2015 Philmont

*** UPDATE ***

After a long time, I was able to get the map for Crew 2 scanned in and posted to this page. Be warned, the file is pretty large and it may take sometime to download:

A new page for Philmont 2015 videos is being created – click HERE

Original Philmont Information Page is HERE.
Monday, July 13, 2015
The two crews before getting on the train:
At the train station:

On the train:

The train left the station on time and made its way to Raton, NM. Pizza was provided (delivered to the train station) at Galesburg for dinner. The scouts explored the train, played cards, read books and napped/slept when possible.

For some of the train stops, the crews exited the train to get ‘fresh air’:

Tuesday July 14, 2015
We arrived in Raton in the early afternoon. There were multiple buses waiting for to take us to lunch and then to the Philmont Basecamp. We had a couple of choices for lunch and about 30 min to eat our food. The buses waited for our return:

We then headed to Philmont Basecamp. There was some great scenery along the way:

Once we arrived at Philmont, we proceeded to the Welcome Center, took pictures, got our tent assignments and went to find our tents:

Once we arrived at our tents, we unloaded our gear and prepared to meet at the picnic table outside our tents. Then a storm blew in and we had to stay under cover for a bit while it poured and hailed:

Click on the image below to play the video
Some scouts headed over to the local museum about Philmont:

Saw some old wagons outside the museum:

Crew pictures under the Philmont sign:

Wednesday, July 15, 2015
Today was a training and orientation day. We met our Ranger, Katy and she helped us through the first checks of the day which were general registration and the medical checkup. We ate lunch and then she proceeded to begin the training for the backcountry. We reviewed maps, procedures, etc. with her.

During one of our breaks from training and getting checked in, we did see a deer and hare in the camp:

We also picked up our food for the first three days as well as any Philmont equipment that was required (pots, bear lines/bags) and stored these in our tents.
After all the training had been completed, Katy invited us to go visit the house of the Waite Phillips:

After dinner we had Service, Advisors and youth leader meetings. Then we attended the Opening Campfire for trailbound crews:

Thursday, July 16, 2015
Both crews woke up around our normal 5:30 AM time so we could get ready for our 6:30 AM breakfast at the mess hall. After eating we went back to our tents, picked up our packs, stored our day packs in the lockers and then made a pack line at the Welcome center, by 7:30 AM, to wait for our bus to the Ponil Turnabout to begin our journey.

Boarded the bus and proceeded to listen to our rangers tell us stories about Philmont, make jokes and otherwise entertain the crews.
Crew 1

Rode Bus from Base Camp to Ponil Turnaround. Had a brief discussion with Ranger Adam on orienteering and trail etiquette before hitting the trail. The damage of the previous months flash floods is still obvious in the canyons. Lots of flood debris all around. Shocking to see how high the flood waters were.
Only a short hike, 2.3 miles and 500 ft vertical, from Ponil Turnaround to the Dean’s Cutoff camp sites. Set up camp in one of the few sites that were not damaged in the flash floods. Did more training with Ranger Adam on camp setup, bear bag procedures, cooking and cleanup. Had lots of time to explore the camp, take a nap, rinse off in the creek and relax.

Crew 2

Our ranger Katy began with an orienteering lesson that we used to get ready to head out on our trek. We also learned about Red Roofs and other bathroom procedures. After that we headed down the train, making a ‘safe’ water crossing over a bridge and made our way to Ponil. At Ponil (about 1 – 1.5 miles down the trail) we had chocolate milk, branding and root beer. The kids played cards and generally relaxed for a while.


We left Ponil and headed out to our first campsite at Bent. The path had fences (with gates) and some mud to navigate around. After another 2 miles or so of hiking we ended up at Bent. The campsites were a mess after the flash flooding of the past few weeks. The first site was a complete washout. Site two was filled with debris from washout. Sites 3 and 5 were across the river… In the end we chose site 4 due to its location and elevation away from the river. As it turned out, our sister crew would reach the same conclusion and we allowed them to camp with us as it seemed like the right thing to do.

Katy then did some more training, covering things like the tarp, bear bag hanging and proper Philmont cooking/cleanup with the provided pots. We also set up our tents in the recommended way – 50 feet from the bearmuda triangle, no lines, no ‘shapes’, avoided widowmakers and more.

Friday, July 17, 2015
Crew 1

Took two hours to break camp. Hiking to Publeano staff camp today. Saw more damage from the previous month rains i.e. wash outs on the trail. We met crew 2 at the Pueblano staff camp and the boys did spar pole climbing. Then we hiked to Pueblano Ruins trail camp for the night. Later that afternoon the boys returned to the Pueblano staff camp to play Mountain Ball and attend a camp fire program. They really seemed to enjoy the staff and the program that they performed at the camp fire. Hiked 7.2 miles and climbed 1400 feet vertical today. This will be our last night with Ranger Adam. Mr. Snyder is showing signs of altitude sickness, so he may have to return to base camp to acclimate while we climb higher to Baldy Town tomorrow.

Crew 2

Woke up at 5 AM as planned, dropped the bear and oops bags, broke down camp (tents and tarp), made coffee/tea for the adults and ate our cold breakfast. Our navigator for the day worked with Katy to verify our planned route for the day and we headed out.

Our first challenge on the hike was getting up to Wilson Mesa which was a hard 1.5 mile hike along a road which was very steep. This challenged both the adults and scouts in the thinner air at Philmont. This part of the hike did provide some good vistas:


After hiking a relatively flat area for another mile or so we arrived at Wilson Mesa. The view of Baldy was spectacular. We had a snack break and some more training from Katy:


After our break at the mesa, we headed down into Pueblano for some spar pole climbing and lunch.


When we had completed our climbing, lunch and rest break, we headed up to Baldy Skyline. This part of the hike was a steady climb over 2 miles, with a good 800+ foot elevation change. Once at camp we set up our normal camp and had dinner. We also saw burros that were in the same field as us:


We hoped they would be quiet at night.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Crew 1

Took 1.5 hours to break camp. Left Pueblano Ruins camp site at 8:00 am. Mr. Snyder returned to base camp with Ranger Adam to rest and acclimate to the altitude. Hopefully we will see him in a few days when he is better. We hiked the five mile climb to the staff camp at French Henry where the boys got to try blacksmithing and tour an old gold mine. Then we hiked to Baldy Town where we camped the next two nights. The camp sites at Baldy Town were not very nice. They were on a considerable slope and full of rocks and downed trees. The only good part about staying at Baldy Town is that it is at 10,000 feet which shortens the climb to the top of Mount Baldy (12,440 ft). The hike from Pueblano Ruins to Baldy Town was 7.2 miles with 2180 feet vertical. We got food supplies for the next three days at the Baldy Town staff camp.

Crew 2

The next morning we broke camp after breakfast and said goodbye to Katy as we were now on our own. We also woke up some deer in our field:


Then we got lost. Sort of. Maybe? Well what happened is that Philmont made changes to the route which were not clear on the map and were not clearly marked at the top of the trail we were looking for. After much discussion, orientation and scouting, we made a decision to go down a trail we would find out later was actually closed:


Once we cleared this section we headed down switchbacks and crossed three creeks on the way to Miranda. At Miranda we were able to eat lunch, throw tomahawks and shoot 50 cal black powder rifles.


Once we completed the program activities, we headed up to Black Horse (~9800′) which was a 800 foot climb over about a mile or so. We arrived in camp and set up bear bags and tents for the first time without our ranger. We also prepared water for the next days climb (Baldy) and water for dinner. Bed time came early as our wake-up call was 5 AM for a 6 AM departure.
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Crew 1

The crew climbed Mt. Baldy today. We got a break with the weather because yesterday was cloudy and rainy. Today is totally clear skies and relatively warm weather for this altitude. One scout was feeling ill today so I stayed down at the Baldy Town staff camp with him. The rest was welcome and I got to take a shower and do laundry. In addition I got to spend a lot of time in their small gold mining museum which documents the history of the gold mining that took place around Mt. Baldy. The crew returned from their summit climb in the early afternoon. They hiked about 7.1 miles and climbed 2,764 feet in about three hours. The climb at the top was especially difficult because of the loose scree near the top. We also got resupplied with food at the Baldy Town commissary.

Crew 2

The morning went quick with wakeup and preparation for the climb to Baldy. Day packs and food packs were prepared the day before to make leaving easier in the morning. The crew left at 6 AM with hopes of getting to baldy in about 3 hours. Total climb for the day would be ~ 2700′. The hike was long and started with lots of switch backs. We did see a cabin along the way and took a group picture near the cabins:


Once past the cabins we had some very steep sections that eventually lead to a broad meadow that was below the peak of Baldy:


After resting for 20 min, we decided to conquer Baldy. With a lot of breaks and the remaining 700 feet of climbing, Crew 2 made it. On the way up we did see Crew 1 who had made it to the peak before us. At the top, we enjoyed the scenic views:


After about an hour or so, we headed down the backside of Baldy and on to a ridge where we eventually had lunch:


After lunch we headed down and down and down to French Henry. Here the boys enjoyed port-a-Johns (yes, ‘real’ toilets) as well as making an ‘s’ hook with a blacksmith:


We then headed to Baldy town for food, showers and laundry:


With our restocking done, we headed back to camp. Along the way we got detoured and took a scenic hike, over the rocks, through the woods and over some scree fields:


Eventually finding the trail from Miranda to Black Horse we made it back to camp after 9:30 PM. We quickly heated water for dinner, ate, hung our bear bags up (broke a rope/repaired the rope) and went to bed. All were exhausted.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Crew 1

This morning our sick scout was still not feeling well so we sent him back down to base camp to recuperate for a few days. Hopefully he will be able to rejoin us in a couple of days. We also learned that Mr. Snyder will be rejoining us tonight at the Head of Dean staff camp. Today we will be hiking to Head of Dean via Miranda where we will break for lunch and get to shoot black powder riffles and throw tomahawks. Miranda is set up to replicate an old mountain man rendezvous camp. All of the staff were in costume and character of that time period. We can’t help to notice that Mt. Baldy is socked in today so we really got lucky with the good weather yesterday. After Miranda we hiked up to Head of Dean were we met up with crew 2. The boys got to enjoy playing squares and did the crew challenge the next morning. We hiked 9.1 miles today, mostly downhill but still climbed about 900 feet vertical to get to Head of Dean. Mr. Snyder met us at Head of Dean and is feeling much better now. He will be hiking with us for the reminder of the trek. We also found out that our scout is also feeling better and he will be rejoining us at Ute Gulch the day after tomorrow.

Crew 2

A late wake up call allowed our tired crew to get some sleep after our very long day at Baldy. We ate breakfast, packed up and headed down to Miranda. At Miranda we ran into our sister crew who were throwing tomahawks and scheduled to shoot black powder in the afternoon. After some respite with them we headed down and over to Head of Dean. Head of Dean reminded us of a small Summer Camp with its activities and staff.


It began to rain as we gathered under a tarp which was situated over a nice picnic table. After the rain and our lunch eaten, we proceeded to set up camp on a hill above the camp. We were signed up for a 5 PM session for their COPE course. At 5 PM the boys had a blast with team building exercises and all around enjoyed themselves.

First they arranged themselves by age on a log which took a lot of maneuvering and body re-arranging:


Then they proceed to attempt a wall scale as a group and succeeded in beating that wall:


After the wall they worked on crossing a series of ropes arrange between trees and had a blast with this activity as well:


After completing the COPE course we had dinner and then headed back down for coffee, games and just hanging out:


Then we all went to bed.
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
Crew 1

This morning the boys did the staff challenge course at Head of Dean before we left on our hike to Upper Bench. Today’s hike was one of our longest at 13.8 miles and 1484 vertical feet climbed. That does not include the downhill vertical which today caused more pain than the climbing part. We had a long decent down to the Cimarron river which was steep and rocky. When we got to the bottom we found that the trail had been washed out but the recent floods so you had to make your way down a washed out creek bed to the river. After crossing the river we climbed to the Vista Grande trail camp where crew 2 was camping for the night. Thankfully, they had lots of water treated and ready for us because we were all out after a long hike. We ate dinner together and rested up before heading on to our camp site at Upper Bench, two miles further up the trail. This camp site was the opposite of Baldy Town. We were on a flat site next to a small lake and soft ground.

Crew 2

Wake up call was 5:15 AM this morning. Had a warm breakfast and broke camp by 7:35 AM and headed out to Vista Grande. This would be one of our 3 long hiking days:

Today would be able 11 miles, with the first part downhill and at the end a climb into a very long camp. some scenes from todays trail:


Vista Grande was about 1/4 mile in length and we picked site 9. We arrive at 2 PM.


At camp we got water, did some laundry and took naps. About 3 hours later, Crew 1 appeared in our camp and we shared dinner, stories and laughs.


After dinner, crew 1 headed off to their camp at Upper Bench about 2 miles away.

After dinner we completed camp setup for the night. The sky was clear, so I captured a picture of the Milky Way at Night [taken at 11 PM]:

Wednesday, July 22, 2015
Crew 1

This morning we got a late start today, 10:30 am, since everyone was tired after yesterday and today’s hike is supposed to be a little shorter. We hiked thru Ute Pass to the Ute Gulch Commissary where we got resupplied with three more days of food. This is the last food pickup on our trek. Our sick scout also rejoined us at Ute Gulch after recuperating at Base Camp. We then hiked on to Aspen Springs where the boys participated in a conservation project. It basically involved moving big rocks to help rebuild a section of trail. It was a good day to do this since we only hiked 6 miles with 800 vertical feet climbed. Tomorrow will be another long day up and over Schaffer’s pass.

Crew 2

Another early wakeup call – ate breakfast and broke camp. Headed two miles out to Upper Bench and met up with Crew 1. We talked for a bit and then headed out to Clarks fork. We hiked through Hidden Valley and had lunch near a view of Window Rock:


After lunch we crossed over the ridge and down through … to Clarks Fork (7500′). We arrived at the camp around 4 PM. We setup camp and had a Chuck Wagon dinner at 5 PM. After dinner we cleaned up camp and filled our water. That night we had advisor coffee and a campfire program. The program was a good fun break from the hiking we had done during the day.

Thursday, July 23, 2015
Crew 1

Left Aspen Springs at 7:00 AM – hiked to Cimaroncito staff camp where we dump our garbage and swapped out the food that no one wanted and picked up some stuff left by other crews. Hiked on to Hunting Lodge where Mr. Phillip’s had his hunting lodge. The boys took the tour and then we headed out to Clark’s Fork Staff camp. We took a short break at Clark’s Fork before heading up Schaefers Pass. I got a head start on the rest of the crew since I’m slower going up hill. However, the crew was slower getting started and also decided to take an alternate route i.e. the “Road” which ended up taking longer than the regular trail. Therefore I got to the top of the pass way before everyone else and had lots of time to kill. I went looking for crew 2’s stuff, they were doing the side hike to the Tooth of Time. When I found it I decided to leave Mr. Clements a little present in his backpack. When my crew finally made it to the top of the pass we started out for Miners Park, our final destination for today. Once we arrived at Miners Park we were able to take showers and do laundry. Crew 2 arrived later in the day and Mr. Clements let me know that he was very happy about the present that I left him. Tomorrow morning the boys will do rock climbing before we head to Urraca Staff Camp. Today we hiked 11.2 miles and climbed 2000 feet vertical.

Crew 2

Early wakeup at 4:45 / 5 AM. Quickly broke down camp and ate a cold breakfast. Headed out on the trail by 6:30 AM. We quickly climbed to Schaefer’s Pass (8700′) in an hour and a half – total climb 1200′.

Once at the pass, we set down packs, pulled out our day packs, restocked our water, set up bear bags and head out on our side trip for the day – Tooth of time and Schaefer’s Peak (9400′). We then headed out to the peak, which was another 700′ climb. We rested at the peak and enjoyed the views:


After our break, we headed out to the Tooth (9000′) which took quite some time as the trail required some bouldering, rough trails, up and down as well as some switch backs. Once at the Tooth it was a rock climb to the top of about 200-300′. We ate lunch in the shade/at the top of the Tooth.


After lunch we all headed back through the rough and tumble trail to the trail to Schafer’s Peak. Once we regrouped we headed down to Schaefer’s Pass. Along the way Alex hurt his knee, but his isues with it did not occur until down the trail. Like with Troy’s injury, the scouts grabbed equipment from Alex’s pack to help him get down the trail. Someone also lent Alex their poles.

We picked up our packs and bear bags, along with more water. We then headed down to Miner’s Park and arrived at 5 PM. The adults took some quick showers and the scouts signed up for rock climbing in the morning.

Setup camp and ate dinner, then relaxed at advisor’s coffee / climbing the various walls around the camp.
Friday, July 24, 2015
Crew 1

This morning we got to sleep in a little since the boys were going rock climbing. Therefore we go on the trail a little later than normal. Which was fortunate since a thunder storm hit us when we were down in the bottom of the valley before we headed up the Urraca plateau. We stopped and had lunch and then continued on in the rain. The rain cooled it down which was good since we had a 1000 ft climb up to the top of the plateau. The climb seemed tougher than expected, but after all we were on day 9 of the trek and the legs were getting tired. By the time we reached the top of the plateau the weather had cleared and we got to set up camp in the sun. When I was unpacking my backpack I was pleasantly surprised to find that Mr. Clements had returned the favor and placed a big rock in my backpack. No wonder my pack felt a little heavy climbing up the plateau. That night there was supposed to be ghost stories around the camp fire with the Urraca staff. But do to more thunder storms coming in the program was moved to the staff cabin’s front porch. We had a good time listening the their stories and singing songs. Then we went back to our camp and went to sleep. The total miles for today’s hike were 7.2 miles and 1,300 vertical feet climbed (rock included).

Crew 2

Woke up a bit late in the morning (7 AM), ate breakfast and prepared for the day. We walked down to the mail cabin. Alex was going down for the rest of the trip and the other scouts went rappelling. Two adults went up with the scouts and the other two stayed back at camp. The scouts had fun climbing:

Once done climbing, the rain began so the two adults at camp packed up the tents to prevent them from getting soaked. Everyone packed up, we got our food at the commissary and were about to head out for the day. However, heavy rain and thunder prevented the crew for leaving for an hour or so.

Once the rain slowed, we headed out to Crater Lake for program. After a short 2 mile hike we got to Crater Lake. At the staff camp we did some activities which included the log toss:

After this we headed to Bear Lakes for camp. We setup camp. Saw some deer:


Most of the crew went to the night program and had fun. The ones left at camp made dinner and rested. A rain/thunderstorm blew in which caused the crew at Crater Lake to get soaked on the way back to camp from the program. The storm blew over and everyone went to bed.

Saturday, July 25, 2015
Crew 1

This morning some of the crew got up before sun rise to hike to inspiration point to see the sun rise. Then the boys did the challenge course with the staff. After that we started our hike to the Stockade Ridge trail camp and the Tooth of Time. The hike to Stockade Ridge was 4.5 miles all up and down through brush and fields of sun flowers. The weather was sunny and hot. We set up camp and got some rest before heading up to the tooth of time. At 3:30 we started out for the climb up the tooth. It was about an two hour climb. The last part was a scramble up a slope made up of very large rocks. When we got to the top there was an awesome view of Philmont and the surrounding area. It was something to look back north and see Mt Baldy some 40+ miles away and realizing that we had hiked all that way and then some. Being on top of the tooth was a little scary knowing that it was a sheer drop on three sides and the area at the top is only about 20 square yards. After enjoying the view and taking lots of pictures we headed back down. It was a challenging scramble that really tested the soles of your boots. We safely made it back to camp and prepared our last dinner of the trek. Today we hiked 7.6 miles and climbed 2,086 vertical feet. Tomorrow is our last day on the trail.

Crew 2

Woke up at 6 AM for our 7:30 AM conservation project. We ate breakfast. Then headed to the project with our day packs. The conservation project consisted of rebuilding a trail that was from the 1930’s that had become a bit of a mud/waterfall over time. We stripped the branches and bark off the trees to be used as erosion protection for the trail as well as steps:


After the conservation project we headed back to camp and then onto the trail. We headed down to Abeau for lunch, cantina and a quick nap in the heat.

After that we headed to Zastrow for our last night on the trail. At Zastrow, we had a great surprise – Alex was back with the crew. His knee was good after a night of icing and Ibuprofen. At Zastrow, we played cards, had coffee, played duck tape baseball and cards. We performed the Rededication to Scouting Ceremony as well.


Later that night there was a bear in camp which the camp staff managed to chase away from the campers. We had an otherwise uneventful night.
Sunday, July 26, 2015
Crew 1

We woke up before sun rise this morning. Ate a quick breakfast and packed our gear for the last time. We hiked down to the stockade where we refilled all of our water bottles and then hiked on to the cope course. We had to wait for the staff to arrive since we got there a little early. The boys did the low cope course and seemed to really enjoy it. When we were done with cope we waited for the bus to take us back to Base Camp. We only had to walk 1.7 miles today and it was all downhill. When we got to Base Camp we dropped our stuff at the platform tents and went to the commissary for cold drinks and ice cream. Dinner tonight in Cimarron at the St. James Hotel which dates back to the old west and gold mining days. Tomorrow we catch the train back home.

Our grand totals for crew 1’s trek are 81 miles hiked and 15326 vertical feet climbed. Not to mention that we also hiked downhill about the same amount.

Crew 2

Last early wake-up call at 5 AM. Had breakfast and headed out by 6:30 AM. We made our way out of Zastrow to Rayado to complete our Philmont journey. We avoided the high river and made it to Rayado in 2 hours. We explored the museum and threw tomahawks:

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Our bus picked us up and took us to basecamp at 10:30 AM. We spent the rest of the day checking in equipment, setting up our tents, eating in the mess hall and exploring the Tooth of Time Traders store again.
Both Crews
In the afternoon we took a shuttle bus to the town of Cimarron. The kids explored a store prior to eating and some bought new knives for their collections or for fun:


We then headed out to dinner at the St James for a great dinner with both crews attending. Even with the issues with service and food, it was a good time out:

After dinner we came back to basecamp and attended the closing campfire in a pavilion:

Then it was off to bed.

Monday, July 27, 2015
Today was a relaxing day at Philmont basecamp. Both crews had breakfast and lunch at the mess hall. Free time was spent hanging out, trading stories, playing cards, using electronics, shopping at the Tooth of Time Traders store and reading. After lunch, the bus arrived around 2:30 PM to take us to the Raton train station. On the way to the station we stopped at a grocery store to fill up before the train ride on drinks/snacks. After shopping we went to the train station, made a pack line and then explored the local shops since we had an hour or two to kill before the train arrived.


Once on the train, the kids played cards, watched movies, listened to music, played video games and generally relaxed.
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Both crews returned home after some delay on the train to their families, around 4:30 PM.
Post Trip Notes
I would like to comment on a few things:

1) Yes, we are there. Stop asking me!
2) I didn’t hear of a single bloody nose. Glad we had the saline.
3) Backpacking is tougher with HILLS. We need more training hills in Illinois.

Oh, and “Party on Wayne!” –>