July 18-30, 2012, a crew of eight teenage Boy Scouts and three advisors from Troop 42 of St. Raphael Church went on a life-changing trek through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, N.M.

Philmont covers 214 square miles of vast wilderness, with trails that climb from 6,500 feet to as high as 12,441 feet.  During their trek, Boy Scout Troop Crew #718-L hiked 95 miles over 11 days.  

The crew made what amounts to a Scouting pilgrimage with their trip to Philmont. Along the way, Scouts endured tough challenges, including backpacking in bear and mountain lion territory, steep climbs and often-inclement weather.

According to Backpacker Magazine, “They may meet only one other group of Scouts on the trail in an entire day of hiking. Even in the most crowded destinations, each Scout group camps in isolation, out of sight and sound of all other groups.”

The group of Scouts and advisors hiked from camp to camp, carrying everything they needed to survive on their backs.  They participated in back country programs along the way, including rock climbing, black powder rifle shooting and burro racing. The Scouts also worked on a conservation project, during which they learned about the upkeep of Philmont’s ecosystem.    

The Philmont Scout Ranch is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier high adventure camp and the largest youth camp in the world, serving nearly one million participants since 1938.

The photo shows the crew on top of Window Rock on the tenth day of the trek. From left, are: Nicholas Spoelker, Spencer Davis, Tom Weikel, Jackson Kinkead, Jordan Gates, Justin Leonard, Mason Gardone, Jeff Spoelker, Crew Leader Clay Hoehler, Mike Davis and Brad Gardone.

Contributed by Mike Davis