Philmont Advisor Advice – July, 2019

Just got back from my first Philmont experience. I was the lead advisor. We did the 10-12 (depending on how you count) day trek, itinerary 13, “61” miles. We were crew 703G this year.

So, some quick tips while I’m thinking of them:

  • I used an MSR Hubba-Hubba NX 2-person tent. My colleagues in 1-person tents regretted having no place to put their packs. My tent has two vestibules and plenty of room for me to spread out with all my crap dry inside. The Philmont tent that one advisor borrowed was roomier, but also had no vestibule. The room and the vestibules of my tent are worth the extra weight IMO.
  • Compactor trash bags. Use them within your pack to keep things dry, and to organize your stuff. Take a couple of extras and they can be used as mini tarps, either in front of your tent or to place stuff on while you’re working/organizing during the trek. I had one for the sleeping stuff I kept on the bottom of my pack and one for the top of my pack, plus two extra.
  • For water, I had a three liter bladder in my pack, a Philmont nalgene bought at ToT, a one liter collapsible bottle and two platypus two liter collapsible bottles. I only used the big Platypus bottles a few times, but they were very useful, particularly when approaching dry or non-potable camps. When not in use, they are very light weight. I also brought as crew gear a 3.75 liter water cube. We used that in camp a few times and it was handy. At Baldy Skyline where we were surprised that the water was non-potable, I put a dozen micro-pure pills in it and everyone used that to fill up in the morning.
  • My MSR Reactor 1L stove was relatively heavy, but I could have my coffee or water for a Next Mile Meal ready in less than 60 seconds. I could have gone the whole trip with a single 220g canister if our ranger hadn’t used it to cook apple pie empanadas on the 4th of July. It was also a good safety margin to have a backup for the crew MSR Whisperlight.
  • I bought a GoalZero Nomad 5 solar panel the day before leaving. It was great. Have some small bungee cords to attach it to your pack brain while hiking. Also have a small battery to charge with the panel so you don’t have to have your phone attached to it all the time. This system kept my iphone and a colleague’s iphone charged. We used our phones for cameras the whole trek.
  • Coach your scouts that when navigating they need to build a plan for the day. Ask these questions: 1) what’s the intended route? 2) where is it likely that we could miss a turn? 3) how long should we expect to hike on each leg, and who will keep time? 3) which direction should we be going on each leg? 4) what back-stops have you identified? An example of a backstop is a stream crossing or a road intersection that isn’t on your intended route. That’ll be a signal that you’ve gone wrong.
  • My wife printed the philmont itinerary description, including the map and altitude distance chart, two sided on half a sheet of paper, laminated it, and gave one to each of the trek participants. Several scouts and advisors used this for reference throughout the trek.
  • The food that Philmont provides, aside from the standard rotation of 11 different freeze-dried dinners, is literally what you see on the racks of any 7/11, from the beef jerky and cheese to the oatmeal cookies, peanuts, pop tarts, etc… Huge amounts of carbs, almost no healthy fat, not much protein. Fine for scouts on a trek, tiresome and potentially unhealthy for adults. I used my pre-diabetic diagnosis that caused me to go ketogenic three years ago as an excuse to bring my own food, which consisted of Next Mile Meals, almonds and macadamia nuts, and packets of tuna in olive oil. When you check in with logistics on arrival, you’ll give them your labeled bags of food (dinner 1, lunch 2, etc…). My son has a nut allergy, so he was substituting food anyway.
  • One of my wilderness first aid teachers was Liza Howard, an ultramarathoner. She taught us how to treat hot spots and blisters, and I emphasized to the scouts throughout our prep hikes how important it was to stop and treat hot spots before they became blisters. I had hypafix tape and tincture of benzoin on hand in a blister kit along with alcohol prep pads, I used it per Liza’s teaching, and it worked great. KT tape was faster but didn’t stick as well.
  • Dean Skyline is a spectacular place.
  • We were caught in a 10 hour rain storm at altitude near Baldy. I found that my rain jacket, a North Face that I had bought just a few summers prior, was not waterproof. I found myself wet, cold and miserable. I would have been in trouble if the rain had gone on for a few day, as happens.
  • I went with a lightweight 30 degree sleeping bag plus liner. On an incredibly comfortable sea-to-summit air mattress and air pillow I was cold every night. Had to drape my down jacket over my torso to be warm enough to sleep. It was either the bag or the air mattress/ pillow, or both.

If it’s allowed, advise your scouts to have a campfire every evening. It literally pulls everyone together and gives them a chance to close the day. We did our roses, thorns, buds and gardners around the fire every evening and it was always a highlight. Use magic Boy Scout water if necessary.

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The ’72 GMC C25

So, I brought a 1972 Ohio farm truck home from New England.

Quote from Mrs. LC: “this is my favorite of all the vehicles you’ve brought home.” That could be because she drove a horse trailer all over north Texas as a teanager in a similar truck.

It overheated on the way home. I’ve just ordered a new thermostat. It’s obviously leaking out the lower radiator hose, so I’ve ordered both hoses new.

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The C25 Road Trip

Monday, June 11 in the GMC


Wednesday: Gardner to Westport

174 miles from Westport, CT to breakdown in Allentown, PA


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What to do while you’re in Austin for The Austin Grand Prix

Welcome to Austin! I’m a 10 year Austin resident and an F1 fan. (Go Lewis!) Here are some thoughts about how to take advantage of the unique aspects of Austin while you’re here.

I have no commercial interest in any of this advice. Red Bull has a much more sophisticated list of restaurants here.


Don’t eat a meal in your hotel or at a chain! Get out to Taco Deli, Magnolia Café, Kerby Lane Café for breakfast.

There’s a plethora of great food in Austin, but in my opinion there are two primary food groups that Austin does really well: tacos and barbeque. Try the tacos at Torchy’s, Taco Deli, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Curra’s Grill, Gueros Taco Bar.

Try the BBQ at Iron Works, Franklin’s (is the line worth it? I don’t know), Green Mesquite, Stubb’s, Black’s. Rudy’s is a chain, but they do a good job.

Want a burger? P. Terry’s (focused on organic local ingredients), Hat Creek Burger Company and Phil’s Ice House (co-located with local favorite Amy’s Ice Cream) are local and great, as is Top Notch on Burnett (cool cars show up on Saturday nights). Shake Shack has invaded from NYC (try the Shack Stack), and In-n-Out from California is in the general area, but not yet open in Austin. Oh, and Hopdoddy Burger Bar. Amazing.

Matt’s El Rancho is our favorite Tex-Mex. Order a “Large Bob” dip. The Tacos El Pastor is really awesome.

In an eclectic mood? Find a food truck (maybe not the best choice this rainy 2015 F1 weekend)

While you’re near the track, head over to Wild Bubba’s Wild Game Grill. Don’t let the exterior fool you, the food is great! Check out all the racing memorabilia. Bubba was there before COTA, and is twice as cool.


Will Buxton’s Big Time Bash, Thursday, October 22nd at the Rattle Inn


For live music, I enjoy the Continental Club on South Congress. Austin’s lousy with music venues. Go drink a beer and listen to some music… and not in the lobby of your hotel.

The Blanton Museum of Art has pretty stuff. The Bullock Texas State History Museum is always interesting, and they have an IMAX theater.

The Alamo Draft House is a growing local chain of movie theaters/restaurants. You can order great food and drinks at your seat.

Dick’s Classic Car Museum (120 Stagecoach Trl, San Marcos, TX 78666) is 33 miles from downtown Austin. Well worth the trip. On your way there or back, stop by Cabela’s (in Buda on I35) to fulfill all of your camo needs.

This is a little odd I know, but the Whole Foods on 5th and Lamar is their headquarters location. My Dad, who was a foodie, always enjoyed going there when he visited from Connecticut. Book People is a great book store right next door.


Go Karts

K1 Speed is a chain of indoor electric go cart tracks. Their Austin track is fun and has a terrific staff.  Get there first thing in the morning or call ahead to find out how busy they are.  How much fun will your race be? That depends on the other knuckleheads on track with you, and how often they crash each other.

Hike the green belts,+TX


Run (walk, ride) the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail.

Paddle Lady Bird Lake

Lady Bird Lake is the dammed portion of the Colorado river that flows through downtown Austin. Take a look at or to rent a canoe or kayak for a couple of hours and relax on the water. Great writeup here:

Indoor Sky Diving

iFLY Austin is a lot of fun.

Go Shooting

Want to shoot? Red’s Indoor range has two locations in the Austin area where you can rent guns and targets, buy ammo, and shoot under the watchful eye of a range master. The folks there are great, but it can be loud and crowded.

For a different experience, I’d suggest hopping on the Texas Autobahn (Toll 130) 20 minutes from COTA to Lone Star Gun Range just north of Lockhart either before or after lunch. Wonderful people there. At Lone Star Gun Range, you can rent a handgun or rifle, buy ammunition, buy a target or two, and go shoot. Ask for help if you’re new to it, and they’ll be glad to offer advice. The people to your left and right at the range will also offer advice, especially if you’re obviously new to it, because new shooters can be scary. [edit: it’s going to be muddy this weekend, so bring your wellies.] Remember and exercise the four rules of gun safety and you’ll be fine. Have lunch at Kreutz Market in Lockhart. Try the ribs.

Ammunition is typically less expensive at Academy Sports & Outdoors, Walmart, or McBride’s Guns than at the ranges. Get a box each of .22 long rifle and 9mm luger.

Watch this video first.


The Waze app ( does a good job of showing current traffic conditions around Austin. Mo-Pac (named after the Missouri-Pacific railroad along which it is built) is slow heading south toward downtown from 7-10am, heading north toward downtown in the morning, and heading north from downtown from 2-6:30pm every weekday. I-35 is slow… a lot. Stay off of it if you can.


Apparently the murder rate is way up this year in Austin, but that rate of increase is over a very small denominator. Austin was the third safest large city in the U.S. a couple of years ago. Decrease your risk of being a victim by being aware of your surroundings and staying away from the drunk idiots on 6th street in the wee hours of the morning.

It’s going to be thunder-stormy. Flash-floods are a real danger here and people die in them every year, usually by trying to drive through running water. The authorities say “turn around, don’t drown.”

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Sold sold sold!

I sold the 1960 Ford F100 early in the summer of 2014. I think I got $1500 for it, which is less than I paid for it and far less than I had in it, of course.

I got my money’s worth though. That truck taught me many lessons. I look forward to using them in the future.

Here was the add:

1960 Ford F100 running driving project – $1650 (Austin)

1960 Ford F100 odometer: 58000 paint color : custom size : full-size type : pickup drive : rwd fuel : gas transmission : manual title status : clean

condition: fair

Daily driver capable. Everything works. Over $3000 in new glass, tires and intake/exhaust parts. Runs great. Looks like a 54 year old farm truck.
Longbed styleside truck. 223ci straight six runs and sounds GREAT. Upgraded to Pertronix electronic ignition. New Clifford intake, Clifford headers, Weber 38 carb and custom exhaust ($2000 worth of new equipment). Volt, oil pressure, temperature and vacuum gauges added in an under-dash panel. Original gas gauge works with Mustang sender.
New tires. New windshield and driver’s side glass. New pass. side glass and hardware not yet installed. New drivers door seal installed, pass. door seal not yet installed. Original three on the tree transmission untouched and working fine. Floor shift four-speed comes with the sale. Gas tank relocated – Mustang fuel tank between the rear frame rails. ’08 Tahoe seat installed and the original seat frame comes with it if you want. Converted from generator to a new alternator. New electric fuel pump with switch on the dash.
Hood, fenders and driver’s door in bare metal . The rest is primer. Back bumper is off but I’ll put it back on. Most badges are off but they come with the truck.
I ran a load of 10 hay bales across town from Callahan’s, and I’ve taken several loads of brush to the dump in the past few weeks. This truck is a worker.

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I’m Exhausted

It’s been a while since I wrote about the truck. I just looked and good God it’s been almost two years. A lot has happened, but not as much as might have happened in this amount of time.

Let’s see:


  • I put the new engine in and got it running.
  • The old rebuilt carburetor had its seals eaten away by today’s fuel, and started puking gas everywhere. I decided that rather than spend money on a carb rebuild, I’d spend more money on fuel injection.
  • I bought a craigslist Howell GM fuel injection system for a Jeep straight six, then made an aluminum adapter plate for it, and got it running.
  • It ran like crap, so I bought a Clifford intake and headers.
  • It still ran like crap. I figured out an electrical issue and it runs much better. Still have to make the throttle less sticky.
  • I fabricated a temporary exhaust collector to get it to the exhaust shop.


With that done, I realized that the seal on the Mustang gas tank that I installed three years ago had been eaten by ethanol fuel and was leaking. Can’t have guys welding under the truck with a fuel leak, so I ordered a replacement seal from $2 seal, $8 shipping. I put that seal in without removing the fuel tank and it didn’t work. So I asked my father in law to pop by Dallas Mustang, grab another seal, and hand it to my wife that weekend. I installed the seal after consulting YouTube and it works!

  • I replaced the generator with an alternator, but I’m not sure it’s working.


  • I put in a new driver’s side glass. It doesn’t roll up and down very well, and the vent window won’t lock closed, but at least it’s new and it’s in.
  • I also repaired rust on the driver’s door and replaced the window channel all the way around.
  • I finally installed the windshield that I bought over three years ago. Of the stuff I bought then I still haven’t used the distributor (it’s working fine), the passenger door glass, I never got an inner cab corner (I’ve cut off the cab corners and plan to weld sheet metal in), or the clutch repair kits. I’ve done almost everything on that “need” list. Can’t believe this is a 3+ year project.WP_20131012_004WP_20131012_001WP_20131012_002WP_20131012_003


Got the tail lights, turn signals and brake lights working. I had to ground the socket of the driver’s side with a sheet metal screw. Mice ate the wires though, so I repaired them again last weekend.

The truck has actually taken me a few places. I got burgers once, went for a run once, and went to the gym on an Austin “snow day”.


Soon. Soon I can just drive it. Maybe.

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Engine Swap

I completed the engine swap last weekend, but failed to start it before traveling. The task entailed:
– bolting the clutch back onto the flywheel that came with the motor. I didn’t know where the throwout bearing was supposed to be, so I put it inside the clutch housing. Wrong!
– attaching the three-speed. I would have put on the “new” four speed, but that would require a different drive shaft. Someday.
– Stabbing the engine. Not so easy with the hood on, but I did it and got the engine mounts tight.
– Realizing my throwout bearing mistake with the help of my neighbor Jim.
– Extracting said bearing after removing the driveshaft and transmission from underneath the truck. Bearing applied to trans shaft where it belongs.

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