Archive for July, 2011

The Hot, Dusty Trail


New Mexico is HOT!

Check that…

New Mexico is VERY HOT!


I managed to survive my 11 day, 10 night backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in northern New Mexico and it’s a trip I won’t soon forget!

Without a doubt it was the hardest physical thing I’ve ever done.

Forget running a marathon. This was like running back to back to back marathons, without a day to rest!

There are 35 treks to choose from when planning a trip to Philmont. The treks are ranked according to degree of difficulty and milage. The lowest and I guess the easiest is 1. The hardest and the one with the most miles is 35.

Way back on a cold Minnesota winter night our crew of eight scouts and four adults decided we wanted to try number 32.


Our itinerary called it, “Super Strenuous”. My older son, who had done the exact same trek three years ago, called it the hardest thing he had done.

Neither of those phased me.

I was just coming off a training and running a marathon, I had particpated in our troop’s training hikes AND I had gone backpacking last year in Wyoming.

Bring it on!

However,I soon realized this trip was going to be more than just throwing on some hiking boots and a backpack and hiking for a few hours!

Mainly because of the conditions.

It was very hot during the day and it was extremely dry. In fact it was so dry that we were constantly warned about the fire danger. At times it was like a dust bowl, with strong winds and dust and dirt blowing everywhere.

It was evident early on that dehydration was going to be a concern.

We were told to drink water.

Lots and lots of water!

With most sources of water such as streams and lakes dried up, it was important for us to know exactly where we could find water.

Staff camps along the trek had water. It was also “potable”, which meant we could drink it without treating it. Trail camps were dry, which meant we needed to carry in water from wells that were usually within a mile or two of the camp. That water needed to filtered or treated with tablets before we could drink it.

One of the first things we needed to get used to was drinking warm water!

Even if the water started off somewhat cool, the sun would soon warm it.

Later on in our journey, when I was thinking about the “luxuries” of life that I missed most, ice came in number one for me!

On the third day of our trek, which happened to be Father’s Day, we were at a staff camp that served cold root beer.

No ice, just cold root beer in a cup!

After three days without a cold beverage, that root beer was the best thing ever! (And I’m not a root beer drinker!)

Cold water to drink wasn’t the only water I missed. I also missed the kind that came from shower head!

Did I forget to mention that one of the “perks” of this trip was not having to shower for an entire week! We were able to shower a couple of times along the trail at staff camps, but that usually meant very short showers. The kind where the water would come on for about twenty seconds and then go off.

Press the button, soak.

Press again, soap up.

Press again, rinse!

It was nice to get a couple of layers of dirt off, but they quickly returned within a couple of hours.

Which brings up the odor!

It got bad!

I knew I was getting pretty “ripe” when I began to offend myself! I guess wearing the same shirt day after day in 90 degree heat has a tendency to do that to a person!

Which brings me to another item of luxuries I will no longer take for granted, indoor plumbing!

Enough said!


I started getting them on Day 8. Thank goodness for moleskin and duct tape!

All joking aside, it was a fantastic trip and one I will never forget! We had a great group of young men and it was a pleasure to be able to do this trek with them. (I did give my DAUGHTER a big hug when I got home and you can figure out why!)

We were suppose to hike about 85 miles, but in reality, we were at or near the century mark.

We climbed Hart Peak, Mount Baldy and Tooth of Time.

Mount Baldy was at 12,441 feet and the view was incrediable! While at the summit, we also had the thrill of seeing a U.S. bomber fly past us, but BELOW us!

We also got to enjoy several of the program activities offered at Philmont, along with seeing many talented staffers.

Here are some pictures from our trip…

With my son at Base Camp prior to hitting the trail.

Along the trail.

At the base of Mt. Baldy.

12,441 feet!

Wish we had this stuff in Minnesota!

Pass the duct tape!

On top of the "Tooth of Time"!

Back at Base Camp.

P.S. The soda WITH ICE and the ice cream tasted GREAT back at Base Camp!

Sorry, We’re Closed!

In National Lampoon’s Vacation, while pleading his case to avoid being arrested, Clark Griswold says to amusement park owner Roy Walley, “Can you imagine your kid’s disappointment when you got to Florida and it was closed?”

Walley responded, “Oh, they don’t close Florida!”

Griswold then added, “I know they don’t close the state of Florida!”

Well maybe not Florida, but in Minnesota they do!

Yes, for the past two weeks Minnesota has been closed due to a budget impass between our Governor and State Legislature.

Just a pesky five billion dollar deficit and how to deal with it stands in the way of an agreement!

So on July 1st the state officially shut down.

Okay, so we can’t take a tour of the capital building, that can wait. But much to the surprise of me and many of my fellow Minnesotans there were other things affected as well.

Such as…

Over 20,000 state employees were suddenly out of a job.

You could no longer purchase a fishing license in the “Land of 10 Billion Lakes” or any other license for that matter. This was especially hard on the newly turned sixteen year olds who were anxious to get their driver’s license so they would have a place to use their cell phones!

Want to play the lottery? Not here!

Want to bet on a horse to win, place or show? Canterbury Park in suburban Minneapolis, which is privately owned, has been shut down simply because the state regulators (Vinny & Anthony) have been temporarlly laid off.

Over one hundred road construction projects were halted! Okay, not having to deal with our annual “detour” season hasn’t been so hard to take!

Even Miller and Coors beer sales were close to being halted due to a license not being renewed before the shutdown. (To area sports fans that is like Defcon 4!)

Then there was this…

The past week I have been on somewhat of a mini tour of the midwest. I traveled to Iowa last weekend to say goodbye to my nephew who is leaving the country for a couple years to pursue a teaching career and on Monday I was off to North Dakota for my son’s orientation session at North Dakota State University.

Des Moines and Fargo in a couple of days!

The entire trip was on interstate highways.

I 35 to Iowa and I 94 to North Dakota.

The one thing you notice pretty quickly when drive through Minnesota is the orange cones. The big ones that are blocking the exits to the REST AREAS!

Yes, even our rest stops are closed!

“Welcome To Minnesota…next rest area 400 miles!”

Yes, this whole budget mess has brought a new urgency to “go before we leave”!

Of course, if you’re like me, you take things for granted until they are taken away from you. I never realized just how many rest areas there are along interstates 35 and 94! The orange barricades somehow made them more noticable or maybe it was the pain I was feeling in the lower half of my body!

So for the sake of my bladder (and everything and everyone else affected) I hope they settle this mess soon!

Breaking News…

It seems that we may soon be back in business here! Late yesterday, a deal was announced between the Governor and legislative leaders that will hopefully turn on our “Open For Business” sign once again!

Until then, “go before” you come to Minnesota!

Clark Griswold at a Minnesota Rest Area!

"They don't close the state of Florida!"

Welcome To Minnesota!