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Philmont alternatives ?

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Our troop has just got the disappointing news that our bid for a Philmont trek for 2006 was not accepted. We have a bunch of glum scouts.

 

I know this will be an issue at the next PLC and I would like to offer some high adventure alternatives that they could start looking forward to. Does anyone have any reports on the Double-H trek in central NM? I know it is 100% GPS and LNT hiking, but other than that it is a mystery to me. What about backpacking in the Pecos Wilderness or at Tres Ritos? Has anyone done that? Your advice and experience will be most appreciated.

 

(We are canoeing and also doing Laguna Station in 2005, so the guys want to backpack in 2006).

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My troop attended summer camp at Camp Whitsett (West Los Angeles Council, CA) in the Sierras (Near Kearnville, CA) and they told us there were becoming a National High Adventure Base soon. They have a great program in a wonderful remote location, but are still available because most people do not know about it yet. Check it out at www.whitsett.org

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KA6BSA,

I looked at their site but could not determine the size of the camp. It looked like a regular Scout Camp and program. I might have overlooked something or they might not have communicated the specifics that would make it a National destination.

FB

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I attended Double H this year.

I thought is was a good trek.

Some of the older scouts that have been to Philmont before, did not like the trek.

They said it is not Philmont. Which I what tell anyone that asks about Double H. IT IS NOT PHILMONT. If you go to Double H do not try to compare it to Philmont.

The older scouts that have been to Philmont, said that this trek was a lot harder than Philmont. We did a Class 3 trek which is the hardest one they have. The GPS part is not that big of a deal, we used compass more than the GPS, no one wanted to carry all of the batteries that would be needed to leave the GPS on all day. And the compass works just as good.

Bottom Line is I would do it again, it will test you, and it is beautiful country, just a different beauty than Philmont.

If you would like more info, please let me know. You can see a few pictures here.

http://groups.msn.com/BoyScouts/doublehexp714bb.msnw

 

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Fussy Bear, Click on Whitsett Sierra at that site, www.whitsett.org/sierra/index.html . They use the regular summer camp facilities as a base for the treks. It is a new program started late this year and you may need to email or call them to get the details. The camp commissioner told me they were going to be part of the BSA National High Adventure program soon and they expected to get waiting lists like the others do after folks discover it.

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Try the Elkhorn High Adventure Base on the Ben Delatour Scout Ranch. It is in a beautiful part of north central Colorado which is much nicer than New Mexico (in my opinion). You also don't have the crowds, cost, or regulation issues of Philmont. Treks are encouraged to plan their own routes and our crew decided to do some extensive bushwhacking, taking into account water sources and possible camping locations. The High Adventure Base offers a great deal of flexibility. Crews can spend the entire time on the trail or combine a shorter trail trip with rappelling/climbing and horseback riding days. As indicated above, the base is part of a scout reservation where younger scouts can go to summer camp while the older ones go the the high adventure base.

 

Here is a site for the summer camp.

 

http://www.longspeakbsa.org/camps/BDSR/

 

It appears that the Ranch offers two separate camps with different dining styles.

 

Here is a site for the Base:

 

http://www.longspeakbsa.org/camps/EHAB/

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IMHO there are several alternatives to Philmont all across the country. Within 3 hours of my area there are quite a few backpacking trails that you can go out for longer than a typical weekend.

 

Do a little research and I'm sure you can find several places to go that would be on the same high adventure level as Philmont.

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You can still go to Philmont as part of your council contingent. Our council sends 3 or 4 crews every year, mostly made up of boys that would not be able to go through their unit.

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Camp Whitsett, no kidding? I went there as a Tenderfoot, many moons ago!

 

Dan, thanks for the info and links on Double HH. We don't know anyone who has been there and 1st hand reports are the best.

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FScouter, yes we will also apply for one of our council contingent's 13 crews. However, we will have 30+ scouts who are 14 years or older in 2006 and have been told that each troop on the contingent will only get a single crew of 9 youth/3 adults. So, one way or another, we will need another high adventure trek!

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I ran a High Adventure Backpacking program for 10 years and for 6 of those years we went somewhere every summer, but never to Philmont. Rocky Mountian National park is loaded with trails and you can base from the campground on the West side of the park, I have done the Pecos Wilderness, but that was 20+ years ago, went to North Carolina once, Virginia, and Michigan. You have plenty of time to plan and find an alternative route. Of course going it alone means more research and planning on your part, but it can be done.

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Another one to consider is the new Canadian Scout Center in Alberta Canada. With the Exchange on Money its cheaper than a lot of US Places and because they are fairly new they are very accomindating. From all that I have read from those already attending it is a great place

 

http://www.chinook.scouts.ca/impeesa-x/

 

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Check out the Pecos Wilderness High Adventure program at Camp Frank Rand in New Mexico. Our scouts who did both Philmont and Pecos liked Pecos better for the hiking and scenery. I must say the adults agree. What you will miss at Pecos is the Philmont programs. They will let you customize your hike to fit the desires and maturity of your crew. One of our crews planned their hikes around fishing and had a wonderful time. I especially enjoyed the mountain top lakes.

 

Another good hike that I would rate behind Pecos and Philmont, but still a lot of fun is the High Adventure Program at Camp Spanish Peaks about hour north of Philmont in Colorado. They can add climbing and rappelling to your hike if you like.

 

 

Barry

 

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A little more info on Double H.

The crew will have a guide with them the entire time, your guide, will provide the crew with the program during the hike and in the evening. The reason you will have a guide with you, is that without trails, you can become lost pretty easy. Not all crews are good at navigations as they should be.

If you do one of the harder treks, it will test your stamina.

We talked to a few other crews that where on Class 1 and they said the trek was easy, they where only hiking a few hours a day.

Water can be an issue. If you go make sure to take ceramic water filters, at least 4 per crew, this will allow you to obtain water faster, and not spend so much time obtaining water. They where some really bad watering holes, which we obtained water from, but from talking to the staff at Double H, it sounds like they may have a lot of these issues solved for next year, you may not need the 4 filters.

Double H is a lot more desert than Philmont. We did not see any running streams the week we where there.

One of the biggest disappointment I had with the trek was that we did not see much wildlife. We saw lots of deadlife, cattle, deer, antelope, elk skeletons. But in Hindsight, the wildlife at Double H has not seen many humans before this year and this year scouts where all over the place, I am sure that they where driving pretty far back into the mountains. If you have a strong crew, I would recommend that you go to Double H, and do a Class 3 trek, you will see lots of scenery and it is not all the same.

If you go to Double H, you will find it a good trek, as long as you are not expecting Philmont.

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