The Trail to Philmont

In January 2020, my son and I started on the trail to Philmont – a six-month training project aimed at developing the strength, endurance, and skills needed for a 12-day, 60-mile backpacking trek at Philmont Scout Rank in Cimarron, New Mexico.

We were supposed to go in late-June/early July 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced Philmont to cancel all treks. This pushed out our trip a full year, to June 30-July 14, 2021.  We successfully completed the trek, and one of these days, I’ll finish my epic blog post chronicling it.

In the meantime, the posts below summarize our preparation for what provided to be one of the most

but we’re still on the trail – our trek is now scheduled for July 2021. The posts associated with the project chronicle our month-to-month progress on the trail, from our training routine, to our backpacking trips, to experiments with new gear.

  • Starting on the Trail to Philmont – An introduction to the project that looks at where we’re going, the skills we need to develop, and our physical training regime.
  • The Trail to Philmont, January 2020 – Running 3x a week in the Pennsylvania cold, losing weight, and reading Hiking Pennsylvania looking for new trails for us to try.
  • The Trail to Philmont, February 2020 – New running sneakers, back to the personal trainer, prepping for a Pine Barrens backpacking trip.
  • The Trail to Philmont, March 2020 – COVID-19 hits. Everything shuts down, I start working from home, and group training routines stop. The Pine Barrens backpacking trip is canceled.
  • The (Extended) Trail to Philmont, April 2020 – Our trek is canceled, but training continues even as we adjust to Pennsylvania’s continuing “stay at home” instructions from the
  • The Trail to Philmont, May 2020 – Predictably, our Wilderness First Aid course is canceled. My runs extended to 4.5 miles, my weight continued to drop, and my son and I started training with backpacks.
  • The Trail to Philmont, June 2020 – I began a 10K training program, did my first 6-mile run, and upped my daily walking goal to 6 miles.
  • The Trail to Philmont, July/August 2020 – We finally hit the trail with 5-mile day hikes on the Monocacy Creek Trail in Bethlehem, Pa., then a more rigorous 5-mile day hike on the  Rattlesnake Swamp Trail and Appalachian Trail (AT) in Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. Plus, canoeing on the Delaware River and hitting pause on the 10K training program.
  • The Trail to Philmont, Year’s End (December 2020) – A look back at the last year’s worth of preparation for Philmont.
  • The Trail to Philmont, January/February 2021 – A historic snow storm dumps 3 feet of snow on Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, after losing several members to COVID concerns, we teamed up with another crew out of Patriot’s Pass Council to bolster our numbers.
  • The Trail to Philmont, March 2021 – Spring brings the return of regular training sessions and my realization that my knees aren’t up to regular runs …  and that I needed to head to physical therapy to fix that.
  • The Trail to Philmont, April/May 2021 – April saw us go on our first prep backpacking trip as a complete crew as we hiked from Culver’s Gap south to Rattlesnake Mountain and back again. In May, we followed it up with our second trek, this time from Millbrook Road north to Rattlesnake Mountain. In addition, we rounded out our gear purchases as I bought my tent, down jackets for my son and I, and a new pair of hiking boots.
  • The Trail to Philmont, June 2021 – I purchase my last piece of gear for the trek – a Sea to Summit Comfort Light Insulated Air Sleeping Pad – and finally complete wilderness first aid.


1 thought on “The Trail to Philmont”

  1. I’ve been following all your Philmont posts since the start, and little by little they’ve been inspiring me. Along with other vectors of inspiration, I finally got around to doing something about it, and just yesterday I went on my first proper hike in years. I’m not looking back! Thanks for the inspiration, and here’s to maybe meeting up on the trails one day.

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