Posts Tagged ‘backpacking’


Philmont Group 1986Philmont Scout Ranch. Land of adventure, living history, and magical wonders.  It is a place where deer walk through your campsite, billions of stars can be seen at night, and the views can literally take your breath away. It is a place to get away from the stress of modern society. Leave you computers, iPods, and cell phones at home because you will be without electricity for ten days while backpacking in the Philmont wilderness. In other words, this can be a great place for that “get away from everything” vacation.

Well, maybe not quite away from it all. As an adult crew advisor you will be with a crew of up to ten teenage boys (and girls if you are with a venture crew.) That youthful group can present you with an unique perspective of the backcountry, but they will also challenge you from day to day. Believe it or not, but there will be times when the adults and the Scouts will not quite see things the same way or even agree on things.

Philmont is a great place to relax. There is nothing like finding that special spot in or near the campsite that overlooks the valley below, or the mountains above. Just lay back and enjoy the peace and quiet. That is, if the boys are peaceful and quiet. Oh, and your body might be a little sore from hiking that last 13 miles with a 45 pound pack strapped to you back. If it rains you can always crawl into you tent and catch a quick nap. That can be very relaxing.

Some people consider a vacation to be great when they get to participate in new experiences. Philmont has plenty of those to choose from. How about rock climbing, panning for gold, or burro racing? Standing on top of a mountain and watching the clouds float by below you is a great one. Hiking with a heavy pack during a downpour while you are marching up the side of a mountain is not so great.

If you have a chance to participate in a Philmont trek GRAB IT! Yes, there will be moments when you may wish you were at home, sitting in front of the television in your comfy recliner, but it is the other moments that will be fondly remembered ten years later. I should know. I have been on five Philmont treks and I would not mind going back for a sixth time. Philmont IS a great place for a vacation.

Josh decided to go to the top of Deer Lake Mesa. It is a side hike that we had talked about doing when we were planning things back in Melrose. No one shows any interest in going along with him so he tries to go off by himself. I put a stop to that idea very quickly. At least three people will have to go. I would prefer four. We need to practice the buddy system out here. There is no telling what could happen, although it should be a safe enough hike.

Even though I was not planning to go up to the mesa at first I decide to go along with Josh. I was looking forward to side hiking this mesa when I looked over our agenda back home. Tim also expresses interest but backs out for some reason. Pete and Corey finally decide to join us. We grab our rain gear, canteens, and a map and compass. It is cloudy and looks as if it may rain. If it does we will turn around and come right back. If not, we plan to be back at 6:00 p.m.

It is close to a two kilometer hike to the mesa. Two thirds of it is on a four wheel drive trail. This trail is in extremely poor condition and is very steep. I wander how often a vehicle even comes up this way. By the condition of the ‘road’ I would say not very. The storm clouds above us threaten to soak us the entire journey.

The mesa takes our breath away as we reach the top. It is a fantastic site, an elevation at over 8200 feet. Kinda reminds me of Shangrala. The mesa is actually slightly concave. The perimeter is lined with a hardy stand of trees that block out most of the view of the mountains that surround us. In the center is a small lake. Seventeen cattle graze in the grassland across the pond. For a while the four of us just stand there and try to absorb the scenery. It is the closest thing to Minnesota that I have seen since we arrived in Philmont.

Unfortunately, the storm clouds still threaten to drench us so we do not stay more then fifteen minutes. If we are lucky we can make it back to camp before it rains. We all agree that we should have come up sooner. It would have been great to lie back in the grass and take it easy, watching the cattle graze and the birds fly by. We are treated to a spectacular view of Cimarron on the way back.

We arrive back at camp at 5:45 p.m., fifteen minutes sooner then we thought we would. It still has not rained. The four of us play Frisbee as Ross, Jason, and Al prepare supper. Nathan is sleeping in his tent about twenty feet from us. The flap is partly open. We take turns trying to throw the Frisbee into the tent but are not very successful. Greg comes by as states that he can do it. We do not believe him but let him try. He does it on his first throw. That ends the game.

Supper is delicious. There is very little mash potatoes, gravy, beef, or lemon pie left over when the group finishes.

(This was an excerpt of my journal of Troop 68′s trip to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1992.)