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Buffalo Skipper

Philmont questions

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Skipper: My favorite lite wate (extra letters? e?) encouragement is :

 

"Courageous Cookery" by John Echo*

Once the convert backpacker or cycle camper has accepted the subtle gustatory nuances associated with sustained operations beyond the chrome, he should try the advantages of ultra fringe living so that he will realize what he is paying for his nested pots and pretty pans carried so diligently and brought home so dirty after every "wilderness experience". The following system works. It is dependable and functional. It works on the big rock. It even works when the weather has gone to hell, you are wet and cold and the wind is blowing down the back of your hairy neck. It is not for the timid. It consists of a stove, a six inch sauce pan, a plastic cup and a soup spoon. If you insist on a metal cup, you must never fail to mutter "I'm having fun, I'm having fun", every time you spill the soup on your sleeping bag.

Breakfast: Instant wheat cereal-- sugar and powdered milk added-- ready two minutes after water boils. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water, boil, and add powdered eggs and ham. You'll never taste the cereal anyway. In three minutes, eat eggs. Do not wash pot. Add water or snow and boil for tea. Do not wash pot. Most of the residue eggs will come off in the tea water. Make it strong and add sugar. Tastes like tea. Do not wash pot. With reasonable technique, it should be clean. Pack pot in rucksack and enjoy last cup of tea while others are dirtying entire series of nested cookware.

Lunch: Boil pot of tea. Have snack of rye bread, cheese and dried beef. Continue journey in 10 minutes if necessary.

Dinner: Boil pot of water, add Wylers dried vegetable soup and beef bar. Eat from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and potatoes from dry potatoe powder. Add gravy mix to taste. Eat potatoes from pot. Do not wash pot. Add water and boil for tea. Fortuitous fish or meat can be cooked easily. You do not need oil or fat. Put half inch of water in pot. Add cleaned and salted fish. Do not let water boil away. Eat from pot when done. Process can be done rapidly. Fish can even be browned somewhat by a masterful hand.

Do not change menu. Variation only recedes from the optimum. Beginners may be allowed to wash pot once a day for three consecutive days only. It is obvious that burning or sticking food destroys the beauty of the technique. If you insist on carrying a heavier pack, make up the weight you save with extra food. Stay three days longer.

 

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So you will have to satisfy 2 masters. The contingent and Philmont. Went 2 yrs ago with a contingent from our council. No particular restrictions from our contingent, except special shirts and carry-ons for travel, and a picture requirement in performance T shirts that were donated.

 

Took all our own gear, except the philmont frisbee (sump strainer) and one rope. Youth and 2 adults used 2-man tents, 2 adults used 1-man (Eureka Solitaire for both) each. Stoves used powermax fuel then available in back country trading posts. Fly was 12X12 sil nylon. Used the 'rehydrate in personal tupperware' cooking method (pots used for boiling/cleaning only). For a while we expected to have 1 three man tent as there were an odd number of youth, but that changed to an even number.

 

Emails and calls to Philmont for any clarification on any subject are (or were then) welcome and the answers were complete and knowledgable.

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I believe a "TarpTent" aka Henry Shires style with the parts sewn together but with the addition of the sewn-in floor would be welcome. Any of the TarpTent commercial tents should also work. Our Ranger way very particular about the two man tent stipulation and would have made us use a Philmont tent had we not had a two man tent to replace the solo one of us was planning on using. His Rationale (right or wrong)was a Bear sees a group of tents and sees something large he might not want to get into - a two man tent slightly separated might not seem like a much more tempting target but a one man tent either needed to be always in the middle of the group or not there at all - he pushed for not there at all.

 

My personal read, because you don't necessarily get good sites for a tent(think about how many people camp in these relatively small sites) it's easy to find yourself with no other viable option than a pre-dug swimming pool and if you don't have a GOOD bathtub floor you will go swimming. I had an ALPS tent that I was literally afloat on while others were trying to figure out how there gear got wet. The staffed camp personnel had put us in a draw and there waasn't anywhere we were allowed to place the tents that would have stayed dry. SO, I wouldn't do a Tarp at Philmont but I regularly do them here in the Ozarks, where I can pick my tent site.

I concur with the lightweight analysis, we used Jetboils and the only Philmont gear we took was a Serving spoon, the "frisbee", and the Bearbag rope and carabiners.

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Gunny is right about Philmont's views on tents. They told us that tents are required for protection from bears. That is the reason for NO hammock camping up there. I am a hammock camper, and was disappointed.

 

On our first day we did some exercises in getting ourselves grouped together in case we ever saw a bear. Our campsites were laid out with bear protection in mind. And we had to shed all "smellables" in a 20 foot high bear bag every night. In fact the only things we put in our tents were sleeping bags and cloths to jump into in the morning. That year we did not see a bear. But in dry summers, I hear that the bears come down and look for food in the camp sites.

 

We brought everything we took on the trail except the tarp. We did use a Philmont supplied tarp, and that was there to store the packs under (bear protection again).

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B-Skip, about the cooking. You can find the entire Philmont menu online (complete with nutrition information, which is critical for us -- we have a Scout with a dairy and egg allergy, and he desperately wants to go to Philmont). Although it's been awhile since I've read through it, some of their menu is not the "add boiling water and wait" type of cooking. Some of it requires actual cooking. So you're not necessarily going to find that the simplicity of freezer bag cooking correlates.

 

BTW, if you do a google search on "Philmont+ultralight" you'll see a couple of good resources.

 

Guy

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Buffalo,

I suggest reading this:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/boy_scout_gear_list_philmont.html

 

Also, we used Oware 10 x 10 Pyramid tents at MOHAB - they weighed about 26 ounces and would hold 4 Scouts.

http://www.owareusa.com/tents.html

 

I think Scouts can get them for around $189. We are looking at taking them to Philmont next year (my first trip, as well).

They don't have bottoms in them, but that wasn't a problem. We had individual grown clothes provided. We didn't get any rain while out there, so I can't give any reports from first-hand experience. The boys were happy with them, and said they would be glad to use them at Philmont. There were a lot more bears at MOHAB than there will be at Philmont.

 

I used my Mountainsmith Ghost pack (2 1/4 lbs) at MOHAB, and it worked fine. My full load was 27 lbs, including food and water for a 6 day trip.

 

Finally, did you see the August issue of Backpacker magazine? The first big article was about backpacking the Bob Marshall Wilderness, which is where we were at MOHAB. There is also an article on lightening your load, titled "Ultralight Comfort, 12 Easy ways to shed weight and camp in style." After Philmont, you need to take a serious look at MOHAB - it is the real deal! They are moving in a direction to be an ultralight backpacking destination. They have the location to be a world-class High Adventure program! The scenery and moutains were fantastic! The backpacking was very challenging, with lots of elevation change. We saw more bears on our trek than we saw people (3 bears, 2 people). The views from the peaks almost looked like the Himalayas - miles of snow-covered peaks in all directions. This was the third year for MOHAB - they had one Crew the first year, two the second, and seven this year. We were the first Crew from east of the Mississippi. I think this program is going to take off like wildfire, once word starts spreading. I have several SMs wanting to meet with me to discuss it and look at our maps. It is a great program for boys who have been to Philmont, and want something more challenging with a lot more wilderness.

 

When are you going to be at Philmont? We are going to be there June 12 - 24.

Brent

 

 

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Philmont allows you to bring your own tents. Here is a pdf of the best way to prepare their meals NO SUMPING!!! None of their food requires cooking!

 

 

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0BzfLGlf_ffHIYTQxMTE2OTktNWRmNy00NDNhLTk3ZjctNzU3ODViMmQ3YzRk&hl=en_US

 

My scout absolutely loves backpacking (base weight 13 pounds) He gets very few opportunities to do so though. Wants to join a crew as an extra to go to MOHAB!

If anyone wants an extra scout on their backpacking adventures let us know!

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the resources. I am still soaking them all up. One question I have for everyone, is what type rating of sleeping bag would you recomend? 40? 20? We are looking at a lightweight sleeping bag purchase very soon and want to know at what range we should be looking. It will be the first week of August, 2012.

 

Also, for the group gear on the gear list, how many tarps are recomended for a crew, or how many per person? Our troop has some backpack tarps (12x12 Kelty Noah's tarp at 2 lbs or I have a 10x12 sil nylon at 19 oz) they could plan to use; just trying to figure out how many to be thinking about.(This message has been edited by Buffalo Skipper)

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Sleeping bags, depends on how you sleep.

I was able to keep my down jacket from becoming a smellable and used it on top of Mt.Phillips to bolster the rating of my 40 degree sleeping bag. With my sleep pants and a pair of down booties I was not exactly comfortable but did get to sleep. But that was the only night I needed anything other than the bag alone.

 

Tarps, I saw crews using multiple tarps for a cooking area, for gear storage, to keep their packs dry during stops, as a staging area, sometimes all at once. We only took one tarp for our cooking area and found it was all we needed. Ours was actually a leftover tent fly that a pack we were camping with left behind and we re-purposed it after we had contacted them and were unable to find anyone who wanted to claim it from the pack.

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a sleeping bag good to 30 degrees, with a full length zipper so it can be used as a blanket on warm nights. Supplement with a liner for colder than normal. Besides the gym shorts & tee to sleep in, I also carried light-wt polypro longies and a balaclava as sleeping gear.

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Brent, as always you offer sound and well supported advice. Thanks for the article from BPL, it reinforces our philosophy regarding lighter backpacking.

 

I do have one other question for everyone experienced here. Since Philmont allows anyone to bring their own gear or use gear they provide, is the same true about food? We have gotten into the habit of creating our own Freezer Bag Cooking (FBC) backpack meals. They would be like pre-made backpack meals (Mountain House, Backpacker's Pantry, etc) but because we make the meal, we have more control over things like sodium, preservatives and nutrition. It also means that we only have to boil water, and no cooking is required, so clean up is easier and less gear must be carried. Apparently Philmont provided breakfasts and lunches are generally no cook, so this could really be used to reduce backpack weight.

 

Any thoughts on this approach: Bringing our own dinners and only using Philmont's breakfast, lunches and snacks?

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Buffalo Skipper, be aware that you would either need to carry your entire food supply or count on a "best effort" level of support in having your meals available at the designated pickup commissaries.

I don't have any experience with having to have them forward other than the regular meals out to the commissaries and thus can't comment on how well they do. But please let us know about your experiences as my next crew will include some folks with special dietary restrictions and we may need to do a similar action for them.

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I have some experience with needing special food due to a severe nut allergy that I and my son have. We were at Philmont 3 summers ago and I will be bringing a crew next summer. The Philmont staff was very helpful when I called about this concern. At that time they said that they were only able to help with special food handling when it was needed due to a medical or religious need. After reviewing the menu, we assembled replacement food for the meals that presented a problem due to nuts. We then packaged and labeled the replacement items with the day and meal, ie B2 for breakfast day 2. We brought these foods with us to the Crew leader planning meeting where the staff separated out the foods by which day it should be picked up at the backcountry commissary. It was placed in a large garbage bag and labeled for our crew. Sure enough, 3 days later when we made our first commisssary stop it was there waiting for us and several days later at our second pick up the second bag was also there. Pretty amazing when you think of the thousands of folks that go through there!

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addendum to sleeping bag recs:

mummy cut of course - unless you can't sleep that confined

synthetic fill - not down - unless you are able to absolutely, positively guarantee it won't get wet in the possible daily afternoon showers while you are still out on the trail

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On keeping down bags dry, unless you are on a floating expedition or your bag gets wet while in the tent, I have a hard time visualizing the circumstance where a properly packed sleeping bag would get wet.

In spite of the daily (all except one) showers that nailed us on the trail last year I had no gear suffer the indignity of being wet except for my worn clothing( and then only to the degree it got wet before I got my Jacket on). No one in our crew had any issues on the Trail either.

Now in Camp we did have four folks wind up with 1/2 soaked sleeping bags but that wasn't a packed situation (2 tents flooded due to staffed camp siting of our tents) and they recovered nicely - their bags were completely dry on day two after the wetting. Two down/Two synthetic - the down bags were actually dry before the down bags.

While I concur that wet synthetic will keep you warmer than wet down - neither is a joy to sleep in, and if I had to I think I'd put on my extra clothing, Rain suit and then put the wet insulating layer over the top rather than try to sleep in the bag anyway.

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