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Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
WHAT ARE YOUR "BIG 5" SUGGESTIONS? on 06/20/2013 08:59:54 MDT Print View

I've been asked to talk to a local crew departing in about six weeks for PSR about our crew's experiences last summer. Anyone who knows me, knows that I can talk for hours about almost anything. To help me quell my gift of gab, I'm soliciting your "if you don't do anything else, do this..." suggestions for crews.

I think they're well beyond any discussion of cooking methods and bear ropes. Not sure if they've seen the BAC Guide (Thanks, Miriam!) Just curious what the cadre would offer... Thanks!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: WHAT ARE YOUR "BIG 5" SUGGESTIONS? on 06/20/2013 09:15:32 MDT Print View

1) Do your "REALLY" need it. (Per Mr. Skurka: Don't pack your fears.)

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F

Locale: Eastern Iowa
Number 1 suggestion on 06/20/2013 10:15:06 MDT Print View

Be efficient with breaking camp and get on the trail early.

You can hike in the mountains anywhere for a lot less money. Philmont is about the programs. Dont miss program opportunities by being slow getting out of camp in the morning.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: WHAT ARE YOUR "BIG 5" SUGGESTIONS? on 06/20/2013 12:04:03 MDT Print View

Gosh, I haven't bought gear at Big 5 in decades :)

I like the "do you really need it, if not, don't bring it" philosophy.

Most of us hike all day and truly don't need a lot of stuff when the hiking is done at the end of the day. I usually fall to sleep pretty easily after a full day of hiking. I try to take the lightest bag/quilt, shelter, and sleep pad that meets the conditions. Tarp type of shelters work best for me and are the lightest. I have mostly gotten away from foam pads and use light air pads these days... old age, you know. My pack is dependent on the total weight because my heaviest items are food and water. So the pack is either a zPacks Zero, or a McHale Bump or LBP.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
THANKS FOR THE INPUTS... on 06/23/2013 19:45:39 MDT Print View

Thanks for the responses...

+1 Don't pack your fears. I had a chance to hear A. Skurka at the local GoLite store before we went to PSR last summer. He made a funny comment about how too many scouts interpret "Be Prepared" as bring everything under the sun that you could possibly use instead of getting smarter through planning/preparation and gear selection.

+1 Get on the trail early. Living in CO we don't need PSR's mountains but we want our scouts to experience the programs.

Other folks have offered proper attitude and crew coordination (leading not telling)...

Good scouting!

Phillip Asby

Locale: North Carolina
Re: Number 1 suggestion on 06/26/2013 14:19:37 MDT Print View

this is an interesting point. I need to learn more about the programs ... my first reaction to Philmont learning a bit about it this year with our Troop and reading things here was that I think I might rather take a group of kids and do a weeklong section hike of the Appalachian Trail - or JMT - etc...

It seemed pretty doggone expensive and perhaps a bit "structured" compared to doing an independent hike of the same time length.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
PHILMONT VS. DO YOUR OWN THING... on 06/28/2013 15:31:06 MDT Print View

I can understand considerations to either go to Philmont or do your own trip. Living in Colorado, we certainly don't need to go to NM for trails or mountains. We went for the programs and scouting environment.

The PSR experience is truly unique and makes introducing boys to extended backpacking very simple. A friend of mine said that PSR was like Disneyland for scouts and in some regards it is. There are definitely pros and cons to PSR vs. "do your own". Without trying to do a comprehensive analysis here, I think your choice to do a PSR trek (or not) would really boil down to what the boys want to experience. PSR offers outstanding backcountry support and extremely diverse collection of program activities that would be very difficult (if not impossible) to find anywhere else. If your boys are looking to just get out and cover miles, section hiking the AT or another major trail may be more suitable for your troop.

I'm sure many others have thoughts on the issue...
YiS, Dan

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: PHILMONT VS. DO YOUR OWN THING... on 06/29/2013 10:37:32 MDT Print View

+1 on: "it's up to the boys."

Years ago, a sister troop of mine did a half-cross country bike trip one summer, then the other half the following summer. That seemed like a great alternative trip to Philmont at the time, but I can't imagine the amount of parent hours that went into that planning.

The real challenge for "DIY" high adventure is the planning and logistics. Personally speaking, the $800 price tag at Philmont is a deal compared with other ten day structured excursions that kids 14-18 can do.

Having gone once as a youth, once as a young adult leader, and now planning a 2014 trek with my son's troop, I am confident it will be very memorable for the boys.

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: WHAT ARE YOUR "BIG 5" SUGGESTIONS? on 06/29/2013 10:55:18 MDT Print View

I remember that some "tensions" started growing several days into our trek, and I humbly requested that the boys hike in silence on a half-days section of trail. Afterward, we talked about our experiences.

This not only diffused the tension, but opened they boys up to a world that was right in front of them that their mouths prevented them from seeing before.

suggestions on 07/01/2013 14:40:01 MDT Print View

Ill echo what others said. Philmont is about 1) camaraderie 2) programs 3) tackling obstacles as a team.

It is not about simply hiking, there is better hiking to be found elsewhere much cheaper.

1) Plan on getting up early. We rose at 4am, were on trail at 5:30. Hiking in cool morning is essential to enjoying it. Its very hot and dry, some areas, especially in the central and north country, have little or no shade. You will fry like bacon at times. If going to staffed camp with program, plan to be there by noon. Also plan for the time it will take to set up fly, hang food, etc before going to programs. Most of time, best to be wherever you are going by noon.

2) Plan on carrying quite a bit of water at some point, about 1.5 days per person = 6L or so. All seasonal sources are dry. We had 3 dry camps, were only supposed to have one. Dont trust water board that was checked weeks ago if it says "trickle". Philmont is in an extreme drought. Err on side of caution with water. Unless its a large year-round river, dont expect ANY water between camps with wells.

3) Use high quality stakes, preferably Ti skewer stakes. The dry , rock filled ground can be very hard. Cheap, fat, soft aluminum stakes will not go in, or will bend and be of questionable use when try to drive in. More a problem for dining fly than free standing tents.

4) Wear a long sleeve shirt for sun protection. Leave the greasy sun screen at home. Its not that hot in the low humidity. Keeping direct sun off of skin is better than being cooler in short sleeves.

5) Use lip balm frequently.

6) emphasize light weight and minimalism.

7) Forget the oops rope totally. Its not needed. It is just another unnecessary item. Raising and lowering bags is not difficult, and will happen several times a day anyway usually. Most of the time its only a 2 person job taking a minute or two.

Dont tell your ranger this, just dont bring it. Once on trail he will have no choice but to let you. Same goes for any other substitutions you want to make.

8) They use new food vendors this year, no mountain house. Some 2P meals make 4 servings. Basically, they are giving way too much food, you will not need all of it. Some meals we only cooked 3 dinner meals out of the 5 we had. Same goes for boxes of crackers for lunch, you wont need all of them. Purge the excess when you get it, dont carry it for 4 days. You WILL need at least an 8qt pot, if you cook all of some meals. We had a 6 qt filled to the rim with only 4 food bags on one meal.
Far too much food on several meals.

9) Potable water at hunting lodge is virtually un-drinkable. Contains sulfur and smells like rotten eggs.

Edited by livingontheroad on 07/01/2013 15:14:14 MDT.

Dan Lee
(scoutbuff) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
THANKS FOR THE UPDATED INFO... on 07/02/2013 10:55:04 MDT Print View

I've passed this along to the crew who are departing this weekend. I particularly appreciate the comment on the new food vendor and portion sizes. With the MH last summer, I don't recall any meal that we didn't have enough for everyone to get their fill...

Tony Fischer
(adfischer) - F
Re: suggestions on 07/08/2013 15:31:55 MDT Print View

Just got back and I will second most of what livingontheroad says. Its very dry so plan on carrying more water than you think. We carried 5-7 liters to some dry camps. I got dehydrated one day from not drinking enough and its not fun. No matter how many times you tell yourself to drink it can get away from you. Have a buddy to check with often to make sure you drink enough.

We did use the oops rope on night we were at a staff camp. After advisor coffee we needed to hang our coffee and some toiletries so having it made it easy.

I did make a video on what gear I took. If you are interested check out

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