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Philmont Trip Report

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ust back from trek 12.  No dry camps and finished with a climb of Mt. Baldy.

This was the first trek for all of us, but one of our adults, a 21 year old who went through our troop to Eagle did NAYLE training there.  We had a young crew of 14 and 15 year olds.  Two just turned 14 prior to the trek.

This was the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done.  I’m very glad I’ve been hitting the gym several times per week for the past few years.  I saw guys there who clearly did not meet the height/weight requirements.  I saw a few on trail who were slowing their crews down.

The bulk of gear/food was a bigger issue than weight. We began with our longest food haul of 4 days.  I had to show our crew how to mash their mashable gear to make more room.

The crew like the COPE course, spar pole climbing, horseback riding and most of all, summiting Baldy.

My youngest and smallest in the crew went from collapsing on the trail from New Dean to Ponil and wanting to quit to 2 days later asking about being a ranger.  That change was cool.

Speaking of rangers, our ranger Emily was ranger of the week for good reason.  She was awesome.  I have no doubt she will be a success in life.  I gave her a great review.  She brought a pound cake for us and iced it on trail.

The root beer at Ponil was a big morale booster.  Glad we went through there twice.  The only time we got lost was trying to find our campsite at Ponil, though.

At New Dean, we had campsite 3.  When we arrived, there were 3 horses in our site.  Just staring at us. We stayed.  One started coming a little close to our lunch, but otherwise they left us alone.  They’d go out in the fields together to eat and then come back.  We named them Moe, Larry and Curly.  That was interesting for a trail camp.

Horse Canyon was a beautiful campsite on top of a mountain with a great view of Baldy.  We really liked that one.

Baldy Town was very interesting.  I knew that climbing to the top was a challenge, but until you experience it, there’s no way to truly know.  That last steep part was really hard.  The crazy thing was going from calm air to taking the last step up to the top and getting hit by 50? mph wind and wind chill that felt like it was in the 20s.  The view was worth it.

Our crew leader has 3 younger brothers.  He took 3 small rocks from the peak that his brothers will have to take back up. Pretty cool idea.

In our regular activities, we adults cook for ourselves and we eat well.  It was nice having the crew do all the work and we just showed up to eat.  They weren’t perfect, of course and mornings took longer than ideal, but for a young crew, they really took on the challenge.  I’m so proud of them.

One thing that kept coming up on another site was how tight the camping sites were.  We had 6 scouts and 3 adults, so 5 tents.  I took a 1 person tent as the solo adult, but could have easily fit a 2 person tent in every spot I chose.  That’s what I’d do again.

Six quart pots worked just fine.  I’m glad we took our own. If we had more experience, I’d have tried the 1 pot method.  Maybe next time.  I will suggest this to Philmont as it meets all of their requirements (patrol method, etc.), reduces bulk/weight and by cleaning with cold water (which we did), you use less fuel.  Thrifty and good for the environment.

We flew into Denver a day early.  We spent time at Garden of the Gods and the Air Force Academy.  I rented a 15 passenger van.  They tried to give me a 12 passenger van, but with no storage behind the last row, you need a 15 passenger van for 9 people with luggage.

We stayed at a hotel in Colorado City, CO and drove to Philmont the next morning.  I might find a place even further south next time.

Heading back, we had a red eye home. We had time to check out the Red Rocks Amphitheater.  What an amazing venue.  Wish I could have stayed a day to see Joe Bonamassa.  We drove around Denver and ate at this great, cheap Mexican hole in the wall restaurant El Taco de Mexico. Definitely recommend it.

Having the van let us pick and chose on our own schedule.  I like that.  We also stored stuff in it.

The crew wants to go back!  Looks like we’ll plan for 2021.

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I think the weight and bulk of food and water was mentioned when you were preparing for the trek, or maybe someone else trek. But, it never seems to get discussed enough when talking about packs and packing. It's A LOT! Philmont food is magic in that it never seems to dwindle down. Everyone morning everyone stares at the pile of food as they pack in hopes their share is smaller and lighter, but it never is. It's magic.

Reminds me of the big sack of raw potatoes the outfitter gave us for our Northern Tier trip, it was always there in the morning to pack. Still, those potatoes are one of my sons favorite memories. The scouts played cards all day on our non-canoeing rest day. The got hungry and came up with the idea of french fries. The outfitter gave us a BIG sack of potatoes and plenty of lard. The adults stood back and watched as they melted the lard and cooked sliced potatoes for munchies all day long. It was fun to watch. AND, the bag of potatoes was smaller the next morning as we packed. Even in the wilderness, scouts find junk food.


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Our crew found it interesting that they sort of encourage the crews to build fires not (in approved rings etc etc).  Seems line a good idea to have the 20,000 Scouts going through each night to scour the ground for loose burnable debris.

When I first went in the 70's we had to cook on fires, so as you came to a camp you started picking up wood about 1/2 mile out.  Went in the 80's and backpacking stoves were a thing so we built no fires, same for other treks.

On the Baldy climb, I have told all the crews I've been that the climb up the tailings / loose rocks seems close, but will be arduous.  The saddle and going out the the lower peak there is a nice stroll.  Also the hike around the back heading North East over to Copper Park along that ridge is stunning.

The Mt Phillips hike is great and underrated 

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