Philmont Trek Warning

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 09:54:26 -0400
From: Brian Gannon <>

In 1994, I went on my first Philmont trek. I was 15 at the time and the other youth in the crew were around the same age. I don't think anyone was over 16. We had a couple of advisors in the "gray area" (18-20), and only one person was above 30 years old.

Anyway, we selected Trek 25 (now Trek 33) at the encouragement of our Scoutmaster. He and a couple of the other leaders had been before, but none of us Scouts had. If you look at Trek 33, it is the longest trek at Philmont. It is also the only one that climbs Baldy without the benefit of a layover day. So what did we do for getting ready? Absolutely nothing. Our Scoutmaster talked about doing a hike once or twice, but nothing ever materialized (maybe that's part of the reason he's gone now...). If only I knew then what I know how about how important training is.

I was fortunate to spend a week beforehand in Colorado with my family, which help me get used to the altitude. This trek literally kicked my butt - and I could tell the others were hurting too. Every day for the first five days, I thought about giving up. But after five days, I started to get used to it and kept trudging along. However, we missed out on a lot of program because we were hiking all the time. We even missed the campfire at Pueblano because we didn't get in until 9pm! We also decided not to side hike Mt. Phillips because we didn't think we could do it plus our regular hike. We were lucky that most of our advisors were young and in shape. The only older advisor did have some problems and ended up skipping Baldy. But he made it - in fact, we all made it. But would I do it again? NO. If this is your first time to Philmont and you have a younger crew, do yourselves a favor and choose a trek in the typical or rugged catergories. This is especially true if your backpacking experience is limited. By spending less time hiking and more time participating in programs, you will enjoy Philmont more.

Hopefully, others will learn from our mistake...

Brian Gannon

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