No matter how much you practice and prepare, the first night on the trail is usually hard on me. Somehow, I can never get settled in for a restful sleep. Waking up early (ala 0530) is always fun on the trail. The key to most activities at Philmont is getting into camp early. We typically encourage the boys to get an early start on the trail to get to the next destination early enough to participate in "program". Not that it is a mandatory requirement, but some programs are very popular and tend to back up while other crews are working through the camp. One of the most unique experiences of Philmont are the programs. The entire whole camp was developed to teach young scouts how life was back in the 1800s. The whole area was frontier country in Colfax County, New Mexico. Logging, mining, trapping, hunting, homesteading were some of the mainstays back in the late 1800s. Almost every camp we pass through or stay in has a program or theme for the boys to learn about or participate in. From rock climbing to mining to logging to panning for gold, the boys (and the old guys) get to experience life back before iPhones and the internet. For some, this is the only time they will get to see and experience these activites.
I know that you may find it hard to believe, but there are a lot of crews on the trail. Every day, the crew will pass/see/meet several crews while on the trail or in camp. A great chance to meet other scouts/people from all over the world. Make sure you greet the other crew when you pass them on the trail (A scout is friendly).
Taking a break
Today's agenda is get up early (~0530), take down the bear bags, break camp, divvy up the crew gear/food, load up packs and hit the trail. Normally, we do not stop to eat breakfast until we are down the road about a mile or so. This speeds up the process and gets us out of camp faster (and tends to wake up the sleepers). Typically, we stop on the trail for ~30 minutes for breakfast (yum, beef sticks, dried fruit, breakfast bar, and, my favorite, gorp). Quick break and back on the trail. Today they are headed to Urraca camp. A climb up through Stone Wall Pass to Urraca Mesa (8300 ft) and down into camp. A fairly short hike (3-4 miles) and the first good climb of the trek. I would guess that, baring any delays, they would be in camp by 1030. Urraca camp program is a challenge program (like a modified COPES course) with lots of crew/team building activities. Aside of the program, today will be more Ranger training. The Ranger's job is to teach the crews how to operate on the trail and insure that everyone knows how to take care of themselves. If the crew is well organized and experienced, then the Ranger will have an easy time of it.
Topo map of today's hike.
More camp training. Setting up the campsite, hanging bear bags, etc. Today, they have some time to enjoy some of the rugged scenery of Philmont.
There's always time for some meadow frisbee