Trail to Philmont, March 2021

The Trail to Philmont started moving a lot faster – and got a lot more real – in March 2021. As I mentioned in the February update, during the winter we lost four members of our crew to COVID concerns. That left us with six participants, and two below the minimum crew size of eight.

Fortunately, our crew leader discovered the Patriot’s Pass Council in New Jersey. In addition to having a wealth of experience in sending crews to Philmont every year, the council put us in contact with a crew that was in a similar situation. Suddenly, we went from 6 to 13 people on our crew, and from managing our own path to Philmont to running to catch up on someone else’s. That’s not a bad thing, but it did make for a breakneck month.

March also brought a return to our regular workouts … and admitting to myself that I really needed to do something about my knees.

On and off for the last few months, I’ve been experiencing pain around my knees after jogging. It’s not severe, but it is annoying … and potentially worrying if it got worse. After all, the point of exercising is to get stronger for Philmont, not get hurt. I talked with my doctor, who proscribed physical therapy. Talking with the physical therapist revealed a probable cause of runner’s knee. Runner’s knee is basically pain caused by inflammation and irritation of the muscles, ligaments, and tissues around the knee, rather than something more structural (like damage to the knee itself, or tears to the tissue around the knee).

It’s caused by overuse as well as factors like tight muscles. That fits; although stretching is a bigger part of my daily routine than it used to be, I’m still pretty stiff thanks to my geeky IT lifestyle. Runner’s knee is fixable through physical therapy, which became just another aspect of the trail to Philmont.

What it really comes down to is this: I need to spend 30-45 minutes warming up for exercise. That might drop to something more like 20-30 minutes once I’m really good at my warm-up routine, but regardless, it’s not something I can skip or skimp on (and I admit to doing both).

Gear-wise, in March I got ever closer to being “ready”. I’ve accumulated almost everything I need; now it’s a question of revising and editing. I had a rain jacket … but since the waterproofing gave out, I got a new one. I had a two-person tent, but the crew made the decision for each leader to sleep in their own tent, so I’m looking for a smaller, lighter one-person tent. I still need some small kitbags to store stuff, a lightweight (but warm) jacket, and a non-smartwatch … but I’m pretty darn close.

As for camping … we’re finally getting back to it!

The troop went on our first formal camping trip in over a year in March. We headed up to Hickory Run for a 12-mile day hike and some overnight cold-weather camping. The cold delivered the fatal blow to my aging iPhone 7’s battery, which led me to buy a new iPhone 12 in April (hear about that in Episode 96 of Nuketown Radio Active). More trips and hikes are scheduled throughout the spring; we’ll need all of them to ensure we’re ready.

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