Day 1: Base Camp
Day 2: Sioux: The bus will drop you off at Ponil Turnaround, just a short distance from Ponil. It is an easy walk to Ponil. This is the first day of Ranger Training. Roping and branding are available at Ponil. Take advantage of the root beer in the cantina and the trading post. Cross the stream and walk up until you reach the turn off that takes you with a moderate climb up to Sioux. Sioux is a dry camp, but there is water available just a short walk down the hill. Come back down after dinner and take advantage of the campfire in the cantina.
Day 3: Pueblano: From Sioux come back to the trail that parallels the stream and continue on it past Bent until you reach the turn off on your left that takes you over Wilson Mesa with a wonderful view of Baldy and Little Castillo. There is an area that had a fire and thus is open to provide a terrific view. There is a steep climb up onto Wilson Mesa and even steeper climb down to Pueblano. There is a shorter route, but the view is well worth a little extra effort. The Continental Tie and Lumber Company provides activities of spar pole climbing, caber tossing, and making railroad ties with hand tools. There is an excellent campfire.
Day 4: Head of Dean: From Pueblano take the trail that comes off on your left just before you reach the area where the campfire was held. This is a nice trail with an 8% grade that will take you fairly quickly to Head of Dean. The patrol challenge events should be challenging and fun for your crew. There is also an area for basketball and one can be introduced to stump ball in which two people stand on a one of two stumps and toss a ball back and forth to try to knock the other off of the stump.
Day 5: Ute Meadows: From Head of Dean take the trail beside the cabin which would really be a continuation of the trail you came in on from Pueblano. Stop off at Miranda for black powder rifle and tomahawk throwing. There is also a cabin tour that depicts the life of the fur traders. From Miranda take a road that goes north. You will have to quickly go a little to your right to find the continuation just as you leave Miranda. Follow this until you reach the second trail that comes off to the left, the trail to Ute Meadows. The campsites at Ute Meadows are small except for three nice ones near the beaver dam that get taken early. One can continue on this trail and then turn to the left to cross two streams that take you to the trail to Baldy Town. This trail is not too difficult although it does climb. There are showers available. The water here is pumped by solar power. Because of the frequent afternoon clouds, water often runs short in the afternoon. With good water conservation, however, (Take short showers and turn the water off and on as you need it, and wash and rinse your clothes in a wash basin rather than with just letting the water run.) there should be plenty of water for everyone. This is your first food pick up. We went up the first day we reached Ute Meadows. There is also a trading post.
Day 6: Ute Meadows: This is your day for a side hike over Baldy (12,441 feet). Go early to avoid the bad weather. We left Baldy Town at 6:40 AM and reached peak of Baldy at 9:15 AM. From Baldy Town Baldy is approached from the south. There is a fairly long, but moderately steep climb up to the meadow. There is a beautiful view and lovely Alpine meadow present. Don't pass up this view. From here there is a fairly steep climb up the bare face of Baldy. Spend a little time and enjoy the view from Baldy. We spent a little over an hour and just barely got off before the thunderstorms began. There is a very steep and slow climb down the north face through Copper Park and on to French Henry. At French Henry, there is blacksmithing, panning for gold, and a gold mine tour of Aztec Mine. Continue out of French Henry on the road that goes past the museum. This is a fairly easy hike that takes you back to Baldy Town. Again there was water shortage. Pick up your food if you failed to do so the day before.
Day 7: Upper Dean Cow: The trail up to Baldy Skyline comes out of Ute Meadows near the beaver dam, and can be missed if you are not careful. If you miss this trail you will come to the four-wheel drive road at its junction with the road going to Miranda. By taking it to the left you will come back to the trail up to Baldy Skyline. Hike via Baldy Skyline back to Head of Dean. The trail here is fairly steep and long. This is starting the first of back-to-back dry camps. I would recommend cooking dinner and cleaning at Head of Dean and refilling your water before heading out to Upper Dean Cow. I would also recommend everyone drinking at least 4 to 6 quarts of water before leaving. From Upper Dean Cow take the road that comes off to the right and leads through the meadow. There is a small pond with the opportunity to observe wild life coming for a drink. We heard a bear and saw many deer. Have your lunch for dinner. There is a water tank at Upper Dean Cow, but I wouldn't depend on it.
Day 8: Upper Bench: From Upper Dean Cow continue on down the trail. After about 15 to 20 minutes you will encounter a trail on your right with a sign to Santa Claus or Santa Claus Canyon (I don't recall which). About 15 feet past this, there is a small and not very obvious unmarked trail also coming off on the right. Take this trail that will take you down through Bear Canyon. Be careful not to have people too far behind here since Bear Canyon reportedly has one of the largest populations of mountain lions in the country, and they can potentially stalk and jump on isolated individuals. As you leave Bear Canyon, you will cross in a tunnel underneath the highway and then take a footbridge over the Cimarron River. After crossing the river the trail will take you first left and then soon to the right up through Cimarron River Camp. Continue on with a moderate climb up to Vista Grande. There is a fairly obvious spring here that has a moderately good flow. This is your last water source and requires double purification (four caps of Polarpure per bottle rather than two). Purify water as soon as you reach here. Even with 6 bottles of Polarpure, you will not have enough to complete purifying all of your water. After an hour, purify some more water as needed. Once again, take the opportunity to cook dinner and wash dishes at lunchtime and have your lunch for dinner after your reach Upper Bench. Again, I would suggest that everyone drink at least 4 to 6 quarts of water prior to leaving this last source of water. As you leave Vista Grande continue on the trail. At first it is fairly steep, but then continues on along fairly easy switchbacks. At Upper Bench there is another nice pond with the opportunity to observe animal life.
Day 9: Cimarroncito: It is extremely easy to get on the wrong trail coming out of Upper Bench. There is a trail on the left that is not on the map and was unsuspected that has probably been created by cutting through to go on to Harlan. This will take you to Harlan if you wish to shoot the shotguns. We did take the wrong trail and were in Harlan a little before 9:00 AM. The crew can definitely go on to Harlan and shoot the shotguns if desired. If you go to Harlan, take the trail past the cabins there continue on until the trail hits the road going to Ute Gulch Commissary. Going by Harlan makes it about a 10 to 11 mile day. If you don't wish to go to Harlan, be sure to keep to your right and continue on through Deer Mesa and Devils Washbasin. Take advantage of the view from the cliffs at Devils Washbasin. Even with going by way of Harlan, we were able to make it to Cimarroncito by a little after 1:00 PM, so clearly we could have taken advantage of the program there. As a basis of time, my crew which had some fairly small boys for there age was able to go for two to three hours straight with just very brief breaks for water or to remove jackets. Whichever way you go, take the road to the Ute Gulch Commissary. About 2 to 3 minutes before you reach the Ute Gulch Commissary there is a trail off to your left to Aspen Springs and Cimarroncito. After you have picked up your next food, come on back to the trail to Aspen Springs and Cimarroncito. Take this trail that is fairly easy. After you cross a stream, there is a trail to the right and another to the left. The one to the left goes down to Aspen Springs and then on to Cimarroncito. The one to the right is a relatively recent trail that takes you up through Grouse Canyon and is a quicker, easier climb to Cimarroncito. There is some climbing, but not too bad. At Cimarroncito you will do your conservation project. Our conservationist there was the best I have had at Philmont. There is rock climbing and rappelling. I would try to schedule this in the morning so you are less likely to get rained out. However, if you do, there is an indoor climbing facility. There is also a climbing wall which is quite challenging to make it completely around. The environmental program is excellent. Some may want to take the pemmican challenge to see if they can eat a pemmican bar in less than 1 minute for a box of donuts. One of our scouts made it in 1 minute and 6 seconds, just barely missing the donuts. Take advantage of the hot showers.
Day 10: Cimarroncito: Continue with the program there. You may also elect to do a side hike through Hidden Valley that is quite lovely or to visit the Hunting Lodge that is staffed this year. The couple living there gives a very interesting tour.
Day 11: Ponderosa Park: From Cimarroncito take the trail through the meadow and past the Hunting Lodge on down to Clark's Fork or you may take the trail to Aspen Springs and through Hidden Valley. Stop off at Clark's Fork for a horseback ride and chuck wagon dinner. You may also hone your skills in roping and branding and play a game of horseshoes. Hot showers are also available. After your crew has completed the clean up from the chuckwagon dinner, continue up the road past the showers until a trail comes off to the left to take you up toward Shaefer's Pass. You will have a long and moderately steep climb that takes you through Upper Clark's Fork Camp and on to Ponderosa Park.
Day 12: Base camp: We were up at 3:45 AM and left camp at 4:17 AM. We hiked the trail up to Shaefer's Pass and then continued on to the left up to Schaefer's peak for the sunrise. Follow the tradition of having breakfast here while you watch the sunrise. It is well worth getting up for if you crew elects to do so. Come back down to the trail and continue on along the Tooth Ridge. In about an hour you will reach the Tooth of Time. Drop your packs and climb the Tooth of Time. With the bear problem, you must hang your smellables or have someone to watch to packs. Often there are people from other crews who have elected not to climb the Tooth of Time. Continue on down the trail through the Tooth of Time Campsite. As previously reported, the return to base camp from the Tooth of Time is extremely long and slow and takes hours. However, you should be able to make it back to Base Camp for lunch.
Logistics at Philmont was quite reluctant to make any changes in the itinerary, so I wouldn't count on any.
Our Troop 236 Web site at http://www.erinet.com/doc236/ should soon have some pictures.
I hope you all have as great a Philmont experience as we did.
Charles Goodwin, MD, Scoutmaster Troop 236, Kettering, Ohio