Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Shelters at Philmont Scout Ranch

It seems like an appropriate day to talk about shelters at Philmont.  First of all tents are one of the heaviest pieces of gear at the ranch.  Even their new tents are almost four pounds.  But again let me say that Philmont gear has to be built "bombproof" to withstand the use it gets from the hundreds of Scouts that visit each summer.

The other reason is it is pouring rain today.  A tropical low is riding up a front through North Carolina and dumping on us.  Normally I wouldn't give this a second thought except DOT is in the process of paving the road that leads to my driveway.  My wife left the house a little while ago and called to tell me all the water on the new street was flooding our drive.  So I just finished walking up the road to take a few pictures of the soon to be new ditch across my driveway.  Looks like either DOT or I will have to be burying some pipe to route off the water.  Sure hope its them.

Now for tents at Philmont.  When we attended in 2009 I asked about a fly with a bug tent underneath.  The answer was very clear about their requirements.  First, for youth there should be at least two to a tent unless there is an odd number of Scouts.  The preference is for two adults to a tent but they were a little more flexible on this point.  The reasoning is that there is limited space for tents in the campsite.  Secondly the tent or shelter has to be fully enclosed.  There are sometimes afternoon rain storms that could possibly blow water into an open style tent and wet a Scout's gear.  With temperatures dropping into the low 40's at night it would be an uncomfortable night.  Floors do not have to be attached to the tent but be advised, the ground in the campsites is bare and hard.  Water will puddle but fortunately not long.

After considering several options for shelters we decided on Tarptents.  I already owned a Cloudburst II and had access to two others.  We checked www.tarptent.com and decided to purchase two additional tents.  The Squall II looked like a good choice.  Both tents were in the 34 to 36 ounce range.  The Cloudburst II uses its own poles while the Squall II uses a trekking pole for support.  The Cloudburst II could be set up quickly with three stakes and the Squall II is set up with 4 stakes. 

Philmont requires a dining fly just in case of rain.  I've been to the ranch twice and I think it only rained briefly one afternoon while we were still in base camp.  However there is always the chance and its best to "be prepared".  Instead of their tarp and poles we elected to carry a 8x10 silnylon tarp.  We used hiking poles to support the center and staked it out in a modified "A" frame.  It was a little tight to get all of us under the tarp, but we really only used it to store our packs at night.  Weight of the tarp in a stuff sack is 17 ounces.  The weight of the poles was free since most of us used hiking poles.

Our crew consisted of ten members.  There were six boys and four adults.  As the crew gear came together we were able to hold the amount each member carried to about two pounds.  Here are a couple of pictures displaying our packs.