Philmont Scout Ranch
  Reading time 5 minutes

Philmont Scout Ranch - 2010

In 2010, my focus was heavy on Boy Scouts, the Troop had won the lottery to go to Philmont, Boy Scout reservation in New Mexico. For those not in the “know” Philmont is basically the end all be all of Boy Scout reservations in the US. It is where the boys get to apply everything that they have learned over the years. Depending on the trek the Troop selects the boys would hike somewhere between 50-100 miles, climb mountains, learn to repel, spar pole climbing, shoot, and dozens of other activities. Basically, the boys and leaders would be going to New Mexico for a 14-day adventure in the backwoods. So obviously my focus was my health and making sure that I could complete the adventure. We would be hiking some 70-odd miles over 10 days along with activities most nights at the camps. It was going to be a great time and I didn’t want to let my son down. So I started to train for it, walking daily, using a stepper to help prepare for climbing, and going on hikes with my son. The fatigue was killing me, and I discovered Vitamin B-12 is great for recovery, so that was going into my arsenal of tools to help me make it through. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to go, I fought to go and I had to pay out of pocket to go.

On so many levels it was one of the best times in my life, I really love camping and hiking and I got to spend a ton of time with my son. I could live like that full-time if I could find a way to make money to survive. Part of me knew that in a few years, he would be leaving the nest, so this time was very important to me as a father. But there was also one of the more challenging times in my life, the pain of training was very rough, the pushing myself to take one more step was mentally exhausting. As I have been open about my pain and medical issues with my family, friends, close co-workers, and of course my fellow Scout leaders, I expected that I would have a huge support system. For this Philmont trip, my son was the main support pillar for me. Besides the normal training we went through, beyond the Wilderness First Aid classes we endured together, he learned how to help me, and more importantly how to stop me. At 16 he was well-versed in my issues, my symptoms, and how to tell if I was pushing too much. As a Marine, I will continue to push until it is too late and I need up having to be medivaced from the side of the mountain.

Philmonth Flag on Mt Baldy

The trip was a huge success, with the exception that I had to stop about 500′ from the top of Mount Baldy, a 12,441 ft peak, I was so happy to make it that far. We left camp which is about 10,000 ft and hiked for several hours gaining elevation until we reach the base which was about 11,500 ft. From there it was pretty much a rock scramble to the summit on a partially worn trail. When we got to the base area, I was done already, I wasn’t sure I could go further, the gain in altitude was really putting a hurt on me. I had lost the use of my left arm entirely and my right arm was about 50% done. But I didn’t want to let my son down, so I begged him to please tie my poles to my hands so I could drag them with me, and off we went. When we got to a flat spot about 500′ from the summit, I was done and he knew it, and being the outstanding young man that he is, he made me stop. We sat down, rested, and recovered and I tried to get him to allow me to finish, but he stuck to the plan and then took photos of us holding a flag that we take with us on all of our outings together. It was that trip that I came to terms with my mystery illness, it was that trip that I made myself a promise to not allow it to win, it was that trip that my son and I made a promise to each other to have an annual father-son outing every year. It was a trip of a lifetime.


  1. MissUnderstood says:

    That sounds like a wonderful trip for you and your son, I love spending time with my family, they are my inspiration to keep going, well them and God. It sounds awful and so embarrassing to have to literally drag yourself up the mountain, but it looks like it was worth every second of that agonizing pain.

    Memories are so precious to me.

    God Bless

    1. Avatar photo IHaveSomeNerve says:

      Nine years later it is still a very fresh and fond memory for me. I agree memories are very important.

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