Philmont Council Contingents
LOCATION AND TERRAIN
Philmont Scout Ranch is a national camping area, owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America. Philmont is large, comprising 137,493 acres or about 215 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rockies. Thirty-two staffed and over fifty un-staffed campsites are operated at the ranch. Philmont has high mountains which dominate rough terrain with an elevation ranging from 6,500 to 12,441 feet.
Philmont has a unique history of ancient Indians who chiseled writings into canyon walls . . . Spanish conquistadors who explored the Southwest long before the first colonists arrived on the Atlantic coast . . . the rugged breed of mountain men like Kit Carson who blazed trails across the land . . . the great land barons like Lucien Maxwell who built ranches along the Santa Fe Trail, and miners, loggers, and cowboys. All these people left their mark on Philmont.
Philmont is abundant with wildlife -- deer, elk, coyote, antelope, mountain lion, buffalo, beaver, wild turkey, bear, and others. Its hills and canyons teem with birds and its streams abound with fish. Its cool mountains harbor a wilderness of botany -- trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses.
Philmont is rich in natural beauty, including the soaring Tooth of Time . . . sunrise from lofty Mount Waite Phillips . . .the blue water of Cimarroncito Reservoir . . . the panoramic sweep of the plains from Urraca mesa . . . and sunlight filtering through aspen along the rippling Rayado.
Philmont provides an unforgettable adventure in sky-high backpacking country along hundreds of miles of rugged, rocky trails. Program features combine the best of the old west -- horseback riding, burro packing, gold panning, chuck wagon dinners, and interpretive history with exciting challenges for today -- rock climbing, mountain biking, and .30-06 rifle shooting -- in an unbeatable recipe for fast-moving fun and outdoors.
Philmont means camping with your own unit as well as meeting and sharing experiences with other crews from all over America and from other countries. This is an opportunity for fellowship and understanding unequalled anywhere in America.
Philmont has the finest staff in America. Each member of the large seasonal staff is carefully selected and trained. Scouting spirit, knowledge of camping skills, keen interest in their respective program specialties, and a love for Philmont make the staff dedicated to seeing that you have a rewarding and memorable experience.
When you come to Philmont, take advantage of these opportunities. It is one of the best investments you will make -- the returns are great!
The above was taken from PHILMANAC, A Trekkers Guide to the Philmont Backcountry, written by Rock Rohrbacher, a long-time Philmont staff member. This publication is available at the Philmont's Tooth of Time Traders.
Philmont is in north-central New Mexico near the border of Colorado. Camping Headquarters at Philmont is located a few miles south of Cimarron New Mexico (see map below). Travel to Philmont from Austin is a distance of 740 miles and takes approximately 12 hours by automobile. The best (fastest) route proceeds from Austin to Philmont via the following towns:
Crews that are part of the Council Contingent will travel to Philmont in chartered 57-passenger busses.
Current plans are for the contingent to have meals during the trip to and from Philmont at the same places we used for the recent contingents:
The cost of these meals is included in the Contingent fee.
The first people to visit Philmont were probably Asiatic nomads who roamed onto the Great Plains to hunt mammoths, those huge, tusked elephants that grazed the flatlands over 11,000 years ago. The first inhabitants were the Ponil Indians who shared elements of the Pueblo and Plains Indians. They hunted, using small arrows and small spears to kill deer and rabbit for the meat. At the same time, Ponil residents also raised corn. They probably learned pottery making from the Pueblos, but their earthenware was considerably rougher than that of the more highly skilled Rio Grande people. Philmont's early Indians lived in semi permanent rock or wooden buildings. Among the most interesting but least understood aspects of the Ponil culture are the petroglyphs or "Indian writings" found on major sandstone outcroppings along the canyon walls in the north country section of Philmont. While some of these were evidently made after the abandonment of prehistoric valley sites, the Ponil people probably created most of them before 1400. By 1400 at the latest, the Ponil people had disappeared from their canyon homes, but new inhabitants soon arrived. Plains Indians ventured into the region to establish camps from which they could hunt the nearby game supplies. More important, the Indians soon heard stories of bearded men in shining armor who had been seen to the south. These conquerors, carrying the flag of Spain, soon marched northward through New Mexico, driving the natives from their retreats.
By the 17th century, Spanish pioneers extended their control northward from Mexico. The Catholic friars who accompanied the troops and settlers introduced the Indians to Christianity. While European settlers approached the Philmont area from the south, other people entered the area from the north and east. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, food shortages, population pressures, and the fear of aggressive neighbors forced many American Indians to resettle. For the first time since the departure of the Ponil people, new tribes moved into Philmont, where they camped, hunted, and fished. The area was home for the Jicarilla Apache, Moache Ute, Comanche, and Kiowa Indian tribes. They would be the only inhabitants for more than 150 years. After a long struggle with Mexican and American settlers during the nineteenth century, these settlers were finally expelled, making way for the subsequent development of mining and agriculture along the edge of the Sangre de Cristo's.
During the first four decades of the nineteenth century, thousands of Americans trekked toward the Southwest. Soldiers exploring the newly acquired Louisiana purchase marched across the Great Plains and into the foothills of the Rockies just a few miles from Philmont. Trappers, lured by the ease with which valuable beaver pelts could be secured, joined Mexicans and French Canadians along the streams of the Sangre de Cristo's. Then came the merchants. Missouri entrepreneurs, certain that a warm reception and ready markets awaited them left for New Mexico. Santa Fe traders frequently camped on what is now Philmont; by the 1840's a few had decided that it would be a good place to settle.
Early in 1841, Mexican Governor Manuel Armijo deeded a huge tract of land, including what is now Philmont, to Charles Beaubien and Guadalupe Miranda. The boundaries of this tract were typically vague. The ranch would commence at the junction of the Rayado and Canadian rivers, go north to the Una de Gato Creek, continue east to the summit of the mountains, and return south to the place of beginning. The grant request was approved and Beaubien and Miranda were given possession of the property in 1843. Permanent settlement on the tract was not established until the late 1840's.
Ownership of the property was eventually transferred to a man named Lucien Maxwell. Maxwell had established the settlement of Cimarron and married Beaubien's daughter. In 1858, Maxwell obtained Beaubien's share of the property for $2,500. What became known as the "Maxwell Land Grant" was originally surveyed to be over two million acres of land. Lucian Maxwell, along with his friend Kit Carson, established homes in Cimarron and Rayado to begin working the property.
Maxwell ran an Indian Agency at the "Old Mill" in Cimarron where supplies were distributed to the area's Indian population. Because of the vagrancies of the Federal government, Maxwell had to often fund these supplies himself. The "Old Mill" is now a museum and is well worth visiting to learn more about the history of the area.
In October 1866, soldiers from Ft. Union (near Las Vegas, NM) discovered gold on the western slopes of Baldy Mountain. This started a gold rush that, for a time, rivaled those in Colorado and California. While most of the area's gold was mined on the western slope of Baldy (Humbug & Grouse gulches & Willow Creek) in the Moreno Valley, major finds were made on the upper, eastern slopes of Baldy. These included the Aztec, Montezuma, and French Henry mines among others. The Aztec Mine alone produced more than $4 million in gold during its life. Along Ute Creek, near the current Miranda Camp, spots of exceedingly rich gravel were worked using hydraulic mining methods. Towns were established at Elizabeth Town (in the Moreno valley) and at Baldy Town (just below the peak of Baldy Mountain) and remnants of the gold mining activity are still very visible in these areas of Philmont today. Baldy Town is now a staffed camp at Philmont (with hot showers!) and is a jumping off place for side hikes to the top of Baldy Mountain at 12,441 feet in elevation.
Largely due to a lack of large quantities of water that are needed for mining, most of the activity in the Philmont area stopped in late 1600. In 1909, mining in the Baldy Town area resumed a second time for a few years. Exploration continued to some degree in this and the Copper Park area into the 1930's. During World War I, much of the equipment and rail tracks used in mining were removed for scrap steel. The Deep Tunnel mine (which went from Copper Park to the west side of Baldy) allowed miners to walk under the peak of Baldy Mountain but was a colossal financial failure. Lack of materials and labor during World War II spelled a final doom to mining at Philmont. While active, more than $7 million in gold was taken from the Baldy mining district.
The Maxwell Land Grant was sold over time to developers from Europe and settlement began and continued for many more years. There was significant lumber and sawmill activity, primarily in the North Country areas along the Ponil Creeks with railroads established and removed to support the logging operations. The Continental Tie & Lumber Company used the Cimarron and Northwestern Railroad company to support their operations. The C&N Railroad company had a single locomotive, five boxcars, thirty-nine flat cars, and one caboose. The Continental Tie & Lumber company specialized in cutting lumber for mine props (chiefly for the coal mines in the Raton area), finished lumber for building, and railroad ties. In the North Country, much evidence of these activities is still recognizable.
Waite Phillips, an oil man from Tulsa, Oklahoma owned a ranch in the Denver and was looking for a larger, more spectacular place for recreation. In 1922, he purchased the Urraca Ranch headquartered south of Cimarron. He expanded his holdings by purchasing additional land from other ranchers and the Maxwell Land Grant Company. Originally, Phillips planned to call his ranch "Hawkeye" in honor of his native state of Iowa but it was soon changed to "Philmont", combining his name and the word "mountain."
Phillips constructed many improvements on his ranch. These included corrals to accommodate polo ponies, a major ditch to carry water to apple orchards, buildings and lodges. Phillips built his family mansion "Villa Philmonte" which was the most impressive project. It is built in a southern Mediterranean style. The Villa is two stories with a large living room, huge master bedroom with a sun porch, private rooms for the children and servants, and a number of guest rooms. A large swimming pool and patios surrounded the house. The Villa Philmonte was visited by Vice-President Charles Dawes, Wiley Post, and Will Rogers among other notables. The Villa Philmonte now forms the center of the National Training Center and is across the highway from the Camping Headquarters. Tours of the Villa may be taken almost every day.
In 1938, Waite Phillips gave the Boy Scouts of America 35,857 acres along the Ponil River along with $50,000 to develop it. His only requirement was that it be used "for the benefit of the members of the Boy Scout organization." This was named "Philturn Rockymountain Scoutcamp" and was developed as a "he-man" wilderness camp. The headquarters for the camp was at the current Ponil camp. Scouts first visited Philturn in March 1939. That summer, ninety-nine boys from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma stayed for a full twelve days, taking part in such varied activities as gold panning and wildlife study. Ninety additional Scouts camped at Philturn for shorter periods. In all, 1,863 camper days were spent at the property that season.
In 1941, Phillips offered the rest of his ranch (91,358 acres) which included the Villa Philmonte and the twenty-three story Philtower office building in Tulsa to the Boy Scouts. Phillips noted that one of America's most important tasks was training its youth. "The Boy Scouts of America has the most efficient plan and organization to do such work," he concluded. "The environment of a well-developed Mountain Ranch is the best place to achieve this objective." Waite Phillips died in 1964 but his impact on Scouting and all the people able to visit Philmont is immeasurable.
In 1962, the National Council of the BSA purchased 10,098 acres in the Baldy area to expand Philmont to over 137,000 acres. This also preserved the mining relics around Baldy Town so Scouts could experience what life was like during this period of history.
In addition to the 137,000 acres in Philmont itself, the Boy Scouts of America has made arrangements to permit camping in the Valle Vidal Unit of the Carson National Forest north of the North Country section of Philmont. Because of the primitive nature of the Valle Vidal, there are no permanent structures constructed. The staffed camps are in tents, temporary buildings, or buildings that were in existence prior to the establishment of the unit. All camping in the Valle Vidal is under the "Leave No Trace" principles and all crews must take a Leave No Trace course prior to entering the Valle. There are no trails in the Valle Vidal. While it is possible to travel from some of the campsites to others via forest service roads, it is shorter and more enjoyable to "bushwhack" cross-country using maps and compasses. This puts all the orienteering work we have done to good use!
The map of Philmont shown here provides a general idea of the locations of many of the major campsites. It also depicts the four major sections used for camping: the South, Central, and North Countries in Philmont proper and the Valle Vidal unit of the Carson National Forest. Although this is a stylized map and is not to scale, the Philmont portion (including the Valle Vidal) represents an area approximately 40 miles north to south and 15 miles east to west -- 600 square miles.
The Capitol Area is sponsoring a "contingent" to Philmont in the summer of 2012 as it did in 2000 through 2011. A contingent for 2013 is currently being organized. These contingents consist of multiple crews (with 12 people per crew). A volunteer Contingent Advisor is organizing these contingents.
In most aspects, being part of a council contingent is no different that a regular troop trek. The major difference is that the council makes transportation and logistical arrangements for the entire contingent and the contingent is checked in to Philmont by the Contingent Advisor.
For the contingent treks, the council charters 57-passenger busses to transport the crews and their equipment to and from Philmont.
Basically, a Philmont trek is a backpacking adventure that takes your crew from one campsite to another for eleven days. The different campsites have "programs" that the crew participates in. On a "typical" day on the trail, the crew will wake up, break camp, eat breakfast, and hike to their next destination camp. After checking in (and possibly setting up their campsite for the night), they will take part in the program activity. Following the program, the crew will eat dinner, take part in any evening activities offered by the camp, and go to sleep for the night. The activities repeat for the eleven days of the trek.
Each crew will have a defined "itinerary" that they will follow that lays out the campsite they will go to each day and the programs they will participate in. The crews select the "itinerary" that they want from all the available itineraries. There are 35 itineraries available to choose from.
The itinerary selection process takes place in March of the year of the trek and is very important. A "TREKS" book containing all the available itinerary information will be sent to the crews in March. Crews should attempt to closely match their crew's desires and abilities with the itinerary. Crews will select five itineraries and rank them in their priority order. They will then log in to a website and enter these selection requests. Philmont will assign them their highest priority selection based on availability at the time the selections are entered.
Because of the vast number of combinations of campsites and programs available at Philmont and the difficultly of the different itineraries, selecting the right one for your crew can be a difficult task. While crews will likely fully enjoy any of the programs and campsites, the worst thing that can happen at Philmont is for your crew to select an itinerary that is beyond its physical capabilities.
Because the itinerary selections must be made in a short period of time to have the best chance of receiving the one selected as its top choice, the Contingent recommends crews use a tool developed a number of years ago by our Contingent Advisor to find the best fit for their crew. This tool consists of two components, a survey form of all the programs offered, and a spreadsheet to "fit" the results of the survey to the available itineraries. The "fit" is based on the programs the crew participants desire, the capability of the crew, the section of Philmont desired, and other factors. The result of the spreadsheet is a list of itinerary numbers that best fit your crew in rank order.
Because this is just a tool, crews should use the results of it as a starting point. Before choosing their itinerary, crews should carefully review the suggested itineraries to insure they fit.
These tools can be downloaded from this website. There are two parts: the survey form and the spreadsheet. Because the 2007 itineraries are not yet available, Crew Advisors have been instructed to complete the surveys and enter them into the spreadsheet. As soon as the 2007 itineraries are received, the Contingent Advisor will update the spreadsheet. Crew Advisors can copy their results into the new spreadsheet and recalculate the itinerary recommendations. The same process was used by crews in the previous contingents and has proven successful.
If you need copies of the survey or spreadsheet tool, go to the Itinerary Selection page.
Many "terms" are used at Philmont (and indeed, in this web site) that may be unfamiliar to those who have never been there before. Some of these terms are listed here.