Nat Marie, San Diego California

Nat Marie, San Diego California

Super Strenuous lives up to its name. Epic adventure. This was a tough itinerary and we made all 8 peaks. Early mornings and long days.

Thoughts from the past 12 days:

  • Read the guidebook to adventure…twice. Review your trek…twice.
  • My daughter and I mapped the entire trek on Gaia. Since she was the crew lead, it gave her an idea of what to expect on the trek.
  • Personally I would not hike Philmont without having my Gaia trek mapped out. It gave me an idea of where we were and the distance to our next locations.
  • Use the Philmont map routes and trails. That is the primary method of travel. Philmont has removed trails from their current year map that are still on Gaia. Let the map be your guide.
  • Let the Scout navigator navigate! Let them decide the routes.
  • Day packs- Sea to Summit: most crew members didn't have day packs and bought the Sea to Summit UL packs. Need them to carry essential items to and from programming. It is unrealistic to drop contents of backpack as backpacks are in a pack line.
  • As soon as you arrive to the camp site:
    • identify bear kids triage. Need to get all food and smellables into bear bags. Then hang bear bags.
    • sort out crew gear and sort out dinner.
    • set up dining fly
    • sort out all smellables for oops bag to hang later.
  • We had some issues with packs not being adjusted properly. This affected the Scout's pace. Once adjusted they were able to maintain a good walking speed. We ended up being in the trail about 2 more hours than we should have on day 3.
  • We sorted the next three meals (dinner, next day breakfast and lunch) into the small bear bags and allowed us to sort all food items quickly the next day.
  • We got all smellables we didn’t need until the next day and put into bear bags. This included first aid kits, chargers, food items, trash, etc.)

Tips for specific locations:

  • French Henry Camp: got water from the stream at French Henry camp. Want to use a wide mouth bottle and a handkerchief to keep particulates and floatie things (sediment) out from water.
  • Baldy Town to Mistletoe: Hard to find Mistletoe as the path is blocked by fallen trees.
  • Cimarroncita,
    • There is zero shade. Tents were set up in the wide open space.
    • Bear boxes are provided for crews. Yay to no bear bag hanging!
    • Commissary is quite the walk. Definitely bring bear bags to carry food back to camp site.
    • We decided to give each buddy their food and go through the items they didn’t want. We then dropped off the food items into the swap box so we didn’t have to carry that extra weight.
  • Cimarroncita to Sawmill:
    • We had to travel through the Ute park pass which had zero shade (it was the burned area from the fire in 2018.)
    • Everyone wore long sleeved shirts to protect them from the sun.
    • We left camp with a minimum of 4L of water and resupplied at Sawmill.
    • We were given a specific route to take to Sawmill. The route led us through the Ute Gulch which was supposed to be a 4x4 road. However it was a washed out road that didn’t exist which left us bushwhacking through the fell trees. DO NOT take this route. Take the trail.
  • Whistle Punk: It is not a dry site. There is a nice spring down the trail.
  • Whistle Punk to Red Hills: Route to Commanche Peak and Mt. Philips is extremely rocky
  • Red Hills to Beaubian: Trail to Beaubian was very rocky. Actually the last two days of hiking have been in very rocky terrain. Ankles are very sore from all the rocks.
  • Beaubian to Shaefers Pass
    • Since we were headed to a dry camp, we decided to eat dinner for lunch so we didn’t have to carry crew water up to Shaefers pass.
    • Took North Fork Urraca. We had about 43 stream crossings which zigzagged through the terrain.
    • Sites at Shaefers pass were full, so I recommend crews get there early to set up their campsites before other crews.
    • Shaefers Pass to Camp HQ via Tooth Ridge: Still dealing with hot spots due to the down hill. Regular KT tape strips came in handy to treat hot spots. We had gone through our stash of blister KT tape and Leukotape.

Recommended items

  • Light weight day pack. This is essential for submitting peaks.
  • Small crew dry bag for issued toilet paper and hand sanitizer and shovel.
  • Stuff sacks to organize all personal gear. All smellables need to go into a bear bag at night. Recommend using stuff sacks/water proof bags to keep gear organized.
  • Philmont issued small white bear bags. Each scout had their own white bear bag and kept their own items in there. Made it easy to organize and sort out when item went into and out of bear bags.
  • Compact extra water bladders/holders. Definitely liked the hydropak water bladders. Easy to fold, store and carry when full of water. We used a bandana to put over the spouts to keep floaties out of the bladders.
  • Soft Nalgene 32oz clear water bladder worked well to capture water from streams and to see if there are any particulates. Also easy to transfer water to hydropacks and other water bottles using a bandana to keep particulates out.
  • definitely a fan of hydration systems. Whether they are bladders or hoses hooked to Nalgenes or water bottles. When on a hike, taking multiple water breaks prolongs the hike and add a significant amount of time on the trail.
  • Due to terrain and miles of hiking used lots of blister and hotspot care. Loved our leukotape and KT tape strips and KT tape blister care. Keep in mind leukotape is sticky and will stick to the blister and it off. So recommend protecting the blister with a bandaid (or at least the white non-stick part of the bandaid) before putting the leukotape.
  • Leukotape, KT tape blister and KT tape were much needed in our trek. We had a lot of uneven surfaces and downhill.
  • Tiger balm was crucial to rubbing down sore muscles in the morning.
  • Used lots of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Got extra from commissary
  • Commissary gives out extra items like fruit, milk, electrolytes, tortillas and condiments. We had tortillas quite a few times which wentwell with many dinner items.
  • Definitely team chair and team sitting pad. We sat on a lot of uneven surfaces where the pad came in handy. I had a small foam sit pad that weight next to nothing.
  • Aquafor was Queen! Used several small tubes for chapped lips.
  • Unscented baby wipes! Should have brought double the amount. Our trek was very dusty and toes got really dirty. It felt great to wipe down when going to the bathroom and in the mornings.
  • Arm sleeves were a hit! A few days the wind was up and there was a chill in the air. The sleeves helped keep some warmth without getting overheated by wearing a top layer.
  • Handkerchief was a key item! With the dust it came in handy! Plus it helps to filter particulates out of the nalgenes or water bladders.
  • Bring a locking carabiner for the bear rope
  • Kula cloths for women were essential
  • Did laundry twice. Used some camp suds. Walked on a lot of dirt roads. Kids stayed dirty which was fine!


  • Please train. Be prepared. Please be able to walk at least 2mph with full weight pack. Please ensure your scouts train to get to this speed as well.
  • Train your ankles to walk on lots of uneven surfaces, specifically rocks!!! We walked on rocks for hours and ankles were sore.
  • Please be an adult and be there for the Scouts. Don’t make the Scouts tell you multiple times to get out of your tent. Do not get frustrated with the Scouts or the crew lead.
  • Please have initiative and help the Scouts.
  • Please do not hide medical issues from the crew advisor. You are only putting the crews in jeopardy!

A few additional notes

  • Weight absolutely matters. Ounces add up to pounds. On our long trek, every extra ounce translated into weighing us down. During the ranger shakedown ensure all unnecessary items are left in at base camp.
  • I brought small 10 gram containers and small 2”x2” small plastic bags. In the 10 gram containers I put cream, Aquafor, tigers balm, feminine chafing gel, foot powder etc. In the bags I counted out medicines, tooth paste tablets, and any items needed for the troop first aid kit and personal items for 12 days. No more.
  • I premade my coffee for 12 days and also used the small bags to have 12 days of coffee. No more. Every ounce counts as weight. I cut excess weight by counting out every item.
  • Jettison ALL excess weight. Do not carry more than you need to.
  • I could have made it through the trek with two pairs of underwear, two hiking socks and one pair of camp socks!
  • I had a 15 degree Big Agnes sleeping bag and Big Agnes sleeping pad. Glad I brought my sea to summit extreme heat sleep liner. I sleep cold and this made sleeping comfortable. I am glad I had sleep clothes as it was nice to change into sleep items that was not smelly.
  • I used the Nemo Hornet Osmo 1P tent and it was perfect for the trail.
  • I did not shower for 12 days and was fine. I had a 30 count unscented feminine wipes. Next time I’m bringing double unscented baby wipes!


  • With the exception of being at the top of Mt. Baldy, Tooth of Time, and Cimarroncita Camp, my iPhone 14 was on airplane mode and on low power. Same goes for my iWatch. When I’d arrive at camp I’d charge my iPhone and iWatch. Then the batteries would be put into the bear bags and I’d turn off my iWatch and cell phone at night.
  • I used my iWatch to track total distance using the health app. I used my cell to follow the trek with my Gaia app. Also took lots of pictures, roughly 1,000+. The Scouts had cells and each had a battery pack.
  • For me I had an 20,000 mah battery pack for my iWatch that used far less power than expected. It’s at 93% percent capacity on the last day of the trek.
  • For my iPhone I brought a 36,000 mah power bank. It got down to one bar on day 10 and I then took my daughter’s power bank for the last two days.