Philmont 1954

JLT 40

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Date: Fri, 25 Jul 2003 10:18:03 -0500
From: "D. O. Nilsson" <>
Subject: Philmont 1954
With the current situation of registration and itinerary choices and other challenges and opportunities, I wonder how many there are who remember that on July 17, 1954, thirty-two boys arrived either at the downtown bus station in Cimarron or the train station, and were met by the yellow bus. Upon arrival at CHQ someone pointed to the second rocky mountain shelter, said that there were bunks there, and that we should pick one. The QM was in the same place along one side, and someone mentioned that we should keep an eye on the dining lodge (now the TP), and eat when they were ready to serve. After awhile someone walked about asking where JLT 40 was, and eventually we all met.

At Zastro, we had classes of various sorts. The best was Doc Loomis' knife, ax, and cooking. Everyone carried his ax lashed to the pack frame with a diamond hitch. Mine is yet in the Museum, with Doc Loomis' signature on the handle. After crossing the creek 97 times, we arrived at Rayado (now called Fish Camp), where teepees were set up on the beautiful meadow which was washed away in the flood. Then to Lost Cabin, where we spend a week building it, or rather starting it; JLT 41 was to continue it, but never did. While there, we had survival training; then back down to the creek with only a pocket knife and a poncho, built leantos, ate berries, and some were able to catch a fish or two, but then how to cook them - I don't remember whether anyone actually started a fire. That was a day or two. Then back up to Lost Cabin, a supper of split pea soup, and a bath that night before leaving the next day. My patrol was the last in line, which was probably good because we couldn't see what the water in the wash tub looked like after 24 boys had bathed in it. The last two in line had to empty the tub and carry it back to the patrol site, which we didn't find until the next morning, having lost the trail between the Troop site and the Patrol site and having discovered that we had lost it only after crossing the same fallen tree three times, at which time we sat down where we were and waited for dawn. The other guy had a nightmare that the forest was on fire, jumped up and started running, with me carrying the wash tub and trying to keep up with him. He stopped long enough for me to catch him and again we sat down to wait for dawn. When we woke, we could see a trail which forked; and took the left form by mutual agreement. Five minutes later we were in camp, where everybody was asleep, never having known that we weren't there. The other guy was from New York - I hope he sees this and remembers. Then up Clear Creek (now Mt. Phillips) from the west and down to Cypher's Mine. A week in Porky was devoted to making a detailed map of the valley, contour lines and all. Mine is on the wall at home. Then Cito and the totem poles, and the bear attack at Aspen Springs. Food had been stashed for us in a tent, but the bear got there before we did. Does anyone remember the evening situation down below Aspen Springs involving the water tank and some rats? This must have been about the first of August, more or less, and while crossing 64 we saw the first people we had seen since July 17. At Ponil, the Order of the Fork, and some other infelicitous events, but the buffalo burgers were good. We left Ponil about 11:00 PM and hiked to Old Camp before dawn. It had a three-holer, and a waiting line. Back to Ponil and CHQ. And yes, I yet have the JLT patch, the old one but not the oldest in the shape of a map of the US, on my Philmont Jacket.

My last, and thirtieth trek, was 1994, I'm glad I was there in 1954.
D.O.Nilsson, Ph.D., Retired

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