Photos courtesy of Stephen Braunlich (pictured below), graphics by Doug Latimer

The fifth in a series of posts to get you revved-up, signed-up and informed about the PSA Trek.

By Stephen Braunlich

When Thomas Wolfe wrote that “you can’t go home again,” he meant that change inevitably destroyed where you came from. But Wolfe couldn’t have meant Heaven On Earth, because last summer I went HOmE on a PSA trek. For a week I walked the woods of Philmont, stayed at staff camps, and traipsed the trails I had known as a Ranger just two years earlier.


The reality of the opportunity became most vivid on the walk from Fish Camp to Carson Meadows. In the course of a few miles I was making a pilgrimage to fondly remembered sites that shaped my Philmont experience: where my Rayado crew solo’d, the trail a PhilSAR team had taken, hike-ins past Old Abreu’s chimney, and, of course, the Notch. It was a special experience that was perfectly time to occur just before returning to another year of law school.

It’s amazing that Philmont allows us to return to the Ranch, and it’s an opportunity that all PSA members, new and old, should take advantage of. While I worked at the Ranch as recently as 2007, returning HOmE has been an important part of my post-Philmont life. With that in mind, it’s worth clearing up a few misconceptions.

To start, you don’t need to be a millionaire donor to go back. With student loans to pay off, my donations have certainly not been Waite Phillips-ian in size. Yet that doesn’t matter . . . the crew I hiked with included long-time donors and trekkers like me. Members had been base camp, backcountry, and Rangers. In short, any PSA member can come. And for starving students like me, they even have camperships available.

Nor are you locked into a specific trek with total strangers. Husbands and wives are welcome; you can recruit a crew of Phriends, and set your own itinerary. My trek was a beautiful arcing “C” of the South Country with stops at ‘Cito, Cyphers, and Clear among others. The Ranch is flexible in working with you to create a custom route.

So why wait until another year has gone by? There’s never been a better time to go HOmE again!

Stephen served on the Philmont Staff as a Ranger in 2003 and 2006 and as a Ranger Trainer in 2007. He was a Ranger for a PSA Crew in 2006 and is a veteran of the 2009 PSA Trek.


Contact your Phacilitators below:

Registration, $380 per person, can be done downloading the printable form or on-line at

Registration deadline is June 21, 2010.

Eligibility requirements: (1) Be a member of the PSA or Trek-eligible family member (2) Be a member of the BSA (3) Have a completed Philmont medical form (4) Be 14 years old by September 1, 2010.

Trek-eligible family members: Spouse, child or step child, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of PSA member who meets eligibility requirements above.

Cancellation policy: (1) Cancellation prior to the registration deadline of June 21, 2010 will receive a full refund. (2) Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event (within one calendar year) or can be contributed to the General Fund. (3) In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.