“You should have planned better” Ahhh, those unforgettable words from the mouth of a young man at Philmont. My response was less than diplomatic. I had been desperately trying to do just that for most of the year before we arrived at Philmont. That Spring, before we left for Philmont, my horse died and my tack got stolen. I was desperately trying to borrow neighbors horses to get young, inexperienced kids out on the trail so they at least knew which end of the horse did what. To add fun to all my stress, my mother-in-law was dying and did indeed die that Spring. My father had a seizure a week before Philmont and died two weeks after I got home. It…was….awful….. I was under a lot of stress and I felt the burden of ensuring a great experience to young kids who were spending a lot of money to go to Philmont. How do you make sure it isn’t the cavalcade from hell?
So, on top of all that is going on, I had been trying to gather information from the almighty web. There is a ton of info about the regular backpacking treks. Cavalcades? Not much.
I had searched the web and followed what little advice I could find. There are a few overly verbose journals that some leaders had written but I could care less what they ate for dinner and how much fun they had at shotgun shooting. GIVE ME ADVICE! Which itinerary? North or South Country? Equipment? What to expect? Obviously, I had already read all the information that Philmont had given me and Cooper Wright’s “Philmont Advisor’s Guide” but I still felt like a deer in the headlights.
On my first cavalcade I learned a lot. It made a huge difference when I returned two years later for another Philmont Cavalcade in 2014. I was a lot more at peace and I could tell the kids what to expect on a daily basis. In 2014, I got to talking to some ladies who were on a South Itinerary. They were leaving to go on their trek the next day and they seemed as confused and bewildered as I was in 2012. Heck, they didn’t even know the difference between their Horseman and their Wrangler. Wow, so I wasn’t the only one to feel that way? So I took notes. I have some advice to give you and an idea of what to expect. My advice will grow dated as the years go by. A few minor changes had already occurred between 2012 and 2014. I would love it if other adults add to this. This is also my personal opinion and experience. Every Crew is different and your experience will be different. I also don’t profess to be an expert. I am simply trying to get some information out there. If this can be of some help to future Philmont horse trek participants, then maybe it was the worth the time for me to write up my own, long winded journal, full of wisdom and advice. Right?