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.

Another sock-drying technique: tie to backpack during hike.

One of the many white-tailed and mule deer we encounter on the trek.

The Tooth of Time looks over us.

Kendall and Trevor check out the Abreu campsite map, hunting for the staff headquarters, a.k.a. Goat HQ.

Abreu includes an old-timey homestead, complete with staff dressed in historic clothing and barnyard animals. We are practically attacked by the resident goats, nudging us for something good to eat.

Trevor, Charlie and Kendall get friendly with the Abreu residents.

Abreu homesteaders.

Besides the pushy goats, Abreu has two other surprises for us: altitude sickness and hail. At this high altitude, it’s more important than ever to keep hydrated. Trick is, the cool temps and wet weather in the mountains can make you forget about drinking.

During lunch, Blake starts to feel nauseated and admits that he “hasn’t been drinking enough today.” It’s altitude sickness.

While he sits on the porch where we’ve been eating our lunch, the goats all gather around him. I don’t know if it’s because they sense he’s feeling bad or that he’s an easier victim to steal food from. With the goats preoccupied, the rest of us are left to finish our lunch in peace. That is, peace until the hail starts.

TODAY’S TRAIL TALK: Discussions of favorite restaurants have already started up, although nobody is sick of the trail food — yet. Pizza places top the list.

Storm clouds have snuck up on us and suddenly the porch roof is pinging with pea-size hail. Anybody who wasn’t already on the porch makes a beeline for it yelling, “Ow! Ow! Ow!”

We’re able to wait out the hail on the porch. We’d like to stay put until it stops raining completely, but the Abreu staff tells us we better get a move on if we want to get to Crater Lake — our next campsite — before dark.

So we head out and do a little “whitewater hiking,” as I like to call it. You know, it’s when it’s raining so hard, trails turn into little rushing rivers.

The good news about hiking in the storm today is that it’s perfect for more ranger training. With lightning striking all around us, we get prime opportunities to practice safety procedures. Dylan teaches us how to throw down our backpacks and trekking poles, spread 30 feet apart from each other and crouch on the balls of our feet (man, that burns the calves after a while!).

Travis burns his calves in the lightning safety position.

Of course, not everything the ranger teaches you on the trail is a matter of life and death. Dylan also points out cool things, like how Ponderosa pines, sniffed up close, often smell either like butterscotch or vanilla. Weird.

It’s getting dark and still raining a little when we get to Crater Lake. In a word (or two): Crater Lake is a mud hole.

Our abysmal campsite. Note the small rivers running through it.

Our dining fly and camp stove are set up on a mud slick. Our tents are pitched on a sloping mud slick.

Before bedtime, we stand on a mud slick to do our “Thorns, Roses and Buds.” This is a nightly talk in which each crew member tells about the worst thing (Thorn) and best thing (Rose) from their day, and their personal goal for the rest of the trek (Bud).

Most everybody’s Thorns have to do with the weather, such as Trevor’s: “Ripping a hole in my rain pants.” But then there’s Blake’s Rose: “The goats comforting me through my bout of altitude sickness.”

Kendall slips while getting ready to go in her tent and is now covered with mud all down one leg. That definitely would’ve been my thorn for the day.

A brighter scene: Crater Lake the next morning. The lake itself is actually pretty nice.

Comments about “Day 3: Olympia to Crater Lake”

  1. Philmont Beast says:

    You didn’t mention it, but when we did trek 29, the day from Olympia to Crater Lake was the hardest day of the trek. Doc, a staffer at Crater Lake said the hike was a “worthy effort”. and as I remember it was super hard. rained on us at Crater Lake, just like you. Thanks for the memories

    Well Done!

  2. MCMILLAN says:

    was the gote scary

  3. Jr. Pro says:

    We went to Crater Lake. We had Trek 14. They got new spar poles the day we got there. Our crew was the first to climb on them. It was fun.

  4. Gertrude Abreu says:

    I worked at Abreu this year. I’m glad you were able to stop by our camp!!

  5. Daylen007 says:

    Haha. Worst day ever during the trek I thought. There were others that were close, but this one topped it. But it’s Philmont. What can you do? You shold’ve gotten a video/picture that shows the difference in the weather and how fast it changed.

  6. bobob says:

    my brother worked at abreu this year his name is will


  7. member of troop 152 says:

    This looks like fun. this summer I backpacked to the botte of the grand canyon.

  8. Troop 79- member says:

    Our trek spet some time at Abreu staff camp, we thourghly enjoyed the root beer out in the back-country. That evening two adults, our ranger and i went back while my crew (meaning i was crew leader) swam in a creek and played hacky-sack back at camp. I was a man and helped with the evening milking and helping the staff take care of the burro and goat pens.

  9. Da Boss says:


    I cant wait for the next day

  10. NurseS says:

    Oh, the migraine headache I would have had at the altitude change! I am getting to live the adventure this way! Can’t wait to hear more…

  11. AT87 says:

    “Whitewater hiking.” That’s brilliant. It really paints a vivid picture.

  12. gimbloom says:

    wow, the view of Crater Lake had to be worth living through the mud!

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  • A bright and fresh Crew 807-G before the storms, bear scares and horrors of dehydrated trail food.

    Front row, left to right: Charlie Jordan, Christian Gouldy, Blake Kincaid. Back row, left to right: Editor Paula Murphey, Tonie Sanchez, Kendall Brush, Trevor Baggett, Assistant Scoutmaster Ken Forkner, Travis Forkner, Crew Leader Kevin Manning, Scoutmaster Ivy Brush.
  • The oldest of the BSA’s national high-adventure bases, Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, N.M., covers about 214 square miles of Rocky Mountain wilderness.

    Scouts, Venturers and adult advisors go to Philmont to backpack through its rugged terrain and enjoy its numerous program activities. Most action takes place in the summer, but several programs are offered in the off-season.

    Since 1939, more than 860,000 trekkers have experienced Philmont adventure.

    >> Click here to visit Philmont's website

  • Crew reviews of Philmont trail food:


    Jalapeño squeeze cheese and apple cinnamon oatmeal — Kevin

    Canned ham — Blake

    Almond butter with honey spread — Travis

    Oatmeal chewy bars — “It was the one trail food that I already knew!” — Kendall


    “The worst was the aftermath of the vegetarian chili.” — Blake

    “The macaroni and cheese was more like spaghetti in watery cheese soup.” — Tonie

    “The black beans and rice gave me heartburn. Mostly the trail meals were pretty good.” — Christian

  • Words and phrases you'll hear at Philmont:

    Bearmuda Triangle: The basic plan of bear safety procedures in each campsite. Three points of the triangle: dining fly—sump—bear bags.

    Minibears: Chipmunks and squirrels very skilled at running off with your trail food when you’re not looking (and even sometimes when you are).

    Oops Bag: The very last bear bag to go up before bedtime. It gives everybody a chance to check their pockets and the campsite one last time and be able to say, “Oops! I found another smellable!”

    Pilot to Bombardier: Like a Red Roof Inn, but without the roof—or any walls.

    Red Roof Inn: “Fancy” outhouses that have—you guessed it—red roofs.

    Squeeze Cheese: Very popular trail food, especially in jalapeño flavor.

    Staffed Camps: 34 camps where staff deliver program activities, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, rifle shooting, challenge events and panning for gold.

    Swap Box: A big box at each staffed camp where crews can trade uneaten (and gross) foods for better stuff. Most dumped: Gorp and beef jerky.

    Thorns, Roses and Buds: A nightly ritual in which each crew member tells about his or her “thorn” (worst thing) and “rose” (best thing) of the day and “bud” (goal for the rest of the trek).

    Trail Camps: 55 camps that do not include a staff or program activity. Your crew is on its own in the Great Outdoors.

    Yum-Yum Bag: The large Ziplock bag in which a crew stores all food waste, which is hauled up in the bear bags at night. Ideally, there’s not much to go into a yum-yum bag. If you open a package of food, you’re expected to eat it all. (Or get somebody else to finish it off for you. Usually every crew has a human garbage disposal or two.)