Ascent of Mount Arvon on 1989-06-28

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, June 28, 1989
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Arvon
    Elevation:1978 ft / 602 m

Ascent Trip Report

Then I left L'Anse set off for Mt. Arvon, which had the reputation of being one of the harder high points to locate. Using my Baraga County tourist map I drove north towards Skanee, MI, and then turned off on narrow local dirt roads into the forest—-the tourist map was surprisingly accurate, and I had little trouble finding Roland Lake and then the road around it to the west which headed south into the Huron Mountains. The road was, as usual, utterly wretched—-a one-lane, narrow, muddy, rutted, gravel track through dense forest-—but I was now on the topo map I had xeroxed from the Zummwalt book, so I could follow very closely where I was and where I was going. He, for some reason, had suggested coming in from the south, a much longer approach on an equally bad or worse road, so I didn’t use his directions.

The road got worse and worse, with some steep, rocky sections as it climbed a bit and turned east, and I left it at a right turn to head south after a very bad gully crossing. The side road was just as bad—after a sandy clearing/road junction it climbed very steeply, forded a two-foot deep stream (I just drove right through it, feeling as cool as the guys in the 4x4 commercials on T.V.), then became, in my judgment, impassable. I parked, made sure I had my compass and map handy, and started hiking up the road.

It was very cool (keeping the mosquitoes at bay, thankfully) and still totally overcast and gray, but there still hadn’t been any rain. I hiked up the road, checking my map constantly in the uninhabited, unsigned wilderness, and after a short while I realized that I wasn’t on the track towards Mt. Arvon. I returned to the car and figured I’d check out the road off from the sandy clearing down closer to the main dirt road.

On the rough, rocky, lurching drive (and stream ford) back downhill suddenly I heard a noise like something falling off the front of the car. I stopped, and behind me on the dirt road was the cars plastic front grille, which had come loose, I guess, from the pounding the car was receiving. I attached it again and continued down to the clearing.

The road I wanted to take uphill from there was totally overgrown and impassable, so I parked, again got my pack, map, and compass in gear, and stated hiking uphill again, this time on the steep, muddy, overgrown track. After a while a steep grassy road branched off, but I stayed on the original path until it ended in a bit, confounding me for a minute before I looked at the map and realized that I needed to take the grassy path. From then on I knew exactly where I was on my map, and I meandered around on the obscure logging roads of the deep woods, passing some small cairns after a while, until on a sloping, graded path I struck off into the woods in the direction of what was supposedly a USGS benchmark and sign at the summit of Mt. Arvon.

The area of woods was totally flat, and I muddled about in the forest, scanning the area, until I spied a tiny blue metal thing on a post through the trees. Jogging over towards it, I realized that I had located the highest point in in Michigan. It was a ground-level concrete post with a benchmark in it, a small white sign telling people not to disturb it, and a little blue mailbox (the first thing I had seen) with a register placed there by the local boy scouts. It was in the middle of nothing but flat, unexciting forest, totally inaccessible and isolated. I really wondered how in the world surveyors had determined the elevation of this place, let alone that it was the highest in the state (or even exactly 11 inches higher than some other piece of flat forest a few miles away).

While resting and eating some of the food I had brought along I read through the logbook in the mailbox, which had been placed there in 1983, the date the surveyors had awarded Mt. Arvon the high point status. The little notebook wasn’t even full yet, although a fair amount of people had trekked here over the years. Most people were amazed on how hard to find the place was, but not two loggers working nearby, who had stopped by to see what the fuss was in 1986 or so.

After taking pictures I left, getting back to the logging road easily and starting back down on the sometimes sandy, sometimes muddy and overgrown logging roads and jeep trails, happy at attaining my goal and glad it hadn’t rained on me yet—it was still cool and overcast. Back at the car I tied my front grille on with a piece of rope so it wouldn’t fall off again and then braced myself for the absolute last dirt road of my trip. It was bad, and I didn’t recognize parts of it, but when I saw the first houses down at Roland Lake I knew I was afraid for nothing. I got back to the paved Skanee road and rejoiced and gave my poor old car a pat for putting up with so much abuse over the past six months.

Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:420 ft / 128 m
    Distance:2.4 mi / 3.9 km
    Trailhead:1558 ft / 474 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Overcast

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