Day Five: 07/06/2016

Day Five: 07/06/2016

Location: Crater Lake
Destination: Miner's Park

We tried to get up early and do another sunrise hike, but sadly we all slept in. At the previous night's campfire, we had seen the Tooth of Time across a valley from us. The Tooth of Time is an igneous intrusion of dacite porphyry formed in the tertiary period some 22-40 Million years ago today. (Happy Birthday Tooth of Time). Or in plain words, its a peak of 9,003ft of elevation that is very iconic at Philmont. After seeing this Peak for a while now, we wanted to climb to the top of it and see the view from it. Unfortunately, our hike for this day had us camping at Miner's Park which was close to Crater Lake but pretty far from the Tooth of Time. Especially since we had to catch a bus back to base camp at 11:00am the next day. This became our topic of discussion throughout the entire day on Wednesday as we hiked the "grueling" 45 minutes from Crater Lake to Miner's Park. 

We arrived at Miner's park before noon and got reserved for an afternoon program time. Miner's Park specialized in rock climbing. At the staff cabin, they had a traverse wall which was three sided and approx. 50 ft in horizontal distance. The goal was to free climb (without harness, because it only got up to about 10 feet high) all the way around without falling. The farthest our crew could do was get to the second side, but not past it. After spending about half an hour on it and not making much more improvement, we decided to attempt the wall with a twist. Blindfolded. This made it much more challenging as one had to feel out each hand hold and foot hold and also rely on short term memory of the wall. This was a lot of fun for our crew. 

We returned back to our campsite, set up all our tents and bear bags and then returned back to the staff cabin in time for our turn to go rock climbing. For us to go climbing, we had to hike about 45 minutes up to a rock face that was pretty high up in elevation. This was pretty natural rock climbing and so there were no artificial handholds that they had inserted. I've rock climbed a lot on artificial walls here in Ohio, but never really had the chance to climb on a real mountain face. So this was really cool for me. We took turns climbing up the face and repelling down and spent about 2 hours up on the rocks. 
Talking as we prepared dinner at Miner's Park

After that we returned down to our campsite and sat around, at dinner and talked for a while. It was at this point that we decided that we were going to hike to the Tooth of Time the next morning and so we started planning how we would execute this.  It was about a 6 kilometer hike to our turnaround where we were scheduled to be picked up and then about 3 kilometers up to the top of the Tooth. The only problem with those 3 kilometers or so was that we gained about 2200 feet of elevation in that distance. Our rangers informed us that there was a stockade that we could drop our packs off and carry only our rain gear and water with us to allow us to go quicker. But for all this to be possible, we would have to leave as soon as possible and make it to the stockade by 7:30 am. And that meant another early morning. So with that in mind, we packed up as much as we could before bed and then went to bed around 9:45-10pm so that we could wake up around 3:45 and be hiking as soon as it was light enough which was around 5:10. 
Campsite at Miner's Park

Each night we had been holding short devotionals where the chaplain aide would talk about a topic and we as a crew would discuss it, and on this night, the devotional was a little different. At the end, the chaplain's aide handed out letters to each one of us. Turns our our parents had written us hand written letters ahead of time and mailed them into the camp for us to receive on the last night of our trek. This was such a strengthening moment because for most of that evening we had been stressing over the plausibility of hiking the Tooth in time. Reading the letters I think gave us the confidence that we could do this and were capable of great accomplishments. 

This day seemed to fly by. I don't know if it was because we were having so much fun as a crew or if it was because of the short hike that morning. We spent a lot of time talking as a group at our campsite in the afternoon and it was cool getting to know each other a lot more. Like I mentioned, we all kept finding things we had in common whether it be a similar sport or just shared interests.  The letter was also really meaningful. I had been fighting a cold up to that point and so my patience and energy that day wasn't at my best. This helped me to recollect myself and finish the trip strong.

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