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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.

Finally on the right track: Blake and Christian cross the Cimarron River.

It’s a looooong and pretty difficult hike to Upper Dean Cow trail camp today. But, hey, nobody’s complaining. It doesn’t rain.

Christian poses in a burnout area, where wild fires raged a few years ago.

Charlie, Christian and Kevin check out the Upper Dean Cow camp map. We have the pick of the campsites since we’re the only crew here today.

Crews are supposed to set up their tents in a C or W formation — one in which a wild animal won’t enter and get trapped (as they would in a closed formation, like an O).

Kendall, Kevin, Travis and Christian cook dinner under the dining fly, waiting out a short shower.

Gross but necessary: I check my feet for blisters after a long day of hiking.

Kevin’s Thorn for the day: “45 million miles uphill with only one switchback.”

As Kevin’s Thorn indicates, it’s been a long, hard day, like so many days at Philmont. So why is Blake out here for a second Philmont trek? “This is a really majestic place,” he says. “It’s nice to be away from everything for so long. It keeps the phone off for two weeks and gets you in incredible shape. Plus, this crew likes to have a lot of fun.” He does have a very good point—or two or three.

TODAY’S TRAIL TALK: Which movie star is going to play which crew member when they make a movie about the trek. Some of the stars (while not mentioning any crew member names): Jack Nicholson, Elijah Wood, Kevin Costner, Eugene Levy, Winona Ryder, Queen Latifah …

Right when we get in our tents for the night, a mysterious barking and yipping starts up close by. Questions start darting around the crew: “Is it somebody’s dog at a nearby staffed camp?”

“Is it a fox?”

“A coyote?”

“Is it calling to a mate?”

“Is it defending its den?”

“From a BEAR?”

My mouth goes dry.

The ruckus—from both the mystery beast and the crew—goes on for at least an hour. We finally decide that it’s probably a coyote. As Blake points out: “It is almost a full moon, and coyotes are greatly offended by lunar cycles.”

2 Comments on Day 7: Visto Grande to Upper Dean Cow

  1. We stayed here too and one guy set up his tent on top of a rattlesnake.

  2. Uhhhhhh, Coyotes? I thought the only existed in the Southwest desert region.

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