• BL gets the crazy idea to send a girl -- well, an editor who happens to be a woman -- on a Philmont wilderness trek, and what does she say?

      "There's the threat of bears and stormy weather and a big chance I'll go two weeks without a shower? Sure -- I'll do it."

      And what does she get? Constant threat of bears, tons of hail and lightning, almost two weeks without a shower ... and a heckuva great time.

      Here is a day-by-day account of the trek, as seen through the eyes of our fearless (ha!) editor and the guys and girls of Philmont Crew 807-G.

      The crew travels more than 600 miles from their home in Mansfield, Tex., to take on Philmont Itinerary #29, an 83-mile-long trek classified as "strenuous." See how they do.

    • Day 12: Ponil to Base Camp
      Guess what? We broke Ponil’s 24-day streak of bear sightings. I can’t believe that we’ve made it through a place reportedly crawling with bears and never saw one.

    • Day 11: Flume Canyon to Ponil
      I dreamed last night that I was at work and hadn’t taken a shower since getting back from Philmont. (Which would serve my boss right after sending me on this assignment.) The crew gets a kick out of this. “You’ll be traumatized by Philmont and will be setting up bear bags in your office,” Blake says.

    • Day 10: Miranda to Flume Canyon
      Burro packing is on our program itinerary today. We’re supposed to get a couple of the four-hooved beasts of burden and load our crew gear on them. But when we get to the Miranda corral, the staff tells us that thunderstorms are predicted for the day (oh, joy). Since burros can be skittish in bad weather, our crew has the option to pass on the burro packing, which we do.

    • Day 9: Baldy Mountain
      Today is the day that we tackle Baldy Mountain, which will have us climbing 4,000 feet up from Miranda to the summit. It’s a day hike, so we don’t have to break camp and pack up. We just shoulder our day packs and take off.

    • Day 8: Upper Dean Cow to Miranda
      It’s a fairly short hike to Head of Dean staffed camp this morning. Head of Dean is a cool place because it has a big challenge course, which is designed to get the crew working together as a team to accomplish different tasks.

    • Day 7: Visto Grande to Upper Dean Cow
      This morning, we take a left instead of a right at the Cimarron River and end up flailing around in the underbrush when our path runs out. When we backtrack to where we took the wrong turn, Blake points out the logs placed across the trail. “I guess we could’ve paid attention to the trail markers.” Live and learn.

    • 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.

    • Day 5: Schaefers Pass to Hunting Lodge
      It’s a gloriously sunny morning. We take advantage of it and let our clothes and gear finally dry.

    • 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.

    • Day 3: Olympia to Crater Lake
      After a beautiful, warm — and dry — morning hike during which we spot lots of deer, we arrive at Abreu camp for lunch.

    • Day 2: Base Camp to Olympia
      After breakfast, Ranger Dylan does a shakedown of our gear. In a shakedown, you take everything from your backpack and spread it out for the ranger to look at. He then advises you on what you should and shouldn’t take on the trek.

    • 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.


  • 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.)