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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-17-2019, 11:32 PM Thread Starter
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Entirely OT - Scouting Philmont Advice? Leaving next week...

It struck me that there's probably a few Philmont High Adventure veterans in this community of pirates, ne'er do wells and miscreants, and that I should ask you for last minute advice.


We're doing an 80 mile loop starting next week with a crew of 12, in the North of the preserve (Rt 23) - we're summitting Baldy and generally have a younger crew (13-15 ys old). We've all been training, have banged out several 15+ mile overnight hikes in the Shenandoah and should be well outfitted.


What advice would you Philmont Veterans share with us? Throw the scope wide open, if you could go back in time... what advice would you have given your younger self?


Thanks for any and all thoughts- they will be well appreciated!

tim

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 02:50 PM
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I never did Philmont but I was in the scouting program from my youth and served as a Scoutmaster for a time in my adult years. Sounds like you are well prepared so I may not be able to give any new advice but here are a few thoughts from my experience:

-Pack necessary but pack light (I'm sure you already have a good packing list). A 70lb kid with a 100lb pack gets old quick and you'll end up carrying the difference. Have a mandatory pack inspection a couple nights before the trip to make sure each pack is weighed and checked over for proper clothing, equipment, etc. That gives the boys a couple days to make corrections if needed. That small dutch oven may sound really cool to a 15 year old but it's not 80 miles cool (yes we had this).
-Bring extra socks and change them often. Low rise socks are light and it's really nice to have a new pair about mid-day. I like the low rise socks with arch support and a thicker bottom.
-Decent hiking boots with good ankle support, hopefully already broken in from previous hikes. Flip flops or Converse All Stars aren't gonna cut it.
-Blue jeans get heavy after a while and the cotton retains all water. Suggest the lightweight convertible pants/shorts from REI where the lower pant legs zip off and on.
-wide brimmed hat (Indiana Jones style works well) keeps the sun off ears face and neck. (Costco has these at times, light and ventilated)
-tell the boys to leave the cell phones and ear buds at home
-a good water filtering device is super nice to have, keep everyone hydrated
-be aware of any medical needs for the boys (prescriptions, etc)
-Sat phone & emergency locating device for the leaders if you can procure them
-take lots of pictures and do a slide show a week or two after the trip and invite the parents. The boys and parents will love it.
-When hiking have a leader in front of the group and a leader in back to keep the group together. The goal is to come home with the same number of boys that you left with. I am aware of at least one case where this didn't happen, they never did find him.
-I always left an open invitation for the dads to come along. Many weren't able but this kind of thing can make for excellent father/son time.

-For any adult/older hikers, may I suggest carbon poles ($29 at Costco) and knee braces ($20 at Walgreens or Big 5). We did the hiking MB a few years ago and on the first few hikes my knees were in so much pain coming down the mountain I could barely move forward. So on the next few hikes I got poles and knee braces, as well as a back brace. Made all the difference in the world!! Hiking was enjoyable again instead of painful. Bring some Aleve or Ibuprophen just in case.
-One more for the leaders: When I camp (including scout trips) I am always armed but not advertising. The boys don't need to know and they certainly don't need to see my firearm. But I have it should there be an emergency situation. Good firearms experience/training and CFP helpful here as well.

Almost forgot, if you are taking Mountain House meals, save the best for last. Trust me. That stuff can get old really quick. After a few days you'll be looking around for a rabbit or something to throw on the fire. You'll want to save the better stuff for the end of the trip.


My bottom line advice for high adventure/scouting has always been this: Have fun and be safe, but mostly have fun.

Sounds like a great trip that the boys will always remember.

Justin

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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-18-2019, 03:46 PM
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Altitude is a big issue, it can be much bigger than you think. The mountains you have been training in were about 4,000'. At Philmont, you'll start at about 6,500', and hike up to 12,000'. This can be a big deal.

If possible, plan you highest altitudes towards the end of the week, rather than the beginning. Give people a chance to acclimatize. Always try to camp at <10,000'.

Study up on the symptoms of altitude sickness, including HAPE and HACE. The only real treatment for altitude sickness is moving to a lower altitude. Have a plan for that.

Pay very careful attention to water consumption. At high altitude, you lose water fast. Temps may only be in mid 80's, but UV intensity increases 9-10% per thousand feet. And humidity is usually <20%.

At high altitude, convection cooling is a lot less efficient. Heat exhaustion is common.

Canned propane/butane stoves don't work well at high altitude. Use white gas or multi-fuel stoves.

Lightening in 3 is a bad thing. Take cover. A hiker was killed last week in CO.

Carry bear spray. Works on bears, mountain lions, and unruly scouts.

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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-20-2019, 02:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, great feedback. Firearms are forbidden at Philmont, and while NM recognizes a VA CCP I'd prefer not to risk being kicked out or to set an example for the scouts of ignoring Scouting policies. We'll have bear spray for sure.


Unfortunately in the VA area there's no altitude to train at, so short of hiring a light plane or a hypobaric chamber to work out in, all we can do is take it easy and hope for the best at altitude. Many years ago I spent lot of time in La Paz (Bolivia, 12000 ft and up) and I acclimatized pretty easily then so my fingers are crossed.


We're tonight doing an aggressive pack diet to shave off a few last oz, looking forward to a great trip!
thanks!
tim

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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 07-20-2019, 05:05 PM
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I've been to Philmont three times as an adult advisor. First of all I will say you will have a fantastic time. It is an amazing adventure.

I'm sure you have all of the Philmont material regarding gear and preparation so I can't really add anything to that.

My personal approach was to go very light on my pack and I invested a fair amount of money into lightweight gear. My pack weight with my share of the food and Troop gear was under 20 lb.

I wouldn't expect most people to be able to get to that point but light packs makes for much more enjoyable hiking.

My only other comment is regards to conditioning. You can't do anything about the altitude but find the tallest building in your area and do lots of stairs. There is really no better conditioning for Philmont then stairs. Our boys didn't really enjoy it but they were certainly glad once we got there.

Have fun. And when you get back you will understand why they say "I want to go back to Philmont!"

John

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