Posted by: davidbowerkingwood | January 23, 2012

Lost on the Tooth of Time, Part 1 by David Bower

Our Tooth of Time Adventure Begins

When I was younger I served as an adult leader in the Boy Scouts of America.  During a training experience at the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico we inadvertently created a family legend that is firmly engraved into our minds as long as we live.

It was while we were there we had our great adventure on the Tooth of Time.  The Tooth of Time is a  bare rock mountain top in New Mexico 9,000 feet above sea level that was an important milestone and guide on the famous Santa Fe Trail. Its distinctive appearance could be spotted from many miles away assuring wagon masters they were only seven days away from Santa Fe.

The Philmont Scout Ranch, which is located near the Tooth of Time, is used as a center for training of both adults and children. That year our entire family went to Philmont so I could have a week’s training and they could play.

During this training period my wife and children enjoyed a variety of activities involved with hiking and crafts; it really was a lot of fun. At the end of my classes we still had two days left to enjoy the ranch so we decided to hike up the Tooth of Time.

Being flatlanders from Houston we were all painfully naive concerning mountains. There was a parking lot and a Rangers Center at the foot of the mountain where a trail started.

We’re Off to Climb a Mountain!

We drove over on our first free day and as we got out of the car and looked up the mountain the 2,500 feet climb really didn’t look so high so we thought it would be simple to hike up and down in one day, after all we were getting an early start.

Things started off nicely, we were all excited by the beauty and drama of the mountain and the weather was simply perfect. There was a trail we could follow so we started out full of confidence and looking forward to seeing the top; we were sure the view would be spectacular.

For the life of me I don’t know how it happened but somehow we lost the trail to the top; that didn’t seem like a big problem as we could see our car in the parking lot below and we could see the top of the mountain overhead so we continued our climb.

About half way up my wife, daughter, and older son decided they were too tired to continue and would wait for me and our younger son to continue to the top. Our younger son was excited and wanted to get to the top; probably even more so as his big brother wasn’t going to make it to the top and he would. What a badge of honor awaited him at the top!

We located a pleasant place for them to wait with a good view of the surrounding countryside and even a view of our car in the parking lot below then my younger son and I continued our climb.

It wasn’t until we got to the top that we got into trouble; I’ll cover that in Part 2.


  1. Brings back a bad memory of climbing Mt Monadnock in NH without adequate preparation, supplies or capability. My fiancé obligingly followed me to the point of exhaustion. We made it less than half way, without water or warn clothes for the cold upper air. We started down and realized knees take more punishment on the way down. A morning hike took eight hours and the trip home was without conversation. I did pray that day and perhaps the Lord saved us that day. The lesson learned survives to this day.


    • John:

      I’ve reflected, on occasion, on the unexpected lessons life can teach us; where mountains are involved it sounds as if both our experiences taught us humility and a more cautionary respect for the challenges they offer.



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