Ascent of Tamarack Mountain on 2007-03-10

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Saturday, March 10, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Tamarack Mountain
    Elevation:1200 ft / 365 m

Ascent Trip Report

Sunday, 3/4/2007 (Scouting Trip only - no summit attempted)

Time Out / In: sometime around 6:30pm, 45 minutes duration
Temperature: mid 20’s
Wind: Windy
Tools/Aids: None
Steps/Distance hiked: Negligible/Not tracked

I still had some daylight, so I decided I would scout the Steuben County HP areas. I was not really dressed for any significant outdoor hiking, but at least I could see what I would be up against when I got the chance to return for the real thing.

Coincidentally, the Williams (Ohio) CoHP areas are located just north of CR 300N, the road to York, IN. This is the same road where the Steuben County gravel pit can be found, not far away because it is also in the eastern half of the county. So my journey was a simple trek due west, sadly into the direct and low rays of the setting sun.

I passed a rather large automobile racetrack on the south side of 300N. Angola, the Steuben County seat, is not a particularly large community. But I guess the local boys like to have their fun! It’s either that or tractor-pulls.

I crossed IN 827, and a short while later, I arrived at the gated (but open) road at the gravel pit, and I turned right (north) to follow this access road as far as I could. I stopped at a gated road that appeared to lead to the office area. To my left (west) was a road leading down into the open expanse of the gravel pit operations. I had no reason to drive down this road and into the pit.

This mining operation has obviously been here for a number of years, judging from the depth of the pit and the width of the open area. The width extends west all the way to the woods that are shown on the topo map.

I agree with Bob Schwab’s 2001 assessment when he thought that the two high points, which should have been due west, were lower. The road’s elevation at my vantage point was about 1150ft, and everything in the mining pit appeared to lie lower than eye level. Certainly, no points were eyeballed that would attain or approach the 1200ft stated as the high point elevation. Apparently, the mining operations have completely harvested these high points, and there is probably no need to continue to pursue high points in the gravel pit area.

When I return to climb the CoHP, I will try to plan enough time to stop at the gravel pit office and/or the county surveyor’s office. Perhaps I can obtain some history that will piece this puzzle together once and for all. I will also return with a hand level so I can get a clearer perspective of the surrounding area.

I followed Bob’s alternate approach as I scouted Area 3. On CR 300N, I traveled west to IN 127, turned right (north) for the mile to CR 400N, and then turned right just below the large Baptist church on the northeast corner.

I proceed east for about ½ mile when I suddenly came upon a herd of 6-7 white-tailed deer grazing in the front yard and driveway area of a home on the north side of the road. I slowed down to gaze on them, and suddenly one of the deer bound into the road and crossed my path. I then stopped because I was not sure what the other deer intended to do. Well, they actually moved away from the road toward the back of the house, and then they stopped and held a stare-down with me. None of us moved, and no one blinked. Finally, I had to move my car as vehicles were approaching from behind at a normal rate of speed. I continued on my way to the Tamarac Trails neighborhood.

I turned right (south) into the neighborhood, then turned right again at the nearby first road. I followed this road west and then north until it came to another intersection to the west. I turned on this road and duplicated the west-then-north route of the previous street just as it’s shown on the topo map, passing the radio tower on the western stretch. Near the end of this road, I saw the dirt road that passed through a wooden fence and into the field beyond. From my position, I did not see any Sheriff’s department buildings or toboggan hills.

I turned around and returned to the prior street. I then noticed a sign indicating “Private Property”. I believe this referred to the road I had just traveled since I saw only 3-4 homes along its length. I am not sure where the Sheriff department property begins and where the private property ends. When I return for the real ascent, I will try to seek permission from the blue house just to the left of the trail through the wooden fence.

I backtracked the same way I had come, and I passed the “deer house” I had seen coming in. This time, the deer were still there. Apparently, the farm fence found on the west side of the house temporarily impeded their progress. As I slowed down to get a better look, the deer disappeared down a hill that was on the backside of the property.

I continued on to drive past my former home and return to my current home via I-69.

Saturday, 3/10/2007

Time Out / In: 5:27pm / 5:47pm
Temperature: low 50’s
Wind: Mostly Calm
Tools/Aids: Pedometer, altimeter
Steps/Distance hiked: 536 steps, about .28mi.

48.2 – Leave LaGrange County HP site, heading north on CR 950E
50.6 – Intersection with US 20 – turn right (east)
54.1 – Cross into Steuben County
68.0 – Take Exit 154 at IN 127 – turn right (south)
68.2 – Intersection with CR 400N (next to Faith Baptist Church) – turn left (east)
69.2 – Tamarac Trails housing addition – turn right, then right again, then right again to arrive at the most southwest street near the Sheriff’s garage (not seen from the road)
69.9 – Turn left at the gravel lane and park a short distance (due to mud/standing water) up the lane with the Sheriff’s garage now in sight

The final effort of the trip was to attempt to complete the Steuben County HP that had been scouted a few days earlier. I was excited to complete Steuben County since it would also connect to my home glob the previous isolated counties of LaGrange (completed today) and Williams County (completed about a week ago).

I drove up the Tamarac Trail streets, and there were “No Trespassing” signs everywhere. It was clear to me that someone did not want outsiders here. This time, however, near the end of the most southwest road, I turned left onto the gravel road that was seen as I approached the last house. I was pleased to see the Sheriff’s garage a bit up the lane once I crested a low ridge in the lane. I chose to park near the toboggan hill because the lane was blocked by deep mud and standing water that was generated from the week’s spring meltdown.

I took a relative altimeter reading (RAR) of 1103ft. at my car. I followed the snow-covered trail left of the garage and behind it back into the woods toward the gravel pits. At one point, I came to a string draped across the trail, with a sign stating “ATV’s, Keep Out”. I took this to be a restriction on ATV’s only and not to hikers like me. I continued on toward the HP.

In just a few minutes, I was standing at the HP, which yielded a RAR of 1139ft. The actual HP is recorded on the topo map as 1200+ ft., so the altimeter readings were a bit off. But the gravel pit was clearly seen through the woods to the south and southeast, so I believed I had found the HP area shown on the topo map.

I returned to the Sheriff’s garage, and I hiked the adjacent toboggan hill. Actually, I believe this may also been a starting point for skiers because there are several pulleys and towers for tow ropes seen in the lower grounds below and to the northwest from the hill. My RAR at the top was 1161ft., so I estimate that this hill was actually about 1220+ ft.

I never personally used this hill for recreation, but I have traveled down the new toboggan run found in the nearby Pokagon State Park (less than 5 miles away). I would guess that this hill closed down around the time the Pokagon toboggan run was opened.

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