Ora et Labora

Played the last-year released Rosenburg game last night. I like it more than Le Havre, though it feels similar. We had a hard time with language as we played the German edition. Took about 2.5 hours.

To BGG.CON

Today I arrive at BGG.CON, the annual BoardGameGeek convention in Dallas. This is my (n-1)th convention, where n is the number of conventions they’ve held. I missed #2 because I went to Essen that year.

Once again I will be hanging with Jim Ginn who I met at GenCon in Indy (2004 I think) but really got to know (along with lovely wife Jill) at the first BGG.CON when I went as an exhibitor showing off Havoc with KC and Rita. This is the one show I like to make every year as it always comes right at the end of my football coaching season and makes for a great transition to the holiday season when I like to ramp up my gaming activity. Sad thing is I will miss my sons’ high school football playoff game on Friday.

This year I hope to play:

  • Eclipse
  • Ora Et Labora
  • 1860
  • Coreworlds
  • Lords of Waterdeep
  • Unhappy King Charles
  • Antike (with Yehuda in Israel over Skype)
  • maybe some of the new hot stuff from Essen.

But as you can see from the above I don’t mind waiting a year.

I also hope to catch up with Texas friends Hamzy (trading local craft beers), Tim, and Jeff (show off the Sony 5-N camera I now own so he can say “told you so”).

Philmont Equipment Details

Explaining the bear ropes

Like most people (adults?) going to Philmont, Julie and I spent a lot of time exploring strategies and tactics for equipment. Much our equipment was close to twenty years old (pre-kids backpacking days) so we knew a major refresh was in order. We leaned towards the ultra-light approach and used many ideas from the Backpacking Light web site and forums, including the excellent Philmont forum. The short story is that we spent a lot of money on new equipment for us, and a smaller amount of money on the boys (heck, they are on their own in a few years any way!). The longer story is shown in the summary you can see below (PDF version of the equipment summary).

Here are some highlights on the choices I made:

  • I opted for a down quilt instead of a traditional sleeping bag. It is lighter weight and worked well with the new Exped Synmat. Plus, it doubles as an insulating layer that I can wear like a down jacket.
  • I brought only a single pair of convertible Kühl pants / shorts. They dry quickly and I wore them every day.
  • Two pairs of underwear, three pairs of socks.
  • I wore Montrail lightweight hikers most of the time and used leather Vibram five-fingers around camp.
  • Three t-shirts (dry-fit style) and one well-worn Columbia button-down longsleeve.
  • Go-lite rain pants and an Outdoor Research Helium II jacket. I’m not sure I even needed the rain pants. It does rain at Philmont, but it is so dry there that recovery is quick. I put on wet clothes one morning after laundry the night before didn’t dry, and my clothes were dry within 5 minutes.
  • Sham Wow. Cheap, disposable, functional, weighs close to nothing, ’nuff said.
  • Kindle Wifi 2, Sony 5N camera with pancake lens, iPhone turned off with SIM card removed most of the time.

Leo carries the pot of shame

I talked before about our frustrations with the cooking philosophy changes at Philmont this year. As a result I had to carry a pot at the bottom of my pack that I didn’t plan on. Fortunately I was able to squeeze other items inside it so it didn’t impact my volume significantly. Our awesome Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2p tent and Tyvek fly more than made up for this unwelcome addition to my load.

In the end my base weight (without food or water) when we struck out on the trail was right around 20 lbs, fully loaded around 28 lbs. A far cry from my 45+ lb days in the early 90s!

Summary with Total Weights

.

SUM of Qty

SUM of Total Wt Lbs

.

Carried

Base

Asolo Pack Liner

1

0.22

.

Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2p tent

1

3.71

.

Big Agnes Footprint

1

0.31

.

Exped Pump Pillow

1

0.33

.

Exped SynMat UL7M pad

1

1.01

.

Foam Pad

1

0.07

.

Granite Gear Crown VC 60 b/p

1

2.13

.

Granite Gear Lineloc Lid

1

0.56

.

Sea to Summit Electronics bag

1

0.04

.

Sierra Sniveller Quilt

1

1.50

.

Tarp, cord, stakes, extra cord

1

1.86

.

Base Total

11

11.74

.

Clothing

2 pr monkey socks

2

0.26

.

Acrylic Maroon beanie

1

0.15

.

Brown monkey gloves

1

0.09

.

Button down blue Columbia shirt

1

0.61

.

Crew t-shirt

1

0.33

.

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs

1

0.13

.

Five fingers shoes

1

0.75

.

GoLite Trail Shorts

1

0.33

.

GoLite Tumalo Trinity 2.5 pants

1

0.44

.

Heattech long underwear top

1

0.38

.

Heattech T-shirt

1

0.21

.

OR Helium II jacket

1

0.41

.

Clothing Total

13

4.08

.

Cooking

Brunton clip light

1

0.04

.

Gerber Mini Paragrame knife

1

0.09

.

Snow peak blue spoon

1

0.03

.

Snow peak titanium 450 mug

1

0.13

.

Cooking Total

4

0.28

.

Extras

Field Notes

1

0.07

.

Kindle Wifi 2 in foam

1

0.64

.

Mophie Juice Pack

1

0.16

.

Pilot G-2 Mini

1

0.01

.

Solio Mono-a Solar Charger

1

0.23

.

Sony NEX-5N with extra battery

1

0.63

.

Extras Total

6

1.74

.

Survival

2

0.00

.

Camp Photon Wire carabiner

1

0.06

.

Crew first aid kit

1

0.94

.

Mini Bic

1

0.03

.

Orange plastic trowel

1

0.12

.

Quake Care

1

0.11

.

Silva with mirror

1

0.09

.

Small whistle

1

0.01

.

Stormproof

1

0.01

.

Survival Total

10

1.37

.

Toiletries

6

0.00

.

Bug repellent

1

0.11

.

Sham wow

1

0.04

.

Toiletries Total

8

0.15

.

Water

20 oz Gatorade bottle

2

0.15

.

2L Platypus Hoser

1

0.22

.

4L Platypus

1

0.23

.

Aquamira liquid purification

1

0.19

.

Water Total

5

0.79

.

Carried Total

57

20.14

.

Worn

Clothing

Cotton Bandana

1

0.04

.

Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Briefs

1

0.14

.

GoLite Race Hat

1

0.12

.

Kuhl convertible pants

1

0.92

.

Montrail hikers

1

1.60

.

Philmont T-shirt

1

0.34

.

Wigwam Cool-Lite Hiker Pro socks

1

0.16

.

Clothing Total

7

3.32

.

Extras

iPhone with case

1

0.36

.

Extras Total

1

0.36

.

Worn Total

8

3.68

.

Grand Total

65

23.83

Philmont Day 11 – Dean Heck to Base Camp

Preparing for our final bushwack hike out of Dean Heck

We did all survive the night in the haunted Dean Heck trail camp. Matthew’s first words when he woke up: “I’M ALIVE!!” Kyle admitted that he was exhausted after a long night of protecting us from various threats. To make up for our night-time trauma, we were rewarded with beautiful clear morning. The moon and stars were still out — what a great way to start our final day of hiking.

Crossing the saddle into our exit valley

We are “off reservation” at this point in our trek and to follow the normal itinerary we would follow a dirt road far to the east then loop around south and west back to our pickup near the town of Cimarron. Starting with Derek’s initial consultation with our logistics staffer we had considered bushwhacking over a saddle in the hills to the south of us. In theory this might save us time, but in reality we just didn’t want to hike on a boring road and the boys were up for one final adventure.

The final open meadow as we hike to the turnaround

The navigation wasn’t trivial as we had to go around dense scrub and avoid some steep cliffs on our way up and down. The sandy ravines and boulder fields were impressive as we came down the south side of the saddle and transitioned into a wide open scrub meadow.

Civilization comes into view as we exit the valley

We eventually joined up with the original road we would have taken around the hills and finished our hike back to the pickup by the highway. Here we saw some new wildlife – our first jackrabbit!

Crew 724-G-1 with its last photo of the hike

We crossed back into civilization across a stile (reminded me of some fantasy I read as a teen) and hung out for about 2 hours, relaxing our feet and playing cards while we waited for the Philmont bus to arrive. We were only a mile from Cimarron and we could hear the announcer from a rodeo getting ready to start. We sang along with the national anthem.

Walking to dinner

That night we treated ourselves to a well deserved burger and milkshake in Cimarron. Oh, and we showered.

In my last post I will go into equipment and technology details for our Philmont adventure.

Philmont Day 10 – Elkhorn to Dean Heck

Hiking into Dean Cow

This is our last full day of hiking and program at Philmont. For breakfast, we had the hot skillet scramble. Texture a little odd, but still good and a nice change of pace from cold breakfast every day. The boys were all in great spirits as we left Elkhorn with lots of singing, especially Jacob and Matthew. And Matthew just kept on singing, acting as our very own Pandora, cued up from “Call Me Baby”. We saw more of our entourage of buck as we left camp.

Porch talk at Dean Cow

The terrain changed a lot along the way to our program area at Dean Cow. It was much drier, more cactus and many cool rock formations. We absolutely adored Dean Cow and the program staff there. When we mentioned the idea of bush-wacking to the turnaround tomorrow, the lead staffer immediately asked for maps and talked it over in detail with the boys. It was nice to encounter someone with such a positive attitude and who encouraged the boys to take on a final challenge. The rock climbing there was awesome, with twin cliffs named Queen Latifah and Natalie Portman. When asked “How American Are You?”, Matthew replies “I’ll name a cliff just so I can say I did Natalie Portman.”

Chris rapelling down

We had a relaxing time bandaging up our feet and resting up before our hike to our last trail camp at Dean Heck.

Kyle will revive Matthew

Along the way we saw lots of huge fire ant mounds, many 12-18 inches tall. The terrain was more stark and forbidding overall. Could this be foreshadowing? It rained pretty hard for the last part of the hike to Dean Heck, but stayed warm. We arrived, but weren’t entirely sure we were there. The only designation was a UTM post and the windmill/water buffalo/water tank. We then scouted around and found the best trees to do the bear rope, although not great. We couldn’t get the rope as high as we’d like. This was our only camp without a pre-strung bear line traverse wire.

Dean Heck meadow and campsite

This camp will forever be known as the haunted campsite. After the tents were set up, we all hid under the fly and did final Guia program work led by Matthew. Area seemed even creepier than before due to rain, lightning, a scorpion we found in the meadow, the fire ants, and the 2 dead plus one “I’m not dead yet” rodents in the water buffalo (see photo below). And the windmill that, when turning, alternated between the nails on chalkboard “Scrrrreeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaa” and the hauntingly mournful “Mmmmmmmmooooooooaaaa”. Awesome. We persevered through the extreme humidity and passed the afternoon playing catch with the squeegee frisbee. We then took all of our dinner stuff and ate over at the windmill ruins, which had a rock wall we could sit on fairly comfortably. Pretty nice spot for dinner until the ants found us. After dinner, we went back under the dining fly for sharing and final talk. I did a few of my card tricks. Then Phil did one that had us in stitches. Just as we went to bed, it started to rain and the wind picked up, literally howling through the canyon, which set the windmill going. Creepy. Matthew says “I’m going to die. I’m serious. I am not going to make it through the night.” Kyle assured us that he would protect us – as our chaplain, he was trained at base camp to fend off were-rats. Thank you Kyle. Thank you.

This is what greated us in the cistern

The poor giant rat hanging on to the pipe didn’t survive the night. We thought we heard him calling out to us during the night.