2021 Philmont, New Mexico

Troop 192 12 day trek, Itinerary 12-3, June 11-23, 10 scouts, 4 adults (photos by J. McDonald and A. McDonald, narrative by J. McDonald)

Thursday, June 10 – We took a 6:25a Southwest Airlines flight out of the Columbus airport and arrived at the Denver Airport at 7:25a. We rented a 12-passenger van and stopped at the Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak near Colorado Springs, a little over an hour from the Denver Airport. We then drove as far as we could up Pikes Peak, the 31st highest mountain in Colorado. The last 4 miles up Pikes Peak were closed due to construction. At mile 16 (of 20), we got out and climbed up some rocks for a view at 12,780′ elevation. We then had a 3 1/2 hour drive to Cimarron, New Mexico, where we stayed at the St. James Hotel, not far from Philmont Scout Ranch. The St. James Hotel has been a landmark along the historic Santa Fe Trail for more than 140 years.

Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak

Friday, June 11 – We ate breakfast at the St. James Hotel and took the short 4-mile drive to Philmont Scout Ranch. We met our Ranger, Ethan, were assigned tents at Base Camp, and took our group photo while still wearing Class A uniforms. We were given corn dogs for lunch. We checked out our equipment (tents, pots, cooking utensils) and acquired our meals for 3 days. Meals were in bags of 2 meals/bag labeled Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner. We went over scheduling and did our health screens at the infirmary. Ranger Ethan went over a lot of first aid with us. We did not care for the bean burritos we had for dinner. We then went to a religious service and Ethan went over the equipment we should take on our trek.

Map of our Trek Itinerary 12-3 in the northern half of Philmont. We spent Day 1 and Day 12 at Base Camp in the lower right. We had a 45-minute bus ride to the start of the trail and at the end of the trek back to base camp. The numbers on the yellow tags correspond to where we camped each night. Nights 2-11 were spent on the trail. An orange dotted line shows where we hiked between camps. We had a “sister” crew from Orlando, Florida, that we would usually see once or twice a day. They followed the same itinerary as we did on the same days.

Saturday, June 12 – We rode the bus 45 minutes to our starting point, the Ute Park Trailhead. We walked a little bit and then stopped in a shady spot so our Ranger Ethan could teach us about navigation, what to do in case of lightning, trail etiquette, etc. We then hiked on to the Cimarroncita staff camp (Elevation 7408′) where we did their laser range shooting activity. We missed the 3D archery activity as there was another group there. We then hiked across a field until we found the trail to the Cimarron River Camp. There, we learned how to hang our food and smellable in bear bags, how to put up a tarp for emergency shelter, how to cook, clean dishes, and use the sump for waste water. Dinner was beans and rice. Ben was our crew leader and Chris was our Chaplain Aide. Steve was the lead advisor. Each night we circled up to do Roses, Thorns, and Buds.

Distance: 1.9 miles, Elevation gain: 215′, Elevation loss: 201′.

Sunday, June 13 – We hiked the trail down 1/2 mile to the Cimarron River and filled up our water bottles. The rest of the 5-mile day was an all uphill hike to the staff camp called Santa Claus. At Santa Claus, we learned how to refill shotgun shells and then used those shells to shoot at clay pigeons with 12 gauge shotguns. Garrett cooked us Chicken Alfredo for dinner. Ranger Ethan told us more information about the Philmont way of doing things. That night, Santa Claus paid the scouts a visit while they were hanging their bear bags. The scouts enjoyed the visit from Santa.

5.5 miles. Elevation gain: 1589′, Elevation loss 454′. Elevation 8,394′

Monday, June 14 – We got up at 5:30a. Our Ranger Ethan left us this morning so he could go back to Base Camp to help his next group start their trek. The hike out of Santa Claus was uphill. We arrived at our camp at Elkhorn at 1p and ate lunch. It was nice to have free time the rest of the day as the last two days were busy all the tie. The scouts played a lot of cards, including a new version of Uno. We had to treat the water at Elkhorn. There was a short walk up the hill to see some great scenery and the sunset.

3.1 miles. Elevation gain: 617′, Elevation loss 583′.

Tuesday, June 15 – We had a deadline to make it to the Ponil Staff Camp to do a service project at 10:30a, so we got up at 3:30a so we could pack up, eat breakfast, and leave camp by 5a. We arrived at Ponil around 8:30a. It seemed like a long walk from the Ponil Admin building to our campsite the first time. Our Conservation project was working on building a new trail with 2 other crews. Scouts took pick axes and shovels to dig out and smooth out a trail. Scouts enjoyed working on the trail, digging out rocks, and smoothing out the trail. We were disappointed that the cowboy action shooting program was cancelled due to 5 of the staff getting covid-19. Horseback riding was also on our Itinerary, but since only 5 horses were available and only for the next morning, we skipped that activity. We went to the saloon at Ponil to get root beers and some snacks. Some people took showers. That night, was chuckwagon dinner. Garrett prepared beef stew with biscuits on top in a Dutch Oven along with some peach cobbler. The timing for the rain was good as it rained while we were eating dinner under the shelter. Later that night, we went to the Cantina show and listened to live music.

5.1 miles. Elevation gain: 115′, Elevation loss: 1465′.

Wednesday, June 16 – We got up at 4:30a and left Ponil at 6:15a. It was quite an uphill out of Ponil with a big rock at one point that we had to use our hands to crawl across. Fortunately it was dry. When we arrived at the ridge top, we took a short side tour to Hart Peak for a good panoramic view and got some cellular service. We then walked along the emergency road on the ridge top, which had quite a few steep up and down hills. We ate lunch at one of the few shady spots along the road and then descended into Metcalf Station where the sky was threatening to rain but missed us. We set up camp in a field next to a stream near the Metcalf station. At 4p, the scouts learned how to install railroad ties at Metcalf Station and how to work together to carry a section of 920-pound weight track. The scouts then pumped the railroad cart down the track for 1/3 mile. It was a lot harder pumping the cart back up the track. That night there was a Bluegrass music show on the veranda.

5.4 miles (+2 miles), Elevation gain: 1009′, Elevation loss 920′. Metcalf Station Elevation 7.246′

Thursday, June 17 – We hiked out of Metcalf Station and up a hill. Later we had some ridge hiking until a steep descent into the Dan Beard Staff Camp. Our campsite at Dan Beard was on top of a little hill with a great view, but had no shade. At Dan Beard we participated in C.O.P.E. (Challenging Outdoor Personal Experience) team-building activities. It was fun to watch the scouts figure out the challenge of stepping onto a log and then have to sort themselves alphabetically without stepping off of the log. Next, they had to balance on an “island” with some of the people blindfolded. If a side of the “island” touched the ground, everyone had to get off and start over, entering the island over the same point over the fulcrum. For the next challenge, scouts had to help each other climb up into a big net. That night Garrett cooked Teriyaki Chicken and rice and some climbed up the hill for a great panoramic sunset view.

4.7 miles. Elevation gain: 992′, Elevation loss: 308′.

Friday, June 18 – Today was our longest hiking day – 8.7 miles to Pueblano, then another 1.3 miles to the campsite Pueblano Ruins, then some hiked back to Pueblano and back for the campfire program for another 2.6 miles total. Our morning hike started with an uphill to the peak where some had hiked up the night before to see the sunset and a fantastic panoramic view. Then there were a few down and uphills and a nice slightly downhill ridge walk until we arrived at the Rich Cabin Farm Staff Camp. The Rich family lived here from the late 1890s to the 1920s. We took a little tour of the Rich house, where the doors were short as people averaged 5’2″ in height back then. We then walked a couple of miles on the road leading away from the house until we found our right turn up a pretty steep and long hill. At the top, we arrived at a meadow where we encountered 2 horses out by themselves. The horses then walked the trail ahead of us and out of sight. We had lunch near a pond with Mt. Baldy in the background. We then walked down a rocky downhill road leading into Pueblano. The only activity available for us at Pueblano was railroad tie-making, where a round log is made into a square log. It takes about 5 hours for an experienced person to cut a square railroad tie. After the activity, we then hiked another 1.3 miles along the stream to our campsite at Pueblano Ruins. Some of the group hiked back to Pueblano for the evening campfire program, arriving back at our campsite well after dark.

8.7 miles + 1.5 miles + 2.6 miles for some. Elevation gain: 2,105′, Elevation loss: 1,625′.