Philmont Trek Route #1

by Calvin H. Gray <> Date: Fri, 26 Mar 1999 13:35:57 -0600

My first visit to Philmont in 1989 was for what is basically now trek #1 (it was #4 then). This is a nice trek, especially for younger crews, that begins in the central part of the ranch and ends in the south. In 1989, we had two crews (10 boys & 4 adults) of 13 & 14 year old boys and had a great time. This was when the age rule was "13 by January 1."

The bus will drop your crew off beside the highway in Turkey Creek Canyon. After the ranger works with your crew leader and navigator on orienteering skills, you will begin going "up" almost immediately and wind up at Vaca for ranger training.

After a night at Vaca, you will continue your upward travel to Deer Lake Mesa. Normally, Deer Lake Mesa is a dry camp so you'll want to take extra water. For our '89 crews, this was probably the toughest day of the trek as we weren't accustomed to the altitude.

Your ranger will depart the next morning and you'll be off to the commissary at Ute Gulch for food pickup prior to travelling on to Cimarroncito. If you get an early start, you might have time to stop by Harlan for shotgun shooting.

At Cito, you will have a layover day. Cito has a nice environmental awareness program and a super rock climbing program. You'll also probably do your conservation project near Cito.

From Cito, your next stop is Clarks Fork, a camp that features western programs. Your crew will have their horse rides here and you'll enjoy a chuck wagon supper and a nice campfire program.

From Clarks Fork, you will travel to Black Mountain. Get an early start if at all possible. I seem to remember that you travel south to Shaefers Pass and then take the trail west toward the Black Mountain Camp. This is a strenuous trip but you should be getting accustomed to the altitude by now. When you reach Shaefers Pass, your crew will have an opportunity to take a side hike to the Tooth of Time. If you do this, be sure to take at least 2-quarts of water per crew member.

If you decide not to take the side hike to the Tooth, you'll probably get to the Black Mountain Camp in time for all the programs which include blacksmithing and black powder rifle shooting. In any case, you will reach Black in time for the campfire program. Be sure to check the side of the main cabin to see if a mirror is still there. It was on the cabin in '89 and was still there in '95. I have photos of my wife "checking her face" during both treks.

From Black, your next stop is a food pick-up at the Phillips Junction Commissary. I seem to remember a fairly well stocked trading post at PJ too. After picking up supplies, you will be off to Buck Creek, a trail camp. Be sure to purify your water completely at this camp as there are usually cattle in the area.

From Buck Creek, your next destination is Apache Springs. Several different program opportunities are available at this camp. Encourage the boys to take advantage of the sweat lodge.

Soon after departing Buck Creek, you will begin hiking along the beautiful Rayado Creek. The trail will take you to Fish Camp, one of the south country's feature camps. Lots of opportunities for fishing here as the Rayado and Agua Fria Creeks meet. You will understand why Waite Phillips selected this location for his "Fish Camp."

Get up early the next morning because you want to reach the New Abreu Camp in time for the afternoon programs. If you depart Fish Camp by 6 a.m., you will be able to make Abreu by noon. You will really enjoy Abreu because there is a cantina with cold root beer. The burrow racing is also fun and the PEAKS book says they have a Mexican dinner there too.

After spending your final night on the trail, you will need to hike to the Zastrow Turnaround where the big yellow bus will meet your crew. The hike in from Abreu is easy but there is one thing you need watch. Just before you reach the Zastrow Camp, the trail will look like it disappears into the Rayado. It doesn't...back track a few yards and look up to the right and find the "real" trail which will take you to a bridge that crosses the Rayado at Zastrow.

If you have time, visit Gilwell Hall and the other buidings at Zastrow as this is the national home for Wood Badge. If Wood Badge isn't in session, this is a good place to eat lunch as there are picnic tables. If Wood Badge is in session, please don't bother the participants.

Enjoy your trek! You've selected a good one!

Calvin H. Gray
Scoutmaster, Troop 405
Georgetown, Texas
I used to be an Owl (WM-62-2-98 @ Philmont)

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