A Philmont Adventure 2014, Day 4, Through Dan Beard Camp to Rich Cabins

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

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JOURNAL ENTRY, July 6th, 9:20am

“We departed camp at a decent time of 7:20 this morning after saying farewell to Will.  From now on the crew is on their own and perfectly capable.  We did an easy 3.5 miles along the same ridge line before descending a very long and steep fire road into Dan Beard Camp.  The ridge had epic views of Mt. Baldy all the way.  Dan Beard offers challenge games to the crew.  Its a beautiful valley and we are just soaking it all in.  With the crew occupied its time to relax a little.”

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Our Crew coming into the Dan Beard Program Area.  Back during the great fire of 2002, Dan Beard was just about to get swallowed when the winds changed direction and the fire shifted away sparing the area from getting burned.

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The crew enjoying one of a few challenge events.

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Allen from Texas was a real goof-ball with a serious side when it came to relating the challenge events to life on the trail as a crew.  The kids enjoyed him.

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Each member was given a physical handicap (or challenge) and had to get all 6 across from one platform to another.  Harder than it looks.

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The Spiderweb; get all your crew into the web.  Do you start with the lightest guy or the heaviest?

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Success!  Allen continued to discuss the importance of team work to reach a common goal.  He also did a great job of discussing conflict resolution.  He had a unique approach.  Take your buddy that you might be at odds with and join in on the double-bombadier out door, wall-less, Red Roof In (see bottom photo at this link) and purge your discrepancies away.

Daniel Glass Photography032Before departing Dan Beard, our Navigator Daniel had received some intel about a possible short cut through to Rich Cabins (our next stop).  The path was not necessarily on the map.  But his intel was good so the crew decided to take a risk.  If it worked it might trim off about 7 miles down a canyon and back up the other side.  The crew is perfectly capable of making decisions such as these as we advisers listen in and offer support.  The shortcut did indeed work and rewarded us with more epic views cresting a ridge then traversing long switchbacks down to the next valley.

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Here are cresting another ridge after a long ascent in the hot sun.  But we weren’t complaining.  This put us much closer to our destination.

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Enjoying a well earned water break.  Time for a crew selfie.

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Coming in off the long switchbacks provided some great views of this authentic cabin.  Owned by the Rich family for decades with real livestock.  The era is 1907.  The cabin sits at 7,793 feet.  The property is actually just north of the Philmont border and lies on Ted Turner’s property.  You can read more on its history HERE.

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Ellyn was one of the first Philmont staffers we came upon at the cabin.  She was in her period wear and rarely broke character throughout the visit.  There was something funny about her I could not put my finger on.  I was having deja vu.  It wasn’t until late into the evening as the sun set, and the light from the lantern hit her face in a certain way, that I then remembered I recognized her from my previous trip three years earlier.  She confirmed for me that she had worked at the  Cypher’s Mine program area.  We had a brief conversation then about how much she loved her job here on Philmont.  She switched to Rich Cabins due to its abundance of true history.  See my 2011 photo of Ellyn here (scroll down).

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This image reminds me of something out of Lancaster County, PA and is one of my favorites of the trip.

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After setting up camp the boys were asked to join in on chores which they surprisingly looked forward to as there were many animals to play with and areas to explore.

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Aidan getting a handful. “I haven’t held a teet since 4th grade.”  (The last time he milked a cow 🙂

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Thomas and Iggy making friends with the burro.

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And there was a baby burro too that Mr. Brewster and son took a liking to.

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After a bit Liam and Aidan were sent in to scoop up some hens for dinner!  The crew  planned to work on their Chicken plucking Merit Badge.  (I’m kidding).

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These boys know how to attract the chicks.

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Setting up camp in the meadow just below the cabin.  This may appear we are a garbled mess but we are actually a well oiled machine.  Every thing is separated into its designated pile.  For instance the dishes in the middle are there to be sterilized in boiled water prior to eating.   Can’t be too careful with germs when on the trail.  Last thing you want is to be looking for a Red Roof In around each corner.  Tonight’s dinner is laid out to the left and remaining meals are gathered to raise up into the bear bags.

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The meadow would prove to be my least favorite tenting area as it offered no shade, was very hot, and gave way to a cold breaze (too cold) down the valley at night.  I didn’t sleep well and was glad to move on.  HINT:  If Rich Cabins is on your up and coming itinerary, get there early and ask for the back meadow behind the cabin.  There is no bear bag cable but is much more secluded and shaded.  I tipped off our other Troop crew and they did indeed stay there and enjoyed the campgrounds.  Do it.

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As the sun set the advisers where invited onto the porch for tea and hot chocolate (its a perk).  Later all the boys and other crews would join us for some down home music featuring everything from country and blue grass to some European tunes that the original Rich Family might be familiar with.  All were very talented.  The band played until late into the night, well past my bedtime.  Rod would stay up to enjoy the show and tell us about it the next day.  Apparently Ellyn did a ripping rendition of Charlie Daniel’s A Devil Went Down To Georgia that brought the house down.  Philmont is known for its stellar evening music programs.

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Settling in for the night.  Tomorrow we will climb up through Wilson Mesa and on to Pueblano.


“We had a technically great day today.  Up and moving early got us into the Dan Beard Program Area way ahead of schedule.  The boys enjoyed a variety of challenge events before packing up and heading west towards Rich Cabins.  A short cut orchestrated by Navigator Daniel trimmed our overall day by as much as 5 miles.  We got into Rich Cabins by noon: plenty of time to relax and enjoy the surrounding camp area.  I even trekked into the secluded woods for a Philmont bath.  I’ll spare you the details but its amazing what you can do with just a half liter of water, a bowl, bandanna, and camp suds.  Refreshing!  The evening was filled with farm animals; milking, feeding, grooming, and general playing.  Our city boys loved all of it.  As night fell we were treated to an evening of music with some very talented young Philmont staffers.  Aidan continues to be the Crew Comedian.  When asked by the pretty young lady in the century old dress if we would be staying for the night Aidan blurts out “#sleepover” which of course cracked the boys up.  Aidan enjoys bateing the staffers into saying they immigrated from Austria then surprises them with a litany of questions spoken in German….which of course they cannot answer.  Its pretty funny to watch.  We are having fun.”

To continue the journey click HERE

  • Janis Brett Elspas - July 5, 2015 - 4:05 PM

    My son is on his Philmont Trek of a lifetime now. I especially enjoyed your photos from last year at Rich Cabins! Wondering if you can share with us what kind of camera and settings you used to take that phenomenal NM night sky image?

  • Rachel Cordeiro - February 6, 2018 - 12:44 AM

    I also went on trek in 2014, following a similar itinerary! Such Deja-vu!
    I loved the journey so much, I’ve been back every summer since on staff.
    Thank you for reminding me what the trek is like and the joy people experience out there. It is easy to fall into a rut as a staffer, doing something for the 100th time whereas, for the crews, it is their first.

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