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Ascent of Meade County High Point on 2015-02-13

Climber: Lupe Lunde

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, February 13, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Meade County High Point
    Location:USA-South Dakota
    Elevation:5460 ft / 1664 m

Ascent Trip Report

For more info and photos relating to this ascent, check out Lupe's blog post at adventuresoflupe.com.

Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 119: Last warm day after a couple of weeks of very warm weather (including a couple of record setting days). Much of the snow had melted so that only scattered large patches of snow were still around, although the roads remained quite muddy. Parked the G6 at the intersection of USFS Roads No. 151 (Old Ridge Road) and No. 151.2G. This point is at least a couple miles SW of the Meade County HP. (Note: See other trip reports for much closer starting points. SPHP often parks miles from the intended destination just for the fun of the hike and exploring the region.) It was 48 degrees when Lupe set out from the G6 at 10:34 AM under mostly clear skies.

Lupe followed No. 151 heading N for about 1.5 miles which brought her past the W end of the ridge forming the S side of Virkula Gulch. Here she left the road and went ENE through a snowy forest (northern exposure) down towards the saddle at the W end of Virkula Gulch. Lupe passed slightly to the N of the saddle and came to a jeep trail that headed N. She followed the jeep trail uphill just a short distance before leaving it to climb ENE up the ridge forming the N side of Virkula Gulch. Just N of the first little rocky high point, there was another jeep trail heading E. It led up to the big nearly level area above 5400 feet at the W end of the ridge.

SPHP hadn't checked the maps and initially thought the Meade County HP was somewhere around here, not realizing this part of the ridge is in Lawrence County. Consequently Lupe explored around this fairly large area, which was quite thickly forested, looking for the highest point. Towards the E side of this area Lupe found a rocky jeep trail. She followed it N to where there was a cliff with a very nice unobstructed view of the big valley Elk Creek runs through. Terry Peak and its snowy ski runs were visible in the distance to the WNW. A NW wind made it quite breezy here, although back in the forest the breeze had been barely noticeable. Even though the view was better here, SPHP led Lupe back S to a point along the S edge of the high ground with a sunny and less windy view of Virkula Gulch.

Here Lupe took a little Taste of the Wild break while SPHP ate an apple. Finally consulting the maps, SPHP suddenly realized the Meade County HP was still close to 0.75 mile farther E. So once the break was over, Lupe headed E back to the rocky jeep trail. She followed it SE down off the high ground. Before Lupe had lost much elevation, the big limestone rock outcropping at High Point 5401 came into view. It was soon apparent the jeep trail was going to continue on down to pass to the S of and well below HP 5401. So Lupe left the jeep trail and stayed on the saddle leading toward the rocks. The climb up HP 5401 from the W was easy and Lupe was glad she made it. The views from HP 5401 are the best available in the general vicinity of the Meade County HP. Lupe posed for a photo on a rock just below the true summit where there was a very nice view of the W end of Virkula Gulch with Custer Peak off in the distance to the WSW.

From HP 5401 it was also easy to see the heavily forested hill close at hand to the E which was the E end of the ridge forming the N side of Virkula Gulch, and also the site of the Meade County HP. (Due to thick forest, this hill had NOT been visible from the hill W of HP 5401.) Lupe climbed back down and passed around the N side of HP 5401. She headed E into a small saddle that eventually led her back up onto the hill to the E. Now the only thing left to do was to scout around the top of the hill to find the actual Meade County HP. Although the area seemed fairly level, it had been easy to see from HP 5401 that the highest point on this hill was towards the N. This also agreed with the topo map printed out from Peakbagger showing the Meade County HP near the NNW end of the hill.

Lupe headed N through the forest and the ground did seem to rise a little bit in that direction. Towards the far N end of the hill was a small area noticeably 2 or 3 feet higher than the rest of the ground around it. On this high ground stood two large pine trees about 10 or 12 feet apart. The bases of their trunks seemed to be on the very highest ground. Just a few feet NW from the easternmost tree was a very small whitish limestone cairn. Lupe posed for a photo next to the cairn, which as near as SPHP could tell, appeared to mark the Meade County HP. Before leaving, SPHP lifted up and then carefully replaced several of the larger rocks forming the cairn hoping to find a survey marker, but there was nothing.

There were no views from the cairn in any direction other than the thick forest. Lupe did scout around a short distance to the N, but it was soon clear there wasn't any higher ground on this hill anywhere farther N. It is unfortunate that SPHP had not read in advance any of the previous trip reports on Peakbagger about the Meade County HP. Lupe can report that SPHP did not find any other cairns or rocks lined up to point in the direction of the cairn Lupe found. Furthermore, SPHP did not find any dimes or see any pink ribbons, but on the other hand, hadn't been looking for them either.

Before heading S to see what could be seen from the S end of the hill, Lupe returned briefly once more to the Meade County HP cairn so SPHP could retrieve the backpack. Soon Lupe was at the S end of the hill, which presented a pretty view of the E end of Virkula Gulch. Lupe patiently posed for a couple of photos. Then it was time for the return trip to the G6. Lupe returned by nearly the exact same route. She didn't climb HP 5401 again, but did go to the NE end of the W hill where the cliffs with the view of Elk Creek were for one more look. It was 50 degrees and only 3:36 PM when Lupe arrived back at the G6. There were still a couple of hours of daylight left. Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 119 was not over. Lupe hopped into the G6 for a ride that eventually ended with her climbing Custer Peak, but that's another TR!
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
Black Hills, SD Expedition No. 119: Lupe at the little cairn marking the Meade County High Point. The big tree mentioned in several previous trip reports is likely the one at the left side of the photo (2015-02-13). Photo by Lupe Lunde.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:380 ft / 116 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Mostly sunny, N breeze, temp mid 50's
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:380 ft / 116 m
    Route:Climbed Ridge From W end of Virkula Gulch
    Trailhead:Intersection of USFS Road No. 151 & 151.2G  5080 ft / 1548 m
Descent Statistics



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