3.3 mi to summit

11.3 mi total


10,421 ft start

11,741 ft max


2,553 ft gain


20 hr 3 min to summit

41 hr 48 min total

Sorry for the long trip report. This is a victory trip report!

My goal has been reached! In the summer of 2005, I set out to hike all the highest 184 mountain peaks in New Mexico. My goal kept expanding to include the highest 102 major mountain peaks in New Mexico, all the thirteen and twelve-thousand-foot peaks (83), all the eleven-thousand-foot peaks (75) and all the upper ten-thousand-foot peaks (26). After 16 years I reached my goal on September 18, 2021 at 3:40 PM, hiking Mount Phillips on Philmont Scout land!! New Mexico and I have the same birthday, a kindred spirit. I know this quest has not been done in the history of New Mexico and I am in awe to have seen this state’s gorgeous high country from almost every angle. To share this state’s beautiful high country with others, I have taken over 25,000 pictures, logged trip reports and GPS treks, many times showing the way not to go. (I have over 100 other peaks that were not part of this goal.)

*(See note below)

My Final Four Story…………
About 10 years ago I had all 5 of the Philmont peaks planned out. I was going to come in from the Cimarron highway, hike Toby peak, then the 5 on Philmont land and spend 2 nights out. I thought that for sure, being an Eagle Scout, they would give me permission, but they would not. I had to be officially part of BSA to legitimately hike the peaks. I put the 5 peaks on the backburner and hiked other peaks. A little over 2 years ago I went to scout Troop 166, and asked them if I could join the troop as a Scouter Reserve. I was in this troop as a boy for about 6 years. I told them that I basically wanted to join to hike the 5 peaks, but would happy to volunteer in small ways. They said that would be fine. I organized a Philmont peakbagging adventure with the troop last fall and I got one of the mountain peaks that I needed, Black Mountain. The troop calls me Philmont Phil. I was asked to do conditioning hikes with the troop. I led 3 conditioning hikes to peaks that I was not interested in hiking, so that I could get the 4 peaks that I was very interested in hiking.
Friday morning September 17, 2021 we met at exit 419, off I-25 at 10:00 AM and headed west on highway 58 towards Cimarron to Philmont. It was about 20 minutes from the exit and about 3 hours from Albuquerque. We had 8 of us going including our guide Matt M. The adults were scoutmaster John L., Jerry L., Geoff H., Beverly E., and myself. The scouts were Brady L. and Chris H. We divided out the camping gear. I took my large pack so that I could carry more, and carried most of our food. We ate lunch in the mess hall and loaded our gear in two 4WD Chevy Suburbans. These are great vehicles for the park, holding 9 people each and lots of equipment. I love 4-wheel drive roads and the rougher the ride the better. We spent 2 hours on a very rough road with magnificently beautifully scenery all around. They called the road we were on, the “Beaver Slide.” It puts the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland to shame. We were driven to Divide Camp, elevation 10,590. At 2:40 PM we started our mile downhill hike to Red Hills Camp, elevation 10,266, arriving at 3:20 PM. Red Hills Camp is a much nicer camp, with 2 beautiful little brooks on each side of us. We set up camp and had a flint fire starting competition using only natural items. The 2 scouts started first and couldn’t get anything. Scoutmaster John jumped in, nothing. Our guide Matt jumped in and nothing. I gathered the items that I would use for a one match fire. I have used this technique and started many fires even on very rainy days. I build a 3-inch-deep nest and within a couple of minutes I had our evening campfire going. I get thrilled about stuff like that. I have never tried flint fire starting before and was excited to have won our mini competition. I have a competitive streak at times. We had a good tasting dehydrated spaghetti and beef dinner. A deer visited us near camp. We put the bear bags high up in the tree, then enjoyed sitting around campfire together, turning in a bit early, about 8:30. I love the sound of sleeping near streams and we were between 2 little brooks. One brook, that was only a couple of feet away from my tent, and made a baaaloop sound every 7 seconds. I like stream sounds but not clock sounds. You could set a clock by it. It was a little annoying but I still slept well anyway.

After waiting 10 plus years it was finally happening, yet you never know what odd situation might come about to stop it. I was assured by scoutmaster John, assistant scoutmaster Jerry and guide Matt, all at separate times, that they were going to make sure it happened! We got up at 6:00 AM, had some coffee, planned to have a pocket breakfast on the trail and left at 7:15 AM. The temperature was jacket cool. The skies were cloudless and a beautiful blue. The forest was magnificent with mostly blue spruce and bottlebrush pine. This time of year, there were very few wildflowers. The aspens had not started changing color yet in the lower elevations. The trails, almost the entire hike, were some of the rockiest I have hiked on. It was as if they were covered with bowling ball, croquet ball, and billiard ball size rocks almost the entire time. I was pumped and excited to be hiking. We reached the ridge and headed south to South Red Hills Peak, elevation 10,905. Matt was fine with us leaving the trail for a bit and headed off trail to the peak. There are 2 peak tops marked by stacks of rocks. The higher one is further to the west. MADE IT – 3 MORE TO GO! It was 2.1 mile from the camp, about 894 feet in elevation gain. (3.1 from Divide Camp) It was 9:10. We took pictures. John and the 2 scouts did “peak pushups” on each mountain top. At 9:30 we headed back to the trail, then down the mountain towards Big Red, elevation 11,000. Both peaks have the term “Red” in them and hiking this area you know why. The entire area is covered with beautiful red rocks of all shapes and sizes and mixed in with the red rocks are quartz fields, both white and reddish. We hiked to the saddle then straight north to the top. MADE IT – 2 MORE TO GO! We made it to the top of Big Red after hiking 3.6 miles, elevation gain for the day, 1384 feet and it was 10:50 AM. (4.6 miles from Divide Camp) We enjoyed the top for a bit then down the mountain intersecting the trail from yesterday. We had lunch for about 40 minutes and refilled our containers with water left at Divide Camp. This stretch, to Comanche Peak and Mount Phillips is the hardest part of the hike. The entire hike never seemed hard to me. For a bit, the temperature was almost was too warm. A curious Grey Jay in the trees watched us hike along. We meandered up switchbacks through the beautiful forest then MADE IT – 1 MORE TO GO! We arrived at Comanche Peak, elevation 11,294 at 1:40 PM. We hiked 6.3 miles for the day and had an elevation gain of 2288 feet. (7.3 miles from Divide Camp) The top of Comanche Peak has pink sand, richer in color than the pink sandy beaches of the Bahamas. The peak is tree covered, as was most of the hike, yet all along the hike areas would open up to spectacular views. Onward to the last peak……Our group hiked in slinky fashion. We had a very fast group and a very slow group. Going uphill I was in the middle of the slinky and we would all come together every little bit. The last extremely rocky part of the hike, to get the whole slinky to the top, was very, very slow. Yet everyone was well conditioned to do the hike. MADE IT – *ALL HIGHEST NM PEAKS DONE!! (This was the final of the 75 – 11K Peaks.) I was so excited to make the top. I planned to finish my goal here, Mount Phillips elevation 11,741 feet. The views to the north and west were phenomenal!! It was cooler and the sky was 50-50 clear and cloudy. The 3 guys did “peak pushups.” We hiked 8.1 mile from the start with an up-down elevation gain of 2924 feet. (9.1 miles from Divide Camp) It was 3:40 when we got to the top. We stayed on the top for about 20 minutes. I looked at distant peaks and I remembered “stories” from many of the peaks that I could see. I was so excited that everything worked out so well! Leaving at 4:00 we divided into 2 groups on the way down. I went with the faster group and we flew over the very rocky trail, 2.8 miles, and were back in 1 hour and 5 minutes. It was fun zooming down the trail! It took the slower group a little over 3 hours to get back on the rough trail. The hike for the day was 10.9 miles, 11.9 since our start yesterday, and the up-down elevation gain was 3044 feet. YEAH! We got the fire started and had Mountain House dehydrated beef stroganoff. It did not seem to taste as good as years ago. We got the bear bags up in the trees and enjoyed the campfire until about 9:00. Earlier, I went to the little brook by my tent and listened for the baaaloop, and sure enough there it was baaaloop, every 7 seconds. I cleared out the little collecting and dropping spot, and no more baaaloop. The night’s sleep was wonderful! It is such an amazing experience listening to the 2 brooks splash and gurgle and hearing the gentle wind swishing through the trees throughout the night. I slept very well holding and grasping a special joy that my 16-year goal had been accomplished.

I slept in until 6:45, packed up, and had some coffee, and a snack breakfast. The morning was not as nice as yesterday. The sky was part cloud covered and a blustery wind was all around us. It was jacket cool. We left camp a little before 8:00 AM. It was about a mile uphill hike back to Divide Camp on the rocky trail. We completed the hike at 8:25 and waited for the 2 Suburbans. The total hike was 12.7 miles and the total up-down elevation gain was 3381 feet. The vans arrived and we went back a slightly different way, still a rough fun road, on the “Million Dollar Highway.” The views were incredible on our almost 2-hour 4WD ride. When we got back, we had lunch in the mess hall. Thanks to Philmont and this beautiful 220 square mile, 140,200 acre, forested high country land. I want to especially thank the members from Troop 166 that went with me. The minimum number for Autumn Adventure was 7, sometimes they will let you go with 6, but every member made it possible for this trip to happen. Thanks!!

*Note: My goal was to hike as many peaks as were respectfully and legitimately possible and at this point in time I have not hiked Pueblo Peak and Pueblo Peak West. Yet my goal is reached because I have made my best effort. I could have had the peaks but did not want to sneak on. I hiked as close to the peaks that I possibly could without trespassing. I made 2 trips to Taos to try to hire a guide and was willing to pay up to $1400. I had a friend ask the War Chief for both of us. Earlier on I did get the permission from Taos’s rangers to hike peaks closer to the edge of their land. The peaks are not hiked because of a lack of will, rather a lack of a respectful way. I am hoping at one point I can make a large donation for the preservation of the Taos Indian Land and that they will let me hike the peaks.

To Respectfully Hike Peaks…………….
1. To hike 5 peaks on Philmont Scout Land I joined my old Scout Troop 166 and became a member of BSA as a Scouter Reserve. For over 2 years I volunteered in small ways, organized 3 conditioning hikes and 2 Autumn Adventures peakbagging treks with the troop to get the 5 peaks that I needed on scout land. They all were excited with me when my goal was reached!!
2. I paid about 8 times to hike peaks on land-grant land. Once a fairly large chunk of money.
3. Tao’s Pueblo rangers gave me permission to hike peaks closer to the edge of their land.
4. I went massively out of my way at times, to hike peaks as best as I could without trespassing.
5. Four times I hired guides, 2 that HAD to go with me, and 2 that wanted to go with me.
6. I paid cruise ship prices twice to hike as a guest on Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park Ranch to hike 10 peaks. (The Park is almost as large as Rhode Island)
(I would not count a peak unless I got at least 3 miles of hiking and some peaks took up to 50 miles to get)

I am 66 years old and hope my quest inspires older people to never quit getting out on those hard adventures. I hope it inspires younger people to hike far more peaks than I have, and I hope it inspires families to build hard quests together, just for the joy of being together in the great outdoors.

Almost every high mountain peak in New Mexico that you see, I have been on top of, and each peak is not just a peak but a story. I see stories as I drive around New Mexico. I wrote these stories down. These special people are part of my story and I think of you as I drive New Mexico.
Special Thanks to: (# Peaks With Me in Parentheses)

All of Troop 166 but Especially: Adults: Scoutmaster John L. (6), Jerry L. (9), Beverly E. (7), Geoff H. (6), Jason H. (1), and Richard P. (Inspiration) Scouts: Brady L. (9), Chris H (7)
My Family: Wife Linda (2) & her special support. Daughters; Christina (21) Lauren (5) Jennifer (1) Natalie (1) Sons; Garret (47) Brandon (2) Dogs; (46)
Friends: Jim M. (25) Brian C. (10) Ravinder S. (5)
Philmont Guides: Matt M. (4), Mitch V. (1),
Vermejo Park Ranch Guide: Brian (8)
Fellow Peakbaggers: Richard O. (5), Dr. Jeremy K. (3), Fred B. (2)
Boy Scout Troop 166 Buddies as a Teenager: Dave Russell (7) Bill Oliver (7) Kevin Corcoran (7)

My biggest thanks and my deeply grateful heart for: After being involved for 15 years in almost every new agish and other religion, I was a lost sheep, not just in the meadow but down the cliff in the thorn bush, when in 1988 Jesus Christ found me. I thank God for the strength to do all this, for the inspiration that was planted in my heart, and for the beautiful creation I was allowed to dance in from peak to peak.
Romans 1:20

See list of the highest 184 Peaks in New Mexico .........DONE!



Route name

Big Red 11.3 mi route


rockfall/loose rock

Key gear

GPS device

Related links

Other peaks climbed on this trip