Philmont 2003 Itinerary 31

Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2003 23:18:37 -0500
From: "Dr. Bob Klein" <>
Subject: Re: [Philmont]: Trek 31

Since no one has detailed out your entire trek, here are some thoughts. Please note that it's a "quick and dirty" appraisal done a priori, not in person, and so some of the comments are speculative in nature.

Old Abreu to Crater Lake - Assuming you're guys are not the type that determine trails based on the number of contour lines, an early start here would allow hiking or side-hiking Trail Peak. That would also give your Ranger an excellent spot for his Ranger Moment - a good selling point if he/she balks at the time (or sweat) requirement. BTW, recent comments on the list would suggest that the Crater Lake Program has been pretty good lately.

Crater Lake to Shaefers Pass - with, I assume, the usual programs at Miner's Park on the way? (rock climbing, E. Sci.). Unless the spring at Shaefers is running real well (which, for the first time in some years, may actually be a reality this year), I personally would suggest to your Crew Chief that eating dinner for lunch, either at Miner's Park (well water) or at North Fork Urraca camp (creek) is the way to go. Note that if you just do the morning rock climb at M.P., eat dinner for lunch, and hustle up to the Pass, you could consider doing the Tooth as a side hike; but be aware, that would be an all afternoon sort of thing, and you'll be *plenty* tired by the time you get back. I would budget 5 hours start to finish on side-hiking the Tooth from the Pass, and 6 would be more prudent.

Shaeffers Pass to Cimarroncito - plenty of options here. If your guys can stand to get up at the crack of doom, you could catch sunrise on Shaefers Peak (almost as good as sunrise on the Tooth, and a heck of a lot safer to get to). Clark's Fork offers all sorts of activities, and if you have a horseback ride, it would likely be scheduled here for the morning. If so, note that it takes about 50 minutes to get to Clark's Fork from S.P. Other activities include horseshoes, boot branding, lassoing, cowboy lecture, etc. Leaving Clark's Fork, you have two options to get to Cimarroncito - the easier offers a quick side-hike to Hunting Lodge, and we have had a lot of favorable testimonials on that program the last 2 years. The (much) harder route is to climb up to Hidden Valley to catch Window Rock, one of the top five views in all Philmont. In the latter case, you would continue down Hidden Valley towards Aspen Springs, and back cut to Cimarroncito. Don't know what programs you would have scheduled at Cimarroncito, but the more time you spend at Clark's Fork, the less time you'll have a 'cito; it's a tradeoff, and the Crew has to make their decisions on what they want to do.

Cimarroncito to Harlan - presumably with a stop at Ute Gulch Commissary.

If you chose not to side hike Hidden Valley the previous day, you could get up early and do that first, before heading to Ute Gulch. In fact, you could even drop your packs and raise your bear bags at Aspen Springs, then do the hike with just daypacks (breakfast and canteens). From Ute Gulch, you can go either over or around (to the south) Deer Lake Mesa to Harlan; both have merit, but I personally think the "south/around" route is more scenic. Harlan offers reloading, shotgun shooting, and burro racing. DO NOT miss the burro racing, even though the guys will be tired by 7 pm; it's a blast.

Harlan to Cimarron River - The upper trail (across Deer Lake Mesa to Upper Bench) is more difficult, but offers some decent overlooks of Midnight Mesa as you're coming to Upper Bench. The lower trail is (if I remember right) not particularly scenic, but is certainly a lot easier.

Both trails join north of Upper Bench, and head down to Visto Grande camp. My personal version of "Inspiration Point" is at the top of the switchbacks heading down to Visto Grande. It's just as you come out of the trees, and offers a spectacular view up the Ute Creek Valley towards Baldy and Touch Me Not. This is allegedly where David Westfall wrote the Philmont Hymn, and is another of one of my top 5 Philmont views. At Visto Grande camp, there is a spring with MUCH better water than the swill in the Cimarron River, so you may wish to cook dinner for lunch here again, and if not carry all you can down to the Cimarron River Camp. Visto Grande and Cimarron River Camps are both unstaffed, so no program other than chatting with your fellow Crews. It's a easy walk to Rt 64, so people have had pizza and sodas delivered here, if you are so inclined (I personally am not).

Cimarron River to Head of Dean - Get an early start - you DO NOT want to be stuck in Bear Canyon in the heat of the day. If you want a real challenge (and some really spectacular views behind you as you climb), hike from Bear Canyon over Midnight Mesa to New Dean Camp. Otherwise, go straight up Bear Canyon through Santa Claus and on to Head of Dean. Well water is available at either New Dean or Santa Claus. Head of Dean is a jumpin' place, so either way don't drag your tails, or you'll have to wait til the following morning to do the Challenge Course.

Head of Dean to Baldy Camp - Again, get an early start, and head to Miranda first - if you get there early, you can likely wrangle black powder rifle shooting and tomahawk throwing, and (if you want) the Mtn. Man Rendezvous program. From Miranda you can head up to Baldy Camp through Ute Meadows, set up camp, then head to Baldytown for semi-program and getting cleaned up.

Baldy Camp II - SOP is to go over Baldy, starting out as early as you can see, then go down through Copper Park. Go down "The Wall" and hit the Aztec Mine about 3/4's of the way to French Henry. Then do Blacksmithing and Gold Panning at French Henry, then take the road back to Baldytown. I'm guessing your Commissary pickup is scheduled for this day, so you may need to send some guys back to camp to get empty backpacks or bear-bags.

Baldy Camp to Flume Canyon - Again, get a crack of doom start. Suggest you go through Ewell's Park and Pueblano Ruins to Pueblano, and do both the Spar Pole Climbing and Continental Tie and Lumber Company programs at Pueblano. Since Pueblano has purified well water, you may one last time consider cooking dinner for lunch. You can also ask the Camp Director at Pueblano for permission to come back for the campfire program that evening, but be forewarned, that's about an hour and 15 minute hike back in the dark, so even though they usually allow it from Pueblano Ruins, they probably won't from Flume Canyon. But it don't hurt to ask.

I assume you're getting picked up at Ponil. If so, if you have a later pickup, don't laze around in camp - hustle down to Ponil and hit the Cantina and the museum - a nice way to end your trek.

This looks like a pretty neat trek; I'm sure your Crew will have a great time.

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 08:21:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Thomson <>
Subject: [Philmont]: Re: Trek 31

Crews doing Baldy (with one exception last year) have a layover in the vicinity of Baldy Town, and usually have their food pickup SCHEDULED for the second day. At least in 2001, my crew and the crew from my troop both went to Baldy Town the afternoon of the first layover day for showers and to pickup the next day's food, and had no questions from the commissary staff about it. That took care of the chore when we had plenty of time, rather the next day which was very full. BTW, the commissary at Baldy Town is normally open later (to 6 pm) then the others, and you can store packs in the lower level if you go through before they open on your way up Baldy for a food pickup on your return (if a food pickup the first day doesn't work for you).

Also, if you do go down the north side to Copper Park and French Henry (echoing Dr. Bob's comment), be sure to take Polar Pure in your daypacks - water at both of those camps must be treated, and you will need to refill your water bottles at one or the other.

- Al Thomson, Troop 236, Schooley's Mountain NJ

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 11:08:00 -0500
From: "Dr. Bob Klein" <>
Subject: [Fwd: Re: FW: [Philmont]: Trek 31]
1) Trail Peak would certainly be easier done as a side-hike after arriving at camp, but that risks unfavorable afternoon weather and the possibility of a reluctant Ranger who still has check-offs on his list to complete. If you can manage it as part of your hike TO camp, you will probably be better off. But it's certainly a challenge for Day 2!

2) Since you're going in late June (long days), the latest I think you can go to the Tooth from Shaefers Pass is 2:30. You would have to plan out your day accordingly. But if your Crew turns out to be slow, or if you're late, you can always stop at Shaefers Peak instead. It ain't the Tooth, but it ain't bad either. Either way, watch the weather! - and cancel out immediately if there are t-storms anywhere in the area.

3) Because you would have to stop and raise bear bags at Aspen Springs, I think it would be an hour and 15 minutes from Cito to Window Rock (and I sure wouldn't side-hike it with full packs on). I would definitely save BF to eat at Window Rock, but give everyone a little something to eat at Cito before you start out - even a Granola Bar is enough to take the edge off.

4) The hike up Baldy from Baldytown is longer mileage-wise but not as tough a grade, and a much more easily followed trail above the tree line. It's about 2 hours up, same as the Copper Park side.

5) I have only passed by Flume Canyon Camp (it's a short side-hike off the main trail). I do not believe it's anything special - just a nondescript feeder/starter camp for Ponil and Pueblano. You may want to ask this specific question on the list.

Best Regards. - Bob

Date: Fri, 28 Mar 2003 20:38:26 -0600
From: R Fisher <>
Subject: Re: [Philmont]: Trek 31
Just a couple of added notes to Dr. Bob's detailed information:

Old Abreu is just a short distance from Abreu - depending on the route chosen, you might even go through it on the way to Old Abreu. Anyway, an opportunity to sample the cantina and root beer if so desired. What an interesting way to start and end your trek, a round of rootbeer at the cantina.

If you go to the Tooth keep a sharp eye on the weather. Tooth Ridge and especially the Tooth of Time are *not* where you want to be in a thunderstorm if it can be avoided.

You (rather your crew) should also look at the various programs offered. You might be able to pick up rock climbing and/or environmental awareness at 'Cito the next day and give you more time to try the side hike to the Tooth. Same thing with the spar pole climbing and Continental Tie and Lumber programs at both Crater Lake and Pueblano. You could even split the programs and do part at one camp and part at the other. And it gives you another shot, if you get rained out of the first chance.

Don't forget that programs are available in the mornings as well. If you have a trail camp (i.e. no program to get to) and a reasonable hiking distance/trail, you may be able to fit a morning session into the crew schedule in a way that opens other opportunities.

Happy Trails,

Roy Fisher

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