It's pitch black. Nature is teeming all around me as a sit on a bench at a presentation at Clark's Fork. It's difficult to completely describe my emotions and thoughts. I was tired and worn, missing those things which are most dearest to me... and are largely located a thousand miles north. Yet, I was having the adventure of my life.
The people of the camp staff come from all across the United States. Men and women from completely different backgrounds and interests with different talents and personalities.
And yet, they have at least one thing in common: a love. A love for a lifestyle; a love for the outdoors; a love for simple living; a love for Philmont. Before beginning the song, a man had announced its title to which there was little response. No one had heard it before. He was astonished, declaring everyone who has attended Philmont knows this song.
They strummed their guitars, their banjos, and their vocal chords. Singing of a feeling that I have never felt anywhere else. It's indescribable. Something borne completely out of experience.
The same things were going through each of our minds during this song: beautiful sunsets over the tallest peak in New Mexico, amazing landscapes of tall trees and wildlife, and brotherhood founded in common purpose, shared experiences, and simple conversations on the trail.
On the eve of the end, in front of a campfire and a group of people who treasured that experience, I had the opportunity to reflect. Within the four minutes of this song, I felt a kaleidescope of emotions, thinking about the challenges and memories of the journey I had embarked on just two weeks earlier. How much farther I had come.
As we left the campfire and prepared for our last night on the trail we sang. We sang the song that has come to embody the entire experience for me and has done the same for so many before me.
Walking through the darkness, remembering, commiserating, singing...
Eight voices softly and thoughtfully singing.
"Rock me mama like a wagon wheel, rock me mama any way you feel..."