I couldn’t see the ground in front of me, much less my two hands grasping at the path ahead. The sky was dark, filled with thin clouds blotching the moons helpful rays. As I hiked up the cliff, I stopped and groaned to myself to see another several hundred yards of a steep, uphill climb. Finally, the rocky, ankle breaking trail ended to a clearing high up atop Urraca Mesa. I sat down along the edge, legs dangling in the air and soon, rising from the cloudy sky, an orange globe began to rise across the horizon. I turned my head up to the sky, closed my eyes and soaked up the warm rays, letting the brilliant rays edge out the coldness in my bones. I watched the orange globe rise as the refreshing wind blew my hair. As I sat atop that cliff, I reflected upon my exciting journey at Philmont Scout Ranch, the premier Boy Scout high adventure camp. Little did I know that the adventure had just begun.
On that day, my group was scheduled to hike a simple eight miles down Philmont’s esteemed Urraca Mesa and to our new campsite, Abreu. My crew set off early with hopes of arriving at camp in time for their famous Cantina and Mexican Dinner. As we hiked, plotting and mapping our way through muddy trails, storm clouds began to brew. As the sky darkened we quickened our pace to no avail and were caught in a hail storm 8,000 feet above sea level on a muddy trail with only the barest of trees for any respite. As we waited, we unrolled our map and plotted our course once more. Soon after we set out on the trail and began the long descent down into the valley. As we descended down the mountain, we sang songs and yelled shouts of anger as we twisted our ankles again and again. No sooner had we reached the bottom, did we come upon a barbed wire fence blocking our path.
As we sat down, and drank sparsely from what little water we had we looked out our not so helpful map argued about where we were. We soon realized were truly and utterly lost. We sent scouts in search of the path we must have missed but as they turned with despair in their eyes, we decided to climb the fence and blaze our own trail through the wilderness. With new determination in our eyes we set off once again, fighting our way with every step through the dense foliage of the trees and bushes. Soon after, our boots touched upon the familiar rocks and dirt that made up the trail and we set off again to finish our hike.
As I rested on a camp bench that evening, I thought back to the adventure I just experienced. The ‘trail’ we hiked was no trail, but a dried out river bed. The experience my crew had, though stressful, had strengthened our bonds of brotherhood and friendship. Lost in the wild, with no sense of direction and little food and water left, we were forced to come together and rely upon each other to push through. This was simply one day at Philmont Scout Ranch, a place unlike no other. Filled with adventure and experiences individuals can take back home, it is a place of beauty, reflection, and gratitude for all the things one has in life. It is a place one learns to rely upon himself and his fellow friends to survive in the untamed wild.
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