Friday, May 30, 2008

I'm Back!

Well I made it back to Philmont once again. I think I'm the only lasting member of the old Crew 395 still working out here. It all feels like home, and yet something seems different. For one thing, there's a lot of construction going on around base camp. The new health lodge is almost finished and the new staff lounge is well under way. Both are scheduled to be finished by late June. Until then, everything has been kind of a mess. The printer at NPS isn't working so a lot of the rangers who arrived yesterday didn't get nametags. They've got us wearing these cheap handwritten ones for now. Hopefully they'll get that working again soon.

The famous Philmont skyline

The drive out was long and tiring. I took the northern route through Colorado Springs which let me stay on the interstate longer and also see more of the front range of the Rockies. Hopefully with a little time off, I can get around to exploring some of those peaks in southern Colorado this summer. Once I got here, I realized just how dry it has been. They've had recent snowfall at the high altitudes, but down at base camp, it's pretty dry. There's a fire ban in place again, although they've made special exceptions for some of the backcountry camps to continue doing program like the sweat lodge at Apache Springs and blacksmithing at Black Mountain. The dust and the wind got to me though, and I had to take out my contacts last night. Hopefully after a day or so in glasses I can try the contacts again, but I think all the driving and the low humidity was just too much.

There are a lot of people on staff with familiar faces. About six of the eight members of my TC from last year showed up again as rangers. I'd be willing to bet that at least one of them gets to do Rayado this summer. Speaking of which, Greg, my Rayado partner, and a lot of the other Rayado rangers are back this year as RTs. I think I'm the only one who chose to do Mountain Trek. I want to emphasize "chose" because this was my first choice. I realize that RT is a leadership position, but after watching David go through it last summer, I realized how much time you end up spending in base camp and how unstructured the whole position is. I think I could have gotten it if I had applied, but I chose to spend another summer with the participants instead.

The new Silver Sage Staff Activity Center (S.S.S.A.C.)

As far as participants go, two of the guys from my Rayado crew are back this year. Well, actually Will from my own Rayado trek is working again this summer at Cypher's Mine, but I mean that two of the guys from last summer are back. Tim is working at Clark's Fork and James is a first year ranger. As fate would have it, James just so happens to be my tent partner this summer. It's nice to have a familiar face around but it's as though the tables have completely turned. My first summer out here, David was the super-ranger who had done everything and had even been my ranger and was also doing Mountain Trek that summer. Now it seems I'm filling his shoes again, trying to be the older, experienced ranger.

I'm glad to be back out here, and also glad to see so many people I know. I think the drive and lack of sleep is keeping me from truly appreciating it but I'm sure it will click in the next few days as we go on our training trek. We've got the all-staff training tonight, which as a third-year ranger should be pretty boring. The guest speaker tonight is the Chief Scout Executive, Bob Mazzuca. Hopefully that will be a good speech. The internet out here is sketchy as usual, so I can't say how much I'll get done on the site. I realized just before I left that the album page has some pretty major bugs so that will be my first priority. After I get a nap that is...

- Drew