Philmont 2012 a look back Day 8

Day 8: Today I am the leader and our destination is Mt. Phillips Camp on top of Mt. Phillips. Not only was it an eight mile trip it was uphill the whole way. We even went outside the ranch’s boundaries for about 4 miles. I woke up with the adults and I have to admit that is was worth getting up 15 min. earlier because the sky was beautiful! There was a cloud right above our camp that was a bright pink color from the sun just getting over the horizon. The cedar trees were covered in dew and glistened in the morning sun. The air was so crisp and fresh it was unbelievable. I then go threw a mental checklist about the day so I could have a basic game plan.

The first step was waking everyone up, then filling our extra dromedaries because Mt. Phillips was a dry camp, so we had to bring in our own water. We had to go find the stream and fill up our water bottles then but the tablets into them before we ate breakfast and headed out. We followed the contour lines of the mountain all the way to the ranch’s boundaries until the trail started to go up. We saw the mountain from a ways away but it was so much bigger when you get close to it. We are forced to go at a slow pace because of the extra 8 pounds of water Ron and Robert were carrying. About a mile in is when the clouds that had gathered started to drizzle rain on us. We stopped and put on our raincoats and pack covers.

I discover my pack cover has a 2 inch rip in it, so I pull out my gear aid kit that Adam gave me and break out the duck tape for the first time. It stays on all trip and never had to replace it. We carry on trudging through the slight rain and slippery trials. We have to take breaks often and we quickly become very tired, but we soldier on! About two thirds of the way there we see another group come down the hill. This was the first encounter with other people in a long time. They said that the peak wasn’t that far away which gave us a small moral boost.  I kept singing songs in my head to keep busy when we finally see the peak.

The last 200 yards or so were the worst because we knew we were almost there but it was about 70% slope and all loose rocks. It took us 30 min. but we finally make it. We take our pictures and proceed to find a camp. We heard rumors about rock chairs at one of the camps and that was going to be our camp. We found it and the chairs were amazing. Who would have thought that rock would be so comfy, but it was. It takes hour to find the dang bear bag cable and latrine but we did eventually find it, along with some bear scat and us. Undeterred by the fresh poop, we set up camp and make dinner. We really didn’t get that much time in the chairs because by the time we had camp set up we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep. And we did right after we ate and did our usual nightly routine.

This is a continuation of my brothers trail diary of his Philmont Trip in the summer of 2012.  To read all of the previous posts you can find them here:

Guest Post – 4 Outdoor Ailments To Be Aware Of

guestpostbadgeThere is nothing worse when you head into the wild to enjoy the great outdoors, only to become ill and sick. Turning your dream get away into a nightmarish prison. If you were to fall prey to any of the following conditions, there is no doubt you will immediately want to end your trip early and go home.

For some of these conditions, there is very little you can do to avoid it, others require you to specifically make mistakes. But all of them are a pain to endure, and its important to understand them if you are to determine what is affecting either yourself or another while in the wild. If you don’t know the symptoms, you may very well misdiagnose it and by trying to make it better, you may end up making it worse. So without further ado, let’s go over and explain 4 outdoor ailments that hopefully will not happen to you.

hotmocs-ailmetsAltitude Sickness

Causes: It is impossible to determine who is susceptible to altitude sickness as there are no specific factors that dictate it. A common misconception is that there is a lack of oxygen, but oxygen levels of around 21% remain the same up to about 69,000 ft.

The reason altitude sickness occurs is that the air density drops as altitude increases. Meaning the number of molecules per given volume is less. Most people can stay up to 8,000 ft. without trouble.

Symptoms: Lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, feeling of weakness, dizziness, lightheadedness, insomnia, nosebleeds, persistent rapid pulse, Drowsiness, swelling of hands/feet/face, persistent dry cough, fever, shortness of breath while at rest, and headaches.

Prevention: There are only two preventable measures that can be taken to prevent altitude sickness from developing. One being not to go over 8,000 ft., which happens halts many outdoors activities. The other is to ensure you ascend slowly. Again, its impossible to determine who would get sick. So for this, sadly, its all trial and error for the individual. By staying at higher altitudes long enough, you will eventually acclimate.


Causes: Gastroenteritis is a nicer, or rather more scientific, way to say diarrhea. Wilderness diarrhea is mostly caused by various pathogens that are found in the wild. It occurs due to insufficient washing of foods, utensils, dishes, hands, and untreated water. These pathogens include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. The most common form of wilderness diarrhea is Giardia.

Symptoms: On average, it takes around a week for the incubation period to complete in order for you to begin to feel sick. As you would imagine, the main symptom is diarrhea. However nausea, stomach cramps, lack of appetite, and a high fever are common symptoms as well.

Prevention: Since it’s difficult to pin point where one could become sick, it’s best to try and cover all your bases when in prevention mode. This means ensuring the water you drink is treated, you are taking in sufficient levels of vitamins, and you properly wash yourself and the utensils used.

Immersion Foot Syndromes

Causes: There are three types of immersion foot syndromes; Trench Foot, Paddy foot, and Warm Water Immersion Foot Syndrome. All three are caused by extended exposure of the feet to wet, unsanitary, and cold conditions. These Foot Syndromes are also made worse by wearing constricting footwear that does not allow the feet to breath or dry out.

Symptoms: These conditions can begin to form after only 13 days worth of exposure. The affected person may feel numbness in their feet, red or blue colors may appear due to poor vascular supply. A decaying odor will begin to emit from the infected areas, and eventually swelling, blisters, and opens sores will develop.

Prevention: Keep your feet dry at all costs, or at least as best you can. Drying out used socks, and allowing your feet to dry if they’ve been wet for a while helps dramatically to avoid foot rot. Keeping extra pairs of socks is always recommended regardless of the conditions you expect.

Water Intoxication

Causes: Water intoxication is also known as water poisoning and overhydration. As the name would imply, this is the result of the body taking in more water than it can handle. As a result, it offsets the balance of the body’s electrolytes beyond safe limits. This is extremely easy to do, especially when dealing with other ailments such as heatstroke or nausea.  

Symptoms: Overhydration is potentially lethal, and I have sadly known a person who has died from this in the past. But prior to death, various other symptoms will arise that should be a warning sign. Though these symptoms can easily be confused with other problems. But the list includes; headaches, personality changes, changes in behavior, confusion, irritability, drowsiness, difficulty breathing, muscle weakness, twitching, cramping, nausea, vomiting, and thirst (which is a problem).

Prevention: The human body, as evident from this, can only take in so much water. The average healthy kidney can go through 1 liter of water per hour. Which means that unless heavy exertion or physical activity is occurring, no more than 8.5 ounces every 15 min. Now its not threatening to slightly exceed this, but it’s important to note that by drinking quickly does not translate into hydrating your body faster. Rather, take slow steady sips, not gulps and allow your body to regulate and know how much is going in before it alerts you to how much more is needed. Remember, being thirsty is not necessarily a symptom of being dehydrated. Your mouth could simply be parched from mouth breathing, or eating dry foods.

The author of this article is Damien S. Wilhelmi. If you enjoyed this piece you can follow me on Twitter @HotMocs. If you are looking for the right outdoor style and gear to keep you happy and healthy, check out!

Featured images: License: Royalty Free or iStock source:

Six Diversion Worthy Festivals Along the Appalachian Trail in 2013

guestpostbadgeAs anyone who has spent time long-distance hiking can attest, nothing makes a person appreciate the creature comforts of our modern world like a week or longer sleeping outside and carrying everything you need on your back. Of course, people hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) because they love the wilderness and the escape it provides, so when you’re coming back to civilization, why not make the best of it by timing your reemergence with the many festivals and events that occur along the AT each year?

Even if you’re past your prime or simply not cut out for overnight hiking, these events welcome everyone and are a great chance to get a taste of camping and the trail experience in an accessible, fun way.

Trail Days — Damascus, Virginia


Trail Days - Hiker Parade - Class of 2008 (I think)

Certainly the most well-known and established of the trail festivals, this annual weekend-long party deserves its top placement on any list of AT related events. Typically held the weekend after Mother’s Day (May 17-19 this year), the event includes a “hiker’s parade” and live music throughout the weekend. It also attracts gear companies from around the country who perform free repairs and giveaways. Attendance can stretch into the thousands, with many non-hikers coming out just for the festivities and vendors and pitching tents at local campgrounds.

Nantahala Outdoor Center’s Jamboree and Founder’s Bridge Festival –
Wesser, North Carolina


Hikers who get an early start can hoof it to this weekend-long festival held April 4-6, a welcome break before the difficult climb through the Smokies. Vendors attend and conduct gear repair and there’s live music from local bluegrass band the Rye Holler Boys and outdoor adventure-themed film screenings. Also notable is a clinic by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy on phenology — the study of life cycle stages. After hiking amidst trees and flowers in all stages of blooming, it’s certainly nice to have a better grasp of what’s going on in the natural world around you on the trail.

Spring on Springer — Dahlonega, Georgia


Springer Mountain - September 2006 032

If you’re up for kicking off your journey at the peak time, this spring equinox fest (held March 22-24 this year) brings together notable speakers and vendors to get hikers started on the right foot. Live bluegrass and presentations are made in downtown Dahlonega, and there’s even a 5K run for those not overwhelmed enough by the task ahead.

The April Hiker Fool Bash — Franklin, North Carolina


For those getting started in late March, it may feel like there’s a party waiting for them every week on the trail. This annual festival in Franklin will be held March 29 and 30 this year, with the usual bluegrass pickin’ parties and vendors. Now in their 9th year, there’s no telling what April Fools the locals have in store for the hikers passing through.

French Broad River Festival — Hot Springs, North Carolina


French Broad Fall Riverfest 2011

Although not formally a ‘hiker’s festival,’ Hot Springs is one of two towns that the trail passes directly through (Damascus is the other). And because it’s a seriously legitimate music festival, it may have the most appeal to some hikers eager to let loose. Held May 3-5 this year, the lineup includes Langhorne Slim, Col. Bruce Hampton, Sol Driven Train, and Yarn. Perhaps best of all, after boogying to the music all day you can soothe your bones in the town’s namesake hot springs.

Trails End Festival – Millinocket, Maine


For those who make it all the way to Mt. Katahdin, the Mainers have a party planned for Sep. 14-16 this year. After a summer’s worth of hiking, stretch out with bluegrass, Dixieland bands, a chili cook-off and the annual pie auction. There are also opportunities to canoe and kayak around Baxter State Park. After putting all that effort in to get there, why rush off?

When you’re out on the trail, even a gas station to refill on snacks can feel like an urban oasis. With the right scheduling, it’s possible to experience so much more along your journey, with festivals designed with the hiker in mind all along the Appalachian Trail.

About the Author

Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals, your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see

Philmont 2012 a look back Day 7

Day 7:  We would be leaving our layover camp, which was a great time, and I was sad to leave it. Also, today, we had to hike to Wild Horse. It was by far the worst day climbing for me because I was finally starting to feel sore and we had to follow this really crappy trail all the way. The trail followed the fence almost all the way to Wild Horse. It was covered in rocks that jutted out from the ground. It was like they wanted us to bust a kneecap or something. Luckily, we all made it no problems apart from some very tired legs because the trail was a constant elevation change and very steep.

The weather was also very cloudy and I had this feeling that it was going to rain and it did. Then the feeling hit me like a freight train. I was going be wet and my boots were going to get wet and so on. But, my socks were never wet because of my boots and I’m so happy my brother, Adam, suggested them to me. They were great! The last stretch into camp was really bad. We had to stop at a little side camp because we had to pick up Dalton. No one was particularly happy about it but we all put up with it. We also were going to have to pump water for the hike up Mt. Phillips the next day but luckily the camp had a waterspout we filled up from.

We were also at our activity which was black powder shooting. This was a real treat because it was real black powder not just .22’s like at summer camp. I think we all hit our targets and had a great time! By this time Dalton was back with Rob and Ginette so we had to go meet them and continue on with our hike. I have to admit, we all tried hard to make it look like we were happy to see him but I tried to ignore the subject so we carried on.

After about an hour, Dalton was acting like he was going to puke because of the altitude but I think that he was just wanting a break because he was tired. The trail was getting muddy and Seth was having asthma problems so we stopped for a couple minutes to decide what to do. The adults decided to stay slow with Seth and Rob put me in charge. So at that point it was down to Michael, Robert, Ron, Jakob, and me. We trudged up the hill and then Ron’s asthma kicked in and he had to wait to go with the adults. Now it was just the 4 of us and we made it to camp approx. an hour later.

We came to some crossroads that weren’t on the map, but luckily we went the right way and made it right when it stopped raining. By the time we found a good camp it was right on top of the ridge and there was a great view. We put our tents on the ridge in the meadow and hung up our wet stuff on trees. By this time the adults, Ron, and Seth got to camp. Kyle set up a clothesline and we all dried out our stuff. He then did a foot check on everyone and he was quite impressed with how dry my feet were.I was quite surprised too honestly.

Seth and I went to pump water and after about 30 min it was getting really hard to pump so we tried to clean the filter. It didn’t help so we had no working water pumps now, just tablets. We then had a really peaceful meal and I was so relaxed but tired. It was my day to be leader and I had to take us up Mt. Phillips and I knew I would have to wake up early. It was really only 10 minutes earlier than normal.

Right after dinner Michael continued gaining a huge lead in fart baseball and I decided to go to the little bears tree and then we all went to our tents for bed. I thought I would have a hard time falling asleep at Philmont but you’re just so tired that u kinda just pass out without even thinking about it. What a day it was!

This is a continuation of my brothers trail diary of his Philmont Trip in the summer of 2012.  To read all of the previous posts you can find them here:

My Tent and Sleeping Kit

In this video I go over my Shelter and my sleeping kit. What all are you using?

Happy trails

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