Ascent of Galena Benchmark on 2019-06-21

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Friday, June 21, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Galena Benchmark
    Elevation:950 ft / 289 m

Ascent Trip Report

950+ ft.

Friday, 6/21/2019 – REVISIT TO LOCATE BM and RM
(see 7/8/2008 for original visit notes)

Thanks to a recent visit by Bob Packard, when he was able to locate BM Galena and one of its RM, I was inspired to revisit this area. My first visit was over 10 years ago, on 7/5/2008. On that visit, I claimed a successful ascent though I did not locate the BM Galena or the related RM referenced in the Packard report.

I left work early on this, the longest day of the year and first day of summer. Driving to near the HP area, I parked my car on the south side of CR 600N near the HP. Since I came directly from work, I did not have my GPS or a compass with me. This would be a total blind bushwhack, which I did not expect to be very difficult. But I was wrong, and the effort left me with several scratches as I made my way through the often-dense growth of berries and other spiny plants.

I was intending to rely on Packard’s report of posts and survey tapes marking the location of each marker; I thought I would just follow my nose into the woods, look for high ground, and find the desired posts and flags. But I was wrong. After wandering into the woods and investigating every bump that I could detect, I came away empty. I wandered for about 45 minutes before accepting that this trip may result in a failed attempt.

One special treat was obtained from this trip into the woods. As I was wandering through the brush, I took a step that gave me surprising results. My movements startled a fawn, and it rose to its feet and bounded away when I was less than 10’ from stepping on it. It only took seconds. The last vision I had was of a body of spots merging into the brush of another spot where the deer once again became hidden from view.

I had my cell phone with me, and I checked the CoHP and PB maps often as I tried to pinpoint the area where the markers would be found. During my wanderings in the woods, I came near enough that I could make out a large light yellow building. I had found a sandy dirt path, which I guessed was a bridle trail laid by the property owner. I did not follow the path to the building; instead, I retreated toward CR 600N and my car.

I looked at the maps one last time. I recognized that the HP markers were north of the yellow building, so I drove to the winding, paved driveway that led north. The mailbox announced the address as 1157 CR 600N. The drive was ungated, but it did have a “Beware of Dogs” sign. I drove up the driveway intending to find someone who might give me some information about the area and the location of the markers.

As I arrived at the yellow building, which was a large pole barn, two adults were outside. I parked my car and approached them. They were friendly, and I explained my purpose for being there. “I have information that leads me to believe that this is the highest land in all of LaPorte County. I’m trying to locate some survey markers that have been placed near the true highest ground”.

“Oh, are you one of them ‘highpointers’?, I was asked. I admitted that I was, and I was in the area and on my way back home in the Fort Wayne area. As I chatted with these two, a man was approaching. He was blowing grass off the driveway, and they said he was the owner. When he got there, I repeated my inquiries to him. “You’re lucky you didn’t get shot” were the first words I recall him saying. We chatted a bit, and I wasn’t sure whether he was serious or not. His demeanor was relaxed, and we had a casual exchange.

He acknowledged that he knew his property was the summit of LaPorte County. So I asked if he would mind if I entered the woods to see if I could locate the same markers that had been recently seen by others. He gave me permission, and one of the others gave me the general directions to get there.

“Just follow the sand path to the left of the barn as it winds its way up into the woods. When you get to the obvious and large, brushy burn pile, turn left and continue to follow the path uphill. Before long, I think you will see the orange blazes/markers you are looking for.”

The directions were easy, and the reward was quick. From the burn pile, the path soon took a winding turn to the right. Shortly after the bend, I spied a large diameter pole to the left of the path. The pole had freshly-applied orange blazes on it. There was no marker at this spot, but I believed it was significant. I looked around, and when I looked uphill, I spied it. I saw a pole sticking up about 5-6’, and survey tape was waving from the top.

When I got to the pole, I looked down and saw my first target. It was the reference marker, identified by the arrow that pointed to the benchmark. I did not see the BM pole immediately, but I set off in that direction with great expectation. After a short while, I spied the second target, the pole that marked the actual BM.

I used my cell phone camera to take photos of the area including both markers which clearly said “GALENA”.

I took some step distances as I returned to the sand path. From the BM to the RM required 55 paces. This was not a direct route; rather, it was on a path that bowed east of the direct line in order to walk through brush that was less dense. I was taking short steps, so YMMV. You will likely travel between the two with fewer steps. From the RM to the first pole near the path, it was 33 paces. Finally, the pole was about 12-15’ off the dirt path which was easily seen from that pole.

As I returned to my car, the owner was still there. The round trip only took 15-20 minutes I would guess. I once again thanked the owner for allowing me permission to visit the markers. And then he repeated a casual reference to visitors getting shot. So I asked him how future HP’ers should contact him to visit the markers and the high ground. “Smoke signals from the road would be good”, he said. “I can read smoke signals”. I think he was joking, but I don’t know for sure.

This owner has a beautiful secluded property, and he made his preferences clear. I believe permission should be obtained from this sensitive owner because of the concerns he expressed to me about unexpected visitors. But with a GPS and a bit more knowledge and awareness, I likely could have found the markers on my initial attempt of the day as I bushwhacked around the woods. Future visitors can make their own decisions if they choose to visit this highpoint, but I believe the wishes of the owner should be respected.

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