Philmont Trek Route 4 (2003)

Date: Mon, 29 Mar 2004 11:49:27 -0500 (EST)
From: CCPineoIII
Subject: Re: [Philmont]: Trek # 4

Just a few general comments based on late July 2003:

All campsites were fine for our crew of 11 -- five 2-man tents and a 1-man tent.

Crew of 11 included 2 adults (aged 39 & 56) and 9 youth aged 14 - 19.

We were assigned a late afternoon bus from base camp to the Lover's Leap trailhead. It's a bit of a walk back down from campsites to the water in the cow trough, but a good exercise in patience if you fill water bottles from the pipe rather than the tub ;-) Your first intro to polar pure on the trail.

Arrived Urraca Mesa camp in time for lunch. Urraca Mesa had a wonderful campfire with high energy levels. Good team building challenge course (low COPE). Potable water. Our crew always chose the longer, harder routes, if there was a choice. From Lover's Leap we hiked up the very steep south side of the mesa on the way "in" and came "out" on the road. Good choice in my opinion, as the steep trail "down" with full packs would not have been fun.

Bear Caves had good spring in '03. Pilot-to-bombadier latrine is novel. We had quite a wind the night we were there and spectacular stars. Hiked to Crater Lake in the afternoon for program -- remember to take long pants for spar pole climbing. Saw & ax work was a big hit with our crew. Line was too long for showers.

Bear Caves to Beaubein. Ate breakfast at Crater Lake. Our crew wanted to do Trail Peak enroute, so we hiked up and over Trail Peak (airplane crash site) enroute to Beaubein. Steep trail from Foster? Park. We made the climb from the pass in under 60 minutes. Good for caterpillar and/or challenging direct hike. Great view from peak before descending to crash site. Crash site is memorable. Excellent new trail down to Beaubein with lunch on the trail and arrival in Beaubein mid-afternoon.

Beaubein (2 days). Did our conservation project. Laundry. Hot shower. Boot branding, Relaxing. Chuckwagon dinner. Didn't ride. Did partial resupply at Phillips Junction on 2d Beaubein day and then picked up balance of food while passing through PJ on our day to Crooked Creek. Breakfast at PJ. Easy, pleasant hike along creek out of PJ. Green, lush with wildflowers.

Crooked Creek. Fun programs in homesteader site. Candle making was a hit. Cow milking a riot!

Hiked the long route up to Clear Creek, but still arrived before lunch. Black powder shooting was fun. Tomahawk throwing also fun. Cabin history very interesting. Latrines disappointing.

Clear Creek over Mt Phillips to Cyphers Mine is a nice hike. Thrilling to make the summit of Phillips. Nice view. Be cautious on trail down -- we had one face plant w/o a scrape, but it could have been a lot worse. Long, steady downhill hike to Cyphers. Excellent trail on the bottom 2/3. Cyphers puts you in Adirondack type shelters as ground is too rocky for tents. Boiler was "out" but advisors braved cold showers ... brrr. Program is great: mine tour, gold panning, blacksmith shop, joke telling, and the evening stomp.

Cyphers to Webster Park (dry) via Cimarroncito and Ute Gulch (food pickup). Long day on the trail. Made good time to Cimarroncito and got to do rock climbing in morning before hiking to Ute Gulch for lunch and resupply. Long, steady afternoon hike up to Webster Park (dry camp in '03 even though spring is supposed to be there). Full day on trail with climbing program in middle.

Webster Park to Tooth Ridge. Long day between 2 dry camps. Pretty trail with lots of water and wildflowers on way down to Hunting Lodge. Be sure to stop and tour the Hunting Lodge. Plan a layover and lunch at Clarks Fork. Hydrate yourselves thoroughly while at Clark's Fork where there is potable water. We did "dinner" for lunch at Clark's Fork. Ate "lunch" for dinner at Tooth Ridge camp (dry) to conserve water. Carry as much water as you can out of Clark's Fork. This is where we used our extra platypus water bottles. Tooth Ridge is challenging in places as it's very rocky and generally downhill. Good place for trekking poles and strong knees. Great views. Echoing others ... this is NOT a hike to make in the dark! Crew elected to bypass the Tooth and get to Tooth Ridge Camp this day. Nice campsites with lots of space. Climbed Tooth from Tooth Ridge camp to see sunrise on the last day. Plenty of light between 5 and 6 AM (sunrise) to make the steep, rocky scramble to the top of the Tooth. NOT a nighttime hike.

Tooth Ridge Camp to Base Camp. Long, hot downhill, even with an early start. Trail is on east-facing slope and gets the morning sun. Top 1/4 or so is in trees and pleasant. We were in base camp a bit before 10 AM after leaving Tooth Ridge Camp about 7:15 AM. Arrived Base Camp with a few drops of water, but not much more.

Charles Pineo
Assoc. Crew Advisor, 721B2, Trek 4, 2003
Woodstock, GA

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