(weather in Cimarron, NM near Philmont Scout Ranch)
Greetings Scouts and Scouters of Troop 137!
This web page is dedicated to the events leading up to, information about, and communications for the level II trip to Philmont National BSA Reserve in New Mexico coming up ~June 24-July 8, 2017. James Green is heading up the Philmont Committee for this trip as help in preparations that will lead up to this trek and other backpacking, training, and otherwise active events that will help us 'be prepared' to get as much as we can out this scouting experience. The Philmont Committee (Markus Kunz, Chuck Vollmer, Ken Salstrand, Jeff Green, Bill Davis, Rich Grayson, Craig Burford, and James Green) is made up individuals and supported by those very experienced specifically with the Philmont experience and other backpacking trips. We will work hard to make this a fun and memorable trip.
Being on a trek at Philmont is not easy necessarily...it is not about comfort although those moments do come along. However, it is about an outdoors experience that you likely have never had before and may never again. It is a natural reserve for the BSA to explore many miles of the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains near Cimarron, New Mexico at elevations from ~6,500' to ~12,000' for 12 days of which 10 will be on the back-country trails. Anyone who plans to participate in this adventure must individually want to be there and actively engage in the performance of their crew because of the physical and mental rigor of what will be required of each person attending. Again, it is not easy. However, it is worth it!
Below is information that is pertinent to this trip (on-going development...so, visit it regularly).
Scheduled trips - See the Troop calendar for Troop 137 on Google which will show events that will be at least monthly such as backpacking and hiking trips. There will be sign-ups for these trips and help needed from our troop's registered adults and other volunteers interested in greater frequency of backpacking type trips.
Training (the short list) - There will be training times for various areas of backpacking and other outdoor skills like orienteering, cooking, usage of gear, wilderness first aid, etc. These will be in classes taught on Saturdays or before Tuesday meetings. These training sessions are required for all participants of Philmont (scouts and adults).
Just like each Scout of Troop 137 working at the Christmas tree lots is required, so will it be for these practice trips. 4 is the minimum (we recommend as many as you are able to maximize your preparedness and fun at Philmont).
You will need to be well prepared for hiking with a backpack heavier than you are used to during the preparation trips and on your trek at Philmont.
You should build your strength by carrying a loaded backpack or 'day pack' with similar weight to a trail experience (35-50 lbs). Increase your distances so you are comfortable while hauling a full backpack for approximately 8 miles...hot or cold, dry or wet...as soon as possible and definitely long before we leave for Philmont Scout Ranch. So, be walking and hiking 3-5 times per week for at least 30 minutes each time.
Unpaved, natural trails are the best to practice on. We recommend practice hikes at nearby parks such as the Natchez Trace Trail, Timberland Park, Bowie Nature Park, Chickasaw State Park, Radnor Lake State Park, or Montgomery Bell State Park. Greenways, multi-use paths, sidewalks, roads, etc. do help with toning leg muscles. However, nothing substitutes for the 'feel' of a trail (i.e. rocks, roots, slopes, etc.). The muscles in your feet need to get used to trails especially with boots needing 'breaking in' time and to help you learn what needs to be adjusted for more fun and more efficient backpack loads.
Participating in other outdoor activities and sports certainly can help in preparation for a trek at Philmont. However, nothing will prepare you better than trail hikes and the Troop practice backpacking trips.
Firstly, for some gear items you may not have to buy but instead borrow.
Boots - Good feet = good time. Simply put...you must take care of your feet. Without good, strong, healthy feet you won't have a good of a time that you might, you may hold your crew back, or you may not be able to help out as well with your crew especially if an emergency situation arises. Hiking boots (design for long hikes and not just day hikes) are recommended at Philmont over trail shoes. High-medium ankle support is best as well as waterproofing.
Socks - 1st rule of hiking socks - no cotton socks ever!Cotton socks + sweat + friction = big blisters = not so much fun. Recommended hiking socks are made of a wool blend (e.g. 'SmartWool' or similar). At least 2 pairs are needed for each backpacking trip.
Backpack - Whether you buy, borrow, or use your current one, make sure it is fitted for you. REI and other area outfitters will size a backpack for you. Just make sure it has a capacity of at least 65 liters. Each Scout will need to be able to carry 1/4 to 1/3 of his weight on the trail.
Wilderness First Aid - Philmont requires a minimum of 2 WFA trained persons per crew. We will have 3 per crew. This will require some of those planning to attend this trip acquire this multi-day training. Troop 137 may have its own trainer for this. More to come.
Hydration - If you are not drinking water (as in water by itself) out of habit on a regular, daily basis, get started now. You need to get used to it long before being at Philmont. On backpacking trips, camp outs, and especially at Philmont because of the arid climate and elevation, drinking water = good health. Otherwise, you likely become lethargic, achy, not sleep well, cramp in the middle of the night, or might suffer might bee susceptible to altitude sickness. Not drinking enough water may also make you slow up your crew while out on the trails causing unwanted tensions. We will learn to filter water with different methods prior to being at Philmont where we will be taking them on our treks.
Crews - Patrols are called crews at Philmont. Crews can be up to 12 in number with 2-4 adults defaulting to Scouts, if needed. Crews will be formed well before Philmont and will act as a Philmont crew to 'gel' to maximize each crew's experience. Crews will go through the 4 stages of team organization...forming, storming, norming, and performing. Crews will be selected by the troop's Philmont Committee members. Scouts will get to choose preferences and adults/parents as well. However, keep in mind that the Philmont Committee will have final word on crew members while preparing for Philmont.
Travel - We will probably go by shuttle to Memphis or St. Louis to connect with Amtrak for 2 train rides to Raton, NM where we'll take a 45 minute shuttle to Philmont base camp. This travel will take ~1.5 days each way. A train ride will allow for a great time to and from the ranch as well as a more gradual and better acclimation to Philmont's elevation AND a relaxing return home with someone else 'at the wheel'.