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Ascent of Brown County High Point on 2019-07-12

Climber: Jeremy Fuerst

Date:Friday, July 12, 2019
Ascent Type:Unsuccessful - Turned Back
Peak:Brown County High Point
    Location:USA-Nebraska
    Elevation:2700 ft / 822 m

Ascent Trip Report

This was a part of a trip to knock off some Nebraska COHPs "on the way" from my parents' house to OMA. As such it took all day. Rock, Brown, Keya Paha, Boyd, Knox, Cedar, Pierce, Wayne, and Dixon were on the menu for the day. We could have perhaps hit a couple counties near the driving route, but I did not want to push it with my wonderful and longsuffering wife.

Between Keya Paha County and Boyd County the shift from grassy sandhills to farmland (primarily corn) was evident. In the cases where the high points lied in corn and beanfields, I was not as concerned with contacting the property owners, because my experience growing up in Nebraska is that farmers tend to have little to no concern with people walking in their fields. (If anything they will be bemused by anyone dumb enough to walk through corn as a leisure activity.)

Initially we approached the Brown COHP from Highway 7 to the east. While there were signs indicating a road closure due to flooding, we continued because we were not certain how far this was (perhaps our turn would occur prior to the closure), and because to backtrack around to the northern approach would require another hour of driving. Sure enough, less than 10 miles in, water at least 4' deep stretched across the road for the next 1/2-mile. The previous winter and this summer have really been awful for Nebraskans.

We doubled back to Ainsworth and attempted the northern approach from Highway 20. We were able to get all the way to the property, but this is where it got a little interesting.

Apparently in the years since anyone else has posted a trip report, the ownership has changed hands. As we headed up the driveway, we came to a large and imposing gate. A farrier was just exiting through the gate in his small pickup. I asked if he was the property owner and he said no, and when I asked if I could walk the property, he said, "Probably not," and after a pause he added, "I doubt they would probably shoot at you, though."

He pointed to an obvious sign on the fence that read,

NO TRESPASSING FOR ANY PURPOSES WHATSOEVER
MOONLAKE WILDLIFE RANCH
41754 CATTLE DRIVE
JOHNSTOWN, NE 69214
FOR QUESTIONS CALL DON BLANKENAU
402-475-7080

Of course we had not had a cell signal since leaving the highway. We tried using the call box mounted on a post outside the gate, but it did not appear to be working. So we drove all the way back to the highway, where I called the number. What then ensued was a conversation between an exasperated me and a very confused intern in a law office in Lincoln. Eventually the intern passed me on to the attorney (one Don Blankenau) who said it is a private wildlife reserve, but it would be totally fine for me to walk the property. Apparently they really just do not want any vehicles driving around. So, Mr. Blankenau told me, if anyone approached me, to tell them I had his consent to be there.

At this point, though, we still had a long drive back to Omaha and other counties I wanted to hit. So for now I am placing Mr. Blankenau's consent in my back pocket for another time.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear



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