Philmont Trek Route #19

by Bill Griffin <> Date: Mon, 13 Apr 1998 10:09:43 -0500
I am abbreviating this narration as I have not been to the Villa Vidal. I will describe the routes on the ranch.

Bent: The bus will drop you off just down the road from Ponil. It is about a miles up the road to Ponil camp. There is a root beer cantina and commissary there. Also a trading post next to the cantina. Continue up the valley road/trail to Bent, just above Ponil. This is a short and fairly easy walk. The camp is off the road and across the meadow from the cabin (used for various training activities). You are close enough to visit the cantina in the evening.

Dan Beard: Continue up the Ponil valley. Just after leaving Philmont property, a trail will head off the road to your right. It continues up to Dan Beard. This a pretty camp in a meadow dotted with trees. There are views of Baldy in the upper meadow.

Seally Canyon, Ring Place, Greenwood Canyon: These are in the Vidal. You will be hiking off Philmont property. Trails are primitive to non-existent so map and compass work is at a premium. There are few established campsites. Pay close attention to low-impact camping there.

Ponil: From the north, you will return back to Ponil. Above Bent you will hit the Philmont fence and retrace the route you took north a few days prior. There is a chuckwagon dinner at Ponil, showers, commissary, trading post, program, and root beer cantina. Enjoy.

Dean Cow: Go down from Ponil and take the trail around the ridge into Dean Cow Camp. This can be a hot, long hike so do it early in the day.

Harlan: From Dean Cow, cross over the ridge to the south and drop into Turkey Canyon. Go down the canyon to highway 64. Cross the road and ford the Cimarron River (don't be tempted to take water from it even if you purify it--nasty). Climb up the shelf to Harlan.

Webster Parks: You'll probably want to hit a commissary again. Take the out of Harlan around the southeast side of Deer Lake Mesa. You will drop to the commissary road on the other side. Just up the road a trail branches to the left and goes through Ute Springs Camp. Continue along this trail, eventually breaking back out onto the road. About a mile up the road a side road goes up to your right to the commissary. After getting food, snacks and water, head back down the road. Stay on the road all the way this time. At about opposite the middle of Ute Springs Camp below you in the gully to the left, is a trail that goes up the bank on your right. Take it. A 100 yards or so a side trail branches to the left. Take the right branch into Grouse Canyon. It is pretty. Soon you will enter the top of Cimarroncito Meadow. Leave the Grouse Canyon trail, taking a side trail to the left into the meadow. Go down the meadow to the staff cabin on the right side. Take the program then climb up the trail to Websters Parks. It is probably dry so take all the water you can up. I have been known to ask for an unused campsite at Cito and cook dinner there before going up the hill to Websters and bed. I then come back down and have dinner at either Cito or the Hunting Lodge at the bottom of the meadow. Easier.

Ponderosa: Another dry camp but with planning you can cope. Head down the Cimarroncito meadow to the road. Cross the road and take the trail on the other side to Clarks Fork. Take the program and have lunch there (cooking a dinner). Get all the water you will need (possibility that this is the last water until base camp tomorrow) then hike up the trail. Watch carefully for the Ponderosa trail branching to the left about half the way up the Shaefers Pass trail. Ponderosa is well off to the left side. Flop for the night.

Base Camp: Go back to the Shaefers Pass Trail and continue up to the pass. Check for the spring in the SW corner of the pass meadow, up the slope to your right and just in the woods there. It usually is reliable but has been known to dry up without notice. There is no other water until you get to base camp. At this point you will need at least 2 qts each to get there. Head up the trail to Tooth Ridge. It goes a long way around Shaefers Peak, makes a switchback and goes a long way back around the west side of the peak before hitting the ridge trail just below the east side of Shaefers Peak summit. You can drop your packs and take the 100 climb up to the top for another summit and view spot. Then continue along the difficult ridge trail. It is rocky and goes up and down. A new trail has been started this year and will eventually help. Just before the Tooth you will drop down the north side of the ridge a short distance to get around a slide area. When you get back to the crest of the ridge, you will see the trail that goes up the east side of the Tooth to the top. Scramble up the steep trail and oh an ah as you see where you have been. Go back to the packs and follow the ridge trail all the way down to base camp--a couple of hours down.

Good luck,
Bill Griffin

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