A Philmont Adventure, Day 7 ~ Baldy!

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

JOURNAL ENTRY, July 9, 5:47 AM

“Great news as I have just peeked out my tent flaps to see Baldy’s summit glowing bright gold as the morning sun hits it’s peak.  Its cold but should warm up nicely on the trail.  I’m excited and feeling much better having gotten a great deal of rest.  I’ll need it today as climbing Baldy (and descending) makes for a long day.  We will finish with a cruise through Baldy Town to resupply”

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There are two main routes to summit Mount Baldy’s peak at 12,445 feet.  We would be approaching from the north side this day.  The north side route begins right at our campsite at Copper Park with a series of 26 switchbacks up to a long meandering ridge before the final push to the summit.  I was excited to be taking this route as 3 years earlier we summited from the south face and it proved a very arduous climb.  We will descend Baldy from the front this day down into Baldy Town.  We were off and running at an early start.  The shot above is of our 3 adult advisers other than myself pausing in the middle of the switchbacks.  Our campsite lies just below.  Beautiful day for a hike and we are all smiles.

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A beautiful photo of Baldy as we near the ridge-line.  We will continue to the right, up along the ridge, then hook left to the summit.  Baldy gets its name due to the fact that its….well…..bald as a result of heavy mining early in the 20th century that stripped its peak of the necessary nutrients to retain growth.

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A photo by John at the Parking Lot.  The lot sits atop the switchbacks and is the entrance to the long north ridge.  Crews are not allowed to summit Baldy if its peak is clouded over.  So often crews will climb to this lot and “park” themselves in the hope that Baldy’s summit will clear and they can continue on.  Time to shed some layers as we are well warmed up now.

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A brief stop along the ridge to water up, adjust your layers as the wind kicks in, and let Iggy (far right) see if he can get a signal to update us on the Costa Rica match in the world cup.

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And on we march.  If it seems far, that’s because it is.

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But first….a selfie.  I was feeling good and having fun.

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At this point I swear I could hear John singing…..”the hills are alive….with the sound of music.

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A great view of the left hook towards the summit.  If you look closely you can see the path we will take to the Baldy summit.  Almost there.

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Sometimes its a very small world.  We were at about 100 feet below the summit when this advisor from another crew passes me on his way down.  Like most all crews on the Philmont Scout Ranch we exchange greetings with each other and briefly introduce ourselves.  Now Larry is from Seattle Washington.  But He continues on and says, “oh I know Vienna VA, I used to live in Annandale.  I went to Thomas Jefferson High School, class of ’86.” I say “no kidding, I grew up in Annandale (my parents still live there) and am a graduate of TJ class of ’81.”

Larry says, “did you know the Corson girls?” I say “you mean those two good looking sisters?   Yea man, spent much of my high school years hangin with those two.”  Larry was their next door neighbor and hung out with their younger brother. Nice guy.  Yes indeed…its a small world.

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So here we are all intact at Baldy’s summit.  Its been a long journey and we have prepared well.  Time to celebrate.

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We spent some time just taking it all in.  Nick is actually beside himself with excitement.

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Picture time……although I am not sure how I missed Mr. Brewster and his son.  There has got to be one here somewhere.  hmmmm.

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The guy with the binoculars is a geologist and is actually employed by Philmont to answer questions from crews passing through.  Not to take anything away from our epic summit but I believe he climbs Baldy……um……pretty regularly.

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Onward ho down the harrowing south face.  Going down was challenging but can you imagine coming up?  This shot was actually taken in 2011 of my older son’s crew by another adult advisor who climbed ahead and looked back.  Its quite a challenging ascent from the South.  Now I have done both. I prefer the North ascent……but boys have no trouble doing either.

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Its a long way back into Baldy Town (elevation 9825ft) off the summit.  Baldy offers a small general store, commissary to load up for the remaining trip, and glorious showers and wash basins.

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Wahoo….laundry day.  Still, we had another hours hike back to Copper Park for night 2.  But nothing would stop us from getting there.  Not even a light rain we hiked through.

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Solar dryers.

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On the last portion of the round trip John took a shot of this tree that appeared to be obliterated by a lightning strike: probably during the very storm we got caught in just a day earlier coming into Copper Park.  The power of nature.

6:15 pm

“Today was a gruelingly long day but worth the reward.  Our trek was challenging and wonderful.  The views from Baldy are spectacular.  I was happy to be standing on the summit once again.  I thought about my older son Danny and his crew and sharing in this very view on an earlier trek.  I gave Liam a hug.  We took lots of pictures.  My son is doing quite well now as crew chief and we are humming along.  The crew as a whole have been superb with their responsibilities, humor, and ability to simply get along and enjoy the ride.  We haven’t had a single issue.  The peak was much windier and cold than last time so we stayed for about a half hour before trekking on down.  The descent down the steep south side takes its toll on your legs.  You find yourself wondering ~ just where is that darn Baldy Town.  But before you know it your there and high five-ing each other for getting safely off the mountain.  We took showers at the watering hole, meeting people from all over the states.  We loaded up on food, relaxed, and visited the general store.  I managed to pick up some throat lozenges and some cold medicine….just in case.  The hike back into Copper Park was a moderate climb then flattened out a bit.  Today’s trek would total around 15 miles.  Copper Park is a beautiful campsite at the base of Baldy but I am glad to say farewell as tomorrow we start heading away and towards the Philmont South Country.  Still there is adventure ahead.  I am already cozy in my tent and looking forward to roughly 11 hours of sleep.”

Up Next, heading south towards Head of Dean then on to Santa Claus for the night.

  • Patrick - June 11, 2015 - 6:07 PM

    Great photos and commentary. It’s interesting to see the ascent of Baldy from each side. Looking forward to seeing the rest of the trek. We are headed to Philmont in July (2015).

  • John - January 25, 2016 - 5:36 PM

    Woo Hoo, We are moving again! Thanks for adding the post 🙂 I liked Santa Claus also, very nice camp with all the pine straw around, and a good water source. We arrived there by accident, the crew elected to go to Upper Dean Cow by way of the trail called the Reflector Oven, but we missed the turn off. I said by accident, but my son was navigator for the day and he had been on the Reflector Oven train before, some things you just don’t ask about….:)

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