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.

Kendall gets friendly with one of Head of Dean’s residents.

Kendall and Tonie take advantage of the rare opportunity to wash clothes while we wait for our Head of Dean challenge to start.

The first challenge is a “group sit.” See how well it goes:

The next challenge has the crew trying to get a tire over the top of a pole without touching the pole.

VIDEO: Watch Charlie and the gang claim tire-pole victory.

Next up is the Nitro Crossing, in which each crew member has to somehow get a rope using only their body and then swing across a line—and do it all without talking. Watch Travis and the gang go for it:

And then Charlie and company finally get it:

With the Spider Web challenge, the crew has to get each member through rope web (with two people blindfolded), using each hole once and not touching the ropes. Watch as a blindfolded Charlie encounters the web:

Last is the Wall challenge. This one’s a toughy. Everybody has to make it up a 12-foot wall with the help of everyone else who hasn’t yet gone up it. It’s not as easy as it looks, as Christian can testify:

But the crew gets the hang of it, and they start making it up the Wall. Here’s Trevor:

Since Tonie’s last, the crew tries a different technique with her:

Finally, success!:

Working the Wall.

After the challenge course, we’re off to our next camp: Miranda.

When we start hearing rifle shots in the distance, we know we’re getting close. Miranda has a black-powder rifle range.

When we get there, we find that Miranda is a wildlife paradise. The camp is set in a wide mountain meadow of green grass and colorful wildflowers leading up to a big white tepee and staff cabin. We spot turkeys loping nearby and hummingbirds feeding at orange, trumpet-shaped wildflowers.

Kevin checks in at the Miranda staff cabin.

After check-in, we head to the black-powder rifle program, where we learn how to load and fire the old-timey guns. Everybody places their caps, bandanas, camp shoes—whatever they don’t mind getting a hole in—on the range as targets. Watch Crew Leader Kevin take aim:

As a staffer looks on, Trevor pours the black powder in the barrel and rams it down. The result? A shot through his cap (He wasn’t wearing the cap at the time.)

Christian has good luck with his bandana.

Charlie has a blast at the rifle range. “You feel on top of the world when you shoot a gun,” he says. As for the old-timey black-powder rifle? “It was easy to fire. There wasn’t as much of a kick as I expected.”

This evening, the crew is invited by the staff to a friendly game of Mountain Ball. Miranda’s staff is well-known as a bunch of crazy mountain men, and their game is as crazy as they are.

Mountain Ball is a version of baseball, only everybody plays as a mob, self-pitching and running the bases in no particular order. Oh, and the best part? The mountain men ALWAYS win, even if they have to cheat to do it. Tonight they win 10 to 0.

Miranda Mountain Ball: Crazy, I tell you.

Back at our campsite, the moon is bright, bathing the meadow grass and fir trees in silver.

Tonie, Trevor, Christian and Charlie build a campfire.

Fortunately, the moon isn’t so bright that it washes out the Perseids Meteor Shower tonight. Every once in a while we catch quick streaks of light across the sky.

Comments about “Day 8: Upper Dean Cow to Miranda”

  1. Slim says:

    I was a mountain man (the one with the top hat)! The bases must be run consecutively.

  2. Strawbilly says:

    I was a mountain man! We are crazy, but we don’t cheat, Rule Number 1 is mountain men always win! Thats me in the first picture!

  3. Da Boss says:

    I love all the movies

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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.)