Day 6: Hunting Lodge to Visto Grande

It’s another glorious morning — the rain and the bear stayed away last night. Maybe we should have chili for dinner every night.

To earn the coveted Philmont patch, the crew has to hike at least 50 miles and perform a three-hour conservation project during their trek. On this trek, 50 miles ain’t no problem. Today we will complete our conservation requirement. I’m excited, because I reallllllly want that patch to show for my 11 days in the wilderness.

We head to the Cito conservation area and are put to work hauling off tree branches and throwing them on a big fire. Our work will help clear a mountain meadow of excess growth, which is good for the habitat.

Trevor and Christian head to the fire.

Trevor tosses one on.

Kevin hauls off a ponderosa pine branch.

Christian, Trevor and Charlie get my award for Most Enthusiastic Lumberjack-like Participation. They practically have to be restrained from carrying off entire trees by themselves.

Christian bites off almost more than he can chew.

VIDEO: See Trevor and Charlie in action.

An interesting creepy crawly greets me on my backpack after the conservation project.

Three hours of hard work has us itching to hit the trail, and when we do we’re in for a treat. The hike through Grouse Canyon is spectacular.

Charlie checks out Grouse Canyon rock formations.

Christian watches a wild turkey cross the trail near Ute Gulch.

We stop for lunch at the Ute Gulch Commissary, where we also pick up a few days’ worth of food. For lunch today, we enjoy the famous and wildly popular Philmont jalapeno squeeze cheese on crackers.

Before leaving our lunch site, the crew ponders our next move.

TODAY’S TRAIL TALK: Posing for photos: “Say ‘squeeze cheese’!” Plus, everybody’s starting to miss home cooking, so there’s endless discussion in extensive detail of non-trail food. Blake: “Bacon is the best thing ever.” Kendall: “I love those tiny sausages, you know, Lil Smokies in barbecue sauce.”

Most of the afternoon’s hike is uphill, but it’s well worth the effort. We stop for a long rest in a spot that gives us a breath-taking view of Baldy Mountain in the distance.

This is proof that Philmont is enjoyed in moments. One moment you’re struggling—you feel that your feet can’t possibly hurt more, that you can’t take another drop of rain—but then the next moment you’re laughing and swept up in the gorgeous scenery, crew togetherness and your sense of accomplishment.

Everybody’s happy with the view.

Kevin and Travis use their backpacks as recliners as they take in the view.

Baldy looms.

Comments about “Day 6: Hunting Lodge to Visto Grande”

  1. GLAMOUR says:


  2. Jr. Pro says:

    Our crew did conservation project at beaubien.

  3. Jr. Pro says:

    Did anyone drink cito water at cimarron cito?

  4. 720-O1 says:

    I took some very similar pictures on the same trail. We did our cons. project at cito but we were sawing tree stumps so they were flush with the ground.

  5. little man says:

    hi this day was my day to lead

  6. hyper boy says:

    very beautiful scenery

  7. Wirwin says:

    I went to Philmont this summer also, and our conservation project at Cito was digging those holes that you burned the branches in. Okay, well maybe not the exact holes, but still it’s good to see that work going to good use. Hope you had a great trek.

  8. Da Boss says:

    That scenery is amazing!

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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.)