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Ascent of Lagrange County High Point on 2007-03-10

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Saturday, March 10, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Lagrange County High Point
    Location:USA-Indiana
    Elevation:1080 ft / 329 m

Ascent Trip Report

Saturday, 3/10/2007

Time Out / In: 3:45pm / 4:46pm
Temperature: mid 50’s
Wind: Mostly Calm
Tools/Aids: Pedometer, altimeter
Steps/Distance hiked: 3228 steps, about 1.7 mi.

36.9 – Leave Weston Chapel Cemetery road, driving east
37.3 – Intersection with Noble CR 1100E – turn left (north)
38.2 – Intersection with Noble CR 1175N – continue north
38.5 – Intersection with Noble CR 1200N / LaGrange CR 800S – the county line road where both counties label the north-south road 1100E – continue north
??.? – Intersection with LaGrange CR ???S – turn left (west)
43.9 – Intersection with LaGrange CR 950E – turn right (north)
47.0 – 5-Points Intersection; Charity Church included in Bob Schwab directions; turn around and return south on LaGrange CR 950E
47.8 – Arrive at the Northrop farm
48.2 – Park at next road south, next to other cars

I was approaching this destination from the south, in contrast to Bob Schwab who had approached from the north.

As I was driving north along LaGrange CR 950E, I observed the high hill to my right, but it did not register that this was the high point I was seeking. However, I eventually came to the 5-Points intersection, and I knew where I was from the Bob Schwab trip report. I turned around and followed his directions to the Northrop farm.

I parked in their driveway and knocked at the back and side doors before being heard by a woman who told me she was Ms. Northrop. I asked for permission to access the hill from her property. She told me she was sorry, but the absentee owner didn’t even want their family back there. She did not give me permission.

I asked about the cars I spied south of her farm when I drove past on my way north. I asked if they were hunting back there today. She told me the cars belonged to the neighbors. They parked their cars near the road because the mud was so difficult to traverse to reach their home ½ mile away and near the hill.

I then asked if she had any contact information for the owner. She briefly looked but then returned without any information. She told me the owner’s name, as she recalled, was Ms. Barbara (Showalter) Husselman, of Bryan OH. I drove away thinking I would need to try to find this Bryan resident.

I drove away from the Northrop farm and headed south down CR 950E. As I came to the next driveway with the cars, I decided to park and make the hike to the house. Even if I didn’t receive access permission, the 1+ mile round trip would be exercise. How would I be at peace if I didn’t give it a try? I noted that two cars had Christian-related markings on them. One car had the magnetic fish symbol on the back, and the other car had a bumper sticker for Indiana Wesleyan University. I was familiar with the conservative teachings of this school, so I was hopeful that I would find some friendly folks at the house. Regardless of your religious beliefs, I generally find faithful Christian believers to be kind, friendly and cooperative.

Before I left, I took a relative altimeter reading (RAR) of 926ft at the car. I began hiking north up the driveway, and it became clear to me why the cars were near the road. The dirt (mud) driveway was probably unpassable to all passenger vehicles except for those having 4-wheel drive.

In 11 minutes, I reached the house after making a sharp 90-degree turn east near the woods. I walked up to the door and knocked, and I was greeted by a college-aged woman (the IWU student, possibly?). When I asked for permission to hike the hill, she told me she would have to ask her father. He was not home, but she was willing to call him.

A few minutes later, she returned with a phone, and her father was on the line. He asked how he knew me. I told him we were not acquainted, but I was hiking in LaGrange County today. I had heard that the hill behind his home was the high ground in the county. He confirmed that was true, and after some other conversation, he freely offered his permission for me to climb. I asked him if there was a preferred route to the summit. (I had my topo map, but why not ask the resident expert?)

The man then told me what I had already observed. At the 90-degree bend in the drive, there was a trail leading up into the woods. He told me to follow the trail until I obtained the ridgeline. Then, he told me to head north to the obvious high ground. He then told me about a saddle that was to the north of the summit. If I wanted to have a nice panoramic view of the lower land to the north, I should hike down the saddle and onto the adjacent property that was owned by an absentee owner (confirming Ms. Northrop’s comments). I was impressed with his use of mountain references, and he told me to stay as long as I like, to enjoy the hike. I thanked him for his kindness and gave the phone back to the daughter. I asked her if she had ever hiked to the summit, and she told me she had been there many times. She was raised on this land, she said.

The daughter identified her father as Jim Carr. She told me their mailbox was on the opposite side of the main road, north of their driveway. I thanked her for her assistance and set off back down the driveway to the bend.

The RAR at the bend was 922ft. In less than 10 minutes, I had left the trail. Actually, the trail was narrow, more of an ATV path than a regular vehicle route. I bushwhacked toward the highest ground, following my shadow northeast due to the favorable position of the sun. I eventually ran out of ground to climb, so I proclaimed the HP “bagged”. The RAR here was 1037ft.

After wandering around for a few minutes, I proceeded north as instructed by Jim Carr. I dropped down to a saddle, reclaimed the adjacent high ground, and crossed a beaten-down fence on my way to the panorama spot. As I emerged into the clearing, I spied the old and poorly maintained sign erroneously proclaiming the elevation to be 1241ft. The topo map shows the elevation at the HP to be 1080+ ft, and the elevation near this sign should be about 10ft lower, at 1070+ ft.

I wandered around the clear high ground and agreed that the view was nice for this area of the country. I took some RAR that showed this area to be 1031ft – 1035ft. I took a few pictures and headed back toward my car. I regained the HP ground and then followed the sun southeast in the general direction I had come from. I emerged at the foot of the woods a bit west of my starting point, at a fence that bordered the farm field south of the woods. I hopped the fence and crossed the field to the driveway that was followed back to my car.

The RAR I took along the way were pretty accurate for calculating the elevation rise for this hike. The true topo elevation at the bend was 1070ft, making the hill 110+ ft high. This is consistent with the RAR readings taken. Also, the two high grounds only vary by one 10ft contour, and the RAR reported differences of 2-6 ft.

From my car, I hiked north along the road to the mailbox. There, I found some numbers and letters were missing from the front, but the name “J. Carr” definitely fit the pattern. The address was 145S 950E, a reasonable address remembering that CR 100S was seen farther north at the 5-Points intersection.

After the disappointing rejection in Noble County, I was pleased at the acceptance of the Carr family. This is a definite improvement over the contact identified in the Bob Schwab report, and I encourage any future CoHP’ers to consider this “trailhead” for their route access.

3/15/2007 UPDATE: The smallness of our world was demonstrated a couple days after I hiked in LaGrange County. In a meeting with a tax client who used to reside in that county, we discussed my trip on the prior Saturday. As I described the location, he asked me, “Oh, do you mean the land owned by Jim Carr?” I told him yes! This person knew Jim’s daughters. This client also told me Jim was employed as a naturalist with the local county parks / nature preserves system. In fact the following Saturday (2 days from now), this client would be working with Jim at an annual maple syrup festival held in LaGrange County’s Maple Wood Nature Center. The client gave me directions, and I strongly considered attending so I could meet Jim and thank him in person. Unfortunately, I had tax work to do, and I never got an opportunity to make the trip.
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