Trail Day 1: Six-Mile Gate to Anasazi Camp

Loading the bus.

The Brumbys caught an 8:00 am school bus for the ride to our starting point. We shared the bus with other crews and were entertained with running commentary by our Rangers.

At the bus turn-around we practiced putting our packs into a pack line and began our on-trail orientation with Ranger Doug. He had a stack of cards with all the stuff he was supposed to teach us, but didn’t ram it down our throats like we had been afraid might happen. In fact, Doug turned out to be a really great Ranger, someone we would have been happy to have as a member of our crew for the whole trek — not because we needed him but because we liked each other.

Crossing North Ponil Creek.

Our orientation included naming our boots and then introducing them to everyone.  “OK, now that you know everyone’s boots, you don’t have to look at them all the time.”  Point made — keep some distance on the trail so you can enjoy the scenery.  We oriented the map and determined where the trail actually started (just down the road from where the bus ditched us).  Doug also taught us to run a stick around the underside of the seats at the red roof inns to chase the spiders away.

The hike to Anasazi camp was short, so short that we barely felt like we were hiking before we were there.  Along the way we were reminded to loosen our hip belts when crossing creeks and styles.  Marcus dropped his watch in the creek while crossing and we spent a lot of time searching for it, eventually finding it lodged under a rock just a few feet downstream from the crossing.

Pitching tent at Anasazi camp.

We ate lunch and pitched camp, learning to separate our sleeping area from cooking and the sump, the three points of the Bear-muda triangle.  We located one of the official bear ropes well away from camp where we would return to hang our food at night.

After lunch there was lots of time for napping in the shade of the cottonwoods, searching for lizards, enjoying the flowers, and exploring North Ponil Creek.

Blake eats lunch.    Polar Pure lesson.    Sump the dishwater this way.    Trash compactors.

We also learned how to treat water with Polar Pure, a concentrated iodine solution.  It didn’t taste as bad as we expected, and even though we had filters we used the Polar Pure several times on the trek.  Doug taught us how to sump our dishwater using the famous Philmont sump frisbee.  We worked together to put up the storage fly, which had come from central supply without any rigging.  It seemed a bit silly to put it up each night since the only use we had for it was storing our stoves, Polar Pure, and toilet paper.

Matt and Nick had both been to Philmont before and knew the trash compaction routine.  It became Matt’s obsession to compress our garbage to an absolute minimum after each meal.

Ranger Doug.    Blake prepares to fly back to camp.    

Many of the crew scrambled up the rocky cliffs on the opposite side of the valley to enjoy the view.  We saw other crews on some of the other cliff tops, too.

Doug cooks a pudgie.    Non-fire circle.   

After dinner, Doug treated us to pudgie pies.  Grilled to perfection over an MSR stove, these confections of white bread filled with cherry pie filling hit the spot as we conversed around the non-fire.  We had the company of another ranger who showed up with a roll of toilet paper in hand and spent a long time talking with us.  Apparently his crew was having trouble working together and learning their essential skills and he just had to get away for a while.

As dark approached we changed into our sleeping clothes and hiked up the hill to hang our bear bags, only to discover that several other crews had taken over our spot on the bear wire.  We had to hike around a while to find another spot and get our smellables hung for the night.  So much for being early and organized.  We had a natural fireworks show in the sky from an approaching thunderstorm and hit the sack just as the rain began.