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Philmont observations
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Bruce Whittle
(bwhittle) - F

Locale: Midwest
Philmont observations on 07/23/2013 15:58:17 MDT Print View

Having just gotten back from a PSA trek a few days ago, I wanted to share some gear observations I had during my trek. I wore Merrell Moab Ventilators with Smartwool PhD mini socks (no liners) and did great. We had rain but my feet were never very wet. Bigger problem was sweaty feet - had 2 pairs of these socks that I changed at each break and kept one pair drying on my pack - no foot problems on a fairly difficult trek.
I used one hiking pole with a walking tip on it - I got tired of all the holes poked in the sides of the trail by unguarded trekking pole tips. The hiking pole was great, especially on the switchbacks opposite the tooth with large step-downs.
Only had one pair of shorts and one pair of long pants (required) for conservation - only needed the long pants twice.
This was a great trek thanks to some of the concepts I have learned on these forums.

Ernie Delcher
(EFD57) - F

Locale: Northern New Jersey
Re: Philmont observations on 07/24/2013 11:42:59 MDT Print View


Thank you for your note. With so little posting activity I was beginnig to wonder if anyone was going this year. I have a crew there now (will be home on Friday) and I leave NJ next Saturday (8/3) for my trek.

Any word on min/max temparatures or water availability?

Any new problems/issues/challenges that I can prepare for?


Bruce Whittle
(bwhittle) - F

Locale: Midwest
Philmont 2013 on 07/24/2013 16:49:14 MDT Print View

Where are you headed on your trek? I was in the South Country and as far north as Cypher's Mine then hiked in over the Tooth. The weather was a bit strange last week. We had at least 12 hours of rain to start with but then missed rain except for a few sprinkles the rest of the time. This time of year is usually characterized by the monsoon rains but we did not see any of that. It did rain enough that they eliminated the fire ban on our second day on the trail. The plants are way behind due to the drier conditions but everything was greening up. We had very little dust.
I think our coldest night was 40 degrees. It had been 34 degrees at Crooked Creek the night before we were there, though. Conditions will probably be warmer during the day and colder at night in the North country if that is where you are headed.
I hope you have a great trek. Let me know if you have any other specific questions. Though things have changed, I was a Ranger for 4 years about 20 years ago so know the area pretty well.

Liz Fallin
(fallin) - M
Philmont 2013 on 07/30/2013 08:04:24 MDT Print View

Hi Ernie,

We're 806-E, itinerary 19...what crew and what itinerary are you? It would be pretty cool to meet another BPL person.

Unfortunately, I'm leaving the L out of the BPL this time. But part of the reason is that I'm carrying a vintage (and very heavy) 1956 "I Made It" plaque, in memory of my father in law. Sometimes weight doesn't matter as much.

One week from right this second, we'll be checking in. That's about one week too long :-)

Liz in Seattle
Advisor, Crew 67

Ernie Delcher
(EFD57) - F

Locale: Northern New Jersey
Re: Philmont 2013 on 07/30/2013 14:32:58 MDT Print View


We will miss each other by one day at base camp as we are 805-P, #24.

Looks like your first 4 days on the trail will be tough. Another trek from my troop just returned from #22 which has a similar profile. They had a great time and used many of the tips I learned here. However packs were still on the heavy side at 35 to 40 but not outrageous like the 50's to 70's we've read about.

They used some PSR tents and were given the older, heavier, tents (but they didn't leak!).

Also there is just not much you can do about the weight and bulk of the PSR food. They did break open the meals and got rid of what they knew they didn't want. They said the swap boxes were full. Also watch the serving size on some meals as they serve 4 (instead of the normal 2). If they had cooked and ate all of the food they would have been sick.

Lastly I've been told not to eat the Planter’s Cajun Trail Mix unless you want to spend alot of time at the red roof inn.

Enjoy your trip!


Corbin Camp

Locale: Southeast
Food on 07/30/2013 15:27:06 MDT Print View

We experienced the same thing regarding food amounts this year. PSR is giving out WAY too much. For our 11 man crew, we found using enough of the main dinner meal for 8 worked better. Some things like the cheesy mac and stove top meal could go as far as 4 packets to feed 12. Use the serving size per packet as a guide. Stove top thing is 6 per packet and it would feed 6 people fairly well. You can always make more if need be. Too often we had guys force feeding leftovers just to get rid of it. Result -- more time in the Red Roofs. You would be surprised how much weight and bulk you can drop by losing all the drink packets, peanuts, corn nuts and cajun trail mix (you heard right). There's a strawberry cheesecake thing that's not bad, but you only need maybe half of it. After one bowl, it starts tasting like liquid cotton candy. 2 packets is probably all you really want. Don't waste your time with the Bandito Scrambler. Too much work and most people said it takes like garbage (mostly rangers and staff). Our last night was that day where it rained all night (2" total). Good to see the fire ban was lifted.

Edited by heycorb on 07/30/2013 15:35:09 MDT.

food on 07/30/2013 21:28:26 MDT Print View

Definitely get rid of some food you wont use when you pick it up . You dont need all the Wise meals, they serve too much. Also too much crackers.

The scramble/tortillas wasnt bad. It wasnt good, but it wasnt bad. Thats to be cooked morning of layover day usually. Hint... mix it up, put it in a large ziplock, and boil it in water, no need to dirty a pot, that would be messy.

Anything with corn nuts in it is pretty bad. Who came up with that stuff? Kids will eat it though, they eat everything.

One of the best meals was the mexican rice dinner. Cook the refried beans in the same pot with the dinner, very good. Makes a tremendous amount of food, but will leave everyone very "gassy" for about a day. If thats a problem, forget the beans.

James Brownlee
Possible Crew Confusion on 07/31/2013 07:09:08 MDT Print View


I saw your post here and wanted to give you a heads up about possible crew confusion at Philmont. We are also Crew 67, and we are expedition 806-B. Go figure.

We will do our best to be specific about B vs E when interacting with the Philmont staff, but I wanted to give you a heads up.

Apologies to the rest of the group for a partly personal post, but thought this would be good to know.

Hope to see you on the trail,


ed dzierzak
(dzierzak) - F

Locale: SE
B vs E on 07/31/2013 08:30:59 MDT Print View

Most times staff will use the phonetic alphabet instead of just saying the letter. For example, when you get your Ranger at the Welcome Center you should listen for "809-Echo" vs "809-E". Most times they do it this way. Have your crew leader start using it too. It helps prevent confusion when checking in to staffed camps.

Edited by dzierzak on 07/31/2013 08:31:48 MDT.

Bill Rose
(BRnPA) - F

Locale: Philly suburbs
Philmont Observations on 07/31/2013 08:33:40 MDT Print View

Liz - We returned on Sunday from our odyssey. Trek 24. I wore REI silk liners and DeFeet Wooleators with no problems. I put on powder, new liners/socks each day, washing my dirty ones and pinning them to my pack to dry. Climbing the Tooth was hard since we had a total walking day of about 11 hours. (Baldy was very hard because of the altitude so we took our time and it was extremely rewarding). We got rain on two days, with one lasting hours. Wore an EMS Cloudburst, which is a little heavy (1 lb.) but kept me dry (and I got it for $30.00). +1 on eating heaviest food first. Took one pair of long zip offs and an extra pair of shorts and a fishing shirt, which turned out to be superfluous. I wore the same polypro t-shirt and zip off shorts the entire time and wore sleeping clothes while washing clothes (no one cares what you wear while washing clothes). Bottom line: Reduce your weight as much as you can... Food and water is heavy. Do bring a lightweight cup for advisor coffee time at staffed camps. Very nice time chatting with folks from all over the world (met a crew from Saudi Arabia). +1 on the trekking poles. Our entire crew used them and they helped on both steep uphills and downhills. Please feel free to ask me questions if you need more information. Last comment: Philmont was one of the hardest things I've ever done but absolutely one of the most rewarding.

Edited by BRnPA on 07/31/2013 09:41:33 MDT.

Corbin Camp

Locale: Southeast
Corn Nuts on 07/31/2013 16:07:48 MDT Print View

Our kids ate one packet and were throwing the rest out. Those things are awful. We had a few picky eaters who regardless of how hungry they were, passed on them. The Richmoor stuff was probably the worst. You almost think it was rehydrated with water from the Dead Sea.

Ernie Delcher
(EFD57) - F

Locale: Northern New Jersey
Re: Philmont Observations on 08/01/2013 15:20:00 MDT Print View


Don't mean to hijack the thread but can you splain more about the 11 hour trail day?

I will start #24 on Tuesday with a full crew and would like to hear any info you could share.

Especially regarding weather and water...


Corbin Camp

Locale: Southeast
Long day on 08/01/2013 15:36:11 MDT Print View

Our longest day was close to 11 hours. 3 hours with the conservation project, then 11 miles uphill. Started at 7:30 AM and didn't hit Head of Dean til 6:30.

Bill Rose
(BRnPA) - F

Locale: Philly suburbs
Re: Re: Philmont Observations on 08/06/2013 08:15:04 MDT Print View

Ernie - We left Miner's Park early and hiked to Shaefer's Pass Camp where we dropped our gear except lots of water and some food. We hiked the ~2.5 miles to the Tooth, which is a very long 2.5 miles of up and down trails until we got to the Tooth base. Rock scramble up the Tooth to the top, which takes at least 30 to 45 minutes. Hung-out at the top to Tooth for a bit and then back down the trail, backtracking to Shaefer's Pass to repack our gear, and then we hiked to Clark's Fork. Very long and tiring day. I was wearing a pedometer and it registered 21.8 miles that day. That was the most demanding day, though the hike from Ute Meadows, up Baldy, to French Henry, back to Baldy Town and eventually to Ute Meadows is hard too. Here's a hint: When you go to Logistics to map the trek route, see if you can get a list of when all the programs at the staffed camps take place. We got to French Henry too late to do the Blacksmithing because we (mistakenly) stopped to eat lunch on the trail after Baldy. If we had gotten to French Henry 15 minutes earlier, we could have registered for Blacksmithing but we didn't know the program times. Our mistake but maybe you can learn from it.
Water - take at least 5 liters of water per person on your Tooth hike. Shaefer's Pass has a spring but it is deathly slow (1 liter took 20 minutes to fill and you must treat it). Weather - pleasant the entire time except at the top of Baldy, where it was freezing and 60 mph winds (yes, 60 mph. I'm from Florida and have been through hurricanes and these were 60 mph winds). Good luck! - Bill

Edited by BRnPA on 08/06/2013 10:49:58 MDT.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Philmont Observations on 08/06/2013 09:21:10 MDT Print View

Here's a hint: When you go to Logistics to map the trek route, see if you can get a list of when all the programs at the staffed camps take place.

Great tip, thanks. I'll be sure to pass that on to our troop's future crews.

The hike from Ute Meadows, up Baldy, to French Henry, back to Baldy Town and eventually to Ute Meadows is hard too.

Indeed! Our 2010 crew did that ... but we did get to French Henry in time for Blacksmithing but not the mine tour. So the next day we detoured back to French Henry for the mine tour and killed a ton of time at Continental Tie and Lumber Company waiting for spar pole climbing ... that left us with a hot late afternoon death march over Wilson Mesa to Ring place