A Philmont Adventure, Day 6, Head of Dean

If you have stumbled into this blog post from a search engine on Philmont, consider starting at my first post HERE.


JOURNAL ENTRY July 3rd, 2011 6:00 AM

……there is a deer passing through the misty meadow in front of me as the sun is rising ~ cool.   Its very quiet.  My beard is starting to feel gnarly.  Before the trip I was told I would not need a leatherman (too heavy).  At the last minute I decided to bring it.  I used 4 tools on it to fix my broken trek pole.  I’ll never go camping without it.  It is well worth the extra weight.  Most used camp tools…..my butt pad (take it everywhere), this pen, and my leatherman…..


After recovering from our long day on Baldy, the boys reviewed the 6 mile route down the valley to Head of Dean.  The name is derived from the fact that the camp is located at the head of Dean Canyon.  It would not be a difficult hike considering yesterday.  Each night and morning, the crew navigator, Stephen, and water-boy, Grant, plan for the next hike and figure out what amount of water we should carry.  You never really want to carry more than what is required to keep your load light.  Every crew member has different needs.  Grant would make the suggested calculation and the rest would adjust per their needs.  Stephen continues to do an excellent job as navigator.   He always seems to know exactly where we are along the trail.  Kevin (timekeeper) keeps us on track with scheduled water breaks and is pretty good at estimating our arrival at each destination based on our hiking speed.


Head of Dean Philmont

Navigator Stephen…..always on his mark.

No hike can be started without first performing foot care…….and a visit to the Red Roof Inn.  I swear I’ll never be able to think of this hotel chain in the same context again.  This structure in the distance is actually upscale from the wall-less toilet or cat hole one must dig if nothing else is available.  Although my preference is for the wall-less as they don’t smell nearly as bad and I liked the view.  The boys preferred the Red Roofs.

(Photo by Chip Tondreau)

On the road again.  Occasionally you might come across a fire road trail which doesn’t necessarily mean its an easier route.


Pulling into a staffed camp at Head of Dean.  Always a relief to have a spigot and comfortable porch swing.  The sign above is a playful reference to the staff at Pueblano telling the scouts to ask for bacon at Head of Dean.  “They have so much bacon they knit bacon sweaters.”  Lots of fun rivalry between staffed camps.

This was a beautiful easy morning for us; looking fresh after our spar with Baldy.  Head of Dean offers Challenge Games for the crew that promotes team work.  The crew has to solve physical puzzles as a group.  While the boys were off at program, the advisers took it upon themselves to rest up at camp, do some laundry,…..and get cleaned up.

JOURNAL ENTRY, July 3rd, 3:30 PM

…..off to a great start today to Head of Dean.  Weather was cool and quite perfect for the hike.  The hike was easy today, however, the route is carefully planned by the Philmont staff as to ease into the longer hikes to come.  Its going to start to get harder….and more interesting.  We are camped in another great site on a ridge with a 360 degree view.  Baldy looms in the distance.  Our site has a back to back (pilot to co-pilot) outdoor, wall-less toilet that the boys seem very interested in.  At least that is what I deduced from the loud cheer when they found it.  I discovered this afternoon that I could bathe myself from head to toe with only my bandanna, camp suds, dinner bowl, and a half a liter of water……that and a private place in the woods; not hard to find in Philmont….. 

(Photo by Chip Tondreau)

Hugh in our tent cluster.  Philmont has strict guidance about clustering your tents in an effort to stove off animals (bears).  A tent on its own is in jeopardy of being investigated for food.

(Photo by Chip Tondreau)

Day 5 and the miles are starting to catch up with us.  Only an exhausted teenager (David) could find comfort on a rock.

(Photo by Chip Tondreau)

Joe, catching some well earned Zs with an epic view.  Can’t you just smell that mountain air?  Mt. Baldy is in the distance.  Hard to believe we were up there just yesterday morning.


(Photo by Chip Tondreau)

There are a few different approaches to cooking meals.  The crew chose the oven bag method (hydrating the food in a bag then heating it in boiling water) which allows for easy clean up and disposal of waste.  The boys were well trained in sterilizing the equipment prior to dinner and keeping their hands washed.  We had no issues of diarrhea (#1 sickness risk) on the trail………that I know of.

Grant and Kevin kicking back after a good meal.

The advisers settled in for some adult tea and conversation on the porch at Head of Dean while the boys engaged another crew in Mountain Ball (think baseball with different rules).  There is no doubt that the most memorable time at Head of Dean was when night fell and the stars lit up.  See Journal entry below.

JOURNAL ENTRY, July 3rd, 10:10 PM

……..advisers coffee tonight was pretty fun.  The view from their porch looks north towards the CO Rockies, 100 miles away!  Tonight’s meal was mac and cheese with peas.  I threw in a can of turkey meat that Danny scored for me from the swap box at camp.  I kind of need a bland diet of food and each of the scouts seem to be looking out for me by grabbing stuff they know I like.  My favorite is oatmeal….just add water.  Its been a relaxing day.  The boys love the outdoor double toilets.  Its quite funny to listen to their chatter as they take care of business…….I overheard something about bombing runs over Europe…..described in great detail!  As night fell and the stars came out it turned into a show.  We could count the passing satellites miles overhead and the occasional shooting star.  The boys were fascinated.  At one point they had stretched out their camp pads and were lined up on the ground watching the sky above, carrying on as if they had just plugged in their latest video game release.  But you could never duplicate the sky this night or their laughter on a computer screen.  Good times…….

Many days to come; Next up 4th of July and Vista Grande.  How did you celebrate your 4th?

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  • John R - August 12, 2011 - 7:12 PM

    Been to Head of Dean twice, just passing through. The crew enjoyed the basketball and a nice place to chill out. The Porch is nice, didn’t notice any hummingbirds in your pics, there were a lot of them last time I was there. Great pictures!

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