Baltimore Area Council

Philmont Training

March 20, 1999


Terrain Appreciation

(This is a group participation lesson)



I. How not to get LOST at PHILMONT

a. In 1991, Wally's crew was doing the hardest trek at Philmont and the crew took wrong trails on six consecutive days until the advisor's feet could not take any more mistakes.

b. In 1994 during advisor's coffee at Santa Claus Camp, there was a crew on trek 8 who did 25 miles that day because the crew could not read the map. The advisors really hurt that night and had second thoughts about letting the crew make mistakes when they knew that they were on the wrong trails.

c. At Philmont, you see too many crews on the trails that are being led by advisors. Don't let that happen to yours. We feel that it is important for each crew member to have the opportunity to be the navigator (or in some cases better named as the "naviguesser" or "Magellan") for the day. Each day, right after supper, an advisor should sit down with the navigator for the next day and help him profile the route to be covered. The naviguesser then briefs the crew on the trail to be hiked the next day, including scenic points, trail intersections, stream crossings, program opportunities and pass through camps. While on the trail, the navigator carries the map and compass and leads the crew. We have found that the best way to teach terrain appreciation skills is by hands-on practice. It gives the navigator a chance to assume a leadership role within the crew for the day. The use of a navigator also satisfies one of the requirements for Backpacking Merit Badge.

II. Ranger Training. The Philmont Ranger begins teaching map and compass skills to the crew when the advisors and the crew leader are in Logistics. It is absolutely important that your crew can demonstrate their knowledge in these skills without you being there.

a. Colors and Map Symbols (pp. 26-27, Fieldbook)

1. Map Colors - What does (Group Participation)

Green Mean? -Vegetation. Woodland cover, scrub, orchards and vineyards.

Blue Mean? -Water. Streams, lakes, reservoirs, springs (including intermittent), rivers.

Red Mean? -Important roads

Black Mean? -Cultural (manmade) - roads, building, mines

White Mean? -Absence of major vegetation (meadows, prairies, desert area)

Brown Mean? -Contour lines and elevations

2. Map Symbols - Map symbols are usually found in the map legend. However your crew should know them by sight.

b. Contours (pp. 24-25, Fieldbook)

1. Contours defined-shows terrain features and elevation; translates two dimensions into three

2. Index and intermediate contour lines-Index is darker and has elevation marked on the line

3. Contour interval-80 feet (east coast maps are usually 20 ft-what does that tell you?.)

4. Distances between contour lines on the map-Close=steep; Far apart=flatter terrain

SUGGESTION:The ranger uses flash cards to review colors, map symbols and contours. Make your own flash cards and work with your crew on the map symbols. When you arrive at Philmont and the ranger starts his class, have your Assistant Crew Leader pull out your worn flash cards.

c. Declination (pp. 29-30, Fieldbook) The next time the Philmont Ranger teaches map and compass skills is immediately after you leave the bus at the starting location of your trek. The ranger reviews orienting the map and taking compass bearings. This usually takes about 45 minutes. Make sure your crew knows how to do both tasks.

1. Declination defined-difference between geographic and magnetic north

2. Declination diagram on map-Bottom margin (1994 - 10 1/2 degrees east of true north.

3. Make your map and compass talk to each other. Use a yardstick and carefully extend the declination across the face of the map. Using this line as a guide, draw parallel magnetic north lines across the map approximately one to two inches apart. Now you can use your map without compensating for declination.

4. To orient a map, simply turn the compass housing until the housing arrow lines up with the direction of travel arrow (compass bearing of 0 degrees). Next place the long edge of the compass baseplate on a magnetic north-south line. Finally turn the compass and map as a unit until the compass arrow lines up the compass housing arrow.

SUGGESTION:Make sure that everyone in the crew can orient a map before you get to Philmont. When you unload your pack from the bus at the starting point of your trek, IMMEDIATELY have your crew orient their map and point to the direction in which the crew needs to hike. PERHAPS, after the ranger notices that the scouts already know how to orient maps, the ranger may shorten the lesson. HOWEVER, since this is a safety issue, the ranger may be mandated to teach the lengthy lesson.

Group Participation: Have the crew leaders orient Philmont maps. Assume they know how to orient a map because it is a second class skill. If they don't and some will not know how, then teach.

III. Time Control Plan:

a. What is the normal backpacking pace for Boy Scouts?

30 minutes a mile PLUS 1 hour for every 1000 feet of elevation change.

b. What is the normal hiking pace for Boy Scouts?

20 minutes a mile PLUS 1 hour for every 1000 feet of elevation change.

c. Look at your Philmont Map. How long should it take to hike from Baldy Camp to the top of Baldy?

It is about three miles from Baldy Camp to the top of Baldy. Baldy Camp is at 10,000' and the top of Baldy is 12,441'. Therefore, the normal Boy Scout Pace would require 3 1/2 hours.

IV. Terrain Appreciation - using land features to determine whether you are hiking in the correct location.

a. If the map says that you are to be hiking uphill and you are hiking down hill, someone needs to question whether you are going in the right direction. Who is that someone?

b. If your map says that you are one mile from a stream crossing and you have been hiking for an hour and no stream crossing has been reached, someone needs to question whether you are going in the right direction. Who is that someone?

c. If your map says that you are two miles from the next trail intersection and you have been hiking for two hours and have not come to the trail intersection, someone needs to question whether you are going in the right direction. Who is that someone?

V. Route Planning

a. Choosing a Route

b. Time Estimating

c. Profiling - Teach how to profile a hike using 3x5 cards.

d. Crew Navigator (naviguesser)

Group Participation:Hiking from Rayado River Camp to Crater Lake Camp, profile the hike, estimate time, and mark terrain appreciation features.





VI. Route Visualization - Using the route profile, discuss with the crew the hike for the next day. Indicate the following:

a. Water Locations

b. Trail intersections

c. Possible locations for meals

d. Camping locations

e. Significant times

f. Landmarks

VII. Practical Exercise (if time permits)

Using Philmont Maps:

a. Is it harder to hike to the top of Baldy from Copper Park or from Baldy Camp?

b. Is it harder to hike to the top of Black Mountain from Black Mountain Camp or from Shaefers Pass?

c. What is the elevation of Comanche Peak Camp?

d. How many miles is it from Shaefer's Peak to the Tooth of Time? (It looks like it is really close but it is not)

e. How long would it take to day hike from Fish Camp to Lookout Peak?

f. When you are hiking from Phillips Junction to Beaubien, are you hiking uphill or downhill?

g. Is there a hiking trail that will enable the crew to hike to the top of Bear Mountain?

h. On a scale of one to ten, how difficult is the hike from Agua Fria to Fish Camp?

i. If you were hiking from Cimmaron River to Santa Claus, where is the next water location?

j. From Tooth Ridge Camp, How many miles is it to Base Camp?

W. C. Feurtado
Philmont Training Coordinator,
Baltimore Area Council

See also: