Several Runnels Boy Scouts followed a road to adventure this summer that took them to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
They hiked and camped across more than 80 miles of rough terrain on a 12-day trek that included climbing Mt. Baldy! On the expedition, they also panned for gold, did some skeet and calvary action shooting, and even had the opportunity to give back by participating in a service project to create a new trail.
Located in the Sangre de Cristo range of the Rocky Mountains in northeastern New Mexico, Philmont is the Boy Scouts of America’s premier High Adventure base. It covers more than 140,177 acres of rugged wilderness. By area, it is one of the largest youth camps in the world.
On the expedition were seniors Cole Latiolais, Ricky Harrison, Sam Haase, Hudson Hillman, and John Spillane, sophomores Michal Gawronski and Robby Harrison, and freshmen Michael Hillman and Eli Latiolais. With them were adult leaders Derek Gawronski, Johnny Hillman, Everett Latiolais, and Joe Carey. Two scouts from other schools and one more parent completed the crew. All of the boys, who range in age from 14 to 18, are members of Scout Troop 203, which is chartered through St. Patrick’s Church.
For the trek, the group broke into two teams, with Cole and Michal serving as crew chiefs. Each had full responsibility for navigating through the backcountry, registering daily arrivals and departures at campsites, coordinating crew duties and activities, and organizing meals for their team. Each day, they hiked eight to 12 miles.
Along the way, the boys stopped in the western town of Ponil where history came to life. They chose cowboy names for themselves, were entertained by Camp Rangers dressed in Old West style costumes, and paused to drink root beer at a “saloon.”
One of the highlights of the adventure was hiking to the peak of Baldy Mountain, which reaches 12,441 feet at its highest point of elevation.
Congratulations to these boys and their leaders for conquering this mega scouting challenge. It’s hardly a surprise that five of the trekkers -- John Spillane, Ricky Harrison, Cole Latiolais, Sam Haase, and Michal Gawronski -- are eligible to become Eagle Scouts during this school year. (Chris Yura, a member of Troop 203 who was not on the trip, also is scheduled to have his Eagle Court of Honor this year.) The Eagle Scout Award is the highest attainable in American Boy Scouting.