Philmont 2003 Trek Route 26

Date: Wed, 16 Jul 2003 09:49:40 -0500
From: Wayne White
Subject: 'Trek 26 2003 abridged'
Trek 26 is a good one. You're in for a good hike through some of best camps on Philmont property.

The trail (we took) to Rayado River Camp goes right through the staffed camp of Zastrow. There is no need to carry 3 or 4 quarts of water from base camp. We did and then in less than an hour we were at Zastrow with purified water available. Less than a 1/4 mile down the 4wd road / trail from Zastrow Turn Around the foot trail turns off to the right, just before you start down hill (on the 4wd road.) Our guys missed it.

We had a 9:45 bus out of base camp to Zastrow Turn Around and then less than an hour to Zastrow. Our guys did the compass course program and we ate lunch before leaving. Gave us the opportunity to leave trash and have "fresh" water with our meal. The hike to Rayado camp is short and we were at the camp in less than 40 minutes even with "Ranger training" stops enroute.

The latrines get better the farther in camp you go. Also you are very close, 20 - 30 minutes of easy walking, to New Abreu. Between Rayado River Camp and New Abreu we went through Rimrock Camp. There was a shower house just off the trail (in Rimrock) on the left but don't know if it was in operation. I wish we had gone on over to New Abreu our first evening, did the program, carried supper with us, cooked supper while there, and stayed for the campfire program which I heard is a good one. You can have root beer with supper this way! Purified water available also, so with a little planning there is no need to purify any water from base camp until you get to Black Mountain Camp. Leave your breakfast garbage at New Abreu the next morning on your way through.

One reason to hit New Abreu on the first afternoon / evening is you need an early start to get up the side of Urraca Mesa the next morning before the sun climbs very high. We took the trail through Toothache Springs to Urraca. It is straight up and in the sun all the way once you hit the meadow. Immediately as you reach the top of the Mesa, there is an excellent place for lunch with a scenic overlook of where you've just been. 2 hours 30 minutes from New Abreu.

Visit Inspiration Point while at Urraca Camp, only a 15-minute hike from the staff cabin. It doesn't rain in campsite 17 (staff story.)

We took the old 4wd road around Urraca Mesa enroute to Miner's Park. If it has rained that way is treacherous and the mud sticks to your boots something awful.

As you enter Lover's Leap Camp the trail will fork. Stay left until a trail sign points the way to Miner's Park.

Make sure to tell staff at Miner's Park you're headed to Black Mountain so they'll give you a camp in that direction. Leave your trash at Miner's Park before leaving. The Black Mountain Camp Staff won't take it.

As you start downhill toward North Fork Urraca Creek watch for Grizzly Tooth in the distance. Same elevation as the Tooth of Time.

You'll get to know North Fork Urraca Creek very well, crossing it 48 or 49 times in about 3 miles enroute to Black Mountain. Enjoy this section of trail; it is a beauty. My favorite one of the trek. 2 hours and 40 minutes from the bear cable at the side trail to "Betty's Bra" at Miner's Park.

Black Mountain had the best campfire of our trek. Very good program too. Staff very friendly.

Steep climb out of Black Mountain Camp to the 4WD road enroute to Phillips Junction or PJ as it is called. Good trail and scenic, even along the road, all the way to PJ. The meadow to Beaubien is beautiful except for a Solar Array stuck out in the middle. We made it to PJ in 2 hours from Black Mountain.

Lynn Gebert, Camp director at PJ (in 2003), is a friend of my daughter and she had me a birthday cake prepared when we arrived. That day was my 50th birthday. Please tell her Wayne and Patsy White said hello.

Showers are solar powered so no sun = no showers. Last purified water until Clear Creek.

Nice trail to Comanche Camp. The meadow leaving PJ is beautiful. 2 hours from PJ.

Comanche Camp is isolated and nice. We took the time to wash out some socks and shirts here. Be sure and use the sumps for your waste water. Our ranger told us all the sumps, even those in the far backcountry, are piped back to the Villa Philmonte and the water is used to water the lawn. Why are you laughing? Of course it's true.

Steady climb to Clear Creek from Comanche Camp. Good trail scenery starting to be a little more rugged, still pretty but more rugged. 1 hour 10 minutes from Comanche camp. Another black powder opportunity, hawk throw and interesting staff. Very enjoyable. Leave trash here and water up because Mt. Phillips is next.

The trail up Mt. Phillips is straight up and tough. Take plenty of rest stops, drink water and eat a snack for energy. We made it to the summit in 2 hours 8 minutes from Clear Creek. View is indescribable. You just have to be there.

Downhill to Comanche Peak camp in 1 hour 12 minutes from Mt. Phillips. Keep going and try to get the farthest campsite available. There are a couple of fantastic spots to watch the sunset and sunrise right off the main trail near the last campsite. You can't miss it.

All downhill to Sawmill. 3 hours from Comanche Peak Camp. One of the conservation projects is completion of the trail to Sawmill camp. The trail will intersect a 4WD road after crossing an impressive bridge structure. The trail wasn't finished and we had to take the 4WD road to camp. Very, very steep, worse than the Mt. Phillips trail. Be glad you're going downhill.

Sawmill has a Tobasco Donkey, (yep that's where they got the name), water heater (wood fire) to heat the water at the shower. So you have to do a little work for a hot shower. Good program but no campfire, which is a little disappointing. First chance since PJ to leave garbage. Sunrise is touted as best in Philmont but there are several better ones on this trek.

Beautiful hike through Upper and Lower Sawmill canyon and Grouse Canyon to Ute Gulch Commissary. 2 hours 20 minutes from Sawmill. Last chance to buy fuel in the backcountry.

Backtrack to Cimarroncito nice hike and again beautiful scenery. You do have the option to take the Hidden valley trail to Hunting Lodge but it is longer and more difficult. Do it tomorrow morning from Hunting Lodge unladen. 1 hour 25 minutes from Ute Gulch Commissary. Good program at Cimarroncito.

Hike down the trail through a beautiful meadow spoiled only by the electric power poles and lines running parallel with the trail. 30 minutes to Hunting Lodge Camp from Cimarroncito.

Campsite 1 or 2 is in the rear of the Hunting Lodge and has a "Red Baron" pilot-bombardier. This is the best latrine since base camp. Privacy doors and porcelain seats. Enjoy. For the purists, there is an original pilot-bombardier nearby albeit with porcelain seats.

Hunting Lodge tour interesting and good campfire. This afternoon take a side hike to the Cimarron Water Reservoir. Cathedral Rock is nearby. Get up early the next morning for a side hike to Window Rock / Hidden Valley. Breathtaking views and trail! 1 hour 5 minutes from Hunting Lodge to Window Rock. If you tour the Villa Philmonte you'll find out how Window Rock got its name. (Hint: Look out the round window when you are there.)

Only 40 minutes to Clark's Fork from Hunting Lodge. Lots to do here. Horseback riding if you made an appointment in Logistics. Branding, roping, horseshoes, a covered porch to sit under and showers. Chuck Wagon supper also. Eat your dinner here for lunch where there's plenty of water and save your lunch for today until supper tomorrow on Tooth Ridge which has no water source. Very enjoyable campfire, almost as good as Black Mountain.

Clark's Fork is the last water source until base camp so fill up before heading toward Tooth Ridge Camp. Trail to Shaefer's Pass is steep and goes through Upper Clark's fork and Ponderosa Park trail camps. Ponderosa Park has a Brown Roof Inn. An hour and 20 minutes from Clark's Fork to Shaefer's pass. From Shaefer's pass to Shaefer's Peak, another 45 minutes, the trail is steep and rocky but the views are getting better and better. Take the 1/4-mile side hike to Shaefer's Peak for a good photo opportunity. If you live east of Philmont, more than likely it's all downhill from here. The trees and ground in the immediate area of the peak was covered with ladybugs when we were there.

The trail from Shaefer's Peak to the Tooth of Time, almost 2 hours, is rocky and difficult to hike on. It would be easy to twist an ankle if you get careless through here. We stopped dozens of times along the trail to enjoy the view. We dropped our packs at the side trail to the Tooth, climbed to the top, 15 to 20 minutes, and absorbed all we could before heading on to Tooth Ridge Camp. Allow at least an hour once you get to the top.

Tooth Ridge Camp is only 12 minutes away from the side trail to the Tooth. Campsite 7 has a pilot-bombardier with a view of base camp. Enjoy. This one should have been a pilot-co-pilot. The pilot side fills up quick.

If you choose not to hike back up to the Tooth for the sunset / sunrise there are plenty of places to watch them from Tooth Ridge camp.

Tooth Ridge Trail to base camp is between 5 and 6 miles long and it took us 2 hours. There are plenty of opportunities to cut across the switchbacks but don't do it. It is an easy trail with plenty of photo opportunities as you wind your way to Base Camp. Notice the crop signs in the valley to your left as you break through the tree line. Take the mandatory group photo at the "Welcome Back You Made It" gate and you're almost there.

Be sure and check with Logistics about water sources that I mentioned as they change throughout the summer. Also the mosquitoes were terrible from Urraca Camp to Comanche Peak Camp. Bothersome at Sawmill and disappeared after that. Again, this was unusual for Philmont and varies with rainfall etc. Stay up late or get up early to see the Milky Way and more stars than you've ever seen before.

Good Luck and Enjoy.

Wayne White
Former Scoutmaster, (14 years)
Present CC Troop 222
Moulton, AL

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