Trail Day 11: Harlan to Turkey Creek
Like the first trail day more than a week earlier, the last day was short — only a couple of miles downhill from Harlan to the Turkey Creek turnaround to meet the bus back to base camp.
By this time the Brumbys were more than ready to get off the trail. They’d had a great time hiking and camping together, but everyone’s little idiosyncracies were starting to wear thin and there had been some minor snapping.
Overall, the Brumby crew worked together very well throughout the trek. Mostly, they saw what needed to be done and did it. They got going efficiently in the mornings, made decisions together on the trail, and were considerate of the slower members of the group going up the hills.
Most of the staff running the programs at the trail camps were great. They were enthusiastic and made everyone feel welcome. We all agreed that Ponil was the exception, and maybe we just hit them on a bad day or it was because there were so many crews passing through there at the same time.
A Philmont trek is a great adventure that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts. The hiking itself is both challenging and fun. The New Mexico scenery is radically different from what we have at home. The program activities were fun and some even taught new skills. The experience of living and working closely within a crew of nine boys and men teaches its own lessons. We each took something different away from our trek, but we’ll carry the memories with us for a long time.
The ride back to base camp was strangely subdued. It felt odd to be travelling without moving our legs. Some of the crew had seen another bear and her cub while looking for the bus turnaround (logistics had marked the wrong spot on the map) and I crossed another rattlesnake while wandering around taking pictures.
Back in base camp we began the process of returning to civilization. Andrew and Nick had volunteered to do our laundry, so they headed to the laundromat with all our trail clothes. We retrieved the rest of our gear from the storage locker, cleaned and returned our cook gear, and gave away our remaining white gas to an arriving crew. We moved into our base camp wall tents, complete with cots, and shopped at the trading post and snack bar. That night we went to the closing campfire and received our Philmont patches.