The two weeks I spent at Philmont Scout Reservation was an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. The wide-open plains pressed against the scaling mountains provided the perfect geography for exploring the state of Arizona with nothing but a backpack full of gear. Whether it is because of the stunning views, the peace and serenity of seclusion, or the sense of wonderment you get when exploring nature, I want to go back to Philmont Scout Ranch.
It isn’t often that you find a place where you instantly feel comfortable, and when I first saw the endless mountains behind base camp I knew that the next two weeks of my life were going to be spent in God’s Country. Once we had been acclimated to the elevation and checked our gear we began our adventure hiking into the brush about a mile from base camp. Each day on the trail would be spent backpacking around eight to twelve miles, taking down camp, setting it up, and cooking. My duty each day was to start a fire so our sore bodies could warm up before crawling in our sleeping bags to escape the chill of the frosty mountaintop nights.
Each day brought new adventures and a new set of challenges. Early in the trip we had a few days of light travel, only six or so miles of walking on even ground. But as the 13 days on the trail progressed the trails got steeper and the air thinner. I remember hiking up the Tooth of Time peak the day before we returned to base camp with a fifty something pound backpack thinking, “How many more boulders do I have to maneuver over before we reach the top? ” But once we reached the top each day, slinging our backpacks off and the feeling of victory was worth the pain and struggle.
My Crew and I were lucky to have come when we did because prior to our arrival there had been a two-week long downpour that made everything green and blossoming. The constant down pours softened the ground which relived the stress of our feet and the fire ban which was in place the entire summer was lifted two days before we went on the trail. Old log cabins, kept the same for decades, were snug against the trails, each with their own group of settlers that had a history to tell about how they got there. Each drag of air I took was filled with scents of butterscotch and chocolate from the ponderosa pine trees.
One minute it could be sunny and ten minutes latter three inches of hail transforms the summer paradise into a winter wonderland. Every day midafternoon you could bet on hearing the rumbles of thunder and seeing the illuminating flashes of lighting. From wide-open expanses of grass to the aspen covered hills, Philmont Scout Ranch is my little piece of heaven on earth. This environment devoid of the presence of man fills me with a primordial sense of belonging has become a part of me. After having what God’s country is like for myself I now understand the saying “I can’t wait to go back to Philmont. ”