A Philmont Adventure, Day 12 (part B), Home Bound at Base Camp, Final Post and Slideshow

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

Behold the coveted Philmont Belt Buckle.  Anyone can purchase it at the Tooth of Time Traders, but it means far more when you have completed a Philmont trek.  After getting ourselves all checked in at base camp, the crew wasted little time in getting to the trading post to inspect their options.  Imagine for a moment 8 filthy stinky boys making their way through an REI type of store to find the wall of buckles amongst all the other shoppers.  That, and maybe one, two, or even three other incoming crews all in search of the same thing.  Makes for a very comical scene.

Philmont is a special experience and one you take with you for the rest of your life.  That buckle has a magical way of starting conversations with complete strangers who become fast friends, usually because they have been to Philmont (or know someone who has) and the mere sight of it brings back memories and breaks the ice.  My son, having worn his almost everyday since, constantly shares stories of meeting Philmont or Scout alumns on the street, such as his recent Behind the Wheel Instructor and/or his new English teacher, both of whom are Philmont Alumns and Eagle Scouts.

As an Assistant Scoutmaster myself, I too purchased one as a memento and to inspire my younger scouts with dreams of Philmont.  And I continue to meet people as well.  Like the barista at the local coffee shop who told me of a story of how he met his wife as a result of the Philmont buckle.  He had been on staff as well as the young lady that he had just met at a party.  Both spied each others buckle.  Love at first site!   Or the kind cashier at my local grocer who had completed Philmont some 50 years earlier!  You take it with you wherever you go…….for the rest of your life.

 Sporting the new look under the legendary Philmont gate.

Throwing your shoes up and over the gate is a long standing tradition.  If your shoes wear out over your trek and you are no longer in need of them, you chuck them up and over to the cheers of your buddies.  None of our crew chose to do this…..and I saw some pretty good shoes swaying in the breeze.  Surely some Mom or Dad will be disappointed when sonny-boy doesn’t come home with his $150 boots!  

 …..and I really mean legendary as its been around for a longtime.

After getting cleaned up and posing for some photos we hopped the bus into town for a victory dinner (and our first great meal in a long time).  We stopped off at the highly recommended St. James Hotel, famous for its history with gunslingers and ghosts.  All I can remember was that 26 people died there over its long history….and that the food was VERY good!  See this LINK for more on the St. James…….or here on WIKI.

After dinner we headed back to base camp to catch the evening mass in the outdoor chapel.  I was a little late arriving (catching up on laundry) when I sat down with our crew and noticed a panel of about a dozen priests and at least one bishop.  Some priests were at Philmont to participate in the St. George Trek sponsored by the National Catholic Committe on Scouting.  I hadn’t been listening very long when the first priest was introduced; Father Ken Shuping of Richmond VA.   My jaw dropped in astonishment.  Ken Shuping and I had attended St. Michael’s Catholic School in Annandale VA for 9 years together (K-8).  I had not seen Ken since graduating in the spring of 1977!  The irony of being in a far corner of the southwest and seeing my old friend.  I surprised Father Ken after mass and introduced him to my son.  We spoke for about 20 minutes and shared some stories and laughs about life in Catholic school and time spent as alter boys.  It was a short visit but very nice.  Of course we are now friends through FaceBook.  I hope I can still run into him from time to time.

Father Ken Shuping and myself (Photo by Chip Tondreau).


After mass we headed straight over to the closing campfire where the staff kept us entertained with many skits and chants of “Home Bound.”  The amphitheater was strategically located with an epic view of the Tooth of Time and that never ending Tooth Ridge we had come down earlier this same day.  It was hard to believe and difficult to explain our euphoria.   Later, as night fell, the boys would congregate in the youth restroom of all places; due to the plethora of electrical sockets in which to charge up their cellphones for tomorrow’s ride to CO and check up on their latest text messages (we could get a signal at base camp) – smart boys!  After finishing my laundry and packing up, I lay on my cot and reflected on our accomplishment…..

JOURNAL ENTRY  July 9,  11:00pm

…..I am sitting at a picnic table just outside my tent.  Its a beautiful night and the stars are bright.  The crew is sound asleep and I can hear many snoring away the night.  A week ago it seemed the end was so far away and now it feels like the trip flashed by.  Walking into base camp after today’s journey was a feeling I will never forget and a moment I will always cherish.  I remain extremely proud of these boys and our crew, and grateful for the time spent with my son.  All those staff members on day one who would remind us how hard this trip would be….. were right.  It is no easy task.  There are a few times (I won’t say many) where you yearned to be back in familiar territory as you feel so far from home.  But the difficulty of the trip only serves to increase the reward at the end.  So you keep moving forward…..one step at at time.  Enjoying the day, the night, your time on Philmont. 

The real beauty is, once back in base camp, any memory of your worst day or night……all goes away.  Within 20 minutes all you can do is think of those good times you shared, the epic views you saw, the jokes, and the laughter on the trail.  I am anxious to go home, see my wife and 2 other sons, and share our story.  And yet, I will really miss this place.  I look forward to the possibility of returning one day.

There is something truly magical about Philmont…….and I can’t wait to go back.


If you have stayed with me this far…….I thank you.  It was a long journal post but so much to share.  I hope in some way it either brought back memories for you or stoked the fire within to go see Philmont for yourself.  Or, perhaps your a mom, dad, or adult adviser encouraging your scout to get out and do something spectacular that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.  You can look at internet photos all day, but nothing compares to getting out and experiencing a back country adventure for yourself.  No photo can adequately capture the sites, smells, and good times of Philmont…….and Philmont will prepare you to succeed in your own journey.

If you have your own memory or story to share, why not leave it in my comment section below.  I love to read about your connection to Philmont as well.


Yours in Scouting,

Dan (Mr. Glass)

Assistant Scoutmaster to a great group of Boy Scouts; Troop 976 in Vienna VA


One last look back in this slide show below.  Click the icon in the bottom right and make it big….then turn it up.  A longer version (with motion) I prepared for our Court of Honor can be found HERE.  The recording Moonglow Rising is by Tom Munch (the musician we saw back in CO at Echo Canyon White Water Rafting) and the words and music are by Chuck Pyle.


This photo says it all for me.

My son Danny and I snap one more upon our triumphant return to base camp.

  • […] The Adventure is almost over, click HERE […]

  • Jeannine Payne - September 9, 2011 - 12:03 PM

    Amazing! I loved all of this! We did find it amusing that you did laundry so often! My guys said they never did any laundry on a trek! I know that is true because I had some real challenges getting their stuff clean!! I hope you get to go back with your other sons! My guys have done 8 treks between them! Plus worked 5 summers, Brian. 2 summers, Travis. Hope some of your crew will get to work out there also! Maybe we will meet some day! Thank you for sharing your journey. Jeannine

  • John R - September 10, 2011 - 9:39 AM

    Like that belt buckle! we bought the square one with the Tooth of Time on it, I’ll get the round one if everything goes right and I get to return in 2012. Enjoyed the journal and liked reading everything through the eyes of someone that hadn’t been before. The first time you’re there is special, learning the Philmont way, seeing the sights and just experiencing all that Philmont has to offer is just fantastic, and getting to do it with your son, is something always to treasure. It took about three days the first time I was there to notice how silent Philmont is. No sounds except the sounds of the crew and other natural sounds, normal sounds of civilization all gone, except the afternoon flyover by the military. Not that the second time is all bad, just different. I took more time the second time to talk to my son before we went asleep everynight,special memories. It was the second trek before we got to sidehike the Tooth, extra special for me. Hope you get to return with your other two sons, you now know what it takes to get ready physically, and any adjustments necessary in what you carry.

    Best regards John R

  • Jim K - October 30, 2011 - 11:44 PM

    Excellent blog, Dan. Great meeting you this past weekend at our snowy IOLS campout. I know photos dont do it justice but it looks absolutely amazing. Great trip, great photos, great commentary. Makes the anticpation and excitement for my crew’s trek next July almost unBEARable. i plan to follow your lead and keep a journal along our trek – a great idea.


  • Jeremy - March 2, 2012 - 4:29 PM

    I found your Philmont Adventure post today and spent well over an hour reading every post and examining every photo. It made me miss Philmont more than I though possible. As a scout I trekked Philmont twice with Troop 167 from Arlington (Va) and I was on Staff for the 2010 season. I worked for the News and Photo Services Department and even though I lived in Base Camp I was afforded enough consecutive days off to really get out and enjoy the back country. The past few weeks I have been suffering from Phil-brain and your post reminded me of my most precious memories, the skies! Not just how far one can see, or how blue the sky can be, but also the stars. I spent many nights laying on my back on the bench where the crew photos are taken just staring at the stars. I’m from Arlington and I’ve seen stars before but never like at Philmont. There’s a line from a Tabasco Donkeys song that says “the Milky Way can make a grown man cry”. There’s also a line from the same song (called Tooth of Time’s been chewin’ on me) that says “you may come and you may leave but ’round February she’ll be in your dreams”, and it’s true, at least for me. I often think of ways to leave everything I have and get back there.

    Thank you for the post and all the photos,
    Jeremy Blaine

  • Daniel Glass - March 19, 2012 - 4:48 PM

    Thanks Jeremy for that very nice comment. Your fortunate to have spent so much time there. I hope you get another chance to go back. I have two more scout sons in which to return. Loved it.

  • Krystall - April 17, 2012 - 11:18 PM

    This was an absolutely amazing read! Thank you so much for posting it and documenting it all! Our all girls Venturing Crew is headed to Philmont in July- I CAN’T WAIT!!! 😀

  • Daniel Glass - April 20, 2012 - 11:02 AM

    Thank you Krystall. I am glad you enjoyed the blog. Good luck to you all this summer. Guaranteed memories for life.

  • Van P - June 3, 2012 - 1:42 PM

    I want to thank you for the sentimental journey down memory lane!! I was very fortunate to have gone on 3 treks in the early 70’s, crew chief on the 3rd one. Reading your blog stirred up feelings and memories from those days. We visited almost exactly the same camps, which made your blog even more wonderful for me, and I recognized almost all the areas depicted in your photos!(felt like I was there again!)

    I spent 3 other summers on staff, however the learning experiences of the treks had a much greater impact on my life. It was especially interesting to “see” the trek through the eyes of an advisor!

    I am amazed and pleased that very little has changed on the trail. I was afraid that all the electronic devices available to kids now would ruin the experience. (texting, gaming, etc…)

    Last summer the staff reunion was at Rocky Mountain Scout Camp and I hiked to Lover’s Leap, but that’s as far into the backcountry as I’ve been able to get since 1979, so thank you again for letting me re-live these memories!!

  • Vicky Wright - June 21, 2012 - 2:51 PM

    Hi Dan! I wanted to thank you so much for sharing your Philmont experience. It was so wonderful to read and see. I just wish I would have read this about a week or so ago….my son is currently on Day 2 of his Philmont experience with his crew. I am hoping he has all of the tips and tricks you mentioned in your blog (leatherman, duct tape, something leather to brand, etc.). Time will tell! Your photos are breathtaking! What a wonderful way to chronicle such an amazing journey. Thank you again for investing your time into this project and sharing it with the rest of us! Sincerely, Vicky Wright

  • Elizabeth Lee - June 23, 2012 - 1:22 AM

    Thank you so much for this wonderful journal of your magnificent journey. My son will be home tomorrow…HOME BOUND!!! Your photos and writings were quite comforting…i read them one day at a time..as if I was not eh trek with them I believe they did the same trek as your crew. Wimberley Troop 127. I can’t wait to see their pictures…and hear their stories. WOW! …beautiful! Thank you!

  • Judy - July 20, 2012 - 9:44 PM

    Dan, Thanks so much for this terrific blog! Your photography is awesome! Especially LOVE the “back in time” shots of the staff in costume. My son and his troop are at Philmont now. I’m missing him and your blog let me “see” what he’s up too. How wonderful it all sounds. Thanks for sharing your adventure. Judy– mom of Peter– Troop 264 Brookeville, MD

  • Chris - September 13, 2012 - 4:38 PM

    Great photo journal! It’s been a long time since I was there (’92 and ’95). I think you’ll find, as more time passes, the more special the memories become. As a scout on the trek from an active troop – it was almost just another camp out. With people I already saw all the time. Just a longer and harder hike. Still rewarding, but now as an adult, what I wouldn’t give for two weeks in the woods with my best friends again! Truly some of the best days of my life. Takes a while to sink in but when it does, you’ll dream of going back. Note also: for adults that the American Hiking Society runs an adult volunteer vacation up there for a week every fall where you can help do repairs and maintenance to help close down the camp for the season.

  • Brenda R - June 29, 2013 - 5:05 AM

    Troop 146 are arriving today for another great adventure at Philmont. Thank you for sharing your experiences. The photos and the comments make me feel as if we’re there too.

  • Gary A - August 24, 2013 - 5:50 PM

    I really enjoyed seeing the Philmont sites that I as Scoutmaster shared with ten scouts in 1965 and twelve scouts in 1974 of my troop. All now consider themselves still members of the “Buffalo Club”. For most of the older scouts it was the last big adventure they shared while still in scouting, I’m sure that is still true today. You have done a great job putting together this site/pictures. Thanks for the memories!

  • Dawn S - July 17, 2014 - 10:17 AM

    Thanks for taking the time to post this blog and photos. My guys are out on the trail now, with some of the same stops as your itinerary. This helps me better picture what they are experiencing!

  • Gary Fields - April 13, 2015 - 9:46 PM

    I enjoyed your account of Philmont, it brought back great memories from my 3 treks as a Scout. Your trek somewhat follows my first and second treks. Our first trek and trip up Baldy was special. Our leader had collapsed the day before (overweight and out of shape) leaving us leaderless in the days before two deep leaders. We climbed Baldy somewhat tagging along with another crew. The date was 7-7-77. When we returned back to Baldy town we met the ranger assigned to lead us the remainder of the trek. I’m glad you found the grand view at Visto Grande. I sat on a large rock as a 14 year old watching the sun set over Baldy an a small storm come over the ridge. As great of a memory as the cold iron water trickling from the spring. Tooth ridge was featured in the opening pages of the high school yearbook courtesy of myself a Scout and yearbook photographer. I enjoyed your photos- probably much easier that lugging a Canon AE-1 and 10 rolls of Kodachrome over the mountains, but maybe not as pretty colored. My son went to Philmont and some of us from the old troop are working on returning to Baldy 30 years later. It is possbleto drive 4 wheel drive vehicle almost to the treeline from the west and have the old geezers try to make it to the top. We’ll see how this goes. Already have a date set- 7-7-17.

  • DanTaylor - April 30, 2016 - 7:35 AM

    Really enjoyed this blog and the blog of your second adventure a few years later. Headed out this summer for itinerary 15, reading as many tips as I can. Looking to trim weight off both my waist and my pack (knees will be thankful for any weight savings)! Thinking a water filter is worthwhile weight; is something like a Minus33 midweight baselayer with a FrogTogg rain coat likely to be enough on Baldy? Or do you think another layer might be worth the weight?

  • Joe Balbona - March 28, 2019 - 12:23 PM

    I enjoyed the blog. Good job. I visited Philmont in 1959 and 1960. We had no tents,only tarps which we configured in a different manner of ways. Our ponchos were our ground cloths, no pads or pillows. Water purification was only iodine tabs, we had canteens. On one trip three of us and a leader climbed the tooth at night and slept there under the stars. Trips from Philly were in buses overnighting in military barracks. Still have my belt buckle! A couple of the guys put tape on their backs and went w/o shirts to get the /P brand.

  • Gary A - July 19, 2019 - 8:30 PM

    50 years ago,July 20, 1969 the moon landing, myself and 10 scouts from my troop were on the trails of Philmont Scout Ranch. We arrived at a staffed camp (forgot the site), the ranger had a radio and we listened to the landing. Your pictures and journal have been most enjoyable every time I view them. My former scouts are planning a 50 year reunion of our Philmont adventure and many have visited your website refreshing their memories of the great time they had. Thanks

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