Philmont Wildfires: June 11, 2002


Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2002 12:32:13 -0600
From: Sid Covington <sid_c@swbell.net>
Just wanted to give everyone an update on conditions up here.

I got my 12 Capitol Area Council contingent crews on the trail yesterday and then came to my house west of Eagle Nest. Their expedition numbers were 609-E-1 to 12 and were the first out for the summer.

The 12 crews had originally been given itineraries across the ranch. The logistics staff did an absolutely excellent job of assigning new itineraries to those who had been scheduled in the Valle Vidal and North Country. Some of the South and Central itineraries were slightly modified to accommodate the additional load there. The switched itineraries included some existing itineraries and some that have been created to accommodate the situation this year. Everyone seemed to be happy with their new assignments -- logistics really worked hard to try to mimic the difficulty and program mix of the original itinerary. They should be given a large thanks.

A few points: 1. every crew will have a "sister" crew this summer -- use this as an opportunity to make new friends; 2. staff from the Valle Vidal & North Country have been moved to the camps in the South and Central countries -- this should prevent problems with "overcrowding" in programs; 3. water is extremely scarce--springs that normally run until August never started; 4. detail maps for South and Central countries were still in short supply although they were trying to pick them up at the printer yesterday (Monday) -- all crews should remember to bring their wall map they received.

I recommend the following: 1. don't call logistics or Philmont with questions about your itinerary -- they are really busy now and things may change before you arrive anyway, 2. have confidence that Philmont will work diligently and successfully to make everyone's trek a success; 3. tell your crew members that this is an act of nature and you have to be flexible and roll with the punches; 4. prepare for lack of water and to have to carry water long distances (everyone should carry at least 3 quarts of water and you should have bladders/milk jugs, etc. to carry water); 5. your "new" itinerary may have a long day in it -- some appeared to be significantly longer than on the standard itineraries; 6. Philmont is closely monitoring the fire situation and will take necessary steps to insure the safety of trek participants and the staff if conditions change; and 7. just plan to enjoy yourself and have fun -- it will work.

Philmont has significantly reworked the menu's this year -- they are now packaged in multiples of two people and they have re-examined and adjusted the calorie count to correct some of the ones that were short.

At basecamp, participants are almost unaware of the fire. You can look north and see the smoke plumes on the other side of Cimarron but that is about the only physical indication they are there. The prevailing winds are blowing the smoke north and east away from Philmont. There is a lot of dust in basecamp and people were complaining about the strong winds blowing all night keeping them from sleeping although that didn't bother me! It looks more like late August than what should be late spring up here--all the grass is brown and there are no wildflowers. The firefighter camp at the Cimarron rodeo grounds is impressive -- several hundred tents. The fire now has its own website at http://www.pnw-team2.com/ponilcomplex/index.html. From Cimarron to Ute Park, there are numerous helicopters dumping fire retardant.

If anything significant happens between now and the time I go back over to Philmont to meet my crews when they come off the trail on the 20th, I'll pass it on.

Sid Covington
Tour Director, Capitol Area Council Philmont Contingent 2001-2003


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