23 July 2010

Philmont trail log

Ive been pondering this theme for a while.

The boy scout troop is heading back to Philmont and I've always had a hankering to go back on the trail one more time.  I've been fortunate to hike the tails of Philmont twice (both times as an adult advisor) and it was something I am proud to have done.

Let me start everyone off with a brief overview of Philmont:  Located in northern New Mexico, Philmont Scout Ranch is a national camping area, owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America. Philmont is large, comprising 137,493 acres or about 215 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) range of the Rockies. 32 staffed camps and 50 unstaffed camps are operated by the ranch. Philmont has high mountains which dominate rough terrain with an elevation ranging from 6,500 to 12,441 feet.

Many people consider Philmont to be the ultimate scouting adventure (count me as one).  Crews of 8-12 boys/adults will hike over the trails of Philmont over 10 days with various levels of difficulty.  The treks each crew takes will be 10 days and may range from 70 to 120 miles and may range from 7,000 to 12,000 in elevation.  The level of difficulty of each trek is dependant upon the experience of the crew and how much they want to experience. 
Philmont is an experience for all who get to particpate.  10 hard days on the trail with a crew of boy scouts and adults where you will learn to depend upon each other for survival.  Not a walk in the park.  Not for the casual hiker.  No whiners allowed.  If you choose to participate, you need to step it up and bring your "A" game.  Seriously, you must be physically able to handle a backpacking trek over some rough terrain without any injury.  This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many that will help them later in life.  
Sound like I am trying to sell this?  Perhaps.  I've wanted to go to Philmont for many years.  As a young scout, I dropped out of the program before I realized what I was missing out on.  When my son joined scouts, I tried to encourage him to participate in this experience and was glad he chose to do it where I could participate as well. 
Getting into Philmont is not easy.  Requires lots of advanced planning and preparation.  Reservations are typically taken almost 18 months in advance and they are on the lottery system.  If you win a slot, you have 1.5 years to prepare.  This means both spiritually and physically.  The troop will typically attend Philmont every 3-5 years, depending upon scout participation and the drive of the troop leadership.  This year the troop is going back to the ranch and I am glad they have the opportunity to do so.  
I did a trek with my son in 2004.  Was my first time and I was green.  Did not know what to expect.  Did not know how to prepare.  We took two crews and had a great time.  Hiked 72+ miles over 10 days.  Several blisters.  Lost 12 lbs.  Had caffeine withdrawal.  Back hurt.  Knees hurt.  Was dirtier and smellier than we have ever been.  Was one of the most memorable times of our lives.  I gave up 2.5 weeks of vacation and paid my own ticket and was glad to have done my time on the trail.  
I got to go back in 2007, but, unfortuneatly, junior had a job that year and could not go.  Since I was the ringleader of this little excursion, I wound up going again to lead a new crew over the hills and valleys of northern New Mexico.  The troop went again in 2008 and I was unable to make that trek, but I sent out daily e-mail blasts to the parents/family to let them know what their son was doing each day.  It was kind of a trail diary to give them a picture of life while hiking the trails of Philmont.  Since the troop is going back again, I thought I would repeat those updates on this blog to give everyone an idea of what trail life was like at Philmont.   
So, here is my plan:  over the next 12 days, I will give everyone a daily update on where the crew is and what they should be doing.  Hopefully, I can give you an idea of what life on the trail is like. 


terri said...

This will be fun! Heading on to the next post to see what it's like to be a boy scout!

meleah rebeccah said...

Oh! Yay! This is going to be so exciting! :)