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M A Philmont Journal - Part 3

by Tom Baskin

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Article Summary:

How the wind blew last night! Just after going to bed it started up and didn't stop 'till dawn. Still, I was very snug in my tent, a Tarptent Contrail that I have owned for a few years, and have been very happy with. It is a comfortable one-person tent, even for those over six feet tall. I have rigged it with a ridge line to expand the vestibule, and I use the rear center tie out to peak the foot section a bit. On this trip I noticed some condensation on the morning following our night of rain at Webster Park, but nothing since. My only quibble with this tent is that when conditions are such that condensation occurs, I sometimes get the foot of my bag wet from touching the roof in the sloping foot section. The tent's big selling point? It weighs in at 24.5 oz.

We broke camp earlier than usual and started the hike down to Porcupine via Comanche creek. After descending about a mile we must have passed a hidden spring because suddenly the creek bottom ran with water and the banks turned lush with water loving plants. We stopped to fill bottles at Comanche creek camp and DW and I passed the time designing the ultimate water bottle. Because our trek includes overnight stays at three dry camps, all adults carry collapsible 1-2 L screw top platypus bladders to stock up on water as necessary. These bladders, however handy they may be for extra carrying capacity, are not well suited for on the trail rehydration. If you stuff a one liter platypus in the side pocket of your pack, you will be able to reach back and pull it out while walking, but you will not be able to stuff the squishy thing back in the pocket without taking off your pack. I prefer a rigid water bottle, which is easy to extract on the fly, and possible to replace without stopping to take off my pack. Even so, with its round cross section it is sometimes difficult to get the bottle back in the side pocket, depending on how tightly my pack is stuffed.

DW and I decided that what is wanted is a one liter rigid bottle that is oval or kidney shaped in cross section, and somewhat tapered at the bottom, all to facilitate one handed reinsertion into a pack's side pocket while hiking. Of course, it was such a good idea that the thing began to sprout features faster than we could keep track of them. Consider this million dollar idea; the bottle would be made out of clear polycarbonate. One of the sides would be mirrored with a reflective coating. The curve of the mirrored surface would be parabolic. As a separate accessory, a special screw top would be available to which a 3-4 in wand containing high power LEDs would be affixed on the inside of the cap. The cap would be screwed on to the bottle and when the LEDs were activated, you would have a huge flashlight or lantern for camp use. Or, switch out the LEDs for UV lights, a` la steri-pen. Feature creep is not a bug, it's a feature!

After reaching the junction of Comanche Creek and Rayado Creek, we followed Rayado creek southeast until we hit the junction of Rayado Creek and Crooked Creek. Here, we took a brief break before taking a detour to Crooked Creep Camp, hoping to catch program there. It was hot at Crooked Creek, and things seem to have gone downhill for the homesteaders since my last visit. Mama died on the way out here, the garden failed, the spring is drying up and they have forgotten how to make candles. Sheep thieves stalk the hills and the British Company harasses them about title to the homestead. The low energy state at Crooked Creek caused GF to remark that these folks will soon be heading back east. Still, a great place to get your hillbilly on, and there is a horseshoe pit and a nice rope swing adjacent to the cabin. We had lunch and threw a few horseshoes while clouds built in the sky to the west.

I'm writing now from our campsite at Porcupine. Our scouts chose one of the most remote sites in the camp, well up Porcupine creek. It is our nicest campsite so far, and lacks the beaten down look of most Philmont campsites. Of course this impression is fostered by the fact that we got a very nice rain after leaving Crooked Creek camp. This settled the dust and lowered the temperature by about twenty degrees. However, as the clouds opened, I discovered that MS did not bring anything but a windbreaker in lieu of raingear, while AR brought a forbidden poncho in lieu of the required rain jacket. So much for gear lists.

After setting up camp, the lads quickly turned to their favorite pastime. Right now GF and DW are coaching MS in one of the hearts games. Table talk and cheating are rampant in this crowd. The best advice he is going to get is to keep his cards close.

Tonight we will enjoy beef stroganoff for dinner, but as I write I see that during the card games, the boys have already opened and shredded the cookie and pretzel packaging that was supposed to be repurposed as entrée bowls in our rehydration method. In a few minutes they will be wondering what to do.

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