July 18, 1977, Mon — Day 10 on the Trail, Tooth Ridge Camp
“Got up at 6:00 am. We had natural cereal with milk, beef jerky, apple slices, and cold Swiss Miss. At 7:30 we went down for a service project. From 8:00 am to noon we worked on a trail up the side of Shaefer’s Peak. For lunch we had tuna salad on crackers, beef jerky, Bit-O-Honey, and grape drink. Waited for Mark and Ken to come back with water.”
We hiked up to Tooth Ridge Camp by 4:30 pm. Ed and I talked about Mr. Wollenhaupt (our High School German teacher) and cameras. We had very dry cheese with bacon bits on saltine crackers, hot beef sticks, butter cup cookies, and fruit punch. This was supposed to be a dry camp. But right after we ate at 5:30 pm it started to pour and thunder. Some of the bolts landed real close. Our tent leaked something awful because we set it up fast on the dry, hard, gravelly soil. I finally changed to my last roll of film. After dinner I still had 3 1/2 cups of water left. It took us 20 minutes to go up the Tooth of Time.”
The view was fantastic. I took a panorama. Went to bed about 9:00 pm. Met Crew One as they came in. Got a wind storm during the night that blew down Ed and Larry’s back tent pole.”
Every Philmont trek includes a half day service (conservation) project. We maintained a trail up the side of Shaefer’s Peak by creating steps with rocks and logs. I remember it being hot and dirty with water at a premium.
The strenuous day before, combined with working in the dirt for four hours, and rationed water brought out the best and worst in the crew. One or two kids were simply mentally broken before lunch. That was my first time seeing physical exhaustion translate into a mental check out. I had run Cross Country for the three years prior in High School and seen plenty of people quit the team. But I never had seen people check out mentally and still be in a position where they couldn’t physically quit.
After lunch everyone put on their big boy pants, hoisted their pack, and placed one foot in front of the other till we got to the Tooth of Time. I give our crew leader Mark Rohrbach credit for providing encouragement and leadership to the kids who were checked out. Other crews didn’t get all their kids to the top of the Tooth of Time.
The view from the top of the Tooth of Time was unforgettable. I was a melancholy teenager so for me to use the word “fantastic” was out of the ordinary. It was definitely a “mountain-top experience” that renewed the spirit of the entire crew.