Tyrone father and son make trip to NM Scout ranch

Tyrone resident Mike Yeaton and his son Zach had the opportunity to experience the adventures of the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico for ten days beginning this past July 4th. Yeaton is the Scout Master for Boy Scout Troop #103 in Bald Eagle, and his son Zach is a scout in the troop. Yeaton also served as an advisor during his adventure at Philmont.
Philmont Scout Ranch is a national camping area, owned and operated by the Boy Scouts of America.
Philmont is large, comprising 137,493 acres or about 215 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness in the Sangre de Christo range of the Rockies.
Thirty-two staffed and over fifty un-staffed campsites are operated at the ranch. Philmont has high mountains which dominate rough terrain with an elevation ranging from 6,500 to 12,441 feet.
Philmont is rich in natural beauty providing adventure, including the soaring Tooth of Time Mountain, Mount Waite Phillips, the Cimarroncito Reservoir and the panoramic sweep of the plains from Uracca mesa.
Yeaton and his son Zach ventured on a Philmont Trek, which is a backpacking adventure that takes your crew from one campsite to another for eleven days. The different campsites have “programs” that the crew participates in. On a typical day on the trail, the crew will wake up, break camp, eat breakfast and hike to their next destination camp.
After checking in, they will take part in a program activity, which can include barrel racing, shotgun shooting, rock climbing and in one instance a place was set up like a Mexican Town.
Following the program, the crew will eat dinner, take part in any evening activities offered by the camp and go to sleep for the night. The activities repeat for the eleven days of the trek.
Yeaton commented that it’s a high adventure situation. The trip was a contingent of 48 members from Penns Wood Council, who sponsored it also. A travel agency arranged the trip because not only did they go on the Philmont adventure; they spent three days beforehand visiting Pike’s Peak, The Air Force Academy, The Royal Gorge Trail Way and a few other landmarks.
All of that is done ahead of time so that a person can get accustomed to the high altitude. The Philmont hike begins at about 7,000 feet and you reach altitudes of 11,711 feet. A person must be fully hydrated and fed and comfortable with the oxygen level to avoid high altitude sickness.
A ranger is assigned to each trek for the first three days. The ranger trains the trek in “leave no trace camping, which actually means what it says. If there is trash on the ground, pack it up. Philmont is a very pristine place, even with 3,500 kids out in the woods backpacking and camping. The place is self-cleansing and that is part of the deal when you are venturing there.”
The Philmont adventure was no walk in the park for Yeaton and Zach. They trained to accomplish the feat, and once they were into their hike basic human wants were limited.
“Sometimes you walked into campsites without power,” Yeaton elaborated. “Some places had good water; others had bad water, which then required purifying it. Only one camp had showers this summer and we were fortunate enough to have a shower on the eighth day, so we were pretty grubby by then.”
Yeaton stated that a map and compass were the only means of getting to the different camps. All the trails were pretty defined at Philmont, but the signage was poor. They had enough food and water for three days amongst the entire crew, and after the three days the journey begins to scheduled camps.
As stated earlier, Yeaton was an advisor for his son Zach’s crew, but the advisors are mere shadows for the boys.
“The boys would lead hikes, cook and clean,” said Yeaton. “The advisors were there to help avoid a dangerous situation if such occurred.”
In a heartwarming effort during Yeaton’s trip, he and Zach decided to dedicate their trip in honor of one of Yeaton’s scouts in Tyrone who recently passed away, Andrew Hecker.
Yeaton received a phone call from his wife while departing from Colorado Springs in preparation to Philmont when hearing of the tragic news.
“My son and I decided we’d do a memorial for Andrew on top of Mt. Phillips (11,711 feet in altitude),” said Yeaton. “We dedicated our trip to him. Andrew was a true scout and his heart was really into it.”
The Philmont trip was a memorable one for Yeaton and his son. Although he and Zach were the only local people at Philmont, everyone else who were in their crew were from Pennsylvania.
Yeaton highly recommends the trip if anyone has the chance. It takes a lot of training and want, but it’s highly rewarding. The treks consist of 14-18 year olds and it’s recommended that each boy has a backpacking merit badge.
Philmont is a cost prohibited trip. It’s $1,400 for an adult and $1,100 for a boy.
“The rewards of the adventure are priceless,” Yeaton added, “Accomplishing this adventure is highly regarded. You get a patch which is special because there has never been one patch sold or traded. You have earned it because the treks are so hard. It’s probably one of the most prestigious places to go for a Boy Scout.”
Yeaton hopes to be able to bring a lot of his experiences at Philmont back to his Boy Scout Troop #103 in Bald Eagle.
If anyone is interested in joining the Boy Scouts a person can contact their local council or Boy Scout store.