aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

The Children of Jedediah Smith Ride Again, part I

The Children of Jedediah Smith is our in-house title for the United Methodist Trek at Philmont sponsored by NAUMS every other year. Jedediah Smith, the iconic Mountain Man, was a faithful Methodist. We are following in his footsteps. We especially remember how we wrote his brother from the Rocky Mountains one Christmas in the early 1800s, expressing his deep desire for "a Society" (meaning, their Methodist class meeting back home) "to bear [him] up before a throne of grace." Trail life is like a little cloistered society, an on-going class meeting where we help each other find and follow the way of Christ.

This was my second time to lead the UM trek. It was also my fifth Philmont trek. The youth had chosen Itinerary 28, a Strenuous, 83-mile, all-you-can-eat tour of Philmont Scout Ranch. In the end, we hiked about 87 miles in all. It was going to be the hardest backpacking trek I had ever done, and I knew what I was in for. Most of the others in the crew did not. This was a cause of great concern for me, and I was assiduous in lining up prayer support for the undertaking.

Official "Before" picture

Our crew consisted of three adults and six youth. I was the lead Advisor, ably assisted by Sarah (on her second trip to Philmont) and Pat (T.C. and Cheyanne's dad). Michael was our Crew Leader, T.J. was our Chaplain's Aide, T.C. was our Wilderness Pledge Guia. Jeffrey, Dakota, and Cheyanne rounded out the crew. Back home, we are known as Venturing Crew 119; here, we were Expedition Number 712-L.

The longest journey -- and ours would wind up taking us more than 2400 miles, round-trip -- begins with a single step. A single day. And on the day we left, I felt profoundly unready. Still, we only had a short trip the first day, to the other side of St. Louis. So, eventually, all the gear was stowed, the vehicles ready, and we were off. At our first stop (still in Indiana), we discovered that the van we had borrowed was three quarts down on oil. It also required a jump to start after running for a while with the AC on. My stress rose. In Missouri the next morning, I bought a set of jumper cables, which we used a few times on the trip. The long trip ground on.

Dakota zonked by travel

We stopped at Cabela's in Kansas City, KS, to ooh and ah at the camping gear. Cabela's even has their own hotel chain, so you can book a vacation next to your favorite outfitter.

Great Wolf Lodge and some great Wolfs

Then it was back on the road. Eventually, we reached Wilson State Park in the middle of Kansas. We cooked supper and the youth played in the lake. Nobody wanted to set up tents, so we stretched out a dining fly and meadow-crashed underneath it.

Wilson Lake, Kansas

The next day, July 11, we dropped by Fort Larned. Fort Larned was built to protect the Santa Fe Trail. Much of the fort has been restored. It was mostly an infantry post, manned by Buffalo Soldiers (African-Americans) after the Civil War. Philmont Scout Ranch sits on the Santa Fe Trail, too; indeed, the Tooth of Time got its name from travelers on the Santa Fe Trail, who knew that when the Tooth of Time had been sighted, they were two weeks from Santa Fe.

T.J. in uniform at Fort Larned

After Fort Larned, we headed out into the wide open spaces of Western Kansas, "where even the jackrabbits pack their lunch." Then it was the dry Southeastern corner of Colorado. Finally, we topped Raton Pass and dropped down into Colfax County, New Mexico. Pronghorns began to be sighted. We spent the night in Cimarron Canyon State Park, just outside Philmont. We were almost there.

  • Point of view in LOTR

    One of the achievements of The Lord of the Rings is its complicated narrative architecture. Stories are interlaced and we follow, now this sub-plot,…

  • Arthur contra mundum

    The consensus opinion among Tolkien critics -- including those who greatly admire his work -- is that The Lord of the Rings is slow to get going,…

  • Not all ancient institutions are good

    The institutions of the Roman Republic have cast a long shadow over western government. Even our Founders paid close attention to the Roman model,…

  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.