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.
The Ponil staff continues its service streak by making a chuckwagon breakfast for the crews (with some help from the crew advisors). Everybody swarms for seconds and thirds on the pancakes and sausage.
A last visitor to our campsite before we head out — the kind of furry visitor I like.
Today’s hike is only to the Ponil Turnaround, where the bus picks us up and takes us back to Base Camp. Just like that, we’re back in civilization, indulging in hot showers and cafeteria meals. We pick up mail at the Base Camp post office, where Tonie rakes in tons of letters from her family. She will show them her appreciation with tons of trading post gifts (including a minibear toy for her sister).
This time in Base Camp, we can see the Tooth of Time in the distance.
The Base Camp area offers more than just Tent City and its support services. There’s also the Philmont Museum and Seton Library, which we toured before our trek, and Villa Philamonte mansion, the summer home of Waite Phillips, which we tour after our trek (and after hot showers, of course).
After 11 days on the trail, Assistant Scoutmaster Forkner isn’t exactly up for the tour.
The tour guide invites Blake to entertain us on the Villa Philamonte piano. Note his sock feet: no shoes on the tour.
Tonight, the Farewell Campfire show is held in the Philmont outdoor arena. The show, with its funny minibear-attack skit and scenic slideshow, leaves us with lots of laughs and some deep thoughts about what we’ve just experienced at Philmont: 83 miles of tough terrain, slippery mud, restless nights, breath-taking scenery, fun program activities, strong crew unity and the satisfaction of a job well done.
“It was the best backpacking trip I’ve ever taken,” Charlie declares, “and the best I ever will.”
You said it, Charlie.
The next morning, former crew leader Kevin is homebound from Tent City.
I had a great time. Really.
CREW 807-G’S FINAL STATS
- Times hailed on: 5
- Times lightning procedures carried out: 3
- Trail meals consumed: 27
- Wild turkeys sighted: 8
- Times minibears stole any food: 1
- Nights bears were worried about: 10
- Bears that visited our campsite: At least 1
- Bears actually sighted: 0
- Good times: 1 gazillion
Special Recognition: Crew 807-G would like to thank their official mascot, Darla (and her sister, Nalgena), without whom we never would’ve made it. (Well, we would’ve made it—just without as many laughs.) See the crew hike in her honor: