Bus drop off is at Zastrow turn-around. The turn-around is a loop on the ground but kind of a triangle intersection on the map. Starting camp is Rayado River, but go through Zastrow & catch program. When close to Zastrow, take the trail to the right just before heading down the creek. It is not on the map, but it avoids hiking on the jeep trail that IS on the map. The program at Zastrow is land navigation. There is a short course and long course. No maps are required but compasses are. Tour the former Woodbadge HQ cabin.
After program, hike on to Rayado River camp for Ranger training. Side hike up to Abreu for root beer cantina.
Next day destination is Lookout Meadow Camp. Be prepared for a long climb up Bonito Creek. But first stop by Abreu for some program.
Lookout Meadow camp lists the stock pond as the water supply. However, it resembles a spectic pond. Get water out of Bonito Creek before doing the last climb up to the camp. Lookout Meadow is a trail camp, so not much to do (I suppose you could side hike Trail Peak...).
Next day's destination is Fish Camp. Be sure to stop at Lookout Peak (about 50 yards off the main trail) for the great view of the Rayado valley. Read & add to the notes in the register. Hike on down to Fish Camp via Webster Pass.
There is a lot going on at Fish Camp, so get into camp early. The program at Fish Camp is fly fishing, fly tying & cabin tours. Waite & Genevive Phillips conduct the cabin tours. Ethan (from St. Louis) runs the conservation projects. Highly suggest doing your cons project here, it is the most convenient of all your opportunities. Cons project is trout stream restoration (it beats trail building, trail maintenance, TSI & fire restoration). Don't miss the scenic pilot-to-bombadiers in the western campsites.
Next destination is a 2 day layover at Apache Springs, so no need to hurry out of Fish Camp. The hike to AS is easy, with a little uphill climbing up from the Rayado (7 switchbacks).
Two days at Apache Springs. AS is still a comissary, a legacy of last year's rerouting of crews into the south country. There is food pickup, but no trading post. This year only comissarys are supposed to have swap boxes. Staff camps are not supposed to maintain swap boxes. Program at AS is 3D archery, tipi tours, sweat lodges. Evening program is sunset viewing from up the hill. While scouts go to sunset viewing, advisors can participate in skeet archery. Apparently the skeet archery is only publicized by word of mouth. Don't miss any of the program features. The water shortage caused the staff to allow clothes washing with spring water only.
The next destinaiton camp is Wild Horse. There are a couple of potential routes, either up the line trail (to Crooked Creek with a side hike to PJ) or over to PJ & up through Crooked Creek. Since we were celebrating a birthday at PJ, we chose to all hike through PJ. It's a little up and down, but not bad. The next cons project is trail building between Bear Canyon & Buck Creek. It's quite a hike from PJ.
Hike on into PJ & pick up food & hot showers. PJ is like a magnet with inertia taking over. Crews have a hard time getting motivated to leave.
Hike on up to Crooked Creek where you can get a homesteader's cabin tour, chase chickens, make candles, etc. There is a swing in the tree and a porch swing. After lazing about Crooked Creek, start the hike up to Wild Horse Camp. It's a bit of a climb.
Watch for places where the trail has been rerouted. The mosquitos are terrible in the camp. Be prepared with long pants/sleeves, bug repellant, etc.
The next destination is Mt. Phillips Camp via Clear Creek. The hike to Clear Creek is easy after a little uphill out of Wild Horse. Taske advantage of program at Clear Creek - trapper cabin tour, hawk throwing, black powder shooting. Cook a supper for lunch there since Mt. Phillips is a dry camp.
After lunch, start the climb up Mt. Phillips. Take it slow & it isn't too bad. When you get to the false peak near the top, the worst of the climb is over. Savor the views of Moreno Valley from the top of Mt. Phillips. We saw the Taos fire start on July 4. Please don't mar the landscape with artificial memorials to your crew. All the campsites are located to the left of the trail along the top of the mtn. Philmont has generated all new camp maps for 2003. They are much more useful & accurate than the old ones. Wonder at all the moths that infest the trees. It's been verfied - you cannot really see the fireworks in Eagles Nest from the top. Tolby Peak blocks most of the view. We only saw 6 fireworks that popped up high enough.
Next day's destination is Cypher's Mine. It's a looong downhill hike to get there. Enjoy the views on the way down. Stay off the 4wd roads on the hike down. Cyphers's has a new cabin, mine tours, gold panning, blacksmithing & the famous Cypher's Stomp in the evening. Staff wasn't allowing fires to heat shower water, so showers were brisk and short.
Next camp is Cimarroncito, one of the biggest in the central country. On the hike from Cyphers, the North Fork trail does not exist. It is another cons project. You could do a Hunting Lodge cabin tour, but save it for tomorrow when you have more time. Get in early to Cito to get a morning rock climbing program.
Afternoon sessions are often rained out. Propane heated showers are available. A side hike to Ute Gulch comissary is required for food pickup. The route through Grouse Canyon is shorter than the switchbacks through Aspen Springs.
Next camp is Ponderosa Park. We hiked through Hidden Valley with a stop at Window Rock. Then down and a short detour for a tour of the Hunting Lodge. Take time to read the forest management demonstration signs on the way to Clarks Fork. At Clarks Fork you can horse ride, brand, rope, etc. We also stayed for the chuck wagon dinner & short showers. Watched the afternoon hailstorm from the new porch. After dinner we watered up (last water before basecamp) & headed up to Ponderosa Park.
Get an early start the next day since it will be a long, dry hike. Climb up to Shaeffers Pass, make the short detour to the top of Shaeffers Peak, down the ridge to Tooth of Time. Climb the Tooth. Follow the endless switchbacks down into basecamp.
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