Ascent of English Benchmark on 2004-01-16

Climber: Scott Surgent

Others in Party:Bob Martin
Date:Friday, January 16, 2004
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:English Benchmark
    Elevation:871 ft / 265 m

Ascent Trip Report

We arrived in Carrizo Springs, the Dimmit County seat and essentially its only town, in the dark and in the rain. We drove FM-186 southwest for a few miles to where the pavement ended, and found some spots on the side of the road to pull into and car-camp for the night. It rained during the night and once or twice a truck would rumble by, but otherwise, it was completely dark and quiet.

Very early the following morning, we drove to the end of FM-3252, coming to a beautiful hunting lodge with imposing gates in front. There are seven smallish areas clumped close together that reach 870 feet. One contains the USGS "English" benchmark at 871 feet nearby the road. Signs at the gate called the place the La Bandera Ranch. Four of the areas lie nearby this lodge, while the other three lie outside this property in a field beside the road. All seven of the potential highpoint areas lie close by one another such that no one is more than three-quarters of a mile from any other.

When we arrived at this lodge, we saw some men standing around, so I got one's attention and he came to the gate. I told him of our request and he said I should talk to the guy inside. He let me in and I went in to speak to Gene, the guy's name. Gene listened, but did not grant us access. He did not elaborate. Just a single "no". I thanked him and went back to Bob with the news.

We drove back a mile and parked in a small clearing which abutted the field that held the three areas outside the ranch. A study of the maps suggested that, statistically, these areas may likely be highest, one being larger than the rest. In the early morning misty weather, we walked across the open field to this largest area. Getting to it was easy. We removed a much-smaller area about 500 feet southwest from contention using the sight level.

Using the sight level, we sighted to each of the other visible areas and using man-made features like fences, poles, the lodge itself, and even me, we were able to show that this largest area "probably" was higher than the others by about four feet. For example, I walked over to the English Benchmark, and stood there. Bob sighted toward me and told me that his level sighted above my head, taking his height into account, too.

Three areas on the "forbidden" property could also be eliminated with strong (in our opinion) probability from being higher than the large area. Here, we noted things like how the fence lines undulated and other features that we sighted toward, noting how far "up" we came to them. We even sighted to the lodge and the bubble placed us about halfway up the big building.

This left just one last area, located about a quarter-mile south of the lodge. We could not sight to it directly and of course, we were not going to walk to it. The map shows a set of buildings here. Physically, the area is smaller than the other areas. We surmised without direct evidence it "probably" did not hold any higher points of land.

We spent about an hour here, sighting all the areas we could back and forth, trying to double check whenever possible. My final conclusion was that the large area to the north was highest. The two nearby "legal" areas were conclusively lower. The three visible areas nearby the lodge were "with strong probability" lower, and that last area, "probably" lower. The most important thing was that Bob felt very good about our research. He declared us successful, and thus, so do I.

From here, we backtracked north and continued toward La Salle County.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:30 ft / 9 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1.4 mi / 2.3 km
    Trailhead:841 ft / 256 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country

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