Philmont Bear and Weather Update: August 1, 2001

Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2001 13:17:35 -0700
From: Brad Borgstede <>
Subject: [Philmont] Bear Enforcement Action & Weather Update
Crew 719-H1 returned to Colleyville, TX last night after an awesome experience at Philmont. This was my second trip to Philmont, and my first in 29 years. We were on Itinerary #13 and used many of the tips shared by this discussion group to make our experience more enjoyable.

A couple of updates that users of this discussion list may find interesting.

On Sunday evening, 7/29, a representative of the New Mexico Fish and Game Department was present inspecting the campsites at Clark's Fork with the Clark's Fork Camp Director. Bear violations were found in every campsite and each crew staying at Clark's Fork was presented a "warning ticket" and a bag of smellables that had not been handled in accordance with Philmont's procedures. The most common items appeared to be medical related smellables such as moleskin, aspirin, etc., Nalgene bottles that had become smellable due to adhesives or the use of drink mixes, pots that still had traces of food, plastic eating utensils and trash.

Our crew was staying at Upper Clark's Fork and our campsite was not inspected. I am not aware of full extent of the counseling and program changes that were experienced by the offending crews. As strictly as the campsites were inspected it would be next to impossible to not have a single violation of the bear procedures.

It appeared that the crews were being escorted back to their campsites by staff members to more thoroughly review the bear procedures and the campfire participation for these crews was cancelled. The Agent from the New Mexico Fish and Game Department did not appear to be in good spirits.

Clark's Fork has now set a new record for bear sightings with over seventy sightings, four bears trapped and one tranquilized. We were told that the day before we arrived at Clark's Fork, bears were chased out of several campsites and appeared to be on the path to becoming nuisance bears which would require further action.

A bear was trapped at Ponil while a sister crew was there for the Chuckwagon Dinner. To my knowledge, there were no unfavorable nuisance bear encounters during the period 7/19-7/31. Our Council had 16 treks on the trail during this period, most of whom saw bears from a safe distance.

I don't know if it is a coincidence, but it appears that the Chuckwagon Dinner sites are attracting more than their share of bear activity. At Clark's Fork, the smell of the Chuckwagon Dinner site is pervasive through out the day even to the human nose. The Chuckwagon Dinner is a great program feature; however, should this activity be reviewed to determine the impact of the Chuckwagon site on the interest of the bear population?

It rained every day at Philmont during the second half of July. Generally, the mornings were rain free and allowed for dry hiking. However, some afternoon programs were affected and rescheduling was necessary at certain camps. At times it rained during the night into the early morning hours. Duration, severity and frequency would be impossible to predict in advance. Concerning weather predictions, one wise staff member at Clear Creek said "We don't know, our TV is broke."

The only Staff Camp that didn't cope well with the rain was Urraca, where the Staff did not have a campfire due to "not having dry wood." Our crew was puzzled because it was not raining at the 8:00 campfire time and they brought dry wood with them to the campfire. When our crew offered to build the campfire for the Staff, our offer was refused. This was our first experience at a Staff Camp and we weren't quite sure if we were at a Boy Scout Camp or a College Dormitory.

The staffs at Abreu, Crooked Creek and Clear Creek went out of their way to make sure that the Program carried on despite the inclement weather. We were especially impressed by the Staff Members who endured personal discomfort to make sure that each Scout could enjoy a special experience such as milking a cow or shooting a black powder rifle.

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