- Jun 6, 2018 at 5:16 am #3540489
Ryan VBPL Member
@rvallanceLocale: Southern California
Our Boy Scout Troop’s treks in Philmont just got canceled for starting on July 13. Now we are scrambling to find an alternative for two crews (12 people in each crew). Any suggestions at this last minute that won’t require permits? 50 mi to 80 mi trek suggestions welcome. Sierras? Along PCT? Any suggestions are welcome.
Desperately seeking a way to get boys on the trail,
RyanJun 6, 2018 at 6:39 am #3540502
Luke SchmidtBPL Member
Where do you live? I’d check the Wimenuche Wilderness in Colorado or something in New Mexico if you want similar driving times. Neither require permits to my knowledge.
<span style=”line-height: 1.8;”>Doing part of the Colorado Trail might be an option. You could have each group start at different ends and meet in the middle. Trade cars and meet back up when it’s over.</span>
<span style=”line-height: 1.8;”>I’d check group size limits but I saw a group of 10+ scouts along the Colorado Trail so it will probably work.</span>Jun 6, 2018 at 12:44 pm #3540517
M BBPL Member
Well, that sucks.
I know after a yr of planning theres great desire to get out there. Just be honest with self about crew abilities. Especially at altitude over 10,000 ft. Philmont has a huge safety net, which sees a lot of use. With a group of 24….good probability you WILL have someone with issues.
We had two boys lose tent poles at philmont. They brought them a philmont tent. Another cheap backpack zipper failed….philmont gave them a pack. One boy lost couple water bottles….he was able to buy more. Etc.
The sierra is permits and bear cannisters.
CO…….good luck finding a suitable tree to hang food. I thru hiked CT, didnt hang food a single time, NO suitable trees.
If it were me, id hedge chances of sucess by keeping altitude low. Minimize that. 1 person can disrupt it for everyone. No safety net as at philmont. Give bailout options consideration.
I had 12 yr old stepson one time got to breckenridge, 9000 ft. Immediately threw up. Continued for several days. Ended up in ER on iv fluids. It happens. You dont want it 20 miles from help.Jun 6, 2018 at 4:32 pm #3540553
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
You do not say where you are located or how experienced your crews are.
There is a trailhead at Saddlebag Lake off SR120 right outside Yosemite. One of the Councils has a BSA camp there. You could stay at the camp and do a loop into Yosemite and or the Hoover Wilderness. There are even some Class 2 and 3 peaks in the area you could climb. The Council camp might even be willing to provide logistical support (e.g 12 days of food).
If you were going Southbound to enable ease of permitting, any sections of a Tahoe to Yosemite itinerary could work. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tahoe-Yosemite_Trail If your crews are experienced, you could even do the classic Winnett route which involves one short stretch of cross country navigation. Since you periodically cross major highways, you could get re-supplied easily. You could probably get permits into the Dorothy Lake Basin north of Sonora Pass except for the fact that Backpacker Magazine did a write up on the area. That being said, the Hoover Wilderness is awesome!
Several of the USA Councils operate their own high adventure camps with backpacking. There is a list here: http://bsatap.org/council-operated-high-adventure-bases/Jun 6, 2018 at 5:09 pm #3540559
TAG in AZBPL Member
I second the Colorado Trail suggestion. We did sections 25 – 28 (Molas Pass to Durango) several years ago. It might be a bit much (~74 miles at altitude). But, you could bite off 26-28 and it is about 54. There are resupply locations at the end of each sections, so, resupply along the way is pretty easy (assuming you have a support crew).
You can add in a rafting trip on the Animas and have a great trip.Jun 6, 2018 at 5:57 pm #3540570
Tim PBPL Member
Sea Base and Swamp Base have openings at that time. You could also look at delaying your arrival and take one of the open slots in later July or August.Jun 6, 2018 at 9:19 pm #3540603
tony gBPL Member
How about Montana High Adventure?Jun 8, 2018 at 11:28 am #3540972
KEVIN WBPL Member
I just got a response from Norther Tier with dates that align almost perfectly with our cancelled Philmont Trek. This sounds good as they handle the payments between the camps and if we kept our Denver / Philmont plan I don’t know if we would get the refund back in enough time to cover what we would likely spend in a self-managed trip.
Anyone done Norther Tier and have any feedback compared to the trek planning we have already done for Philmont?Jun 8, 2018 at 11:36 am #3540973
Brad PBPL Member
I haven’t gone to Northern Tier, but did some research. You can customize your trek even on the fly. Take headnets and be ready for bugs.Jun 9, 2018 at 10:36 pm #3541184
Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
@ Kevin: I have no experience with Northern Tier but one adult I know led a crew there a few years ago and said it was excellent. He said the staff “interpreters” stay with the crew the whole time and work on teaching them the skills they need to be and feel successful. There are several portages and you sit in the canoe paddling so it is a much different experience than backpacking.
On headnets, the netting MUST BE noseeum netting. The little tiny biting flies can fly right through standard mosquito nets.Jun 10, 2018 at 12:39 am #3541200
I’ve never understood why so many troops from places with easy access to the Sierra and other great backpacking opportunities closer to home choose to go to Philmont instead.
My son’s troop (he aged out of scouting a while back) would do trips up in the Sierra and I was fortunate enough to go on such trips. My son at the time also volunteered one summer on a OA trail crew at Philmont – part of the time there the crew did a Philmont trek.
From what I’ve gathered (from my son and several others) Philmont seems like a “canned” experience offering little learning opportunity with a lot of “Disneyland” style activities. The scouts don’t even plan their treks or do any meal planning which robs them of important learning opportunities. On the troop run outings, the scouts learned a lot from planning the meals, planning the treks and doing the practice backpacking trips and hikes. It also enabled them to earn the Cooking, Hiking, Backpacking, First Aid merit badges but also helped hone their skills in all those areas.
I know it takes effort to organize a “high adventure” trek for a troop but it can be done and the dividends are tremendous personal growth for the scouts involved.
I can definitely see the attraction of Philmont to the troops from the mid west and the south given the somewhat limited back country trails in those areas.
Sorry for the thread drift but hopefully some of you (especially in the Western US) should consider thinking outside the Philmont box especially this year with the fires.
That said I do hope all those area residents affected by the fires are safe! Fires are an unfortunate fact of life out here in the West.Jun 10, 2018 at 3:52 am #3541228
Our troop has two crews starting July 15th. My condolences to the troops scheduled earlier. I know the work that goes into planning it, and the build up of excitement.
I appreciate that the Sierra would be a good alternative for us living in SoCal if the cancelations extend. We typically do a High Adventure backpack there every summer, and haven’t done Philmont for more than 6 years. It’s the program that many of the scouts are looking forward to. I think we would lose half of our scouts if we are forced to change to a hiking only trek. Don’t underestimate the potential fire danger across the West this year. If conditions are wrong it could be a record year.
Thanks all for the suggestions so far. I hope they aren’t necessary this summer for us.Jun 10, 2018 at 6:06 pm #3541293
KEVIN WBPL Member
I agree it would be great to hike into other “non-canned” areas, at this point however a big issue is time to plan a 2 week trip with not a lot of lead time. We’ll see!Jun 10, 2018 at 7:27 pm #3541303
M BBPL Member
Well the Colorado Trail has fire closure of its own.
Philmont isn’t a Wilderness hiking trip. Philmont is Philmont. It’s not supposed to be just a boring death march hiking trip
Many have never shot shotguns, Rock climbed /rappelled on real rocks , tour a Goldmine and pan for gold, tried to make a burro do what they wanted it to do, etc.
I will say that I found the songs and skits and things like that immature. Even my 13 year old son thought that those things were ridiculous.Jul 5, 2018 at 6:37 pm #3545349
Not sure what the OP decided. We got our notice today that July 15 start (and the rest of the season) is canceled.
Thanks Bruce for the Sierra suggestions – will definitely pass this on to my other advisors (we all have 2 weeks off and an itch for the mountains). I’ve heard North of Whitney and out of Mammoth suggested, but with very little details. Any other suggestions in the Sierra are greatly appreciated. We will most likely have to do something within driving distance, which is driving up from near San Diego. We’ve got a week or two to plan, permit, prep, etc and depart (Ugh!)
Any permit contacts or tips are also greatly appreciated.
-BobAug 2, 2018 at 6:23 pm #3549560
Update on our Plan B – we planned a 7 day trek to the Sierra and reduced it to 5 days due to quickly changing schedules, as scouts and adults adjusted their plans after the Philmont cancellation (we were scheduled to be gone 7/14 to 7/27).
We left early morning on Sunday, 7/22 and drove from San Diego area to Lone Pine, CA arriving at the visitor’s center around 11am with 4 adults and 8 scouts in tow. One of our adults asked if we could climb Mt. Whitney (What? I didn’t sign up for that. We were quickly rejected to my relief). We then requested (and got) a Monday start for 12 on the Cottonwood Lakes trail, through the Golden Trout and John Muir Wildernesses and over New Army Pass into Sequoia / Kings Canyon. We spent Sunday afternoon in the Alabama Hills and Lone Pine, and Sunday night at the trailhead (over 10K’). We spent Monday and Tuesday at Long Lake, and on Wednesday half our crew submitted Mt. Langley and the rest of us took the established trail to Soldier Lake and then bushwacked up to Upper Soldier Lake. Thursday we hiked South, joined the PCT and spent our last night at Chicken Spring Lake before returning to the cars Friday.
Altitude was an issue for some, and the long time to break camp is what forced us to spend a layover at Long Lake, but it was a blessing for all to enjoy another day at a beautiful lake, with some of the best weather we could ask for. The crew was then motivated and more acclimated for climb over New Army Pass, the Mt. Langley attempt and the bushwack to Upper Soldier Lake.
Afternoon T-storms produced significant hail on Monday and Wednesday. A particular nasty storm chased use on the PCT as we approached Chicken Spring Lake. We could see lightning striking the hills below us to the South as the storm approached us from that direction.
The scouts quickly forgot about black powder and shotgun, instead swimming in the lakes or goofing around streams and waterfalls. We got to freezer-bag cook our meals, and carry MSR Windburner and Jetboils instead of 8 quart pots. I wish we had brought a dining fly for those afternoon storms in camp, but every day the weather cleared in the afternoon, and we had cool and calm evenings and mornings. Bear canisters are heavy as heck, but you do get to sit on them when stumps or rocks are not available in camp, and you don’t have to hoist them up a cable at night. I could have done a few more days, maybe venturing into the Miter Basin and Blue Sky Lake if we had time and more compact food. My son had to get back to start his Eagle project the day after we left the trail.
I was worried about pulling off the food, and permit, and having enough adults as everyone adjusted their schedules post cancellation at Philmont. The worry and work was totally worth it. I can’t wait to get back and explore the Sierra some more.
Troop 777, Encinitas, CA
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