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Day 12: Ponil to Base Camp

Guess what? We broke Ponil’s 24-day streak of bear sightings. I can’t believe that we’ve made it through a place reportedly crawling with bears and never saw one.

Day 11: Flume Canyon to Ponil

I dreamed last night that I was at work and hadn’t taken a shower since getting back from Philmont. (Which would serve my boss right after sending me on this assignment.) The crew gets a kick out of this. “You’ll be traumatized by Philmont and will be setting up bear bags in your office,” Blake says.

Day 10: Miranda to Flume Canyon

Burro packing is on our program itinerary today. We’re supposed to get a couple of the four-hooved beasts of burden and load our crew gear on them. But when we get to the Miranda corral, the staff tells us that thunderstorms are predicted for the day (oh, joy). Since burros can be skittish in bad weather, our crew has the option to pass on the burro packing, which we do.

Day 9: Baldy Mountain

Today is the day that we tackle Baldy Mountain, which will have us climbing 4,000 feet up from Miranda to the summit. It’s a day hike, so we don’t have to break camp and pack up. We just shoulder our day packs and take off.

Day 8: Upper Dean Cow to Miranda

It’s a fairly short hike to Head of Dean staffed camp this morning. Head of Dean is a cool place because it has a big challenge course, which is designed to get the crew working together as a team to accomplish different tasks.

Day 7: Visto Grande to Upper Dean Cow

This morning, we take a left instead of a right at the Cimarron River and end up flailing around in the underbrush when our path runs out. When we backtrack to where we took the wrong turn, Blake points out the logs placed across the trail. “I guess we could’ve paid attention to the trail markers.” Live and learn.

Day 4: Crater Lake to Schaefers Pass

Today is the day our ranger leaves us. Dylan bids us farewell this morning, and all excited about being on our own, the first thing we do is get lost.

Day 3: Olympia to Crater Lake

After a beautiful, warm — and dry — morning hike during which we spot lots of deer, we arrive at Abreu camp for lunch.

Day 2: Base Camp to Olympia

After breakfast, Ranger Dylan does a shakedown of our gear. In a shakedown, you take everything from your backpack and spread it out for the ranger to look at. He then advises you on what you should and shouldn’t take on the trek.

Day 1: Philmont Base Camp

The first official day of the trek is our last one spent in civilization: Philmont Base Camp, where there’s a cafeteria and hot showers. And canvas tents on concrete platforms with cots—a real treat, we’ll soon find out.