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Philmont Redux: A Returning Scouter’s Report
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Philmont Redux: A Returning Scouter’s Report on 10/19/2010 14:45:50 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Philmont Redux: A Returning Scouter’s Report

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Philmont Redux on 10/19/2010 16:44:27 MDT Print View


Thanks for this article. It was 36 and 35 years ago for me, but it brought back many memories. I had two girls, so I feel cheated!

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Philmont Redux: A Returning Scouter’s Report on 10/19/2010 18:07:36 MDT Print View

Nice article Tom. I think it will be quite useful to other crews contemplating their Philmont gear lists.

>Interestingly, Philmont will not let Scouts sleep under
> this or any other tarp. A tent is required.
> I don’t know whether this requirement is related
> to bear safety or privacy issues

It is a bear safety issue. Since the tarp is used to cook under in poor weather, the smell of food and possible spilled food will be under it. Even if your crew never used the tarp to cook under, bears will learn from other crews who were not so neat that food may exist under the tarp and come investigate. For this safety reason, Philmont has the rule that sleeping under a tarp (dining or personal) is not allowed. A tent is required.

Hope that helps answer your question.

Edited by geist on 10/19/2010 18:08:59 MDT.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Philmont Redux on 10/19/2010 18:09:17 MDT Print View

Beautiful photography to accompany a beautiful article! Some of the photos remind me so much of my Outward Bound trip.

If they had had something like this for girl scouts when I was young, I would have joined. But all that the girl scout troops in my area did was learn to sew, decorate cakes, and sell cookies, with an occasional very very tame overnight camping trip thrown in. Boring! I wanted to join the boy scouts when I was young because they did what I loved to do: get out in the woods, hike and go on adventures.

Fortunately, when I was in my late 20s, I was able to take a month-long Outward Bound trip which fulfilled my quest for adventure (and turned me into a life-long backpacker).

thomas baskin
(tombaskin) - M
Philmont Redux on 10/19/2010 21:47:16 MDT Print View

Thanks for the clarification Al. As I mentioned in the piece, your Philmont article informed our plans for Philmont. Crew 613-K is most grateful for your insights.

tom baskin

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Philmont Redux on 10/19/2010 23:04:52 MDT Print View

Wow, I hadn't thought about the "Tetrox trots" since 1973. Pretty funny.

All Philmont needs now is for Ted Turner to donate Vermejo Park to the Scouts. Yeah, like that will happen.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Philmont on 10/19/2010 23:35:34 MDT Print View


Jim Cowdery
(james.cowdery) - MLife

Locale: Central Florida
Trek on 10/20/2010 08:10:13 MDT Print View

Thanks for the article. My son and I did the trip about six years ago. This was before I knew about ultra light backpacking. At that time my mantra was keep it light. We were a group of 8 boys and 4 leaders. All of the boys weighed in at less than 30 lbs fully loaded with 2 L of water and three days of food. Two adults were in the 35 lb range and two were in the mid 40 lb range. The two 40 + lb leaders complained several times during the trip. Between them they carried an 8 LB bibler tent along with other “luxury” items. Their experience would have been much better had they kept their weight down.

While we didn’t suffer any but-pees we did have a lot of fun with the minibears. Our boys fashioned several versions of “deadfall” traps and became quite successful in trapping and releasing.

Most young men aren’t very religious. Philmont has a voluntary program crews can participate in that only takes a few minutes a night. Our crew reluctantly decided to try it. By the time our trek was over they had fully embraced the program and felt it enhanced their experience. In conjunction with the “roses buds and thorns” talk every night this program helped forge strong bonds between the members of our crew.

We had a leader that was extremely compulsive about the rules and regs almost to the point where it was tainting our preparation. I think his compulsion actually softened the impact of these rules when we started our trek. Just "go with the flow" and you will have a reat time.

The Philmont trip helped cement my passion for hiking. I hope at some distant time my son can take his son on a Philmont trip just as you have done. If you are a scout don’t pass up on this opportunity. If you are a leader get in shape and go. It is a trip that will stay with you forever.

Marilyn Horahan
(happy-irish-woman) - F
Re: Re: Philmont Redux on 10/20/2010 12:09:34 MDT Print View

Kathy: Well that would have made Juliette Lowe flip in her grave since she thought it was very important that her Girl Scouts be "wilderness wise". Mercifully, we have come a long way. My 13 year old daughter went on a Girl Scout Destination last summer and spent two weeks doing a combination canoe tripping and backpacking trip in Northern Michigan. Our local Girl Scout Council is planning an extended council trip in the Smoky's. Every girl's experience will vary because some leaders don't want to camp,hike, or backpack and therefore won't take the girls. Fortunately, there are opportunities through councils and GSUSA for them to do it individually.

Great article! I've already jotted down a couple of ideas for our upcoming group backpacking trip.

Edited by happy-irish-woman on 10/20/2010 12:13:20 MDT.

Christopher Knaus

Locale: Northern California
Philmont Tent Policy on 10/20/2010 12:58:04 MDT Print View

In preparing for our 2008 Philmont trek, I corresponded with the Philmont authorities about the single occupancy tent issue. The word came back that they were adamant about doubling-up the Scouts for reasons both of safety/buddy system and socilaizing - ensuring one kid doesn't inadvertently become the odd man out. They were OK with the adults going solo as you note. I brought a Mountain Hardware Skypoint 1 and learned first hand about condensation in single wall tents during the Aguust monsoon - but that is another story! We also used a lightweight Silnylon tarp (Equinox 10 ft; x 12 ft; with trekking poles) rather than the Philmont issue for the community tarp and it worked like a charm druing the numerous thunderstorms and one particularly nasty hailstorm. I wish I had thought about your cooking/rehydration system. Our Al pots were better and less clunky than the Philmont issued pots, but heavy nevertheless.

As to the Philmont way and associated rules, your advice to "go with the flow"; is good. Some of the rules initially seemed picky or excessive to some of our trek members - all of whom had experienced 50 mile treks in the Sierra. However, once we considered the management perspective of keeping literally thousands of Scouts and adults of all experience levels from all over the country and around world healthy and SAFE while preserving the resource and landscape, everything fell nicely into place. I've noticed that several Philmont-learned practices have crept into my normal routine. Old dog, new tricks!

Bottom line - slightly misquoting Sgt. Pepper - "A splendid time was had by all"

Edited by Knaushouse on 10/20/2010 13:00:40 MDT.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Connecting two trekking poles together on 10/20/2010 14:37:43 MDT Print View

Rather than lashing the poles, though that is a time-honored Scout skill, use a Black Diamond Pole Link Converter. Easy to use, stable, $5, and 35g.

Edited by wunder on 10/20/2010 18:05:28 MDT.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
Thanks for the memories on 10/20/2010 20:22:07 MDT Print View

Thanks for the trip down memory lane that you provided for us old Philmont veterans. The pictures of Mt. Phillips, Cimmaroncito, & the Tooth of Time brought back fond memories of Itenerary #11 July 1975, Crew 727-D, Savannah, GA. It was the first time I had ever seen a nylon tent or backpack instead of canvas! Are the mule deer still over running the place?

Gregg Martell
(gmartell) - F

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Tent Circle on 10/20/2010 20:57:09 MDT Print View

I was supprised to see the tent configuration in the 4th picture. Even in non-staffed camps we had rangers come through and tell us to move tents if they didn't like the configuration. A closed circle was a big no no, because a bear might thinks it's trapped and charge through a tent to get out

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Philmont Redux on 10/22/2010 09:32:21 MDT Print View

Great write up Tom.

I'm sure when your son is a little older he'll look back in appreciation and with many good memories much like you have. I hope to make this trip with my son some day when he is old enough.

Daniel Green
(dgreen0464) - F
Re: Philmont Redux on 10/22/2010 21:30:53 MDT Print View

No need to feel cheated. Your daughters can join a Venturing crew and attend Philmont. Venturing is a stand-alone program of the Boy Scouts of America for young men and women ages 14 to 20. Philmont is not just for boys.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Which itinerary? on 10/25/2010 16:25:10 MDT Print View

Hmm, Itinerary 4? Your route sure sounds a lot like ours. We were expedition 624-X, so we left the day you returned to base camp. The lovely weather continued for our trek.

Itinerary 4 was very nicely laid out for adjusting to the altitude. Short days and under 1000 feet gain for the first few days, then a layover at Apache Springs (9400 feet) before the big push up Mt. Phillips (11,700).

We weren't quite as light as your crew, but I was proud of how serious our guys were about packing. I like the idea of the award for the lightest pack.

In these photos, you can see we had a Betamid and an MLD Speedmid among the tents:

Lance Pritchard
(qkh178) - MLife
Photon Micro Light Question on 10/26/2010 11:25:40 MDT Print View

I really enjoyed your article - I love hiking in northern New Mexico.

I have a question about the Photon Micro-Light. You stated the clip attachment was very useful "Especially useful was the clip attachment for the brim of my hat"

I was looking on line "" and I don't see how you could clip the lite to your brim. Did you use the clip that came with the lite or something else.\



Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Photon Micro Light Question on 10/26/2010 11:36:20 MDT Print View

If you go to you will see the clip that comes with some of their lights or you can buy them seperately if you look under accessories.If you already own a micro light I or II and do not want to buy the Freedom in order to just get the clip and lanyard you can buy it seperately and it fits all three lights.

Edited by annapurna on 10/26/2010 12:17:39 MDT.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Photon Micro Light on 10/26/2010 12:00:06 MDT Print View

Lance - the photon microlight REI sells does not come with a clip, nor does the light stay on unless you squeeze it constantly. When I searched for one with a clip, I found it had to be the Photon Freedom light. BPL sells it, and so does George Carr at

John L Collins
(WVCubDad) - MLife

Locale: Not too far off the Tuscarora Trail
Philmont Redux on 10/27/2010 05:01:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for a very detailed and interesting write up. Your article as much as Doug's and Al's have intensified my desire to get out to Philmont. Since I'm in the process of reviving a long-dormant Troop all of the articles on BPL have given me some good ideas about what we need to equip with. Our first camping trip is in a couple of weeks behind our meeting place and will give me a good idea of what each boy has to work with and where we need to focus our efforts.

It will be a few years yet before my son is old enough to go to Philmont which is good as that gives me time to lighten myself up as well as my gear.

Thanks again for an inspiring article and awesome pictures.