Troop 224 Takes on High Adventure
To those outside the Scouting community the name Philmont may have little or no meaning. The name rings a bell, but wait, that’s PhilBROOK. However, ask anyone who has been involved in Boy Scouts and just the mention of the place elicits a twinkle in the eyes. Mention it to someone who has experienced Philmont and you will hear tales of a magical place that only the toughest, most “prepared” Scouts get to see.
Philmont Scout Ranch is located in Cimarron, New Mexico. In the North East corner of the state it is situated on the edge of the dessert and the mountains smack in the middle of the Cimarron Route of the Santa Fe Trail. The town of Cimarron is rich in tales of the Old West with an honor roll of law men and outlaws that is legendary. The historic St. James Hotel hosted the likes Wyatt Earp, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Davie Crockett and Annie Oakley.
Just outside the town however, is the place that captured the hearts of Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve. A wide lane lined with 100 year old trees welcomes Scouts and visitors to “Scout Paradise.” Mr. Phillips recognized the treasure of the wilderness at Philmont and knew it was too precious to be held by one man or family. In 1938 he donated 35,857 acres to the Boy Scouts of America. Upon seeing the good of his contribution to Scouting he made more contributions throughout the years until today the ranch includes 127,395 acres.
For twelve glorious days in July and August six Scouts and two leaders from Sapulpa Troop 224 got to experience the magic of Philmont. Eagle Scouts Carson Wright, Gabe Jackson and Kaden Jackson and Life Scouts JT Reichard, Evan Linfoot and Lane Medlen along with Scoutmaster Cary Mans and Jack Wright embarked on a trek that will be etched in their memories forever.
Preparation began almost 2 years before the actual trek. Scouts must be in excellent physical condition and meet stringent weight/height requirements to be allowed on the trail at Philmont. Trekkers must carry everything they need while on the trail including food and cooking utensils. That means standard gear like backpacks, sleeping bags, puffy camping blankets, clothes, boots, etc must be high quality and extremely lightweight. The financial investment for such a trek is much more than the fees paid to Philmont. Scouts Christmas lists looked like an outfitters dream. Nalgene bottles, titanium sporks, Smartwool socks (and liners) are not on your average 15 year old’s wish list. The boys worked hard selling popcorn and camp cards to help earn their way as well.
The trek itself began with a shakedown hike at Oklahoma’s high point, Black Mesa. This allowed the group to adjust to elevation changes and do a quick day hike to ensure that all gear was durable and they were prepared for the trek of a lifetime. There the boys elected their leaders for the Trek, selecting Gabe Jackson (Troop Senior Patrol Leader) as their Crew Leader, and Evan Linfoot as Chaplain’s Aide. On July 25 they drove down the tree lined lane and got their first glimpse of the famed “Tooth of Time” and “Baldy”, two of Philmont’s favorite peaks.
Night one on the ranch consisted of a thorough medical check up to ensure the boys were physically prepared for the hike and distribution of gear. Philmont provides tents, bear bags, and other gear that is scent free to help insure the safety of those on the trails. On day two the boys headed into the wilderness for the trek of a lifetime.
Over the course of the trek the group hiked almost 70 miles and climbed to elevations over 10,000 feet while carrying packs weighing up to 50 pounds. Unpredictable mountain weather kept them on their toes and ever ready to plot a new course. Such was the case on Day 6 when they had to make up for lost time because of bad weather. This became the toughest day for the crew. They travelled 17 miles and over 1 mile vertical on that day.
They came off the trail a little thinner, a little odiferous, and a lot tougher. Hot showers waiting at base camp were a luxury after 12 days of grueling back country hiking with no running water. Despite the mental, physical and emotional effort required all the boys came through and received the coveted WAMI (We All Made It) award at the closing campfire. If you happen to see a boy or man wearing a belt that says Philmont, ask them about their trek and you will hear vivid stories of mini bears, red roof inns, beautiful mountains, shear exhaustion, and the best time of their lives!
The training of Boy Scouts is recognized by the United States Military in that those who have attained the rank of Eagle receive an automatic pay grade increase upon enlistment. Young men between the ages of 10 (6th grade) and 18 are encouraged to stop in and see what Boy Scouts is all about. Several Troops meet in Sapulpa and surrounding towns. Troop 224 meets on Monday nights at 7pm First Presbyterian Church Sapulpa. Not quite old enough to be a Scout? Cub Scouts for boys grades 1-5 meet at the same place and time.