It was 1964. I was introduced to Philmont as a first year Cub Scout reading Boy’s Life magazine. The adventure began! That year was memorable, especially when the Cub Scouts helped the Boy Scouts “present the colors” on Scout Sunday.
Turning eleven years old, I spent time hiking, camping, attending summer camp, working on merit badges and reading all of the magazine articles and books I could find to learn more about treks, Baldy Mountain, life on the trail, and 36.4482° N, 105.0072° W (Tooth of Time). My local troop wasn’t yet ready for high adventure in 1970 but my Scoutmaster helped with connections at the Council. I somehow scraped together $169 for a spot in the Council contingent the following year.
I was ready! An “official” red scout pack with external frame, a beat up aluminum canteen, a borrowed lightweight sleeping bag and half broken-in boots. A mimeographed page of important gear to assemble and take along. Practice hikes and shakedown weekends? Not a one!
On a hot July evening in 1971, scouts and advisors were gathering as my mother dropped me off at a church some 20 miles from my hometown. New friends. We loaded our gear in the back of a yellow school bus and began an incredible odyssey. The two lane blacktop highway seemed to go on forever. At first light we could make out some distant mountains and then the bus pulled into a gravel parking lot. No, not base camp, the sign said “COLD BEER”. After lots of laughs we had a hot breakfast and loaded back up for the final leg to Cimarron.
Rain, burros (Pedro’s friends I’m thinking), and a side hike to Baldy. Sleeping under the stars on the pond bank at Ute Meadows and on to rock climbing at Cimarroncito. Our crew chief had bargained for permission to spend our last trail night at the Tooth of Time. It’s a long way to slug water from Clark’s Fork to the Tooth but reports indicated that the spring at Schaefer’s Pass was mostly dry that year.
One of our advisors dropped out on day 3. A scout in our crew suffered a broken arm and collar bone and was airlifted out by an army medical crew (his father was a high ranking officer). Every member of the crew experienced rapid growth in outdoor skills, problem solving on the fly, team building, leadership experience and more. Many participants have said it - and it was true for me… A life changing experience.
In 1993 I was fortunate to return to Philmont as an advisor with my oldest son’s first trek. We drew the same exact itinerary as my youth trek. Ten scouts and two advisors - we made it!
Philmont is a part of my family with two of my sons having experienced treks as youth. My eldest son and daughter-in-law worked as staff for several years in the backcountry.
One of my granddaughters attended her first week of scout summer camp this year.
Garren Stickelman, 1971 & 1993 Participant