Philmont Weather

Date: Sat, 03 Nov 2001 06:30:44 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Re: [Philmont]: Philmont weather in August 2002

I was an advisor in 95, 97, and 2001. All 3 times we went in early August, the time that is generally described as monsoon season.

At that time of the year you can expect that there will be an afternoon thunderstorm somewhere in the ranch. One day you will hear and see storms all around you and never get rained on, and other days you may have to take cover from lightning and hail and horizontal rain. Just assume you will get rained on every day on and plan accordingly. Philmont requires all hikers be off of Baldy by noon and this is good advice for all the high peaks too.

Since it generally rains in the afternoon, getting to a camp early helps since programs that involve climbing and other outdoor activities in the open stop when it rains and lightning is present. An early up and out will help you get the maximum program and avoid hiking in the heat and rain.

Temperatures range from the high 90's at lower elevations in the day. The lowest I observed with my jacket thermometer was near 32 at 0400 on top of Mt Phillips. Baldy was 65 degrees near the top at 1100 am. The humidity is low so the remains of the previous afternoon storm will dry up early the next morning. As the rain progresses, temperatures will drop to the 50's. The exception I understand, (from staff), is if the remenants of a hurricane from the gulf works it's way into the area, you can have several days straight rain. This would be more typical of northern Michigan.

The lack of humidity is also a weather factor that needs your full consideration especially if you come from a region that has higher humidity. While it is great for hot weather and drying things up, it also contributes to dehydration which is the number 1 medical problem there and the most avoidable. Plan on drinking at least 8 quarts of water a day.

A nylon based rain suit, Goretex or other breathable type is recommended by Philmont and worked well for our crews. For daytime hiking many of us used athletic shorts, and synthetic athletic shirt. 1 pair of long pants for cool conditions and pole climbing/horseback riding. Added to that was a polar fleece jacket, a light pair of gloves, and some type of stocking hat. All crew members were required to have a hat for the trail.

Everyone will also have to have sleeping clothes consisting of at least light shorts and shirt. The sleeping clothes are kept separate from all other clothes as your trail clothes go up in the bear bag at night. It's a safety precaution for the bears and one procedure that should be built into your training for Philmont.

The bear procedures have been evolving over the past 2 years as the drought conditions contributed to a dramatic increase in contacts and incidents with campers. More stuff than ever now goes in the bear bags, so I would recommend working this into your training procedures from the start.

Joe Schlau

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