Article by Andrew Huneke | Owl Staff
Imagine you’re hiking up a vertical slope so steep that you look up and can’t see more than twenty feet ahead of you. You finally make it up to the top of this slope and are left standing 12,441 feet above the ground. You can spin around and gaze at the vast amount of nothingness and space in all directions. There’s even a thunderstorm brewing below you, but you’re so high up that you’re above it!
Philmont Scout Ranch is a challenge unlike any other adventurers backpacking through the mountains of New Mexico while choosing a variety of programs to do along the way, ranging from black powder rifle shooting to horseback riding. It is an adventure of a lifetime, especially for those who have never been out west. One of the best parts about Philmont is choosing whatever programs you want to do, whatever journey you want to take.
The main attraction in the North is Mount Baldy; standing 12,441 feet, Baldy is the tallest mountain on the Ranch. Climbing Baldy was the most challenging part of Philmont because a crew needs to learn how to work as a team while you are carrying up to 60 pounds up 3,000 feet in a span of four miles.
One of the highlights of the North Country is a camp called Pueblano. Their feature attractions are spar pole climbing (scaling a tree with spiked boots) and loggerball, which is an old-fashioned baseball game where players run the bases backwards and throw only underhanded.
One of my friends, Phil Outten, liked Pueblano the best. He says, “Pueblano was my favorite because of the spar pole climbing. I also enjoyed the campfire that they put together.”
The most interesting camp in the middle country is called Cimarroncito, which is a rock-climbing camp. You go and boulder in the morning and can then return to camp and show off what you learned in the rock-climbing gym. Nothing quite like the experience of a rock-climbing gym in the middle of backcountry!
Another infamous attraction is the Tooth of Time. It’s a giant rock shaped like a tooth right in the middle of the Ranch. It provides one of the best views in camp, with a 360-degree panoramic shot.
The main attraction in the South Country is Mount Phillips. Phillips is the second highest mountain on the Ranch, standing an estimated 11,700 feet. The trip up isn’t as strenuous but it’s still a challenge with a 50-60 pound pack on your back.
The second time my fellow scouts and I went out, we wanted to do more so we decided to hike an average of ten or more miles a day, with our trek equaling almost
105 miles at a time. We went to Pueblano, up Mount Baldy, Cimmaroncito, and over the Tooth of Time. My favorite memory was getting to the top of Mount Baldy with my father, uncle, and cousin. My fa- ther and uncle hadn’t been up together in over 20 years, and seeing the joy they had on their faces with us was priceless and a memory I’ll never forget.
Phil enjoyed the view from Tooth of Time the final day. “I enjoyed watching the sunrise from the Tooth of Time. Having a 360-degree view and seeing the sun rise was simply amazing,” he says.
If you want to go to Philmont, you will need to either be a Boy Scout or be in a venturing crew. It’s much easier to go to Philmont as a venturing crew. Venturing crews are not associated with Boy Scout troops, but they are associated with the Boy Scouts of America.
You can either join an existing crew in the area or create a new venturing crew as long as that new crew registers with the Boy Scouts of America. Creating one isn’t difficult. Just find friends that would be interested and register with the Boy Scouts of America. More detail on how to do this can be found online at www. scouting.org.
Philmont is everything an outdoor type would love. There are beautiful views, plenty of activities for a crew to do, and the potential to grow closer together as friends while backpacking in the marvelous backcountry of New Mexico. I would encourage everyone to go out there; it’s a rare experience worth considering instead of just going to the beach again this summer.