Ascent of Pecos County High Point on 2002-03-11

Climber: Scott Surgent

Others in Party:Bob Martin
Date:Monday, March 11, 2002
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Pecos County High Point
    Elevation:5472 ft / 1667 m

Ascent Trip Report

The Glass Mountains spread across Pecos and Brewster Counties in West Texas. The range's summit is somewhere in Brewster County, while an unnamed peak about a half-mile inside the Pecos County side is the highest point in Pecos County. Bob Martin and I spent the better part of the day securing permission to hike the peak legally. We got lucky, but ended up hiking it at sunset, emerging in the dark.

We started the day hiking the highest point in Terrell County. From there, we continued west into Marathon, then north along highway US-385 to the road that gets closest to the peak. Not surprisingly, the road was gated. Foot-high letters spelled out Brooks Ranch. This was a lead. However, we had a potential stroke of good luck: the gate was open.

We decided that I would stay back on the highway while Bob drove in to meet the landowner and see about hiking the peak. In case anyone drove up while Bob was in there, I could warn them to not lock him in. Bob was gone for about a half-hour. When he returned, he had no news. No one was home. We both decided against driving in on our own for fear of being locked in.

Next, we drove north and entered onto an adjacent property, encountering an old, grizzled-looking fellow. He was friendly and knew who owned the land. He even gave us his phone number. The landowner lives up in Odessa. We tried calling from our cell phones but reception was spotty. We decided to drive back south and bide our time in Marathon.

We spent the next couple hours in Marathon. Bob called the number and at first, he was told the man was in a meeting. So we had to wait. In the meantime, we walked around and tried to stave off boredom. The wind was picking up fairly heavy, strong enough to kick up dust clouds and blow tumbleweeds. Finally, Bob got through to the man and he gave us permission! He told us his son would be staying the night at the property and to meet him at the gate. So Bob and I drove back north and waited beside the gate.

The son showed up around 4 in the afternoon, as had a ranch-hand who wondered what we were up to. We all greeted one another, then convoyed along the ranch road to the house, where we had a chat. The son was a college-age kid and seemed pretty cool. We finally departed and drove a rough ranch track another mile roughly west to a flat bench of sparse juniper, parking beside a fence at 4,800 feet. We started our hike at 5 p.m.

From the vehicle, we went northwest through scrubby juniper forest and weedy brush. The going was slow. We had to cross through a narrow drainage, which we avoided by staying high on the hillsides, hiking by sight toward a peak, elevation 5,360 feet according to the map. This wasn't our highpoint but it was close. Past the drainage things opened up, and we made our way up the hillsides a couple hundred feet, working by sight to the summit. All this is about an hour of hiking, covering a mile and 600 feet of gain.

A large cairn marks the summit, looking like one of those famous Basque sheepherder cairns. Some contending bumps on the ridge line were quickly ruled out by observation and sight-level. The wind was fierce, with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. We stayed in the lee of the wind, got a few photos, but didn't linger as it was getting dark. The hike out went fast, the only event being Bob walking into an agave plant and getting shin daggers.

We made our way up the drainage again to the elevated juniper bench where Bob's truck was parked, but now we had near darkness. The junipers were thick enough to prohibit any long views, so we hiked directly into the fence, which worked well because we followed it back to the truck. By now it was totally dark. We drove out to say goodbye to the son back at the ranch house, then left the premises, happy that we'd got the okay to hike the Pecos County highpoint, which was most unexpected.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:600 ft / 183 m
    Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Trailhead:4872 ft / 1484 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack

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