Overall, it was very dry and dusty. We only got rain on the last day. Mosquitoes were bad (and not that bad) only at Phillips and when we stopped in Clear Creek. These conditions could have changed dramatically in the last two weeks. This trek also starts slow as to hiking distance and program opportunities. Then it is really loaded later in the trek.
Day 2 - Vaca. Short easy hike from the bus drop off. Water from a well there and is not the best tasting. I carried enough water to drink from base camp and we used the Vaca water for cooking/cleaning.
Day 3 - Deer Lake. We went through Harlan for the shotgun program. Everyone enjoyed the reloading and shooting. Crew decided to hang around Harlan and cook lunch as the lake at Deer Lake is stagnate so we treated it as a dry camp. Deer Lake is a beautiful camp and we saw the best sunset of the trek there. When you get to the camp, the sites to the left will have a better view of the sunset.
Day 4 - Ute Springs. Two choices on how to get there. We chose to go through Deer Lake Mesa camp and down to Ute Gulch commissary. Having now hiked both ways, I do not have a favorite, both have some beautiful views. This is your largest food pickup (4 days). 72 bags of food will fill everyone's pack to the max. I suggest that you got through the food and get rid of stuff you are not going to eat. Our crew chose not to take the time to do this which I think is a mistake, but I was on vacation so I kept my mouth shut and lugged the load. Our sister crew did some work spreading mulch and got doughnuts. From the commissary, hike down the road and take the trail towards Aspen Springs - the best campsites at Ute Springs are right at this junction. After setting up camp, we went to Cito with the thought that the crew would climb. We got there too late, but the crew did get showers. The crew had not picked up enough toilet paper at the commissary and then a roll had fell into a pilot/bombardier. Discussion on toilet paper conservation ensued.
Day 5 - Lambert Mine. Maybe the best day of the trek. We started early and had breakfast at Window Rock. The hike through Hidden Valley is longer than going through Cito, but well worth the views. Stopped at Hunting Lodge to do the tour which you should not miss. The crew leader and the crew member that lost the roll of toilet paper decided to ask the Hunting Lodge staff for toilet paper. The staff made the entire crew work for it by gathering firewood and sawing it up. They also gave the crew a giant bag of potato chips which was a welcome surprise. I would not run short on toilet paper on purpose, but for us it added yet another highlight to the trek. The hike from Hunting Lodge to Lambert Mine is all uphill, but not too steep and a beautiful hike along a stream. Lambert Mine was one of the few campsites we were in that was not a dust bowl. We hiked over to Cyphers for the advisor's coffee and the stomp. Great time and worth the 3 mile round trip. A full moon aided the hike back to Lambert Mine.
Day 6 - Phillips. One of the tougher days of the trek. Stopped at Cyphers for the program which is very good (mine tour, blacksmith). From there it is serious uphill to Mt. Phillips Camp carrying all the water you need until mid morning the next day. At our food pickup, we had swapped a dinner for a lunch so we had two lunches for this day since Phillips is a dry camp. View from Mt. Phillips is great, but at sunset, clouds covered the sun.
Day 7 - Porcupine. We started early and were at Clear Creek by 8:30. Outstanding staff there. Coffee on the fire all day. Crew really enjoyed the black powder rifle, tomahawk, and beaver trapping program. We did not leave until after lunch. Nice, easy hike from Clear Creek to Porcupine. Don't stop at the first campsites you come too, better sites are at the other end of the camp. One of the nicest trail camps I have been to. We were in a camp that the stream looped around. The youth referred to this as our moat. Bear cable is the highest I have ever seen. We had trouble getting our rope over the cable. Our sister crew had theirs up so the guy that had thrown theirs over threw our rope. Tied a perfect knot on the cable. We carried only one of the Philmont issued ropes and used parachute cord for our oops bag, so we had to get the rope free somehow. I used our sister crew's ropes, tied a Swiss seat on my son, and then both crews pulled him up to untie our rope. Turned out to be a project that everyone got a kick out of and a great example of using previous scout training and teamwork.
Day 8, 9 - Beaubien. Several options some of which will be decided in base camp at logistics. Which night will you do the chuck wagon? When are you going to ride horses? Our crew had decided to ride horses at 8:00 the first day. This was not a problem (only a 2 mile hike) except that we had to send a group back to Phillips Junction later that day to do a food pickup. Would have been better to ride the second day in the morning or in the afternoon and be at PJ at 8:00 when they open and pick up the food on the way to Beaubien. The crew chose to eat the chuck wagon the first night as we would get another meal at Abreu on day 10. The riding was boring in my opinion, but most of the crew liked it. They have a tough man contest that a 57 pounder from Texas won. According the MC, the smallest winner of the Beaubien tough man contest ever. Not what he won for, but any 57 lb. scout that can do a Philmont Trek wins my tough man contest. The chuck wagon dinner was welcome. The stew is your basic Dinty Moore, and the cobblers were burned on the bottom and not completely cooked. Still, I had a belly full of stew and slept well that night. The second day we did our conservation project, horse trail improvements. However, that trail is now finished and they have moved the cons project somewhere else. After that, we side hiked Trail Peak. This was another highlight for me. The view towards Baldy and Mt. Phillips is awesome. A great spot to get a crew picture with both in the background. And the plane crash is interesting as one of the crew members was an Eagle Scout. We went to the campfire both nights and it is different enough to make it worth going both nights (different songs and jokes). The second night they had a performer that they never introduced that was an excellent cowboy singer.
Day 10 - Abreu. Some choices on how to go. I have heard of some crews that hike via Trail Peak. I would not want to hump my pack up that trail if I did not have to. There is a somewhat direct route, but we had heard that hiking the Rayado Canyon was a better hike. Anyway, we wanted to see Fish Camp and when that direction. Toured the lodge, tied flies, but did not take the time to fish. It was after lunch before we headed down the Rayado Canyon. Hot in the afternoon so I would recommend getting an earlier start. The views are magnificent. We got to Abreu just in time to have a root beer before the cantina closed (4:00). Set up camp and hit the Mexican dinner which was outstanding. That would be a good meal at home and after days of trail food it was unbelievable including fresh lettuce and tomato. The goat milking was fun and hanging around the cantina when it reopened was also fun. The look of the cantina really makes you feel like you're in the old west (minus the redeye).
Day 11 - Miners Park. Again options on how to hike. We went through Bear Caves and Crater Lake. Great views of the Tooth at some spots. Real nice hike. Did the spar pole climbing at Crater Lake. The crew was not interested in climbing at Miners Park, so not being in any hurry, they hung out at Crater Lake playing a staffer's guitar. Another camp (like most) with outstanding staffers. Although we did not climb at Miners, I understand that is the best climbing at Philmont. And the staff there was very enthusiastic saying that they would do an early climb the next morning if the crew wanted to. Maybe they knew that there was no way the crew would hang around to take them up on the offer as they wanted an early start to get to the showers and pizza.
Day 12 - CHQ. The longest hike of the trek. We were on the trail at 5:00 when it was just light enough to see without a flash light. Stopped for breakfast and to climb the tooth. Our only packs off breaks. Back at CHQ at 1:00. Of course it depends on your crew, but I think this hike is a minimum of 7 hours plus your pack off break time. As I told our crew, there are hundreds of thousands of places to buy pizza in the US, but most of them will stand on the Tooth of Time only once in their life - take your time and enjoy it.
Assistant Scoutmaster Troop 15
Crew Advisor Crew 15
St. Francis United Methodist Church
This trek was with a provisional crew from the Mecklenburg County Council (709-F1) and was my second Philmont Trek. My first was Trek 20, 630-B1, 2001 with Troop 15.
This Web page is maintained by Selden Ball
at Wilson Lab.
Please send any comments or corrections to email@example.com