Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek by fjzhangweiqun


									                   Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                              by Rick Mauntel April/2009

This document summarizes activities and experiences of the 2007 Troop 78 Philmont
crew. The goal is to provide additional information and aid for future Philmont crew
planning and activities. This is not a stand-alone, complete digest of information needed
for Philmont. It is merely supplemental to many other good sources of information.

The following adults participated on the 2007 Philmont Trek and are resources for future
Philmont trek planning:

Rick Mauntel          Adult Advisor
Terry Richardson      Adult Assistant
John West             Adult Assistant

The entire event, from initial application, through planning/preparation, to completing the
trek, covered about 21 months. The following sections are arranged in more or less
chronological order.

Securing a Date

Applications for treks are accepted through a lottery. The 2007 crew (going forward,
known as Crew07) was selected in the lottery and received its first-choice dates. Soon
afterward, the initial $50.00 per person, non-refundable, deposit was due. The final crew
roster was not known at the time the deposit was due so we paid $600.00 for a full crew
of 12. Over the course of the following year, Crew07 was finalized to 9 (3 adults, 6
Scouts). In the end, we gave up $150.00 in deposit money but this was the safest thing to
do to ensure an opportunity for all who wanted to participate.

During the following year, we considered changing our trek dates to accommodate
schedule conflicts. Philmont was willing to work with us to find alternates and actually
offered us two other choices. In the end, we kept the original dates.

Planning & Preparation

Crew07 followed the prescribed Philmont preparation schedule of 9 months. Starting in
September, 2006, the crew met monthly. We reserved the Monte Vista School art room
34 and met at 7:00pm on the same night as the monthly Troop 78 Committee meetings.

An agenda for all meetings was prepared in advance. The early meetings focused on
introduction to Philmont and crew organization. Each Scout crewmember was assigned a
responsibility: We selected Zach Gates as the Scout crew leader since he was the only
Philmont veteran among us; 2 cook team leaders; 1 bear protection; 1 dining fly; 1
chaplain’s aide. Later meetings were used to discuss clothing and equipment needed for
the trek. One meeting was dedicated to choosing our trek itinerary. The last meeting was
our final preparation with full packs and assignment of all shared crew equipment (except
food, and Philmont provided items). Each meeting ended with a team building activity.
Meetings generally lasted about an hour.

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                   Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                               by Rick Mauntel April/2009

In addition to the monthly indoor meetings, Crew07 was also required to participate on
monthly hiking and backpacking outings. Some of the required outings were the same as
the normal Troop 78 monthly outings. Other outings were scheduled separately from
Troop 78. The monthly outings were all hiking/backpacking oriented and included high
altitude training. Outings were held through July 2007 (our last one was a 5-mile hike in
South Mountain Park five days before departure to Philmont).

Outings were used to practice many of the skills and activities we would use at Philmont.
We brought the dining fly so that the crew could get experience with set-up. We cooked
with surplus Philmont meals using the cook bag method. We developed our cooking
techniques, the crew practiced their roster assignments and they learned how to “gut
sump”. These outings were also helpful to determine which crewmembers were strongest
and weakest.

Adult Advisor Activities

In addition to planning and facilitating all the preparation activities, the adult advisor has
to complete some training and a large amount of paperwork for Philmont and the BSA.

At least one adult crewmember must complete a 2-day wilderness first aid course (I took
one given by the American Red Cross in March 2007) and also have current CPR
certification (I took an ARC CPR class). A second adult crewmember also needs to have
current CPR certification. Evidence of certification must be taken to Philmont. The
wilderness first aid class is not scheduled often so don’t wait until the last minute to sign
up. I recommend completing these classes ~3 months before the trek.

Philmont requires several crew rosters and forms to be completed. In general, I made
electronic copies of every form (either from scratch or by scanning). I kept all necessary
forms, permits and paperwork together in a package that I brought to Philmont. The most
important form is the Philmont Health and Medical Record. Each crewmember must
complete one in advance and they must be brought to Philmont. Constant reminding is
required to be sure no one lets this fall into a crack.

A BSA National Tour Permit is required to travel to Philmont. This needs to be sent in
and approved within the required time limits. A copy needs to be brought on the trip.

The 2007 Philmont trek itinerary contained 35 different choices ranging from challenging
(~50 miles) up to super strenuous (~100 miles). I judged the Crew07 capability from our
outings to date and used this to filter the trek choices down to 7. A highly recommended
trek itinerary is one that passes the Tooth of Time on the last day and ends at basecamp
(triumphant return with no need to take a bus back from a remote trailhead). Crew07
used our monthly meeting just prior to the itinerary due date to eliminate 2 choices and
rank the remaining 5 trek choices (it would take too long to choose from the full list of
35). The crew trek itinerary choices should be sent in at the earliest possible date.
Crew07 sent in its selections on the due date (no delay) and received its first choice.

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                  Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                              by Rick Mauntel April/2009

Crew07 purchased in advance 2 copies of the necessary Philmont maps that covered our
trek (1 for the adult advisor, 1 for the Scout crew leader).

Travel to and from Philmont

Crew07 considered several options for travel including renting a large van, flying (plus
vehicle rental) and driving our own vehicles. In the end, we decided to drive two of our
own vehicles. To cover vehicle wear, tear and gas for the 1400-mile round trip, each
crewmember paid $150.00 to compensate the drivers ($375.00 to each driver).

The crew left Phoenix one day prior to the Philmont arrival date. We drove to Las
Vegas, New Mexico that day and camped overnight at a KOA (this reservation was made
in advance and the fee was only $27.00). We left early the next morning and drove the
remaining 120 miles to Philmont in time for a recommended 11:00am arrival/check-in.

Since it was a long day in the car, we carried coolers with snacks and drinks. We also
allowed music players, etc. to pass the time.

On the return, we left Philmont after breakfast and drove back to Phoenix in one day,
arriving at Monte Vista about 4:00pm (get 1 hour back for time zone change on return).

Each crewmember carried an extra bag with travel clothes and class A uniforms. We left
these bags in our vehicles at Philmont during the trek and used the clothes during travel
and the class A uniforms for the formal Philmont basecamp activities.

Philmont Basecamp

At basecamp we had to check-in, receive tent assignments, pick up equipment and food,
get checked out at the Health Lodge and meet our ranger. All these activities are well
documented in other sources. We had a few observations about equipment and logistics.

Prior to arrival at Philmont, we thought we could use our lightweight bear bags and
ropes. No way. Philmont is very strict about bear protection and will not allow any
deviation from their protocol. We had to use their bear bags and ropes. Their equipment
was much heavier and bulkier but we had no choice. Don’t argue with the Philmont staff
about bear issues - just follow their instructions.

Our dining fly received a skeptical look from the ranger but we were allowed to use it.

The adult advisor and Scout crew leader take care of all check-in activities and attend
meetings. Zach and I met with all the necessary people and filled out all necessary
paperwork. Our crew chaplain’s aide also had to attend a meeting. Be prepared for a lot
of bureaucracy. This was my least favorite aspect of Philmont. Unfortunately, this is a
necessary evil due to the large numbers of Scouts being processed through Philmont
every day.

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                   Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                               by Rick Mauntel April/2009

Zach and I studied posted information at the logistics center and took notes. This was
helpful to find out which camps had treated water, which camps were dry, where we
could refill empty fuel bottles, etc. It’s at this location that the Scout crew leader gets a
first introduction to his responsibilities. He receives paperwork that he carries with him
for the entire trek. It needs to be validated at every camp. These documents represent the
crew leader’s “Life” for the next two weeks and must be taken care of.

Crews are strongly urged to attend a religious service prior to starting and after
completing the trek. Crew07 was of mixed religions but we decided to attend the
Protestant services together. They were actually fun (the minister told a lot of jokes).

On the morning of our first trek day, the ranger had us all empty the contents of our packs
onto our beds for inspection. He then proceeded to eliminate some items that he said
were not necessary. Two changes of clothes only. Extra clothes were left behind. We
were asked to share 1 or 2 tubes of sunscreen (everyone had brought their own). One
Scout brought two flashlights and the ranger talked him into leaving one behind.
Unfortunately, the Scout left his headlamp behind and kept a small pinch light. This was
a mistake that we didn’t notice until the first night in the backcountry. The ranger will
make the crew second-guess many equipment items (this is OK) but we need to pay
attention when decisions are made about what to keep and what to leave.

Philmont Trek

The crew is in the backcountry for 11 days. This is likely the longest time any
crewmember has spent on a single trek. An 11-day trek presents us with many physical,
mental and environmental challenges. We can’t control the environment but our
equipment choices will make the experience more tolerable. Scouts are less mature
mentally and will have a more difficult time coping with challenges. Fortunately, they
are physically strong and recover fast. The adults understand and accept the mental
challenges but, physically, they suffer more and take longer to recover. Each
crewmember must face, and deal with, his unique challenges.

Most of us aren’t used to backpacking on such a long trip. The first 2 or 3 days can be
stressful because we experience new aches and pains (this is normal). By the fourth day,
everyone begins to get into backpacking shape and the rest of the trek is much easier. I
needed to reassure the crew of this during the first few days.

I required that every crewmember use trekking poles.

At the trailhead of the first day, the ranger sat the crew down for some initial
orienteering. He took the crew through basic map reading and compass work. The crew
could not start hiking until the ranger was satisfied they understood the orienteering. I
felt this took a lot of time. Some of the crew were not up on their orienteering skills and
it caused delays. The adults were asked to walk away and not interfere with this activity.
We should have prepared our crew for this activity.

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                  Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                              by Rick Mauntel April/2009

At the first camp, our ranger taught the crew how to string bear bags the Philmont way.
This took a really long time and generated a few laughs. The crew got very good at this
by the third day. The crew also learned how to select the bearmuda triangle at the
campsite. We gave this responsibility to our bear protection Scout and the crew leader.
In the end, we never encountered bears or bear activity. The real problem is with
squirrels (known as mini-bears). Mini-bears will ravage any unprotected smellable item.

In the backcountry, the Philmont staff goes to great lengths to move responsibility from
the adults to the Scouts. The Scout crew leader is responsible for all communication and
business with the Philmont backcountry staff. The adult crewmembers are told their
work is done and now they are on vacation. Zach did all the work for Crew07 on the
trek. Terry, John and I just sat back, “advised” and kept tabs on things.

Not all crewmembers are equal in their backpacking abilities. We had to manage this
during the trek. In general, we rotated the first Scout in line every day. The first Scout
was responsible for setting the pace and navigation. When he wasn’t leading, we asked
Zach (as crew leader) to always walk second. As adult advisor, I always walked last. On
hard days (such as climbing Mt. Philips), we had our weakest hiker walk first. We didn’t
want him to fall off the back and become discouraged. In general, we kept our weakest
hiker near the front of the line. We privately asked other crewmembers to keep an eye on
our weakest hiker and to give him encouragement if he became tired or slowed down.
The weakest hiker’s condition often determined when we took rest breaks. As the trek
wore on, our weakest hiker became stronger and, by the end, he was just as fast as the
rest of the crew. Throughout the trek, our crew kept together fairly well and I was rarely
more than a minute behind the first hiker. This is important at Philmont since there are
many other crews on the trail. We wanted to look good and orderly, with a Scout always
in the lead and adults at the back.

Occasionally, the crew would make a navigation error and walk off in the wrong
direction or start hiking without giving the proper call. In these cases, the adults would
just stay put and not move. The Scouts would eventually figure out that something was
wrong and return to correct the mistake.

We assigned three crewmembers (1 adult, 2 Scouts) to set up and take down the dining
fly each day. These assignments were rotated every day to give everyone an opportunity
to do the jobs. A different crewmember was assigned to carry the dining fly every day.

We were re-supplied with food every 3 or 4 days. This amount of food can take up a lot
of space. Each Philmont meal package feeds two people and there are three meal
packages for each day. At a 3-day re-supply, a crew of 10 will pick up 45 packages!
One re-supply required our crew to hike 1.5-miles from our camp to the station. We had
one Scout bring his empty backpack to help carry the food back to camp.

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                  Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                              by Rick Mauntel April/2009

Crew07 organized into two cook teams for every dinner. Each used a stove and duplicate
pots with cook bags. This parallel arrangement was more efficient and provided
everyone with a duty roster assignment. Our ranger instructed us to immediately pick up
and eat any food dropped on the ground (no tossing it away).

Not everyone likes all the food items in a Philmont package. Some items were more
popular than others. There were opportunities at staffed camps to exchange food items.

The staffed camps also held evening visitation for the adult crewmembers. We could
stop by, chat and relax for an hour while enjoying hot chocolate, tea, coffee and cookies.

We started the trek with two 1-liter fuel bottles. We purchased 1 liter once during the
trek (combining two half-filled bottles and re-filling the empty one). We finished with
two half-filled bottles. So, we only used two liters during the entire trek!

Our Mt. Philips camp was a dry camp (no water). On that day, we had dinner for lunch at
a staffed camp that had water. At Mt. Philips, we had lunch for dinner, making the dry
camp a lot easier to handle.

After each dinner, we washed all dishes with camp suds and rinsed them at the sump.
Dishes were left at the sump overnight. To help with hygiene, some of us carried a small
bottle of alcohol and cotton pads. This was used each night to clean our dirtiest parts.
Our ranger instructed us to not spit out toothpaste but, instead, to swallow it.

We were able to wash dirty clothes at one staffed camp. This helped stretch our two
changes of clothes for the duration of the trek.

Scouts were generally occupied with activities at staffed camps. A day of hiking and
camp activities kept boredom at bay and we were usually busy until bedtime. The most
popular activity at both the 2005 and 2007 treks was the sweat lodge at Apache Springs
camp. It was very relaxing and a great bath substitute.

Return to Basecamp

Our favorite activity back at basecamp was taking a shower and washing off 11 days of
dirt. Everyone brought a towel, washcloth and soap in their travel bag for this (Philmont
doesn’t provide any).

The adult advisor and crew leader have a busy afternoon filling out paperwork, returning
equipment and validating forms. We had to receive a validating stamp at every basecamp
station in order to complete the paperwork. We even had to stand in line 20 minutes at
the stove/fuel depot to receive a stamp even though we didn’t rent any of the equipment!
I hope this has changed by 2010.

Crew07 used our last basecamp afternoon to take a tour of the Philips mansion and visit
the Tooth of Time Trading Post.

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                    Thoughts on 2007 Philmont Trek
                                 by Rick Mauntel April/2009


I generated a number of training and preparation documents for the 2007 Philmont trek. I
also acquired several very good articles written by others. The most comprehensive is
the Philmont Advisor’s Guide. Troop 78 purchased a copy of this article written in
2006 by Cooper Wright and Wally Feurtado of Adventuring Crew 1519, Virginia. I
strongly recommend all adult leaders to thoroughly read this excellent 114-page article.

Below is a brief list of files that I generated, informative articles, and Philmont website
links. Some of my documents are unique to Crew07 and are only useful as guides or
perhaps as editable templates. Some of the current Philmont forms may be different than
the ones we used in 2007 and, hopefully, some are now online. All of these files and
articles are available on CD-ROM and many are posted on the Troop 78 website.

        Item                                     Description                              Source
Thoughts on 2007 Philmont.doc            Summary of Troop 78 Crew07 experiences            Mauntel
Philmont Introduction.ppt                For Scouts & parents about Philmont               Mauntel
Crew Meetings.xls                        Outlines of indoor & outdoor activities           Mauntel
Meeting Plans.xls                        Plans & checklists for indoor meetings            Mauntel
Crew Organization.C.xls                  Organization, duty roster, dining fly duty        Mauntel
Philmont Crew Roster.B.ppt               Template for Philmont Crew Roster form            Mauntel
Talent Release.B.ppt                     Template for Philmont Talent Release form         Mauntel
Philmont 07 Permission Slip.doc          Troop 78 permission for travel to Philmont        Mauntel
Philmont Tour Permit.ppt                 National Tour Permit for 2007                     Mauntel
2007 Menus and Ingredients.doc           The 2007 Philmont food menu                       Philmont
Backpacking Clothes.doc                  Article on clothes for Philmont                   Mauntel
Backpacking Cooking.doc                  Article on cooking for Philmont                   Mauntel
Backpacking Shelter and Sleeping.doc     Article on equipment for Philmont                 Mauntel
Sleeping Bag Information.doc             How to select a sleeping bag                      Mauntel
Tents.ppt                                Examples of equipment                             Mauntel
Eating Utensils.ppt                      Examples of equipment                             Mauntel
Stove Fuel.ppt                           Examples of fuel sold at Philmont                 Mauntel
Philmont Camping Checklist.A.xls         Equipment checklist with annotation               Mauntel
Philmont Extra Bag Stuff.xls             Travel checklist                                Richardson
Philmont Dining Fly.doc                  Instructions on how to set up the dining fly      Mauntel
Tyvek Ground Sheet.doc                   How to use Tyvek as a ground sheet or tarp        Mauntel
Scout Teambuilding Activities.doc        For the monthly indoor meetings and travel        Mauntel
First Aid Report Form.xls                Wilderness emergency form (my personal version) Mauntel
Please Read This.doc                     Warning to protect Philmont Advisor’s Guide       Mauntel
Philmont Advisor’s Guide.doc             Comprehensive article on Philmont                 External
Arrival at Philmont.doc                  Excerpt from Philmont Advisor’s Guide             External
Camp Setup.doc                           Excerpt from Philmont Advisor’s Guide             External
Bears and Bear Bags.doc                  Excerpt from Philmont Advisor’s Guide             External
Removal of a Crewmember.doc              Excerpt from Philmont Advisor’s Guide             External
Philmont Article.doc                     Article on lightweight Philmont backpacking       External
Philmont Tips.doc                        Article on how to prepare for Philmont            External
The Philmont Way.doc                     Article on how to prepare for Philmont            External
Turkey Bag Cooking Process.doc           Article on bag cooking                            External
Philmont Waypoints.doc                   Listing of GPS waypoints for all Philmont camps   External      URL to Philmont web site              URL to Philmont Trading Post web site

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