Troop 221 sent two crews to Philmont Scout Ranch this summer. These are a few notes and photos from Crew 719-H-01, aka “Hotel 1”. There were 11 members in our Crew and we selected Itinerary 13 back in April.
We arrived in Base Camp on July 19th. We checked in and quickly met up with Nathan, our Philmont Ranger. Nathan is a former Troop 221 Scout who first went to Philmont on a 221 Trek in 2010. Since then, he’s spent every summer at Philmont: a Rayado Trek, another Troop 221 Trek in 2012 and then 4 summers as a Ranger/Ranger Trainer. Having Nathan as our Ranger was really awesome. After a solid afternoon of checklists, shakedowns, food pickups and equipment checkouts, we went to dinner and the opening campfire.
Trail Day 1
We woke up early, finished packing and had breakfast before catching our 8:00 am bus to the Lover’s Leap Turnaround. When we arrived at the turnaround, we picked a spot, dropped our packs and started our training. We talked about navigation, red roofs and hit the trail for Lover’s Leap. After a few photos at the Leap, we hiked to Lover’s Leap camp to finish Day 1 of Ranger Training. We learned about water treatment, bear bags, campsite setup, cooking and cleaning. Our Wilderness Guia and Chaplain also did their first days worth of discussions and devotionals.
Trail Day 2
On Day 2, we woke up at 5:15 and hit the trail at 6:00. After stopping along the trail for breakfast, we rolled into Crater Lake a few minutes after 8:00. After a lively porch talk, we were shown to our campsite. We set up camp quickly and joined the first group of Spar Pole Climbing. After climbing, we went back to camp for lunch. Some took naps, some washed laundry. The boys woke up around 1:30 and decided to side hike Trail Peak. So, 75 minutes and a couple thousand feet in elevation later, we were standing on top of Trail Peak. We checked out the Liberator wreckage, took a few photos and headed back down to camp. After returning, Nathan took us thru the Philmont Wilderness Pledge, we ate dinner and went to the Crater Lake campfire program.
Trail Day 3
On Day 3, we woke up at 5:15, broke camp, took a couple sunrise photos and headed to Miner’s Park. At Miner’s, we said goodbye to Nathan; we were on our own now.. We had breakfast at Miner’s and the boys spent some time on the climbing wall before we headed out to climb the dreaded and feared Black Mountain.
We got to Shaefer’s Pass Camp pretty quickly and made the left turn towards Black. We were quickly greeted by a trail with a nasty grade. It was so steep that we questioned whether or not we were even on a trail (the first of many times that would enter our heads). We ascended and descended an insane amount of times and hiked along a storm for a big chunk of it. At one point along one of the false peaks we had a lightning strike close enough that everyone scattered, descended a bit and got into the lightning position. After about 20 minutes had passed, we hit the trail again and eventually got to the peak. The weather on both sides of us looked pretty bad so we took a few photos and headed down towards camp. The hike down is hard to describe, the 1st mile of trail drops 1,800 feet (a 34% grade). After stopping for a quick lunch, we made our way to Black Mountain Camp. We arrived at camp around 3:30 pm; we were quite thirsty and pretty tired. Before setting up camp, we shot .58 caliber black powder rifles. Mr. Trautman’s bandana took quite a few hits on the range.
We setup camp and the boys started cooking dinner. The adults went to get water from the creek and on our way back a member of the camp staff called to us from the cabin. We went over and he handed us a huge bowl of spaghetti. They had cooked too much and asked us if we wanted it. We felt like we’d won the lottery! After woofing the spaghetti, we cooked and ate the majority of our other dinner too. After dinner, the adults enjoyed advisor coffee on the porch and then the crews got together and played a game of backcountry baseball.
Trail Day 4
Day 4 was a bit of a moving day. We had our usual 5:15 wakeup and headed to Beaubien. We arrived early at Beaubien so we took the opportunity to wash clothes and take showers. It was a cold shower but still an awesome one. After lunch at Beaubien, we headed to the Phillips Junction Commissary for our first food pickup. The boys took advantage of the commissary store and bought a few things. We had lunch at PJ and sorted thru our meal bags before packing up. Sadly, at this stop, Mrs. Deutsch had to go down to Base Camp to deal with the shin splints that she’d been fighting since Day 1.
After getting our meals sorted out and saying goodbye to Mrs. Deutsch, we hiked on to Buck Creek Camp, our second trail camp.
Trail Day 5
Day 5 started with a bang. After breaking camp, the boys dragged us up the first climb at a pace that nearly killed the folks in the back. We recovered during breakfast and made the trek towards Crooked Creek. As we approached Crooked Creek Camp, we hiked thru the most awesome meadow. The view just got better and better until we arrived at the cabin.
The boys weren’t terribly excited at the prospect of “homesteading”. That changed pretty quickly when they got going. They started by milking Alice the cow and playing with Norman the calf. Alice tried to lick the salt (and skin) off everyone that she could and Norman was as chill as a 4 year old Golden Retriever. From cows, we moved to goats and then donkey’s. After that, the boys cut wood with the 2-man saw and split logs for firewood. Somewhere along the way, they ground corn into meal and used it to catch the chickens running around the yard. Homesteading concluded with the boys making soap and candles. Homesteading would eventually be named a favorite program for at least half of the crew.
We left Crooked Creek (and that crazy meadow) and headed to Wild Horse, our 3rd trail camp. We rolled into camp and had the whole thing to ourselves for the first few hours. We setup camp, filtered water and ate lunch before a quick thunderstorm popped up and forced us to take a nap.
After a nice nap, we played a few hours of ultimate frisbee (at 10,500 feet). We had a spirited game and a couple of times along the way we kept asking ourselves what are we doing..we have alot of miles yet to cover. We eventually made dinner and invited our sister crew over to hang out in our camp. 20+ boys set around our fire ring and played games while the adults had coffee and swapped stories. This was the first of quite a few great evenings we shared with our sister crew.
Trail Day 6
On Day 6, we woke up and said goodbye to our favorite campsite. We made a quick trip to Clear Creek where we threw tomahawks. The boys also played cards for awhile before we packed up and planned our hike up Mt. Phillips. We rolled out of Clear Creek and cruised up Mt. Phillips in a little over an hour. As we reached the peak of Mt. Phillips, it started to hail. We ran the last little bit up the hill and hunkered down under our dining fly. After about 30 minutes, we found a camp and quickly setup tents. We sat under the dining and drank hot chocolate before retreating to our tents to change into dry clothes and nap while we waited for the weather to clear.
After about 4 hours of rain, the weather moved off and we were able to go out and enjoy dinner and an amazing Mt. Phillips sunset.
Trail Day 7
After a great night at the highest campsite on the ranch, we woke up to a very cool 44 degrees. It was a nice way to start the day. We packed up and went over to the east side of the peak to have breakfast with a view. We took a few photos and then headed towards Comanche Peak and Big Red. Big Red was a pretty nice little hike. After reaching the top, we had lunch and the boys played cards.
We had a pretty long hike to Lamberts Mine. We arrived pretty late in the afternoon and were starving. We ate dinner for lunch, setup camp, re-hydrated and headed over to Cypher’s Mine for program. At Cypher’s, we had our porch talk and went over to do some blacksmithing. The crew made an s-hook and then we went over to tour the Contention Mine.
Before our mine tour, we learned about the history of mining in the area. We learned about the history of Charlie Cyper’s Mine, muckers, dynamite, etc. The mine tour was cool; you get a very small sense of what it was like to be a miner. After our mine tour, we had dinner and hung out around the porch until the campfire program started. The campfire program at Cypher’s is called Stomp. It’s a musical show held in a old cabin. It was a great show, played to a very full crowd. After the show, we night-hiked back to Lambert’s Mine and called it a night.
Trail Day 8
After the usual early start, we hiked over to tour Waite Phillips Hunting Lodge. After our tour of the Hunting Lodge, we hiked up to Cimarroncito Camp, our home for the next couple of days. As soon as we arrived at Cito, the boys had a chance to jump into the next rock climbing slot. So..we climbed for a couple hours and then we were shown to our campsite…way up the hill.
We setup camp and then had lunch before the boys went up to the staff cabin to play cards. While the boys played cards, the adults took showers and washed clothes. The adults rejoined the boys in time to watch them play a few hands of BS and eat a few dozen snacks. From there, we headed back to camp to enjoy dinner and some homemade brownies. The brownies were sent to us from a staff person that is a friend of Christian’s parents..and they were awesome.
After dinner, the boys played hacky sack and hung out in the indoor climbing gym.
Trail Day 9
We slept in a bit on Day 9. We had our 3 hour conservation project scheduled for 10:00 am so we had a leisurely breakfast and then headed over to do Cons in Aspen Springs. The hike to Aspen Springs was awesome, it’s a crazy scenic area. Our conservation assignment was trail building and our crew spent a couple hours hauling rocks from the future trail area to a point that would eventually be a turnaround. It was a pretty solid couple of hours.
After conservation, we hoofed it up to the Ute Gulch Commissary for our 2nd food pickup. We hung out at Ute for awhile before heading back to camp. Our trip back to camp took us through Hidden Valley and Grouse Canyon..and more crazy scenery.
We got back to camp in time to get our last shower and wash the rest of our clothes. After showers, we hung out on the porch for awhile and then went back to camp for dinner. And, like our first day in Cito, after dinner the boys hung out in the indoor climbing gym until they turned out the lights at 9:30.
Trail Day 10
We knew going in that Day 10 would be our toughest one. We left Cito just after 6 and headed towards Window Rock. The view from Window Rock is awesome; worth every step. After taking a bunch of photos, and trying to time our jump, we headed towards Clarks Fork. On our way, we passed Cathedral Rock, the Cito Reservoir and the Demonstration Forest.
We arrived at Clarks Fork around 9:30. After a porch talk, we got our hats branded and the boys learned how to lasso. There was a challenge where you had to rope the bottom of two logs and pull it out from under the top one. Several of the boys got really close but no one pulled it off. We rolled out of Clark’s Fork around 11:00 for what we thought would be a long hike uphill in the sun towards Schafer’s Pass. With some really timely cloud cover and all of our previous climbing experience, we made quick work of the hike to Schafer’s.
We pulled off the trail at Schaefer’s for lunch. We were feeling really good about that hike until it started to hail. When the hail started, we geared up, grabbed our packs and took off toward the Tooth Ridge Camp, our final campsite. Since we were close, we side-hiked up to Schaefer’s Peak for a quick photo. We still had storms around us so we left Schaefer’s pretty quickly and started towards camp.
Tooth Ridge camp sits on the far end of the ridge and it’s a pretty interesting hike. There are lots of great views, plenty of large up and down steps and it goes on longer than you think it will. We did finally arrive at Tooth Ridge Camp in time for an afternoon shower. We hung out around a large Ponderosa Pine until the weather quieted down a bit.
During a break, we got tents setup and the boys took a nap. While they did that, the adults hung out under the dining fly, drank coffee and watched a mini bear check out our camp, thoroughly.
We explored the camp, did a bit of bouldering and hung out for the rest of the afternoon. Tooth Ridge Camp was our 6th, and busiest, trail camp. We enjoyed our last dinner, roses, buds & thorns and reflected on our last night on the trail.
The Last Day
Our final day started at 4:00 AM. We got up early to enjoy the sunrise on the Tooth of Time. We made our way up the Tooth in the Dark and then watched as the other groups slowly appeared. Eventually, the sun made it’s way over the clouds and we took a few group and father/son pics.
We broke camp for the last time and then started our final hike; down towards base camp. About an hour into our hike, Nathan met us on the trail. After a few quick stories, we headed down and arrived around 9:30 AM. Mrs. Deutsch met us at the gate and we took our final crew photo. Shortly after that, we met up with Adam’s uncle, brother and granddad. They had driven up to meet Adam when he came off the trail.
We got all our gear turned in and headed to Cimarron for Calzones and Ice Cream. Nathan hung out with us for the remainder of the day. The adults toured the Villa Philmonte while the boys got cleaned up and hung out around the trading post. After the closing campfire, we called it a night. 719-H-01 was a wrap..and what a great time it was.
Philmont is an amazing place and there just aren’t enough words or photos to do it justice. You have to experience it to understand it.