January and February of 2021 were tough. The short days, the post-Christmas/holidays pandemic surge, and walls of snow from a 3+ foot blizzard made this one of the hardest stretches on the trail to Philmont. It was hard to stay motivated, and it got harder when subsequent storms dumped more snow on our region.
At the same time, our crew dropped in size from eight to six as two folks dropped out over (very understandable) COVID concerns. That took us below Philmont’s required crew size of eight, which led our crew leader to start researching ways to bolster our numbers (merge with another crew, find other recruits from area troops, seek help from the regional council, etc).
And finally, I found myself going stir crazy working and living at home. I get that there are plenty of people who’d be happy to have that problem. I’m grateful for being able to live and work safely during the pandemic, but still … being stuck in the same house day after day was wearing on me. Get up too-early for a too-short day that led to a too-long night followed by a trip back to the same damn home office I’d left the day before.
It was the Long Dark Tea-Time of The Soul: Philmont Edition (hat tip, Douglas Adams).
In the end, the only way out was through. I got a sun lamp and started using it during my morning meetings. I learned (and played and ran) a new role-playing game. I shoveled a ton of snow and exercised as much as I could (though perhaps not as much as I should have). The end of the winter saw me up about 6 lbs. from my pre-hibernation weight, but still reasonably in shape.
More importantly, February gave us leads on how to connect with the Patriot’s Pass Council in New Jersey. This BSA group knows Philmont and sends dozens of crews every year. More importantly, they had a crew in the same position of us: they had 7 and needed 5, we had 6 and needed 6 more. Together (and with the blessing of Philmont) we merged to create a slightly oversized crew of 13. As March approached, our pace on the Trail to Philmont started accelerating tremendously.