Thursday, August 02, 2007

Ranger Marathon

My last crew was from Iowa. It was an interesting bunch. First off, two of the advisors were a father and son, both of whom had been on eight previous treks. The other advisor was only a year older than me and had worked on staff the previous two summers as a P.C. at Apache Springs and as a R.O.C.S. instructor. All of the youth were newbies except for the crew leader, who had been here once before. Needless to say, I felt like I was preaching to the choir.

They were pretty cool though. The older advisors were avid bird watchers and plant identifiers. They also wrote poetry. They came up with a bunch of verses to the Philmont Hymn, and they also came up with a good version of "Twas the Night before Baldy." I was also able to have some fun staff conversation with the other advisor.

Anyway, their itinerary took us from Anasazi to Indian Writings, which I felt may be the closest that I would get to Dan Beard to set up the Ranger Marathon. I had my car planted at Abreu turnaround and made all the preparations beforehand. I left the crew at 6:14 AM on 801 and hiked the eight miles to Dan Beard to start the Ranger Marathon. I was in Dan Beard by 8:14 and began the 30+ mile trek to Carson Meadows.

For those who don't know, the Ranger Marathon is one of the classic Philmont challenges. Essentially, the goal is to hike from the northernmost staffed camp on Philmont to the southernmost in one day with a full pack. By starting from Indian Writings, I made the whole trek about 40 miles. I got as far as Shaefer's Pass before the sun started to set. A pretty strong storm came in about that time and got me miserably wet. Just as I was beginning to doubt my ability to finish, I met up with three other guys who were doing the marathon. We all made it Abreu around 1:00 in the morning, where they baled out to go to the turnaround to meet their ride which had been waiting since 10:00. I went up to Carson Meadows, and got to bed around 2:00. Since I had to be in base by 8:00, that meant about three hours of sleep.

When I got back to base this morning, I found out I had two days off, which is a real rarity in the ranger department. It would have been nice to know about beforehand so I could set up the marathon a little better but oh well. It's nice to have a few days to just relax. Normally I'd look into climbing some mountain I've never climbed, but after hiking 40 miles, and getting only three hours of sleep, I'm a little tired.

The Ranger Marathon is something that I've always wanted to do, but never had a way of working out how to do it logistically. It pushed me to my limits both physically and mentally. Somehow I enjoy doing things like that. It's fun to see just how far you can go before you start to break down. I'm running out of new things to do here at Philmont. It's starting to seem like I've done everything. All I can do now is wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

- Drew