Cheyanne undergoing trail repairs
Monday morning the 16th saw me up at 4:30 a.m. Venus, Jupiter, the Moon (complete with earthshine) and the Pleiades were all lighting up the sky in a big way as I got moving. This was going to be our longest -- and one of our toughest -- days, so it was essential that we got an early start. We had twelve and a half miles to go, up and over the Tooth of Time.
Our first task was to ascend Schaefers Pass. I had done so three times previously, but never from the south. We boogied up the trail like old hands and arrived at the Pass by 11:00 a.m., where we stopped for lunch. (Later on, Pat observed that we were a good First Half; we could keep up with the best of crews for about three hours, and then we'd fall apart in the afternoon.) We got a really good view of the Grizzly Tooth, a rock formation to the west of Shaefers Pass.
For lunch, we had some chocolate hazelnut spread. The commissary at Miners Park had also given us some fresh tortillas, and the combinations was out of this world. So, it's not all kibbles and bits. Sometimes you hit gold.
The Grizzly Tooth
While we were in the Pass, I visited the spring there. The spring was flowing two years ago, but not now. Philmont is in a prolonged drought, and many water sources have dried up. I paused to bless the spring before we left. When I got back, we hung bear bags and proceeded with day packs only down Tooth Ridge.
The trail leads up and around Shaefers Peak on the south, then mostly follows the north side of the ridge to the base of the Tooth. It's four miles each way from the Pass, so we were hustling as fast as we could go. I was singing as we started out. Thunder was overhead and rain was falling to both north and south of us.
By the time we reached the base of the Tooth, Cheyanne was in too much pain to climb. I stayed with her while the others went bouldering up the slope. Dakota got winded and stopped halfway up and Jeffrey stayed with her. Pat and Sarah pooped out somewhere just short of the peak. That left Michael, T.J., and T.C. to bag the Tooth and all the glory thereof. Then it was back to the Pass.
View from Tooth Ridge
Evening was drawing on as we hastened down the long, steep trail to Clarks Fork. We were anxious to get under cover. But Cheyanne finally could go no further and I had to repair her heels on the trail. We got into Clarks Fork just shy of eight o'clock. We immediately sought first aid for Cheyanne (and Dakota, whose ankle had gotten banged up). We missed the campfire, but we were in camp before dark and the tough day was in the bag.
The next morning, I gave the youth some time to do program before we started off again. We were footsore and tired and needed some play. Branding belts, boots, and hats was a big favorite, as was learning to rope cattle (and advisors). Also, we all managed to get a SHOWER for the first time since hitting the trail, and everybody's mood was much improved.
Branding at Clarks Fork
The photos in this installment are all by Sarah Lockwood. My camera battery had died, and until I could buy some disposable cameras, I was dependent upon her to take pictures of our trek.