Day 4: Crater Lake to Schaefers Pass

Today is the day our ranger leaves us. Dylan bids us farewell this morning, and all excited about being on our own, the first thing we do is get lost.

Assistant Scoutmaster Ken Forkner starts what will become the crew’s Philmont mantra, “It NEVER rains in New Mexico!”

Not that Dylan would have directed us otherwise. He would’ve cheerfully followed us down the completely wrong trail. The rangers have this funny habit of letting you make your own decisions. They will warn you if you’re about to charge off a cliff, but otherwise they want the crew to do it on their own, which is pretty cool.

After a false start, some wandering around in the woods and some (slightly annoyed) discussion, the crew figures out the trail we should be taking outta there.

Figuring it out.

While we’re standing around scratching our heads, we have our first sighting of Philmont “minibears,” critters notorious for running off with your trail food when you’re not looking.

Awwww — The infamous Philmont minibear.

Lesson learned: Charlie is sure to keep hydrated on the trail.

Blake waits patiently in the background while Kevin, Travis and Charlie admire their surroundings.

Blake and Christian chow down on their trail lunch: crackers and canned ham — yum.

Some choice Philmont scenery.

After a warm and sunny morning with lots of pretty scenery, it starts raining again. No surprise there. Travis pretty much sums it up: “Philmont. The longest shower of my life.”

Here I am attempting a water crossing. I think photographer Ken Forkner was hoping to get an action shot of me falling in. (Fortunately, he didn’t.)

Finally, after many, many uphill switchbacks, we make it to our campsite at Schaefers Pass.

We shiver under our dining fly waiting for the cold, driving rain to pass. It finally does, and we fall asleep to the sounds from five different campsites echoing in the pass, under a stunning night sky. I never knew there were so many stars.

The guys try, try again to get our bear bags up. (Another crew already has theirs up on the cable.)

Trevor the Cook takes it easy.

Comments about “Day 4: Crater Lake to Schaefers Pass”

  1. Mitch says:

    I just returned from a Philmont Trek where we, too, got lost, or as we called it, “bewildered”. Not once in that day, but twice. So,if it comforts you at all, you aren’t the only ones who get lost on day 3.

  2. LostHiker42875 says:

    It’s pretty unnerving when the crew becomes disoriented at Philmont. Thank goodness to any Philmont crew member who is quite adept at reading topographical maps to reorient the crew with the actual visual terrain and landscape to get the crew back on its hiking trail. I’ve been disoriented quite a few times on a visit to Philmont. Being disoriented is not a fun thing to have when the base camp is 8 miles in some direction beyond the horizon.

  3. Daylen007 says:

    This was a fun day. Even though we got a little lost and took about 30 minutes to get our bear bags up. This is where we met the New Jersey crew!

  4. Pogo says:

    Beautiful scenery, but not enough to compensate for the Red Roof Inn or the Pilot to Bombardier!

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  • A bright and fresh Crew 807-G before the storms, bear scares and horrors of dehydrated trail food.

    Front row, left to right: Charlie Jordan, Christian Gouldy, Blake Kincaid. Back row, left to right: Editor Paula Murphey, Tonie Sanchez, Kendall Brush, Trevor Baggett, Assistant Scoutmaster Ken Forkner, Travis Forkner, Crew Leader Kevin Manning, Scoutmaster Ivy Brush.
  • The oldest of the BSA’s national high-adventure bases, Philmont Scout Ranch near Cimarron, N.M., covers about 214 square miles of Rocky Mountain wilderness.

    Scouts, Venturers and adult advisors go to Philmont to backpack through its rugged terrain and enjoy its numerous program activities. Most action takes place in the summer, but several programs are offered in the off-season.

    Since 1939, more than 860,000 trekkers have experienced Philmont adventure.

    >> Click here to visit Philmont's website

  • Crew reviews of Philmont trail food:


    Jalapeño squeeze cheese and apple cinnamon oatmeal — Kevin

    Canned ham — Blake

    Almond butter with honey spread — Travis

    Oatmeal chewy bars — “It was the one trail food that I already knew!” — Kendall


    “The worst was the aftermath of the vegetarian chili.” — Blake

    “The macaroni and cheese was more like spaghetti in watery cheese soup.” — Tonie

    “The black beans and rice gave me heartburn. Mostly the trail meals were pretty good.” — Christian

  • Words and phrases you'll hear at Philmont:

    Bearmuda Triangle: The basic plan of bear safety procedures in each campsite. Three points of the triangle: dining fly—sump—bear bags.

    Minibears: Chipmunks and squirrels very skilled at running off with your trail food when you’re not looking (and even sometimes when you are).

    Oops Bag: The very last bear bag to go up before bedtime. It gives everybody a chance to check their pockets and the campsite one last time and be able to say, “Oops! I found another smellable!”

    Pilot to Bombardier: Like a Red Roof Inn, but without the roof—or any walls.

    Red Roof Inn: “Fancy” outhouses that have—you guessed it—red roofs.

    Squeeze Cheese: Very popular trail food, especially in jalapeño flavor.

    Staffed Camps: 34 camps where staff deliver program activities, such as horseback riding, mountain biking, rifle shooting, challenge events and panning for gold.

    Swap Box: A big box at each staffed camp where crews can trade uneaten (and gross) foods for better stuff. Most dumped: Gorp and beef jerky.

    Thorns, Roses and Buds: A nightly ritual in which each crew member tells about his or her “thorn” (worst thing) and “rose” (best thing) of the day and “bud” (goal for the rest of the trek).

    Trail Camps: 55 camps that do not include a staff or program activity. Your crew is on its own in the Great Outdoors.

    Yum-Yum Bag: The large Ziplock bag in which a crew stores all food waste, which is hauled up in the bear bags at night. Ideally, there’s not much to go into a yum-yum bag. If you open a package of food, you’re expected to eat it all. (Or get somebody else to finish it off for you. Usually every crew has a human garbage disposal or two.)