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Philmont Scout Ranch, 1998, Expedition 627-J-1, Log and Journal
Mecklenburg County Council #415, Charlotte, N.C., Contingent Crew, Trek 28

Description of Trek 28 from 1998 Philmont PEAKS Book
ITINERARY 28 -- Super Strenuous -- Special
This new itinerary allows a crew to visit areas in the Valle Vidal seldom visited by man. It offers three days of true backcountry bushwhacking. The only itinerary that does the Valle Vidal, Baldy, and still hike into Base Camp via the Tooth of Time. Arise early and you may still have time to participate in homesteading, mountain biking, gold panning, blacksmithing, challenges, rock climbing and western lore. Only one crew per day will be scheduled for this special #28.

Day 1 At Philmont Camping Headquarters
Day 2 CHQ to Bent Camp
Day 3 Bent Camp to Rich Cabins
Day 4 Rich Cabins to Iris Park
Day 5 Iris Park to Greenwood Canyon
Day 6 Greenwood Canyon to Copper Park
Day 7 Copper Park to Miranda1 via Baldy Mtn Summit and Baldy Town
Day 8 Miranda1 to Head of Dean
Day 9 Head of Dean to Devil's Wash Basin2
Day 10 Devil's Wash Basin2 to Shaefer's Pass3 via Ute Gulch Commissary, Cimarroncito, and Clark's Fork
Day 11 Shaefer's Pass3 to CHQ4
Day 12 At Philmont CHQ4
Day 13 Leave Philmont
1 Miranda substituted for Copper Park
2 Devil's Wash Basin substituted for Visto Grande
3 Shaefer's Pass substituted for Clark's Fork
4 CHQ arrival 1 day early for medical need
* [Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

Advisors: Julian Love / Derek McGarry
Crew: Neil Smith, Crew Leader / Alex Hambacher, Asst. Crew Leader

Scott Westphal / Len Fiume

Owen Koch / Ryan Gavigan

Ryan Holladay / Tyler Morgan

Eddie Gotherman / Brian Schlenker
Ranger:Will Crim

Notes: 1. We are a two-crew Council Contingent from the Mecklenburg County Council. The Crew 1 Philmont Log & Journal is described herein. Touring activities before and after Philmont for both crews are combined and described briefly. Crew 2 (627-J-2, on Trek 15) advisors are Bill Kennedy and Bill Womack, with Crew Leader Kris Harris.

2. All times are shown in 24-hour format

3. "X" used as abbreviation for "intersection."

4. Numbers in brackets [6,690] are true elevation readings from the topo map. Readings from Julian's Casio altimeter watch were not considered consistently accurate enough to use as references in this journal.

5. Numbers in parenthesis (8846T) are benchmark and other similar readings given on the map.

Photos: Click here or on any photo to see the full size photo page.

Great Sand Dunes National Monument
Great Sand Dunes National Monument

Philmont Photo Crew 1
Philmont Photo Crew 1

Philmont Photo Crew 2
Philmont Photo Crew 2

Wilson Mesa
Wilson Mesa

Baldy Mtn.
Baldy Mtn. Ascent
Baldy Mtn. Summit

Trail to Clark's Fork
Trail to Clark's Fork

Tooth of Time
Tooth of Time Summit for Sunrise.

Tooth of Time
Tooth of Time from Stockade.

Wed. 6/24 Charlotte to Vail, Colorado, via USAirways to Denver

0645 Ar. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport
0805Lv. Charlotte
0930Ar. Denver International Airport
1115Ar. Denver Mint
1240Lv. Denver Mint
1445Ar. Breckenridge Ski Resort
1700Ar. Vail lodge
1830Dinner at Minturn Country Club

The flight is uneventful and on time. Our Chaffee Transit/Timberline Express driver, Jason, is at the baggage claim to meet us. Two of our bags (Len's and Bill Womack's) got left off of our flight. (They are later delivered to our Vail motel.) Production at the Denver Mint is closed for an annual 2-week inventory and maintenance period, but the tour goes on nevertheless. This visit is rated as only fair. A stop at Breckenridge Ski Resort for a couple of rides on the SuperSlide is fun. Dinner at the Minturn Country Club is a highlight event. Minturn is an old mining town on the southwest (back) side of Vail Mountain. The "Country Club" is a rustic restaurant where you select your own steak from their butcher shop and cook it yourself over a large open grill.

Thu. 6/25 Vail to Cañon City

0930 Meet at bicycle shop in Vail - Lionshead for morning of mountain biking on Vail Mountain
1530Lv. Vail
2000Ar. Cañon City motel

The Vail Gondola is operating only on weekends until 6/29. We just missed it. Mountain biking must therefore be from the base of the mountain. A few make it as far as Mid Vail.

The trip to Cañon City is through some of Colorado's finest scenery - Leadville and the Collegiate Range.

Fri. 6/26 Cañon City to Cimarron

0800 Meet at rafting outfitter for 1/2-day rafting trip on Arkansas River
1330Lv. Cañon City
1600Ar. Great Sand Dunes National Monument
2145Ar. Cimarron motel

All of us who are at least 16 years old get to raft on the Royal Gorge segment. Julian goes with the younger Scouts on the Parkdale segment.

The Great Sand Dunes are enjoyed by all.

Great Sand Dunes National Monument
Great Sand Dunes National Monument.
Click for full size


Sat. 6/27 Day 1 At Philmont CHQ

0815 Ar. Philmont CHQ, Welcome Center
1100Health Lodge
1430Ranger equipment shakedown
1630Advisors Meeting
1900Religious Services

Logistics: Briefing goes okay, except for two items. (1) We request a change to substitute Miranda, Ewells Park, Ute Meadows, or Baldy Camp (any camp S of Baldy Mtn.) for 2nd night at Copper Park (Day 7) because crew wants to hike across Baldy Mtn. with all gear and full packs and not come back to Copper Park. We are told they cannot grant such a request now because they cannot tell at this point if space would be available in the requested camps; they tell us to request the change later on the trail from a staffed camp with a radio. (Julian is puzzled as this reason has never been used for similar requests granted by Logistics during check-in in the past.) [Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.] (2) There is a USGS Baldy Mtn. Quad map posted in each briefing cubical for inspection by crews on Trek 28 that shows the preferred and marked route from Greenwood Canyon to Copper Park. We are not told of this map and do not see it, nor is any special information provided relating to Trek 28. (Julian had been told by Doug Palmer, Associate Director of Program, prior to coming to Philmont that there would be special additional instructions for crews on Trek 28.) We do not remember to ask about any special instructions and we had already felt well prepared and confident. However, we learned of this marked map when we checked out of Logistics at the end (on Day 12), and it would have been nice to have seen it at the beginning.

Health Lodge: Julian is delayed to have BP rechecked (160/88) in spite of double dose of medication last 3 days, eating entire bunch of bananas, and an Ativan.

Services: Crew checks out 4 tents. Julian & Derek and Neil & Scott have own tents. Crew takes all pots issued except one small pot left in locker. 6 Polar Pure issued combined with 6 Polar Pure brought from home. Fuel purchased to fill up 3 Peak-1 stoves and 3 22-oz. canisters - $3.50.

Ranger Equipment Shakedown: Ranger Will recommends only 2 stoves. We keep all 3 anyway. (Kennedy's crew, 627-J-2 from Charlotte on Trek 15, leaves 1 stove behind, takes 2, and later regrets it.) Ranger Will recommends only 1 flashlight for each pair of tent partners. Julian only discovers later that this advice was given or he would have told crew to ignore it. As a result Ryan H. had no flashlight on the trail and it was badly missed.

Trading Post and Snack Bar: Julian buys 1 Philmont Central Country map. Crew already has 2 Philmont overall, 2 Valle Vidal, 2 Philmont North Country, and 2 USGS Baldy Mtn. Quad maps. Julian gives Mecklenburg County Council Shoulder Patch to Snack Bar for their large U.S. wall map.

Campfire: Was very good. Derek and Ryan G. go to Catholic Mass before campfire.


Sun. 6/28 Day 2 CHQ to Bent Camp

0630 Breakfast
1025Lv. CHQ by bus [6,690]
1055Ar. Ponil Turnaround [7,050]
1140Lv. Ponil Turnaround
1215Ar. Ponil [7,150]. Eat lunch.
1320Lv. Ponil
1410Ar. Bent Camp [7,340]

We have to get crew photos taken this morning as we do not get to the photo area until the afternoon of Day 1. It would be best to get this done on Day 1, but Philmont wouldn't take the crew photo in the afternoon because they say the sun angle is bad for having the Tooth of Time in the background.

Philmont Photo Crew 1
Philmont Photo Crew 1.
Click for full size

Philmont Photo Crew 2
Philmont Photo Crew 2.
Click for full size

Our hiking begins at Ponil Turnaround after bus ride from CHQ and some brief Ranger training. Crew Leader Neil rotates point and sweep daily (point becomes sweep next day). U.S. trail flags are carried on top of backpack by point, sweep, and the 2 advisors.

Eat lunch at Ponil while waiting for the Cantina to open at 1300. Root beer no longer sold by the pitcher. Stay only a short while.

Take long time to set up camp at Bent. Misc. ranger training, supper, more training till dusk prevent Crew from exploring up the eastern ridge. Late hour also prevents trying bear bag auxiliary rope & pulley system. Ranger Will protests it is getting too late. Crew Leader Neil discusses wake up time with crew and crew decides on wake up time at 0530 and hike Wilson Mesa. Ranger Will protests - no need to get up so early - Wilson Mesa is out of the way. Crew compromises on later wake up time which turns out to be costly mistake. Derek keeps Julian from intervening and says both ranger and crew must learn from their mistakes.

Ranger Will is excellent ranger. (Was just awarded "Ranger of the Week.") He is a good trainer, has a positive attitude and great personality, is real cool, gets along well with crew, and is well liked. He just doesn't like to get up early. We are his first crew; he has no previous Philmont experience and must be unaware of the advantages of early starts.


Mon. 6/29 Day 3 Bent to Rich Cabins

0645 Wake up, eat breakfast, strike camp
0900Lv. Bent Camp [7,340]
0906At Wilson Mesa trail head [7,350]
1135At Wilson Mesa top at trail X near (8485T) [8,500]
1145Ar. Wilson Mesa lake [8,600]. Eat lunch, take pictures.
1330Back at Wilson Mesa trail X [8,500]
1415At bottom of Wilson Mesa trail near Stern Ranch [7550]
1500Ar. Rich Cabins [7,720]

Draw partial provisions from commissary

Wilson Mesa a great experience. Probably stayed a bit too long at the top. Advisor of another crew takes crew pictures with our cameras.

Wilson Mesa
Wilson Mesa.
Click for full size

Very hot day. Getting up late plus long lunch break causes a lot of strenuous hiking in the heat of the day and puts us into Rich Cabins about an hour too late to do Conservation Project. Though Trek 28's primary conservation site is at Head of Dean, crew is determined to get it out of the way at Rich Cabins.

When we check in at Rich Cabins, we are told we have a sister crew (627-M-1 from St. Louis). Trek 28 is not supposed to have a sister crew! We are a bit disappointed to discover we are not as "special" as advertised in the PEAKS book.

Crew Leader Neil is issued a Magellan GPS by the staff at RC, which is a special deal for crews on Trek 28. It is to be used in the Valle Vidal and turned in at Baldy Town.

Crew Leader Neil draws partial provisions from RC Commissary.

Crew sets up camp quickly and crew was able to participate in Barnyard Olympic program. Eddie milks a cow. Crew likes program.

Ranger training again kept us up late. Derek is very strong on Wilderness Pledge and encourages Ranger Will to make sure crew is highly impressed with its importance. Bear bag procedure without bear cable is taught by Ranger Will. His method does not include putting second rope over a tree branch, but instead using second rope only as a pull-out. This method only good when ground underneath is depressed as with a gully or creek bed or other drop-off. His method turns out to be inferior and Julian has to re-teach crew better method as was required at next two camps in the Valle Vidal.

Crew decides on wake up time of 0530. Doesn't tell Ranger Will till later; he nevertheless protests, but Crew Leader Neil stuck to the decision. Crew wanted to be packed up and ready to go before reporting in to do Conservation Project at 0800.


Tue. 6/30 Day 4 Rich Cabins to Iris Park

0530 Wake up and eat breakfast
0750Lv. campsite
0800-1100 Conservation Project. Ranger Will leaves to return to CHQ. Derek fingers seriously injured. Foreman Byron finger moderately injured. Ryan G. finger slightly injured.
1100Tend to Derek injuries, radio Health Lodge, arrange pickup
1200Eat lunch. Draw remaining provisions.
1300Lv. Rich Cabins [7,720]. Derek and Byron are picked up by truck
1400Ar. top of ridge after hike along old RR bed taking us toward the E [8,160]. Begins to thunder and slight rain.
1445Ar. Windmill (8226T) due N of RC [8,226]
1505Lv. Windmill
1535At trail X near (8156T) due N of windmill - cairn at SE corner of X [8,156]
1715Ar. Iris Park [8,530]. Windmill at Iris Park is gone.

Conservation project consists of going up on ridge S of RC and chopping/cutting tall straight trees for use in log cabin construction, de-limbing trees, then finally hauling them down the ridge. Crew cuts down 4 or 5 trees. Finger injuries occur at end of project while hauling trees down ridge. Fingers are mashed and scraped between tree and rock. Derek has index and ring fingers on left hand severely lacerated with fingernails torn. Middle finger slightly injured. Ryan G. has middle finger bruised; suffers mild shock and bleeding. Both given first aid by RC staff. Derek transportation to Health Lodge is arranged by radio. Julian's analysis of cause of injuries: work gloves for all not available and should have been; less than most careful attitude by RC staff and Foreman Byron - no training lecture with instruction and precautions; enthusiastic crew members having fun with project creates less than most careful practices.

Ranger Will, now in Ponil, hears of emergency at Rich Cabins. We later learn he thought old man Julian has had a heart attack.

Crew draws remaining provisions, including refill of 2 22-oz. canister of Coleman fuel for $2.00. (Receipt indicates "2 pts." quantity, but Julian thinks it is actually 2 22-oz. canisters.)

Crew leaves with one advisor, Julian, with instructions to continue on and camp near our sister crew. This turns out not to be practical at Iris, but sister crew was notified of our location. Other crews are camped nearby.

Conditions (thunder, rain, dense trees, late hour, crew tired) at top of ridge where bushwhacking and orienteering are needed for the first time prevent lengthy stop for training. Used GPS in conjunction with map & compass to locate windmill due north of RC. Route to windmill seems quite unsure; there is no trail of any kind. Crew is greatly relieved when windmill sighted - cannot be seen for any great distance. This windmill gives crew good fix for determining its exact location. Scott is point today and does a good job using compass for orienteering.

Arrive at Iris Park too late for mountain bike program. Crew too tired anyway. Try to check by radio on Derek and on request to change Day 7 campsite from Copper Park. No word on Derek is initially available by radio. Logistics says they will not grant change request until 2nd advisor Derek's return is assured. [Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.] Later in the evening we get word Derek is taken to the hospital in Raton to get better opinion whether or not his fingers need stitches and there is hope he could be returned to the crew soon. Whole crew very sad with Derek gone but tries to keep positive spirits.

Attempt to hang bear bags prolonged because method taught by ranger does not get enough elevation. Julian shows Crew Leader Neil a better two-rope method, where both ropes are over branches of different trees. This works fine.


Wed. 7/01 Day 5 Iris Park to Greenwood Canyon

0530 Wake up, eat breakfast, strike camp
0905Lv. Iris Park [8,530]
1045Ar. Middle Ponil Creek at cairn (BM8546) [8,546]
1120Ar. Middle Ponil Creek X Greenwood Canyon mouth cairn (8244AT) [8,244]
1900Derek returns

Crew looses time departing because we are waiting for word on radio from Heath Lodge about Derek. Had been told we could find out by 0800, but are not able to get answers until 0900. At 0900, H.J. Griffith, Iris Park Camp Director, tells us: (1) Derek has been cleared and checked out of Health Lodge and will be taken to meet us at Greenwood Canyon this evening. We should camp at the mouth of the canyon; (2) our request to change Day 7 campsite to Miranda has been granted. We give H.J. two big hugs for the good news.

We learn later from Derek that he needed to play an active role in arranging his return by talking with Doug Palmer (Associate Director of Program responsible for backcountry operations) and others. Derek is given a ride by backcountry staffer John Kenny in a Philmont 4WD Suburban late in the day. We also learn later that Derek actually secured the Day 7 change to Miranda by going to Logistics. Apparently Doug Palmer was not in favor of this change because (1) he wants Trek 28 crews to stick to the planned itinerary for better evaluation of this new trek, and (2) he does not like for a crew to plan on hiking with full packs across Baldy Mtn. He nevertheless let the change stand as Logistics had already approved it. [Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

Crew decides to skip the mountain bike program at Iris Park in the morning. We have had so many late starts so far, the crew is anxious to leave.

We depart Iris Park in a mostly W and slightly N direction to bushwhack to the road at the (8881T) and (8846T) marks. We encounter what may be a trail near (8846T) but don't see road. Crew descends to Middle Ponil Creek cairn at (BM8546), keeping ravine to our right. Never see road, which may have been on the other side of the ravine. We cross creek just below the (BM8546) cairn, just below a big beaver dam. Follow dirt road on W side of creek to mouth of Greenwood Canyon and set up camp. (8244AT) spot marked with cairn, and large flat area is quite suitable for campsite.

Have difficulty finding suitable tree branches to hang bear bags. Search down Middle Ponil Creek not fruitful. Scott (a champion baseball pitcher) and others are unable to get rope over any suitable tree limbs. Ultimately have to hike about 1/2 mile up Greenwood Canyon to find good location.

By 1900, after dinner, crew is getting discouraged about Derek's return. Entire crew goes to hang bear bags. Upon approach to campsite on return, lead Scouts discover Derek is there. Word is quickly relayed back and everyone runs down to campsite. Great rejoicing. Derek was driven by backcountry staffer John Kenny in 4WD Suburban and dropped off. Derek brings Snickers bars for everyone, mail, and a hacky sack. Most of the mail is for Scott whose girlfriend is writing him daily.


Thu. 7/02 Day 6 Greenwood Canyon to Copper Park

0430 Wake up, strike camp. Will eat breakfast later.
0615Lv. Greenwood Canyon at mouth of canyon [8,244]
0730Stop for breakfast at W end of canyon where creeks from W and from SW join and road bears left along SW creek [8,650]
0810Lv. spot where eat breakfast. Eat lunch somewhere before reaching top of ridge - don't remember when or where.
1415Ar. top of ridge on saddle between (11586T) and (11640AT) [11,500]. Begins to rain and thunder. Quickly climb to (11586T) peak to look briefly for airplane crash site - not found.
1450Lv. top of ridge heading straight to Copper Park following flagged (survey tape) trail
1605Ar. Copper Park [10,500]

This is our most difficult and long day. Must use USGS Baldy Mtn. Quad map. Crew searches unsuccessfully at several planned points for opportunities to bushwhack out of Greenwood Canyon to the south for a more direct route. Most vigorous search for such opportunities are made at 9,600 elevation point where road takes sharp right hairpin turn and 3 creeks merge. Crew decides it is too dense and difficult and that following the road is best. Road goes all the way to top of ridge on 11,500 saddle; does not stop at 10,920 elevation as shown on map. Road is marked by cairns and survey tape at various points, becoming more frequent near the top.

It would have been much better to have hiked part of this distance the afternoon before and camped where we ate breakfast, or even better, farther along the way. This was not an option for us as we had to camp at the mouth of the canyon in order to connect with Derek's return. The distance from Iris Park to the mouth of Greenwood Canyon is short and a crew without our restriction could easily have hiked on to avoid such a strenuous next day. There are several possible points for decent campsites. We later learn that our sister crew camped at (we think) the open spot near the 9,600 elevation point where the 3 creeks merge (described above).

The location on top of the ridge above Copper Park is well marked by an area cleared and leveled for a rescue helicopter landing site, as had been described to Julian in e-mail messages by P.J. Parmar, Associate Chief Ranger, several months before. Flagged trail (survey tape tied around tree trunks) to Copper Park is visible.

Rain and thunder prevent more vigorous search for airplane crash. Neither waypoint in GPS nor direction on compass seem to look promising. Concern about thunder/lightning cause Julian to call off search. Plans to descend toward French Henry mine also abandoned. Crew is tired and it's getting late. Crew decides to descend on flagged trail, which is not really a trail. It is steep and rocky.

Copper Park is crowded and it's hard to find a campsite; it's late. Crew decides to wake up at 0330 tomorrow for assault on Baldy Mtn.

It is more apparent now that our crew has really come together as a first class team. We have good strong highly motivated backpackers and hikers, they all get along with each other, Crew Leader Neil is very competent and well respected by all. Co-advisor Derek has endless enthusiasm and unwavering positive attitude that permeates and inspires all crew members. This is the best crew Julian has ever experienced.


Fri. 7/03 Day 7 Copper Park to Miranda* via Baldy Mtn Summit and Baldy Town

0330 Wake up, strike camp. Will eat breakfast later.
0515Lv. Copper Park. [10,500]
0815Ar. top of Baldy Mtn. [12,441]
0845Lv. top of Baldy Mtn.
0915Stop for breakfast at meadow on shoulder below peak
1015Lv. meadow and continue descent toward Baldy Town
1130Ar. Baldy Town [9,840]. Eat lunch, visit trading post, take showers, do laundry. Draw provisions from commissary
1410Lv. Baldy Town
1520Ar. Miranda* [8,900]

* Miranda substituted for Copper Park
[Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

Crew wakes up and strikes camp in darkness and silence. It's barely light as we hike out. Alex is point today. Crew misses turn at switchback not far up the trail; costs us 15-20 minutes. Derek, Eddie, and Brian carry some contents of Julian's pack.

Hike to summit takes only 3 hours, 1 hour longer than Julian has previously experienced without full packs, but 1 hour less than Julian had expected with full packs. (Could have been 2 hours 40 minutes if we had not missed a switchback turn.) Crew stays completely together entire ascent and descent, a sign of a first class team. This is definitely an exceptional crew.

Baldy Mtn.
Baldy Mtn. ascent
and at summit.
Click for full size

The Baldy Town Trading Post & Snack Bar is a popular place. Julian buys a Platypus water bag like so many of our crew already has. He later decides he doesn't really care for it as much as simply using the Nalgene water bottles. Crew eats lunch and most everyone takes a shower. Only Julian and very few others wash some clothes - mostly socks. A hard rain storm moves in for about an hour.

Crew Leader Neil draws new provisions from BC Commissary, including 2 22-oz canisters of Coleman fuel for $2.00. Neil turns in Magellan GPS issued at Rich Cabins.

On way to Miranda, crew stops to take pictures of rusted out car beside the road. Rain threatens upon arrival at Miranda. It's a bit late, but Miranda Program Counselor generously offers to do black powder rifle program for crew. Derek and Julian proceed to campsite and set up dining fly for crew while they shoot.

Crew decides to wake up at 0430 to get to Head of Dean early and in time to do program (Challenge Course). We believe our sister crew requested a change from Copper Park the night before. Later find out they stayed at Ewells Park.


Sat. 7/04 Day 8 Miranda* to Head of Dean

0430 Wake up, eat breakfast, strike camp
0700Lv. Miranda* [8,900]
0920Ar. Head of Dean [8,690]

* Miranda substituted for Copper Park
[Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

Ryan G. is point today and the crew takes the new trail from Maxwell Camp to Baldy Skyline trail toward Head of Dean. Julian worked on building this trail for his Crew's conservation project in 1992. Crew passes sister crew taking a rest about 10-15 minutes away from Head of Dean. They were coming from Ewells Park trail camp.

Crew checks in at staff cabin. Crew elects to set up camp instead of doing Challenge Course program immediately. This turns out to be a mistake. Our sister crew wisely elected to do the Challenge Course program right away, and then they got authorization to advance to Santa Claus camp.

Crew takes a long time to set up camp, cannot find bear cable. Ends up taking an hour to find cable and hang bear bags. Crew decides to eat lunch. There is murmuring about possibly skipping the program. Julian is annoyed at that prospect and asks Derek to have some motivational words with Neil.

Crew decides to do program after lunch, but now it is beginning to rain. Staff Program Counselor Timothy takes crew to do "rainy day program" which entails going to a cabin at the bottom of the meadow where team-building games are supposed to be played. Tim can't (or doesn't) think of any games and prefers to talk. Crew spends 1 1/2 hour talking with and listening to Tim. Tim tells several humorous Philmont-related stories.

Crew decides they want to wake up really early in the morning. 0200 is the decided wake up time as a sense of adventure is entering the picture. Crew goes to bed at 1800.


Sun. 7/05 Day 9 Head of Dean to Devil's Wash Basin*

0200 Wake up and strike camp. Will eat breakfast later.
0315Lv. Head of Dean. [8,690]
0445At Santa Claus camp [8,480]
0530Stop on trail for breakfast
0600Continue on trail to Bear Canyon
0705Cross U.S. 64 and Cimarron River [7,180]
0805Ar. Visto Grande [7.640]. Look at campsite 5(?) to W of trail with the nice view of Baldy Mtn. Refill water bottles and treat water
0930Lv. Visto Grande [7,640]
1030Ar. Upper Bench camp [8,260]. Eat lunch.
1120Lv. Upper Bench camp [8,260]
1215Ar. Devil's Wash Basin* [8,480]

* Devil's Wash Basin substituted for Visto Grande
[Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

Crew wakes up and strikes camp in darkness and silence. We take a what we think is a fairly new trail from Head of Dean to Santa Claus. This entire hike is in darkness as the moon has since set. Several crew members have good headlamps and most others have mini mag lights (2 AA batteries), some with headbands, which are quite adequate. Len is point and has a good mini mag light with a head band. Ryan G. is sweep, and when his batteries die he tries to stick close to Derek who is near the end of the line. Ryan G. remarks that it is hard to keep up with Derek.

[Added Note: Hiking at night is generally not allowed and is an unsafe practice. Since 1998, Philmont has become quite strict about enforcing its rule against it.]

Upon passing through Santa Claus camp at 0445, we see flashlights in a campsite across the meadow and surmise it is our sister crew getting up.

The new trail down Bear Canyon is great - switchbacks and not rocky. Visto Grande campsite is very nice, but having anticipated it would be very early to stop, we had permission to advance to Devil's Wash Basin. The crew wants to gain distance for the next day and be early at the Ute Gulch commissary. Water is filled in all canteens and treated.

Stop at Upper Bench for lunch. This camp is very nice and has some rocks and boulders on the E side that are great for recreation. Derek remembers staying here on his 1991 expedition.

Devil's Wash Basin is also nice camp, but most sites are not very level. Latrines are all open pilot/bombardier type. Extremely fine views of entire Tooth Ridge and west to Mt. Phillips from on the top of the ridge above the SW side of the basin. We are first crew to arrive; only two others arrive later. All of crew except Julian, Brian, and Eddie hike down to Ute Gulch to fill water bags and check on possibility of drawing provisions one day early. The request to draw provisions early is denied even though crew is at commissary early in the afternoon.

The "wash basin" pond looks nice but stagnant. It looks shallow and has lily pods growing on the top. We wonder about using it as a water source, but this water would need to be filtered at least through a bandana, and then double-purified. We prefer to fetch treated water from a faucet at Ute Gulch Commissary, though it is nearly a 2-hour round trip. After dinner, several of the crew try to dare Tyler into running full speed across one end of the pond. They bribed him with as much as $70 and told him they would come rescue him if the mud got too soft and deep, and though he looks tempted, thankfully he nor anyone else will try it.


Mon. 7/06 Day 10 Devil's Wash Basin* to Shaefer's Pass*, via Ute Gulch Commissary, Cimarroncito, and Clark's Fork

0430 Wake up, eat breakfast, strike camp
0645Lv. Devil's Wash Basin* [8,480]
0730Ar. Ute Gulch Commissary [7,920]
0800Commissary opens
0845Draw provisions.
0900Lv. Ute Gulch Commissary. Hike to Cimarroncito over the ridge via Aspen Springs camp - not the easier way.
0950Ar. Cimarroncito [8,120]
1000Crew does rock climbing program
1200Eat lunch
1245Lv. Cimarroncito [8,120]
1320Ar. at reservoir spillway near Cathedral Rock [7,660]. Begins to rain hard.
1415Lv. reservoir area for Clark's Fork [7,660]
1455Ar. Clark's Fork [7,720]. Brand boots and leather items. Medic from Health Lodge not sent as previously promised to check Derek's injured fingers. Request change of campsite to any trail camp to the S. Eat Chuck Wagon dinner.
1900Lv. Clark's Fork [7,720]
2100Ar. Shaefer's Pass* [8,787]. Set up tents and hang bear bags.

*Devil's Wash Basin substituted for Visto Grande
Shaefer's Pass substituted for Clark's Fork
[Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]

The Ute Gulch Commissary is a huge bottleneck. We arrive 30 min. before opening and are third in line. When it finally opens at 0800 there are many crews waiting and it is a madhouse. Our crew is bumped to 4th place by crew that cheats its way into the line on the porch. Provision issue takes 15 min. per crew. Commissary staff person is slow and his system is quite inefficient. He takes extra long time to affix his stamps onto the Crew Leaders "Life" sheet.

Julian, Owen, Ryan H., Tyler, and Ryan G. leave ahead of remaining crew to get to Cimarroncito in time to sign up crew for 1000 rock climbing program. When provisions are finally drawn, Derek and remainder of crew hike very fast to Cimarroncito; they are mistaken as a Rayado Crew by Ranger passing in opposite direction. Both parts of crew hike to Cimarroncito over ridge via Aspen Springs camp. A much better way would have been to go on a slightly more northerly route through Grouse Canyon. It is flatter route and therefore faster, but we did not study the map carefully enough to notice.

All of crew except Julian and Derek participate in rock climbing program. Kennedy's crew (627-J-2 from Charlotte on Trek 15) is on 2nd day at Cimarroncito and is doing rock climbing program at the same time. Julian and Derek relax at camp while crew does rock climbing program and take showers and wash shirt and shorts.

When we leave Cimarroncito, with the whole crew now together, Ryan H. is point. He does an excellent job leading the crew, except that his lack of a flashlight is a disadvantage at the end of the day as we hike to Shaefer's Pass.

A heavy rain storm that starts at the reservoir near Cathedral Rock on the way from Cimarroncito to Clark's Fork is an annoying nuisance. Ryan G. does not like wearing his yellow poncho; he is the only crew member without a good rain jacket. Len does not wear his rain gear at all and is soaking wet. Julian cautions him about him getting hypothermia. Rain lets up and stops on the way to Clark's fork.

Views of Webster Lake and Cimarron to the E along the trail to Clark's Fork are spectacular, especially with the rain just ending, misty low clouds and a few sunshine rays coming through. Someone remarks it looks like heaven.

Trail to Clark's Fork
Trail to Clark's Fork.
Click for full size

Branding at Clark's Fork is fun. There is a long line and Brian, who has gotten a spot near the front of the line, helps by taking items from other crew members to brand for them. The Chuck Wagon Dinner is great and we're glad we had it. A medic was supposed to be sent to Clark's Fork to check Derek's finger injuries but does not show up. As we have not yet gone to our campsite nor set up tents, discussion follows about sunrise on top of the Tooth of Time and getting to CHQ early to have Derek's fingers checked. Our sister crew is already checked in and set up. Our crew's desire to gain more distance and the medical need for Derek inspire us to request a change by radio to Logistics.

Advance to a trail camp S of Clark's Fork is approved by Logistics on radio. Crew arrives at Shaefer's Pass as darkness falls. All crews already there seem to be in tents and sleeping. Our crew sets up tents but not dining fly and hangs bear bags. Crew decides to wake up at 0200 to make the Tooth of Time for sunrise. We estimate a 2 1/2 hour hike across Tooth Ridge. Derek and I hear another crew arrive about 1030 and they hang their bear bag next to ours. Derek gets up to relieve himself and must make a hasty retreat to the tent when he spots a skunk coming his way.


Tue. 7/07 Day 11 Shaefer's Pass* to CHQ*

0200 Only Julian wakes up. Wake up system for Crew Leader fails.
0220Wake up remainder of crew and strike camp. Will eat breakfast later.
0305Lv. Shaefer's Pass* [8,787]
0525Ar. Tooth of Time trail head [8,470]
0545Ar. summit of Tooth of Time by all crew except Julian [9,003]
0545Sunrise. Skies are somewhat cloudy and sunrise view is not very spectacular.
0555Old man Julian at summit of Tooth of Time. Eat breakfast after descent from summit.
0750Lv. Tooth Ridge camp area by way of Stockade trail to the S [8,470]. See Shawn Gantt along trail with a Junior Leader Instructor School group.
0920Ar. Stockade. Take rest and pictures. [7,210]
1015Ar. CHQ* [6,690]. Check in at Welcome Center, retrieve gear in lockers, turn in all crew equipment at Services.
1330Crew takes bus to Cimarron

*Shaefer's Pass substituted for Clark's Fork
[Added Note: Since 2000, no itinerary changes for preference reasons have been approved or allowed, and especially since the 2002 fires, crews found camping in other than their designated locations are subject to disciplinary measures, which could include being removed from the trail and sent home.]
CHQ arrival 1 day early for medical need

Crew Leader wake up system fails. Alex has alarm and the system has been for him to wake up Neil who in turn wakes up rest of crew. This morning, Alex turned off alarm, put his head down and went back to sleep. Julian wakes up Neil at 0220. Precious time is lost. Camp is struck quickly and silently in the dark.

Neil is point today and sets a good pace on what is a very difficult, rocky and uneven trail. Ryan H., now sweep, again is disadvantaged by a lack of a flashlight. The Tooth Ridge trail is very rocky and rugged, but this special and fine crew negotiates it very well.

[Added Note: Hiking at night is generally not allowed and is an unsafe practice. Since 1998, Philmont has become quite strict about enforcing its rule against it.]

Arrival at the Tooth for sunrise at 0545 is in the nick of time. It is a great adventure.

Tooth of Time
Tooth of Time Summit for Sunrise
Click for full size

Having made the decision to go into CHQ because Derek needs his injury checked, we proceed to Base Camp, but elect to try the Stockade trail. This is a steep, rocky, and difficult descent. View of the Tooth at the bottom and at the Stockade is well worth it. We encounter Shawn Gantt along the Stockade trail. Shawn is Catawba Lodge Chief and will be Council JLTC SPL in August. He and Matt Starr have been sent to the National Junior Leader Instructor School at PTC. (Julian later sees Matt at CHQ Trading Post.)

Tooth of Time
Tooth of Time from Stockade
Click for full size

Neil and Julian go to Welcome Center to check in; takes a long time. We are very lucky to be assigned tents in Homebound Tent City rather than having to set up our trail tents. (This proves to be especially fortunate when a severe monsoon-type thunder storm comes through around 1630 and flattens all trail tents that had been set up and even a few Tent City wall tents.) After retrieving our gear from the lockers, we check in all crew gear at Services. All take showers, clean up, and take 1330 bus to Cimarron. We are disappointed to learn Bar-B-Q place next to Cimarron Art Gallery is gone. We eat lunch at another restaurant. Return to CHQ on 1545 bus.

Julian checks at Ranger Office to meet and visit with P.J. Parmar, Associate Chief Ranger, who had become an e-mail friend during the spring. Julian is trapped at the Ranger Office when the monsoon storm begins. Though our tents are only 100 yards away, the storm is so severe the tents cannot be seen at times.


Wed. 7/08 Day 12 At Philmont CHQ*

0900 Crew meets to organize day. Neil and Julian complete all check in processing.
1545All crew except Julian and Derek return on bus to CHQ
1700Julian and Derek return on bus to CHQ

* CHQ arrival 1 day early for medical need

Between 0900 and 1000 we see our sister crew (627-M-1 from St. Louis) and Kennedy's crew (627-J-2 from Charlotte on Trek 15) return. Remaining check in processing is completed as quickly as possible. We are shorted two crew photos which we are told will be mailed later. (They actually did arrive about two weeks later.) Check in at Logistics reveals trail route from Greenwood Canyon to Copper Park on USGS Baldy Mtn. Quad map.

Derek and Julian complete all evaluations before campfire. Campfire is not considered to be very good.

Though we are not asked to give any special evaluation of Trek 28, as had been expected, we write a special paragraph in the comment area of the regular evaluation. Basically we say that: (1) Trek 28 covering the Valle Vidal, Baldy Mtn., and the Tooth of Time is indeed special and a super itinerary; (2) the layover day at Copper Park is unnecessary; (3) Trek 28 could have more challenging hiking distances in the second half of the trek; (4) perhaps Mt. Phillips or other area could be included.


Thu. 7/09 Day 13 Philmont CHQ to Colorado Springs

0600 Scheduled to be picked up by Chaffee Transit/Timberline Express bus. Driver Joanna is 40 min. late.
0640Bus arrives to pick up both Charlotte crews
1130Bus arrives in Manitou Springs
1700Ar. motel in Colorado Springs

Both crews of our Council Contingent are now re-combined. We set out for Colorado Springs for the Cog Railway to the top of Pikes Peak. On the way, we ride through part of the Garden of the Gods park. The cog train ride is long and is rated by the Scouts as only fair. Clouds near the summit prevent us from getting the spectacular views.

After check in to our motel we go to the Flying W Ranch for dinner and the cowboy singing show. This event is rated high by all participants. We estimate an audience of 1,500 consisting of all ages. The musicians are highly skilled professionals and very entertaining.

Fri. 7/10 Colorado Springs to Charlotte, via Air Force Academy, Denver and USAirways

0800 Lv. Colorado Springs motel
0845Ar. Air Force Academy
0945Lv. Air Force Academy
1145Ar. Denver International Airport
1430Lv. Denver
1935Ar. Charlotte/Douglas International Airport

The visit to the Air Force Academy, and especially into the Chapel, is impressive. The flight home is uneventful and on time. All of us and our luggage arrive safely.

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Written and maintained by Julian Love, julian.love@troop116.org, with contributions from other crew members.
Last Updated: May 10, 2003