On a hike with Ed.

This past July, our hard-working, number-crunching Chief Financial Officer, Ed Shollenberger took two weeks away from the office to explore the New Mexico wilderness with his son and a close-knit Scout troop. He returned with a beard, a few tall tales and a renewed outlook on work/life balance. We thought we’d share some of his experiences with our customers and fans, so here you go!

A quick Question & Answer session with our CFO:

Q: Ed, where did you go? We missed you here at the office!

A: I just returned from a 12-day hike with my Scout troop. Our destination was the Philmont Scout Ranch outside Cimarron NM. Philmont is the premier high adventure base for Scouting and the ultimate destination for any Scouter. The ranch is comprised of 214 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness in the southern Rockies. Over 22,000 participants annually visit here from all over the nation to enjoy backpacking spread out over 90 camps on 315 miles of trails. During our 12-day, 80 mile trek we enjoyed rifle shooting, rock climbing, branding, homestead tours, team building games and of course some incredible scenery. It was also a wonderful year long adventure to share with my son, John.

Q: How long have you been involved in Scouting?

A:  I was a Boy Scout myself way back (didn’t make it to Eagle) but have been active as an adult leader for the past four years.

Q: Do you feel the orthotic inserts you wore during your hike helped prevent and/or relieve aches and pains?

A:  Absolutely.  While preparing for our trek this past year I was using a Vasyli Dananberg insert and I had no foot problems.  I’ve been working with Terry Mitchell during this time fine-tuning them.  I also expressed some concern about my knees.  We tried some knee braces but didn’t find anything that I felt would be comfortable in the backcountry.  In the end I didn’t use any knee support but nonetheless had no problems.  Some of the other adults were complaining about their feet and limb joints but I was fine the entire time.  I have to believe the alignment I received from my orthotics had a lot to do with that.  I’ve included a picture of one of the inserts which I took at about 6:30AM one morning.  Most of the printing on them is worn off now.

Q: What was the scariest part about the adventure and how did you and the Scouts overcome your fear?

A:  I can’t say there was any particularly scary part to our trip.  The hardest part for all of us was working ourselves to physical exhaustion, especially on our ascent hikes.  Typically a normal uphill grade is 6%-8%; parts of our hike to the top of Mt Phillips (11,721′) was closer to 20%.  That’s hard enough but then put 40-50 pounds of gear on your back!  That pushed the limits of both boy and adult.  But probably the bigger challenge for the Scouts to overcome was learning how to work as a team.  The eight boys not only had to deal with the physical elements, but also working together as a group.  Each day every Scout had a specific assignment on the trail and in camp and all these individual tasks had to be done correctly and efficiently or the whole group would be affected.  There were also personality conflicts between teenage boys they had to work through.  But in the end, I’d say they did an excellent job becoming a cohesive crew and we really had no incidents that affected us in any great way.

Q: If you are including a scenic photograph, can you tell us what it is and how nature inspires you?

A:  I included a picture from the top of Urraca Mesa from where I thought I could see forever.  I’ve been fortunate to have traveled many parts of this country including some spectacular sites here in California (see Yosemite) but for me this captured the immense size of this place and since it was only day 3 on the trail what lay ahead.  One picture I was not able to capture was the night sky above Mt Phillips (unfortunately you cannot afford to carry a lot of heavy, expensive camera equipment on the trail).  It was a perfectly clear evening and the entire Milky Way was plainly visible.  John and I spent an hour after sunset admiring all the stars, planets and satellites.  It was a special father/son moment and one has to be inspired by the enormity of our universe.

Q: You’ve been sporting a rugged beard since your return to the office. Are you planning to keep it?

A:  I am not planning to keep it.  Too much maintenance.  Perhaps after I go back to Philmont in 2014 with my younger son I’ll be in a different state of mind.

Thanks for the insight, Ed! We’re glad you made it back in one piece and can’t wait to hear about your next adventure.

And to our fans – comment if you have any questions about Philmont Ranch. Ed is quite the expert now and would be happy to share more of his first-hand experience.

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