Philmont Trek 708-A-3
Watchung Area Council Contingent
July 7 - 21, 1979
Back to Base Camp: July 19, 1979
Base Camp and Closing Ceremony
The bus was scheduled to pick us up at Ponil to take us back to base camp at ten o’clock in the morning. We woke up late, took our time eating and cleaning up, then half ran to the pick up spot. Despite our leisurely approach to the morning, we were early. The bus picked us up about twenty minutes after we arrived (it was on time), and we rode for about a half hour back to base camp.
We unloaded the bus and waited at logistics to get our tent city assignments. We were assigned a section, stowed our gear in our tents, then got our dirty laundry (pretty much everything) and went to the Laundromat. When our clothes were clean we went to the snack bar to get some real food. Later we met up with some scouts from Great Britain and traded patches. We all had brought extra council patches and other regional patches along just in case the opportunity arose to do some trading. It was great meeting scouts from other countries - particularly the country where scouting begain. We had just missed trading patches with some Australians. All in all, we had a pretty uneventful day. I slept most of the time.
At dinner time we all lined up at the dining hall and waited. You could tell the crews that just came off the trail from those who had just arrived. We were suntanned or sunburned, while everyone else was light.
After dinner we played a game of Ultimate Frisbee with our sister crew. We won. Soon it was time to go to the closing ceremony. All of the crews lined up at the entrance, in order of crew number, and we started walking.
The path was in a meadow and was lit by the occasional torch. After about five minutes of walking we we arrived at a ring where the ceremony was to be held. There was a very large bonfire, and in the background was the Philmont Bull Logo. In front there were seats set up like an amphitheater. One of the camp officials stood in the middle of the ring and gave a speech. I don’t know that many of us heard him. Soon after, some of the guides started handing out the Philmont Pocket patches, then the crews that hiked over 50 miles got the leather “50 Miler” patch. Having hiked a trek that was listed as 63 miles, and actually going closer to 70, we each received a "50 Miler" award. I think even Lester got one, which is pretty bogus.
There were a couple of songs, a couple of cheers, and then we were dismissed for the night. I found my tent, crawled in, and quickly fell asleep.