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Ascent of Morrill County High Point on 2004-05-19

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Morrill County High Point
    Location:USA-Nebraska
    Elevation:4600 ft / 1402 m

Ascent Trip Report

Travelling east, I followed a series of county roads into the Flying Bee Beefmaster Ranch, which sits north of the long spine of the Wildcat Hills. I arrived around 2 p.m., and the nine separate areas comprising the Morrill County highpoint were up on top of those hills. This journey was going to require some actual work, starting with getting permission to enter into the hills.

I parked in an open area and started looking around for the landowners. I heard activity in a barn, and walking in, found some people working on the cattle, doing medical checks (so far as I could tell. Not that I actually know anything about ranching other than I like steaks and prime rib). I met Ms. Kinnaman, and she was kind enough to grant me permission to enter into the hills behind their property. The Kinnamans allow visitors and even have a small camping area set aside. The area is especially popular with horse-riders. I paid her a fee, and mentioned to her my intentions. Their property sits inside Banner County, while the Morrill County highpoints lie just east of the county line. She gave me the number of that landowner. I called her up, got the okay, and I was all set. From the ranch headquarters I went east a half-mile then south a half-mile to a cabin and campground area, the entryway, so to speak, into the backcountry.

At the end of the road near the camping area, there is a cattle grate and a vehicle track that leads into the hills. I drove in about a mile and parked at another fence-line and gate, starting my hike at 3 p.m. I walked another three-quarters of a mile to where the road dipped into a draw. The main road, called "Road 1", goes to the top of the hills, but not in the direction I wanted. Instead, I found a scanter track and followed it, but it petered out amid knee-high grass. I then hiked directly up-slope until I was on top the crest of the hills. To here I had walked about 1.5 miles, and was still over a mile west of the Morrill County line.

Up here, the road meandered, dipping into and out of many small ridges. The scenery is astounding, a park-like setting of gentle hills, grass, occasional trees and shrubs. I moved quickly east, with a small concern about the time, and the fact that the nine candidate areas were spread out all over the place once I got amid them. Two areas come first, and ascending one small rise, confirmed that the other area slightly north was lower. I wouldn't need to bother with it.

The remaining seven areas were about another mile east. Once there, I ascended hilltops and sighted to nearby hilltops, systematically removing some from consideration while strengthening the cases for the ones I ascended. I left the area convinced I had covered all bets. From my vehicle I had hiked 3.5 miles, and the consistent up-and-down terrain tired me. I was moving fast for a couple other reasons: it was getting late and some very light rain was starting to fall.

The hike out took a little over an hour, and I was back to my vehicle at 6 p.m., surprisingly tired. I had not expected the hike to be this lengthy. However, I am happy I made the effort, as these hills proved to be the prettiest hike of my whole trip, and I had a wonderful time. My thanks to the Kinnamans for their hospitality.

Done for the day, I drove east into the heart of the Sand Hills, and stayed a night at a hotel.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:800 ft / 244 m
    Distance:7 mi / 11.3 km
    Trailhead:3800 ft / 1158 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country



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