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Day 1: Philmont Base Camp

The first official day of the trek is our last one spent in civilization: Philmont Base Camp, where there’s a cafeteria and hot showers. And canvas tents on concrete platforms with cots—a real treat, we’ll soon find out.


Christian and Charlie get comfortable.

A day in Base Camp is a whirlwind of tasks and activities.

We check in at the Welcome Center first thing this morning, and we’re immediately informed that there was a bear incident on the trail this week. A Scout had Gatorade in his tent, which attracted a bear that bit his leg. I manage an uncomfortable gulp as I’m listening.

“But, of course,” the smiling staff member says, “if you’re sure to follow bear procedures, there should be no problems on your trek.”

I gotta hear about these bear procedures.


Tent City: Enjoy its comforts while you can.

We then set up in Tent City and meet our ranger, Dylan Peerenboom, who will serve as our guide at Base Camp and accompany us the first two days on the trail.


Meet the Ranger: The unfailingly cheerful Dylan Peerenboom.

Our crew leader, Kevin, takes care of a lot of paperwork at different stations throughout Base Camp while Dylan talks to the crew. Dylan discusses our itinerary and what to expect, explains map reading and emergency procedures, takes us to our health check and crew gear and food pickup.


Dylan explains the finer points of staying safe—and alive.

And we can’t skip a trip to the Tooth of Time Trading Post, where we shop til we drop for last-minute equipment and souvenirs. Gotta have that Philmont toothpick holder.


Kevin maps out our trek in detail.

Meanwhile, Kevin meets with staff member Clyde Clark at Logistics, where they map out our trek and Kevin is given his “Life.” This is the form that crew leaders are in charge of. It lists the crew itinerary with each campsite, program activity and conservation project. The crew leader must carry it with him everywhere: To check in at each staffed camp, to get signed off after the conservation project, to pick up food on the trail. The form is called the crew leader’s “Life” because “it’s something you’d REALLY hate to lose, right?” a grinning Mr. Clark says to Kevin.


Mr. Clark explains Philmont’s Big Board, where staff carefully keep track of each and every crew on the trail.

After dinner, the crew attends the chapel service of their choice and the Welcome Campfire, in which the history of the Philmont area is acted out with a little song and dance.


The Protestant service has a spectacular backdrop, complete with grazing deer.

It’s been a whirlwind of a day. I’m already worn out, and we haven’t even hit the trail yet.

16 Comments on Day 1: Philmont Base Camp

  1. mrz.clark01 // April 7, 2009 at 11:17 am // Reply

    i went too that camp last year and have a good time

  2. very cool!

  3. Chicken Lil // April 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm // Reply

    I went to Philmont just this past summer and it was one of the best experiences of my life. I would go again in a heartbeat. I reccomend to anybody who is interested. Now that i look back i wish i had savored the moment but now I just have the memories and pictures. Philmont is amazing!

  4. Lancealot, some of the toughest Rangers are girls just to let you know.

  5. I remember seeing the eye poster in the office area. This is bringing back lots of memories, we did trek 27.

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