Philmont 2002 Trek Route 8

Date: Mon, 27 May 2002 21:36:16 -0400
From: Alan and/or Brenda Thomson <>
Subject: [Philmont]: Trek 8
Off-list I have been asked for comments about Trek 8. Getting further afield from my direct experience, but I'll throw my two cents in anyway...

Day 2 - Ute Springs. A little longer first day than usual - 3.5 mile or so. If you have an early bus, get done with Ranger Training and the crew is up a side hike, you could do a side hike of Hidden Valley and Window Rock. If really ambitious, could continue on down to Hunting Lodge for the program there and back through Cito, but that would be about 4 more miles total and maybe more than the crew wants.

Day 3 - Deer Lake Mesa. Another 3.5 miles, to a dry trail camp. Obviously there is no need to get there too early, but there are reasons to get up early anyway. With a very early wakeup you could make Window Rock for sunrise and breakfast. Another possibility would be to side hike to Cito for morning rock climbing (sessions are at 8 and 10) - especially if you went through Cito yesterday and signed up for it. Environmental Awareness is the other program if rock climbing is full. Doing your Conservation project this day at Cito, especially if your other choice is at Had of Dean on Day 6, is another possibility. Water is at Ute Gulch Commissary - last year when we passed through it was heavily chlorinated and almost undrinkable.

Day 4 - Visto Grande. A short day as the crow flies, but your itinerary takes you to Harlan for program, pushing up the mileage. Spectacular views to Baldy at the top of the switchbacks that drop into the meadow above the camp - a real photo opportunity if the weather is clear. A couple of the sites off to the side have nice views of Baldy (through the trees) and I'd expect nice sunsets, but most of the sites do not have a view and you'd wonder about the name (if you hadn't already seen the view coming into camp). The spring is a little slow, but usually reliable.

Day 5 - Santa Claus. Your fourth trail camp in four days, and no opportunity for program, which is probably an argument for taking advantage of the programs at and around Cito on Days 2 and 3.

Days 6 and 7 - Baldy. Your Conservation project will likely be the timber stand improvement project at Head of Dean - if so this long day (about 12 miles) will be even longer. The program at Head of Dean is Challenge Events, which you will see again later so there is no need to do it there. The mileage to drop down to Miranda for program there (Mountain Man Rendezvous including black powder rifle, tomahawk throwing, and a cabin tour) is not much more than the route along Baldy Skyline, and while it will add more vertical distance, it is not steep or particularly difficult. You need to get to Baldy for a food pickup, but the commissary there (in the past) has been open until 6. The next morning is Baldy - there are very nice views to the west from the saddle just below the treeline if the crew wants to take a break before hitting the rock field to the top. Head down the north side - there are two trails (the "slide" and the "switchback") which are both very steep and loose rock. We took the "switchback" last year and the racehorses in our crew, and every other crew going down when we did, blew right past the switchback the trail is named for and went straight down. The footing just got more treacherous - I was the only one with trekking poles and have no idea how those without them managed. My boot rubbed against rocks so much that the stitching on the side wore through and blew out. We eventually got down to the stream that flows to Copper Park and followed a trail created by all the crews ahead of us who did the same thing. Take Polar Pure with you so you can treat water and refill your water bottles. Continue on down "the wall" between Copper Park and French Henry. Stop and take the mine tour before going on to French Henry and the other program there - gold panning and blacksmithing. Route back to Baldy is all four wheel drive jeep roads and in the sun. Your chance for showers - hope that there is still hot water, but I wouldn't count on it.

Day 8 - Pueblano. All downhill today! Program is Continental Tie and Lumber Company (spar pole climbing, rail making). And your first and only campfire on the trail.

Day 9 - Rich Cabins. Up and over Wilson Mesa - reportedly the best views of Baldy are from the top of it. Program at Rich Cabins is homesteading.

Day 10 - Cook Canyon. Stop at Dan Beard for the Challenge Events program before arriving at this trail camp.

Day 11 - Indian Writings. Again all four wheel drive road - get an early start to avoid the sun. Program is archeology.

Day 12 - Camping Headquarters. Will pass by the T-Rex track on your way to Six Mile Gate.

See also:

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