A crew of 12 Plandome Troop 71 Scouts and adults topped off their summer with a two-week life-changing trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. Philmont covers 214-square miles of vast wilderness with trails that climb from 6,500 feet and up. After two days hiking and exploring Colorado Springs—including Red Rocks State Park and the U.S.A.F. Academy—to acclimate themselves to the altitude, the group, who prepared mentally and physically for this coveted journey for a year, trekked 75 miles over 12 days, culminating in the 12,441 foot summit of Mount Baldy, the highest peak in the range.
Carrying on their backs everything they needed to survive on the camp-to-camp adventure, the crew participated in backcountry programs along the way including astronomy, team building, poker, lassoing, physical challenges, search and rescue, mountain biking and cowboy action shooting—and even tended to their own burro for two days. The trek also included a conservation project where the Scouts learned and participated in the upkeep of Philmont’s ecosystem. Along the way, Scouts endured tough challenges including backpacking in bear and mountain lion territory, steep climbs and daily inclement weather.
“They may meet only one other group of Scouts on the trail in an entire day of hiking,” according to Backpacker Magazine. “Even in the most crowded destinations, each Scout group camps in isolation, out of sight and sound of all other groups.” Back at base camp on the last night the crew enjoyed a delicious “real” meal at the famous St. James Hotel in Cimarron, a legendary establishment—replete with bullet holes still in the dining room ceiling—haunted by the spirits of men gunned-down there in the 19th century during northeastern New Mexico’s “wild west” days.
By all accounts, the Troop 71 adventurers made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage. Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world, serving nearly one million participants since 1938. The endless vistas and interaction with nature and wildlife surrounding them left a positive, indelible mark on all, who returned safe and sound, exhausted, thinner and loaded with wonderful memories. Learn more at www.plandometroop71.com