2016 PSA Trek: Itinerary Planning

It’s time to start planning your itinerary for the PSA Trek July 10 – 17, $515 per person. Whatever itinerary you come up with, you need to know the basics of itinerary planning at Philmont. Here they are.

The 9,000-foot Rule

Philmont requires that the first three nights at Philmont be slept under 9,000 feet elevation. You can hike as high as you want on any day. The reason for this rule is altitude sickness prevention. Your itinerary must comply with this requirement. The night before reporting to the Welcome Center, July 9, must be spent in the Philmont area and that counts as the first night. The night of July 10, spent in Camper Tent City, counts as the second night. In order to be compliant with the rule, the first night on the trail must be spent at an official Philmont starting camp, including Minette Meadows on the Cimarroncita tract, or one of the following staffed camps: Zastrow, Carson Meadows, Abreu, Urraca, Crater Lake, Miner’s Park, Clark’s Fork, Cito, Hunting Lodge, Harlan, Indian Writings, Ponil, Pueblano or Dean Cow. Trekkers providing their own transportation to the Valle can spend the first night at Ring Place or Whiteman Vega. No exceptions, even if a camp is below 9,000 feet. Note that if you spend the first night at Minette Meadows on the Cimarroncita tract, your gateway to the rest of Philmont is via Ute Park Pass.

Itinerary Length

Hikes on successive days should generally be in conformity with hikes found in approved Philmont itineraries. Itineraries with hikes substantially exceeding the length of those found in approved Philmont itineraries may be subject to disapproval by Logistics. Even though your itinerary may comply with 9,000-foot rule and be in conformity with hikes found in the approved itineraries, your itinerary should be appropriate for the hiking abilities of your crew. Not everyone can do a super-strenuous itinerary.

Conservation

Itineraries shall include the opportunity for 3 hours of conservation work. Conservation can be done at the following locations:

  1. Whiteman Vega – new trail construction/trail maintenance, meet at Whiteman Vega
  2. Flume Canyon to Elkhorn – new trail construction, meet at Flume Canyon
  3. Indian Writings to Chase Canyon – new trail construction, meet at Indian Writings
  4. Harlan to Deer Lake – new trail construction, meet at ???
  5. Hidden Valley to Cathedral Rock Camp – new trail construction, meet in between Window Rock and Hidden Valley
  6. Whistle Punk Camp to Cyphers Mine – new trail construction, meet at Whistle Punk Camp
  7. Crater Lake – Trail construction
  8. Beaubien (backcountry staff/self-led)
  9. Apache Springs (backcountry staff/self-led)
  10. Clear Creek (backcountry staff/self-led)

With all these opportunities, meeting the conservation requirements in 2016 should be easy.

Bus drop-off/pick-up points

Your itinerary planning must take into account the established bus drop-off/pick-up points. These points are Cimarroncita (replacing Bear Canyon) 6 Mile Gate, 9 Mile Gate (Ponil Road), Chase Ranch, Cito, Lover’s Leap, Ponil, Rayado (Kit Carson Museum), Turkey Creek and Zastrow. In addition to the above, personal vehicles may be used to get you to and from the “parking lot” south of Whiteman Vega Camp in the Valle Vidal on Cerrososo Road east of McCrystal campground. Personal vehicles are not permitted at the Maxwell turnaround, and there is no bus service, either.

Food Pick-up Points

Your itinerary should provide for food pick-ups. You can pick up food at Ring Place, Rich Cabins, Baldy Town, Ponil, Ute Gulch, Phillips Junction, Miner’s Park and Apache Springs.

Wrap-up

Your itinerary planning should include consideration of drop-off and pick-up points, hiking abilities of crew members, food pick-up, and compliance with the 9,000-foot rule. The rest is up to you. Get your Philmont maps out, start planning itineraries, share those itineraries with friends, and join in the fun of planning! Your Trek experience starts now.

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

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Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the posted registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2019 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

PSA Trek: Are You Really Ready to Trek?

Disclaimer – This is long, but if you’re serious about trekking, please read completely. crater_trailYou’re thinking about trekking. The PSA Trek and Autumn Adventure are the PSA’s signature outdoor activities for PSA members and eligible family members. You want to experience Philmont’s fantastic backcountry – either once again or for the first time. You know you need to get in shape. You’re serious – you really want to do this! But, are you really ready to trek? The point is – a trek is so much more than just hiking. Of course, you need to be in great shape for the hiking. You need to start serious physical training many, many months before you trek. But, there is a mental component to trekking which is just as important, if not more so, than being physically fit. You may be in shape for a hike, but are you really in shape for a hike and all the extra work involved when you’re not on the trail? Is your brain ready to accept the fact that you’re not checking into the Holiday Inn after each day’s hike? Are you ready to be a team player and a crew member that pitches in for the chores? Of course, everyone says yes. Unfortunately, once in a while an individual signs up that doesn’t quite understand what all is involved on a backpacking trek. They have great intentions but they quickly wear out. They stop being a team player and struggle to take care of just themselves. They can be young or old. They can drag a crew down. Less people to do the same crew work. They take longer getting their personal gear ready. They don’t have room or they’re not physically able to carry crew gear. The planned itinerary is put in disarray. Activities and programs have to be skipped. The beautiful, fantastic trek is disrupted by one individual. Is this disruption fair to everyone who has paid serious money to take off a week or more from work to go on the Trek? Do you remember what a trek entails? If you’ve never really trekked, do you know what all goes on? To be plain and simple, it’s a lot of work. A lot more work than just hiking 5, 6, 7 or more miles every day. What follows is typical for a normal day on the trail…

  • You finally reached your destination for the night. You hiked 6.2 miles with your 42-pound pack and you’re tired. You made it. Your legs and feet held out. Your fitness training at home has paid off. But, now it’s time to get to work. You can’t plop down on the nearest log or rest in your backpacking chair.personal_gear
  • First get all the smellables out of your pack. Help the crew get these items accumulated. Who has the bear ropes? Let’s hike over to the bear cable with all our bags of food and other smellables. If you’re in a Leave No Trace campsite, then you need to spend more time searching for suitable trees to use. Get the ropes up – not always an easy task. Get the bags tied on properly. Hoist it all up in the air. It’s crew work. It’s teamwork. It’s work.
  • OK, back to the campsite. Who has the dining fly? Find a location and get crew members to assist setting it up. Who’s got trekking poles to use? The ground is rock hard. It takes major effort to get the stakes in the ground. The wind is blowing hard. It’s work.
  • Finally, it’s time to set up your tent. Your room is not waiting for you. You have to create it. Get the tent out. Find a good spot. Work with your tent mate. The ground is still hard and the wind is still blowing. It’s work.
  • Back to your pack. Pull out your sleeping gear. Get the air mattress inflated if that’s the type you have. Not as much oxygen here in the backcountry, is there? It took some work but your room is finally ready.
  • But, it’s not time for that log sitting or resting in your backpacking chair. It’s time to start thinking about dinner. Not everyone cooks at every meal, but maybe it’s your turn tonight. Gather the meal packets and start figuring what you need to do. The brain has to keep working. Lay out your kitchen area. Get the stove assembled.
  • Cooking water. Water. The lifeblood of backpacking. You need water. If you’re in a staffed camp, you or another crew member need to hike back to the spigot and fill up multiple bottles. Why did the staff put you in Campsite #38? The water is one-half mile away. Or, you’re in a trail camp and you need to search for the spring. Maybe the creek is close by. Don’t forget to take the time to purify that creek or spring water. Water is work.camp_cooking
  • Cook the evening meal. Someone has to do it. It’s work.
  • Well, you had a great evening meal. But, now it’s time for cleanup. More water to boil. Who is cleaning the big cooking pot? Wash and rinse pots to prepare. Actual dish washing. Sump the dish water. Put away all the kitchen gear. It’s work.
  • Now it’s time for more bear bag action. Round up all the remaining smellables. Hike back to the bear bag location. Get the “Oops Bag” up in the air and tied off. It’s work.
  • Bedtime. You’re tired. Time for a great night’s rest. You sleep in a bag on a 2 inch pad every night of the year – right? You’re used to tent zippers going up and down all night long as fellow crew members visit the woods to find a flat rock? Is that snoring coming from the tent behind you or the one in front? Thank God your tent mate doesn’t snore – yet! Are you really going to sleep as well in the backcountry as you do at home?
  • You did manage to fall asleep, but you’re soon awakened by your fellow trekkers who have arisen early and are laughing loudly about something – in the early dawn. You can barely see them when you look out your tent – it’s still dark.
  • So, you’re up and ready to start another day on the trail. Who wants to hike over to the bear bags and lug everything back to camp? Morning coffee and breakfast won’t happen unless the bear bags are retrieved. It’s work.
  • Who’s going to set up the stove and boil the water for your coffee. Who’s going to find today’s Breakfast #4 hiding in those 48 bags of food. Work.
  • Time to break camp and hit the trail. Distribute all those food packets again. Take down the dining fly. Stuff your sleeping bag. Deflate your sleeping pad. Take down the tent. Repack your pack once again. Don’t forget the crew gear you’re carrying. Police the campsite. Get more water for the trail. Who’s going to run the accumulated trash back to the staff cabin since you’re heading out in the opposite direction? Did you have a campfire last night? If so, don’t forget to collect the ashes so you can spread them around once you’re out on the trail. It’s all work.
  • rain_tentBefore you leave camp, somebody in your crew carrying a GPS unit notices that he hiked 6.2 miles yesterday, but now he’s showing 9.4 total miles. How did that happen? You do a lot of walking / hiking in the backcountry – but not just on the trail. Hiking to program, water runs, latrine activity, coffee at the staff cabin – it all adds up during your 6 days in the backcountry.
  • You hit the trail. With that good night’s rest (not), you’re ready to notch another 7 miles to reach the next camp and then you’re going to do all the previously described chores (work) all over again. Just saying…
  • One final note. Are you prepared to handle all the above activities while it’s raining? It has been known to rain at Philmont.

So, are you really ready to trek? This article paints an accurate picture for backpacking on a PSA Trek at Philmont. How in the world does the event sell out every year? Why do PSA members trek year after year? The answer is simple: the PSA Trek is a fantastic experience. Each one creates a lifetime of memories. New memories and revisiting old memories of when you worked at Philmont. Truly priceless. Are you really ready to trek?

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

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Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the posted registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2019 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

2016 PSA Trek: Wilderness First Aid Certification

Photo courtesy of Michael R Perry.

Philmont requires that all crews have at least two participants, (adult or youth) in each crew who are currently certified in Wilderness First Aid or the equivalent and CPR from the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross or the equivalent.

Getting certified in Wilderness First Aid can be a challenge—it is sometimes hard to find an available course. Visit your council service center for more information about when your council will be offering Wilderness First Aid instruction. Do this soon because some councils do it early in the year and these classes fill quickly. If your council does not offer this instruction, call your local Red Cross to see if the course is being offered. firstaid_badge

If that does not work, equivalent training can be obtained from the following nationally-recognized organizations:

In lieu of Wilderness First Aid and CPR training, Philmont will accept the following advanced levels of training. A copy of the current license or certification must be shared with Philmont during the registration process:

  • Wilderness First Responder
  • Outdoor Emergency Care
  • EMT Basic, Intermediate or Paramedic
  • Military Corpsman or Medic
  • Registered Nurse
  • Licensed Nurse Practitioner
  • Licensed Physician’s Assistant
  • Licensed Physician, MD or DO

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

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Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the posted registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2019 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.

The PSA Summer Trek: An Enduring Tradition

Since 1987, PSA members and their eligible family members have gathered at the Welcome Center to meet their Rangers and kick off what has become a summer ritual in many members’ lives: the annual PSA Trek. This most enduring of PSA traditions is back again in 2016. Trek dates are July 10-17, 2016, and the cost is $515 per person. There is a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee for each registration, and payment of the Trek fee allows you to attend the Annual Reunion the weekend before, July 8 to 10, at no additional cost.
We will be contacting you to obtain the names, ages and gender of your eligible family members. This helps identify Youth Protection and tenting issues early-on. Also, if you or your eligible family members have not done the PSA Trek in the past five years, we will ask for a description of each person’s back-packing or other strenuous activity experience during the past five years. This will assist us in getting you crewed-up with persons of similar experience and ability. You can also register by mailing your registration fee to PSA, 17 Deer Run Road, Cimarron, New Mexico 87714. Please include a slip of paper with the information described above.

Dates and Schedule

The PSA Summer Trek is July 10–17, 2016.

  1. Spend the night of Saturday, July 9 in the Philmont area
  2. Report to the Welcome Center at 8 AM on Sunday, July 10
  3. Hit the trail on Monday, July 11
  4. Come off the trail on Saturday, July 16
  5. Depart Philmont Sunday, July 17

Cost and Eligibility

The cost is $515 per person. Eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • Be physically and mentally fit
  • Be a member of the PSA or Trek-eligible family member
  • Be a member of the BSA
  • Have a current completed Philmont medical form
  • Be 14 years old OR completed 8th grade and be at least 13 years of age prior to participation

Your doctor’s approval and signature on your medical form are alone not enough clearance for trek participation. Ask yourself: am I physically and mentally fit enough to work at Philmont? If the answer to this question is “no”, the Trek is probably not for you. If you are not physically and mentally fit, you will not enjoy the Trek and there will likely be negative impacts on your crew members, as well. You are encouraged to bring your Trek-eligible family members. Trek-eligible family members include your spouse, child or stepchild, sibling, parent, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew or in-law of PSA member who meets the eligibility requirements above.

Trek Space

We have 60 Trekker slots to fill. We have had no trouble filling these slots (and more) in past years and in 2016 we will fill them all. Don’t dawdle and wait, because your slot will be sold and you will be left weeping at the Welcome Center as your friends head to the bus drop-off points.

Itineraries

As always, your crew will be free to design its own itinerary, subject to the PSA’s itinerary planning guidelines. By registering early, you can form your own crew or join the crew you want– before it fills up – and be a part of the itinerary planning fun. And with information requested above about your past backpacking and strenuous activity experience, we can help you find the right crew.

Registration Cut-off

Registration cut-off is June 6, 2016.

Questions about the PSA Summer Trek?

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Cancellation Policy

  1. All registrations are subject to a non-refundable $25 cancellation fee.
  2. Cancellations prior to the posted registration deadline (date below) will receive a full refund, subject to the $25 cancellation fee.
  3. Cancellation after the registration deadline will not receive a refund. Monies paid can be used for another PSA event prior to the end of 2019 or can be contributed to the General Fund.
  4. In exceptional cases, the Executive Director AND Vice President of Service can authorize full refunds for cancellation after the registration deadline.

The PSA reserves the right to deny or revoke registration where appropriate.