DAY 2 - RIMROCK PARK: Typical Ranger Training day. Easy, short hike through Zastrow to a trail camp. Likely will have time to pop over to Abreu and take the tour of the new, nineteenth century Mexican homestead. And to visit the cantina for a root beer (even though you haven't earned it yet).
DAY 3 - URRACA: Up the backside of Urraca Mesa and over the top to camp. Trail is exposed, so an early start is definitely advisable to avoid both the sun and afternoon thunderstorms. Program is Challenge Events, a good crew building exercise early in the trek. Make sure you check out Inspiration Point - spectacular views of the Tooth from just outside of camp, and a possibility for sunrise tomorrow morning. Campfire at Urraca is centered on ghost stories about the mesa. In Logistics, our coordinator highlighted the contour of the top of the mesa - it is shaped like a skull, and one eye is allegedly the portal to the underworld where the Anasazi Indians disappeared.
DAY 4 - MINERS PARK: Your Ranger will be leaving you and you are on your own to Miners Park and the rock climbing and environmental awareness programs there. Happens to be the only staffed camp in the South I have not been through (something I hope to rectify this summer), so can't say much more.
DAY 5 - BLACK MOUNTAIN: The trail from North Fork Urraca crosses the creek 48 times (our actual count last September, yours may vary). Program is black powder rifle, blacksmithing, and mountain living. This is one of the few camps that is not accessible by four wheel drive vehicles - everything must be packed in.
DAY 6 - COMANCHE: A long day. You will pass through Beaubien, where the program is Western Lore and you get another chance at it at Clarks Fork. Continue on to Phillips Junction for your food pickup. You probably could do your Conservation project there, but again, a better idea may be to wait and do it another day. The program listed in TREKS is Homesteading at Crooked Creek, which is about a half mile up a trail along that creek. The highlight of that program for a lot of boys is rounding up the chickens and other animals after dinner, which you will miss because your trail camp is still several miles further away.
DAY 7 - COMANCHE PEAK: First, another chance at black powder rifles as well as the Rocky Mountain Fur Co. program at Clear Creek. This is your last source of water for the day, so you will be carrying extra over Mount Phillips to your camp. Just beyond the camp is a spectacular viewpoint, and another sunrise vantage.
DAY 8 - SAWMILL: Almost all downhill today, but also mostly four-wheel drive roads, so get an early start (easy since you were up for sunrise! - especially if you break camp and eat breakfast while waiting for the sun.) Program is .30-06 rifle; your third chance to shoot.
DAY 9 - HUNTING LODGE: If you haven't already completed your Conservation project, today may be your last chance at Cimarroncito. Program there is rock climbing and environmental awareness, which you have done earlier, but might do again. Getting to Hunting Lodge by way of Hidden Valley and Window Rock is strongly recommended (or tomorrow, as the long way to Clarks Fork). Understand that the evening program at Hunting Lodge is very good.
DAY 10 - CLARKS FORK: If you are scheduled for Horse Rides, whether that is in the morning or afternoon will dictate your day. Can easily make the morning ride from Hunting Lodge. If you have the afternoon, you could add a couple miles to an otherwise very short day and do Hidden Valley and Window Rock. Other program here is Western Lore (branding, horse shoes, lariats) and the chuckwagon dinner in the new pavilion. Also, a Western themed campfire.
DAY 11 - TOOTH RIDGE: A great camp for your last night on the trail. If the spring at Shaefers Pass is flowing, you could get water there, but that will take a fair amount of time, since in the best of times it is relatively slow, and there usually are other crews trying to do the same thing. If it isn't flowing, you will have to carry water from Clarks Fork. While there is no program to get to this day, timing is still a concern. Tooth Ridge is very exposed, and it is best to avoid the possibility of being caught there during an afternoon thunderstorm. With a very early start, you could be at the Tooth for lunch, but that makes a long day with limited water. You could go back to the Tooth for sunrise tomorrow morning, or view the sunrise from the rock formations at the camp. In either case, you want to be on your way back to Camping Headquarters early - when you break out of the trees the trail is all in the sun and you are down to your last water. The new trail was laid out by a masochist (why does it go up when you are trying to go down?) and seems endless, especially when you start heading out the long switchback away from Base Camp. But eventually you'll have the photo op at the "you made it" sign. Since you will be back long before lunch, you should have time to tour the Villa Philmonte or take the bus into town in the afternoon.
Only 56 miles per TREKS (though I figure at least four miles longer Day 11 and two Day 12). Even at 62, short for a Strenuous Trek. But a couple of tough days, some real water management issues, and squeezing in your Conservation project could be a trick.
- Al Thomson, Troop 236, Schooley's Mountain NJ
Advisor '99, '01, and '03
Autumn Adventure '00, '02 and '04(?)
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