Ascent of Midland County High Point on 2003-03-15

Climber: Scott Surgent

Others in Party:Bob Martin
Date:Saturday, March 15, 2003
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Midland County High Point
    Elevation:2980 ft / 908 m

Ascent Trip Report

Midland County's highest point is a "rise" of land on its western boundary. The land here is so flat that elevation differentials might be a few feet per mile. There's no way to discern the highpoint just by looking at it. It's entirely dependent on the topographical maps, and a GPS unit.

In 2002, I was here and I thought I would have no trouble locating the highpoint. I had a GPS, but the maps I had did not include the lat-long tick marks. Usually, I would locate "hard to see" highpoint areas by comparing my position with other features such as fencelines, bends in the road, buildings and so on. This method works well assuming the maps and the actual land agree. Sometimes they don't, which is what happened here in Midland County.

On the map, it appeared this highpoint was in the middle of nowhere, a handful of scraggly roads meandering in the area. My first hint of trouble was that a new freeway had been built, so some of these old roads on the map were now bulldozed into history. I was able to get near my desired road anyway, but as I drove in, the bends in the road didn't seem to match what was on the map. Junctions that I needed to see just weren't there.

I drove in a couple miles and stopped, got out, and honestly felt utterly stumped. I walked around and left, thinking "I got it". Well, I got back on the freeway, drove into Odessa, stopped and got out my maps. I wanted to figure this out better. I intended to go right back and redo it.

I drove back and got off onto a side/frontage road, and parked at the Midland-Ector County line sign, and took a GPS reading, giving me a longitude value that I could use to help better locate my position (I had not pre-entered any lat-long coordinates before I left home. That just wasn't my style). Then I found the road to the alleged highpoint area, and tried to follow tracks until I was at or very near the county line, going by my longitude value.

I kept at this for about 30 minutes. I followed a "main" road that seemed to veer west too quickly. Each time I would get onto the county line, I'd get out and walk into the surrounding scrubland, and take more readings, jotting them onto a sheet of paper. I took about four or five, then when I returned home, I compared them to a complete map. Alas, I had not visited the "right" area. I nicked its southern end, but that wasn't good enough.

When Bob and I were discussing our 2003 plans, I mentioned my desire to revisit Midland County, and I was surprised when he said he felt unsure about his previous visit. Then it was settled: we'd revisit it together. Thus, we met one another here in Texas, both armed with complete maps and GPS waypoints up the ying-yang. As a result, we zeroed in on the area in a matter of minutes.

One thing still bugged me: a "major" road junction shown on the map supposedly nearby the highpoint area just was not there. We spent about 10 minutes searching for it, and we did find it. One of the roads had been torn up and "softened" so that grass and scrub would grow on it. It was essentially erased, and only the barest hints that a road was ever here remained.

Well, it felt good to finally complete this stupid county highpoint. Now we could move on to our next objectives.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5 ft / 1 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Trailhead:2975 ft / 906 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country

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