Philmont 2001 Trek 19

Date: Mon, 25 Jun 2001 19:49:11 -0700
From: Signe Rogers <>
Subject: [Philmont] Trek 19
We did a slightly modified Trek 19, because as a 611 crew, the McBride fire was still a factor in trek itineraries. We were let off at 6 mile gate to hike to Ponil Turnaround. It is my understanding that the McBride camp is now being used again. A Ranger I talked to when we came off the trail had just had a crew at McBride, and reported that there had been trail damage due to the heavy equipment that was brought in to fight the fire and at times a little confusing knowing where the trail went.

Our second night was at the Sioux campsite, a short distance from Ponil. I believe Trek 19 is now on it's original schedule to the fullest, so the 2nd night should be in Ponil. Shower schedule at Ponil is that the females shower on the even hours, the males get the odd hours beginning at 6:30 AM and going to 5:00 PM.

From Ponil, it is a fairly comfortable hike to Flume Canyon. We were the 1st crew to arrive at Flume on our day and had the pick of campsites. We chose the one just across the river from the red roof, and our campsite had "easy chairs" which had been made from stones around the cooking area. We are guessing that a Cons or trail crew did that little project. There was even a chair with armrests!

Next stop was Head of Dean. We had a crew of only 3 youth, and they chose not to do the challenge events. We did Cons at HoD, which consisted of TSI (tree stand improvement). As is most Cons work, it wasn't easy, but the time passed quickly as we cut down disseased and weak pine trees as part of making a healthier, more fire resistance & pretty forrest.

Next day's hike was to Baldy Town. We, along with our sister crew, could not find the trail to Baldy Town from Ute Meadows. Supposedly, you have to walk thru a campsite and past the dam (never saw a dam....) to find the trail. We ended up at the far end of the Ute Meadows camp, climbing a steep hill that had rock cairns along it & then over to the 4wd road & up to Baldy Town that way.

Of course the program at Baldy Town is the mountain itself! Staff at Baldy T was terrific!

The hike from Baldy T to Copper Park is all uphill. We found it helpful to caterpillar thru this section. At the west end of Copper, you will find a trail marked with blue & pink ribbons leading north over the "big hill" that will take you to the forest service roads heading to Greenwood Canyon. This year, heading to Greenwood Canyon is a "NO Schwacking" area. Too many crews have gotten lost in this area in the past. Stick to the forest service road, once you crest the hill outside of Copper. This is a very steep "hill" and will require all your effort to maintain footing & not slide backwards down the hill. It took us close to 2 - 2.5 hours to hike up this piece of ground. It is steeper & more difficult than getting up Baldy from the Baldy T side, and with full packs too. The trail is not wide enough to allow for caterpillar so we did a "15 steps - 15 breaths" approach to it as a unit. Someone would count out the steps & someone else would count out the breathing. A few times we took a second round of "15 breaths" before we all moved on. This was a very difficult section that our entire crew agreed that it took the teamwork of the crew together for each of us to make it. I felt like I was moving like in the movies I see of Mt Everest climbers barely moving. It was hard work!

Greenwood canyon has a meadow at both the west & east ends. These are the places to camp. Once into the canyon itself, there is not very good camping ground. We camped at the west end of Greenwood & as we looked around, we found a previoulsy made charcoal fire ring near the river. We made this our kitchen area as well. It then took us about 50 minutes to hike thru the canyon the next morning.

You will go to Seally Canyon, via Rich Cabins for food, so it is another long hiking day. We found the area between Greenwood & Rich very lush with wildlife. Saw turkeys, and many varieties of paw prints along the trail, and about half-way between we saw a bear minding it's own business. We came upon a meadow where it was grazing about 100 feet away. It was totally unaware of our presence so we got to quietly stand & watch & take pictures. After a bit of time we started making noise to let it know we were there. Bear raised it's head, looked our direction & ran off into the bushes. A very nice unthreatening situation. It was a cinnamon color, about 200 lbs. Just before getting to Rich cabins, there is a small pond where we saw an otter swimming.

When you leave Rich Cabins, you will have to somehow climb up another canyon wall. There is a cut-out that will take you a long way before you have to schwack the last bit up the side of the mountain. Talk to the Rich staff and they can help point you in the right direction. Just N of Rich, after getting to the top of the hill there is a windmill. From that point on you can pick up an old road that will lead you north to Beatty meadow & on towards Seally Canyon. This was another long day's hike for us.

From Seally to Whiteman Vega was not difficult. We basically schwacked a fairly "straight" line, but deviated some to follow easier countours around a couple of hills.

When we were at Whiteman Vega, we used our GPS to find our way back to camp after advisor's coffee, since the first night we had to return to the lighted staff yurt because we could'nt find our tents! In a LNT area with no trails, all those trees look the same in the dark!

My advice for any trek is start hiking early in the morning so you aren't baking in the full afternoon sun. This is especially true for the hikes to Greenwood Canyon & Seally, as you will have long hot days if you don't take advantage of the first light of day to be moving along the way.

Also be sure to remember in the Valle to practice your LNT principles. When hiking thru the forest as well as the meadows, spread out so you aren't walking in each others' steps & creating a beaten down trail. The Valle is very dry. We had grass crunching under our feet. Do your best to treat it gently.

We used a GPS for our trek thru the Valle, and found it quite helpful, along with good old map & compass as well. I would be happy to share our GPS waypoints with anyone wanting them.

I wish to best to all who are yet to do their trek this summer & I hope this helps some with #19!

Signe Rogers, Advisor
Venturing Nature of Leadership Trek

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