Philmont After the Fire

Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 07:11:39 -0500
From: Stan Herrin <>
See also: Philmont Fire Burn Pictures

We arrived at Head of Dean about August 1, 2002 on day 6 of our Trek. The back country had been open for about 2 weeks. We approached from the new Baldy Skyline camp, which is about 1 hour west-northwest of Head of Dean. The trails are all messed up, and we had to hike in by road.

Head of Dean has not been damaged by the fire, but all around it has been. The cabin, campsites and upper scope program sites are intact.

The view to the north, from the back of the cabin, is still great, but you could see a layer of brown trees mixed in with the green off in the distance.

If you go east from the cabin, on the road into Dean Canyon, about where the pilot-to-bombadier is, there is crime scene tape across the road and a big sign saying that further progression is prohibited. The area beyond the tape has been damaged by the fire.

We did the lower cope, and saw no signs of the fire damage as we walked from the cabin to scope area.

Due to the fire damage, there is only one trail to the south, out of Head of Dean, and it goes to Santa Claus. There is fire damage on both sides of the road to Santa Claus, with signs saying you can not get off the road by order of the State of New Mexico. Some one who knows more than me said it looked like a healthy burn and the area would recover quickly.

This trail is the upper trail to Santa Clause shown on the Philmont maps, and it has been converted to a fire road.

Santa Claus has not been damaged by fire. Mark Anderson described the path between Upper Dean and Vistro Grand as a free way becuase of all the crews going south. It is the only way to get from Baldy to Central Country.

The trail from Santa Claus to Bear Canyon is about the same - Fire damage on the "east" side, and the trail is now a fire road.

The fire damage disappeared at the gate in to Bear Canyon.

We saw fire damage at Ponil. Mainly at the higher elevations, and not in camp.

It will be interesting to see the 2003 Treks, and what is available in the north country. Limited trails may be a problem for the next few years.

Our trek in 2002 was the old trek 32 modified for the fire.The primary change was that we started at Ponil and were in the south country by day 6.

Ponil>Dean Cutoff (a new camp about 1 mile east of Ponil on the way to Pueblano)>Pueblano Ruins> Miranda> Miranda>Baldy Skyline>Upper Bench>Harlan>Sawmill>Clarks Fork>Tooth Ridge.

Stan Herrin
Springfield, IL 1968, 2000, 2002

See also:

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