I want to stay at a different Trail Camp... Can I?
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Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
I want to stay at a different Trail Camp... Can I? on 03/07/2012 08:59:40 MST Print View

My crew is looking at a South Country Itinerary. The route has us going from Sawmill to Comanche Peak. We are supposed to camp at Comanche Peak, side hike Mt. Phillips, then come back to Comanche Peak and then head South to Crooked Creek.

Here's my question... Since Comanche Peak is a trail camp and Mt. Phillips is a trail camp, can we just camp on Mt. Phillips instead? Are there Rangers or Philmont staff that are going to check to see if every crew is in their assigned trail camp? Is the trail camp on Phillips already going to be full?

This may sound trivial, but there are two reasons why we want to do this.

1.) Camping on top of Phillips sounds cool
2.) We'd rather go down Phillips over the West side and down into Clear Creek to pick up black powder rifle shooting before heading into Crooked Creak for Homesteading.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Change in Itinerary on 03/07/2012 10:28:32 MST Print View

Short answer.... NO, you need to camp at your assigned sites.
Several reasons -
- treks are balanced out so as not to overload in number or activity a given campsite (trail or program based doesn't matter).
- should a situation arise and Philmont needs to make contact with your unit.... you wouldn't be at your assigned site. (This has happened and immediately becomes a 'search & rescue' event for however many people are in your crew!!) Don't think only emergencies from home, but also think of camp emergencies - wildfire, near by animal issues, weather issues, etc...
- given that there are only 35 treks, much of the staff (that needs to know) will know by heart where you are at on any given day of your trek - when you alter the trek they nolonger know where you are.

Longer answer.... on occasion (but not often) Philmont will approve a program change in logistics before you hit the trail (but don't count on it, mostly for above reasons).

Does staff actually 'check on you' in trail camps - no, but there may be staff joining you in any given camp. (not actually camping with you)

Looks like you are looking at Trek 8 - There is no reason you can't do the hike you describe.... you just need to start from Comanche.

Sorry for the thread drift, but another thing to consider is something that I have never seen in all of the literature, but becomes a huge factor in a trek..... Where you will be MENTALLY as a group in your trek.... day 3-4 is what I describe as 'the wall'. This is the breaking point for crews, the realization that it is no longer a 'weekend campout' hits home, homesickness issues tend to hit hard here, and group dynamics have developed past the 'forming' stage and into the 'storming' stage (regardless of how well aquainted you are as a group). There is a psychology to the layout of each trek - harder days strategically placed with easier day vs layover days.

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Camp departure on 03/08/2012 16:21:51 MST Print View

Thanks Sarah.

So that leads me to my next two questions:

1.) After "camping" at Comanche Peak camp can we leave as early as we want?

2.) Is there somewhere at the Mt. Phillips trail camp we can take a break (after leaving Comanche Peak early)?

You know what I mean? ;-)

Mark Rash
(markrvp) - M

Locale: North Texas
Stomp on 03/08/2012 16:23:41 MST Print View

Also, another question.

From Sawmill to Comanche Peak we'd like to stop in at Cypher's Mine. How likely are they to let us stay for the Stomp if that isn't our designated campsite?

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Camp departure on 03/08/2012 19:42:06 MST Print View

1. Yes, you can leave as early as you want.

2. You can take a break on the peak, there are some nice places to sit and relax. Storms don't roll in until the afternoon.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Stomp on 03/08/2012 19:47:21 MST Print View

Yes, you can go to the Cyphers stomp, but (if you choose to go) I would suggest going to Comanche first and setting up camp, that way you can just take a daypack back to Cyphers and just crash when you get back into Comanche.

Dylan Flanagan
(dcf001)
Cyphpers on 03/08/2012 22:55:23 MST Print View

Cyphers is one of my favorite camps at philmont. Last summer I got the opportunity to see the stomp three times and it was always fantastic. One thing you might what to think about while planning is that the stomp is generally their end of the day activity. If memory serves me correct it was dark or about to get dark when it ended. I would have to check my maps but I think you would be looking at an elevation change from about 9200 ft to over 11000 ft (I will check when I get a chance) which may make it a liability to try to make it to the stomp and get back to comanche peak safely.


All in all, if you get the chance I would highly recommend going. I would say that the only thing a philmont that comes close to rivaling it are the campfires at pueblano or crater lake, which are also really good as well

Edited by dcf001 on 03/08/2012 23:01:54 MST.

Sarah Kuhn
(SCKuhn) - MLife

Locale: Mountainous Ohio
Evening campfire on 03/09/2012 08:45:30 MST Print View

Did a similar thing in 2010... camped at Bear Caves and hiked to Crater Lake for the evening program. We did exactly like Joshua suggested - set up camp at Bear Caves, ate dinner, then hiked to Crater Lake, took our head lamps just in case, then after the evening campfire hiked back to Bear caves in the 'evening twilight' (since you aren't supposed to hike in the dark...)
Had a great time, this was our last day with our Ranger and sitting at the Crater Lake campfire, before the program started, we did our final Ranger goodbyes and he handed out our 'Wilderness Pledge' cards', amazing view of the Tooth.

We often left camp VERY early.... made for better program opportunities throughout the day or an afternoon side hike or nap along the way.

Any empty trail campsite is available for you to use.... we often would use them for our lunch break.... if passing through a staff camp, just check in with the staff and normally they will let you 'rest' in a site for lunch.

Joshua Gray
(coastalhiker) - MLife
Re: Cyphpers on 03/11/2012 10:42:34 MDT Print View

FWIW, the trail between Cyphers and Comanche Peak Camp is really well marked and easy to follow. And yes you are right that the stomp is the last activity of the night. Gets done pretty late too, 9-10pm.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Evening campfire on 03/11/2012 12:00:32 MDT Print View

Did a similar thing in 2010... camped at Bear Caves and hiked to Crater Lake for the evening program. We did exactly like Joshua suggested - set up camp at Bear Caves, ate dinner, then hiked to Crater Lake, took our head lamps just in case, then after the evening campfire hiked back to Bear caves in the 'evening twilight' (since you aren't supposed to hike in the dark...)

Same here in 2007 and have a friend who's crew did the same some years earlier ... they experienced the view of a lightning storm lashing Tooth Ridge as a backdrop to the "stage" (must have been quite an evening for folks camped at Shaefers PAss and Tooth Ridge!). It's only a little over a kilometer each way IIRC. Short stretches of the trail were very rocky ... was more than glad to have lights along.

Walter Underwood
(wunder) - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Mount Phillips on 03/21/2012 21:38:46 MDT Print View

I expect that every campsite on top of Mt. Phillips is full, almost every night. They were all taken when we were there. That is probably one of the things that makes treks become unavailable during the big itinerary lottery, popular overnights becoming full.

Look carefully at how much water you need to carry. There is no water over Mt. Phillips. We had a long dry day, starting from Clear Creek, camping on Mt. Phillips and no water all the way to Cypher's Mine. We carried 6-7 liters per person.

If you do an out-and-back side hike, you can cache your packs and take water, lunch, and the ten essentials to the peak. You will need to bear bag the food.