We woke up at 3:40 AM to catch the sunrise at the top of the Tooth of Time. It was very early, but we all felt it would be worth it to get up there as soon as possible. We had to use our headlamps to guide us along the trail to the base of the Tooth. Reaching the base, we looked up to see where had to climb and our lights could only shine so far. It looked like hundreds are large boulders scattered up the side of the trail. Slowly, but surely, we climbed up and over the rocks to reach the peak. It was dangerous enough, but the dark only made it worse.
Arriving at the top, the sun had not peaked over the horizon yet. The night sky was still dark filled with stars. There was a staff member who was sleeping up there and we woke him up, but he drifted back into a deep sleep. Getting into a comfortable spot, we awaited the sunrise. It was strange because we had expected it to rise earlier, but the sun did not appear yet. About an hour later, our sister crew arrived at the peak and laughed saying we always beat them in everything. They also said that we were an hour early. We had gotten up too soon for the sunrise. Even though we were early, it was still an amazing experience.
A dark orange sliver began to appear over the horizon, slowly transforming into warmer oranges and yellows. The sun began to illuminate the land and reveal its true beauty. Looking over the deserts and plains, we were all awestruck. Not one word was said by anyone. Turning around behind me, I could see the mountains and Baldy from which we came. Along with the views, the faces of each of us seemed to describe a feeling of accomplishment and content, but also a yearning to not leave the ranch which had been so very generous. The sun was rising slowly and the veil of darkness was being lifted. This was the most impactful moment of the entire trip for me. Sitting on the Tooth of Time felt like I was sitting atop the world. Watching the beauty of the sun rising into the sky and being with everyone in the crew was the pinnacle. We had later found that our leader had fallen asleep and was leaning his head on a rock, but we had not noticed; captivated. It felt like an eternity, but the moment had to end. The photo above does not suffice…
Soon, we had decided it was time to leave the Tooth and head back to camp. We stood up and slowly climbed down the rocks to return to our camp. Leaving the Tooth of Time was tough, but I looked back once more over the horizon, but soon turned around to leave. It is a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Leaving camp, we made our way down a number of switchbacks in the blistering sun. Eventually we reached the bottom and saw the famed sign that said “Welcome Back – You Made It!”. We had separated from the adults and had paid the consequences of doing so when they caught up with us at the base. Back in basecamp felt surreal; I cannot describe it. After checking back in and going to assigned canvas tents, we wandered around camp for the rest of the day. I bought myself the famed Philmont leather belt. I chose one I liked and picked a bronze buckle with a bull on it had it branded. I wore it proud and ended up falling asleep on the cot in the tent. There was a closing ceremony that ended the evening and each crew received a “plaque”; we gave it to our leader, Jack.
Tomorrow would be the last day before we headed back home.