Just got back yesterday evening after a day’s worth of driving to Denver and flying back to Maryland.
So beautiful. I can still hear myself humming the hymn under my breath.
Although we were on itinerary 10, I was pretty surprised how strenuous a few of the days were, having gone twice before on much higher numbered itineraries. One day in particular had us ascend up 2260 feet and down another 1760 feet over just a handful of miles. Pretty intense for a band of not-so-experienced 14 to 17 year old’s, two of which only weighed 186 pounds combined. We spent pretty much the first half the trek up in the Valle, bushwhacking most of the time (great for the kids to hone their map/compass skills), and staying at all LNT sites. Our fist camp back in Philmont was at Baldy Town, where the general store, shower, PtB's, and Red Roof Inn's awaited us in all their glory.
Fortunately, the boys did marvelously well, and all were ready and able to hike up Baldy on day 9. Rain-wise, we were very lucky. Had an hour’s worth of a storm on day 2, and steady rain on our last day on the trail. We finally got hammered with a big storm in Base Camp on our last evening. However, on a daily basis, we did witness pretty intense storms which were clearly dumping on other crews in different parts of the Ranch. Temp-wise, the hottest was when we were crossing through the Beatty Lakes area in the Valle with 100+ degree temps. Since I always hike with pants & long sleeved shirts, this was ok. Some of the kids were too exposed for this, however. As Irony would have it, our coldest morning was earlier that same day, waking up in 40 degree temps at Whiteman Vega.
Here are my thoughts on my primary clothing/gear decisions:
1) Pack: Z-packs Arc Blast 60. Although smaller than “required”, I absolutely loved using it. I had more than enough room for crew rope/food/first aid kit and even wore a 6 quart pot on top of the pack. Much to my chagrin, I was still carrying in the high 30’s low 40’s, due-in-part to my much needed ability to carry crew gear. Regardless, the pack could easily handle the weight the entire time. I was still carrying a good 10/15 lbs. less than the other advisers.
2) Tent: Tarptent Rainshadow II. Worked great for me & another adviser. I accidentally forgot the rear pole, however, so I rigged a pair of extra trekking poles to prop up the end of the tent. Worked pretty well, imho (and saved a few ounces along the way!)
3) Sleeping: Contrary to the general recommendations, I used a 50 degree EE Enigma quilt. I also had a Cap 4 Hoodie and a Luke’s UL down vest/sleeves to supplement my sleeping system as-needed. I was extremely happy with this system, both for it’s lightness and it’s versatility. I wore the Cap 4 on 4-5 nights, used the vest with it twice and the sleeves/vest combo once. I had a dedicated sleeping t-shirt & pj’s, as “required”. Between the down vest & Cap4, I chose not to bring a fleece. I’d do it again this same way.
4) Pad: I used a Neo-Rest combined with an 1/8” Lawson InsuLite pad for extra firmness & versatility (I used it over top of the Neo). At Baldy town, we were sleeping on such a slope, I folded part of the foam pad under the top portion of the Neo, to keep it all from sliding to the bottom of the tent. It worked pretty well.
5) Other clothing: Two pairs of long sleeved shirts & long pants, underpants & socks. All mornings/evenings I wore a Squamish Hoody windshirt. I love that thing. Only needed my real rain jacket three times. Taking a chance, I brought along Montbell Dynamo wind pants as my “required” rain pants, and needed to wear them only once. Had a small beanie I threw on my head as-needed.
6) Trekking poles: I always use them, but often ended up letting the boys use them who really needed them more than me.
7) Boots/shoes, wore my re-soled Asolo 555’s. Heavier than what’s out there nowadays, but are very durable and I adore them. No blisters and I used single sock liners the whole time. I would always slip into some light slipper/shoes as soon as I could, though.
8) Misc:I brought along a T-rest chair kit. Used it twice – too cumbersome to work with. I think a dedicated chair would have been better, albeit heavier. I brought a pair of light binoculars & was really happy to whip them out once in a while. There’s a lot to look at out there. I had a large pack towel. I always have it along with my Tarptent, to wipe off as much rain/condensation as I can before packing. The towel has all day to dry out, dangling from my pack.
9) Phone/GPS: Brought an iPhone, a battery case, and a Go Zero solar charger. It all worked very well. (On At&t’s network), I got 4g at base camp, spotty cell reception at Sioux, Seally Canyon, spotty 3g at Whiteman Vega, good 3g on the peak behind Iris Park, Baldy Town, and 4g on top of Baldy. The wife wept with joy when me & our son FaceTimed her on Baldy’s summit). Both Gaia GPS and “Topo Maps” were pretty invaluable, especially considering all the bushwhacking the kids had to do in the Valle. Prior to the trip, I used “MapWarper” to bring in the actual Philmont map sections into Gaia, and use them an an overlay. Topo Maps is a great app for crisp maps and great bearing data. Fwiw, I had heard that a crew just a week earlier had been lost for THREE days up near Seally Canyon, even having cell reception.
Anyway, that’s my brain dump for now. Hope it helps.