Ascent of Sanford Hill on 2010-10-02

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Saturday, October 2, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Sanford Hill
    Elevation:680 ft / 207 m

Ascent Trip Report

680+ ft.
including Sanford Hill

Saturday, 10/2/2010

Areas #1 and 2 – Sanford Hill
Daylight was holding on, so I set off for the third of today’s targets, Vigo County. I was traveling from the north, so my approach was different from that used by Bob Schwab. But his directions are still good. I followed my GPS to arrive at 3525 E. Harlan Drive.

I arrived at the entrance to Camp Wabashi (, and I turned south to enter the camp property. I drove along the long drive to arrive at an open gate that led to the main camp area beyond. Just outside the gate was a house on the right, and I could see that folks were home. So I stopped to explain my mission and ask permission to proceed. It turned out that this was the home of the camp caretaker, and there were a few people onsite though camp was not formally in session. I met a man who was leery at first because he was not sure about admitting strangers when kids were there. Finally, he agreed to take a photocopy of my driver’s license, and he consented to what I told him would be a hike of about 30-45 minutes. He was concerned about the oncoming darkness, which was perhaps 90 minutes away. I assured him I would stay aware of the darkness and be out easily before its onset. He told me he would come looking for me if he got concerned, and I would have to leave if that happened. I agreed.

I then drove through the gate and parked at the base of the hill, near the large building I believed to be the dining hall. There were stairs up the hill directly behind me, but I chose to follow the road route described by Bob Schwab. The road initially trended south before making a 180-degree turn uphill and back north. At the turn, another road continued due east past a new cabin under renovation. I followed the hairpin road north past the girls cabins before shortly arriving at the flatland described by Bob as area #1. I agree this was lower than the top in the area near the boys cabins.

While standing near boys cabin 3 (“Joppa”, I believe), my GPS gave a reading of 661ft.
I could see that the clothes line hill near “Antioch” was higher, and my GPS confirmed that with a reading of 669ft. there. I wandered around a bit to be sure I touched the highest ground in this area, HP candidate #2.

I walked back to the hairpin and decided to wander east along the other road. This road eventually led to the back of the property, past some construction debris before approaching a long lake several feet below. At this spot, a woods road was found breaking off to the north. I followed this trail to its northern terminus at a new road that trended NW to SE. To the southeast, I could see a large lake that I did not investigate further. I turned to make the return trip, and I saw that I had passed through a wooden gated entrance that was signed “Private Property”. This was apparently the border of the campground.

Future visitors do not need to make this latter side excursion. I did it merely for the exercise. I had already visited the highest land in the area, and the land along this latter hike consistently pegged the GPS at 620ft-630ft.

I walked back to the hairpin turn and then back to my truck. With more time on my hands, I decided to investigate further. Behind the dining hall was a lake to the NE and an amphitheater to the ENE. Behind the amphitheater, I found a path that wound its way uphill. I followed this path to its highest point, which was the boys cabins near Joppa and Antioch. Satisfied that this trail did not lead to another new, undiscovered high ground, I returned to my truck. I made a few notes and left to investigate the other Vigo County candidate. Trip statistics: Time = about 31 minutes of wandering the entire Sanford Hill area; Distance = about 1.66mi for the round trip; Elevation gain = 189 feet total.

Area #3
I followed Bob’s directions to contour #3. As I approached, I was surprised to find a massive landfill mound. Surely this wasn’t the area referenced as the third candidate? A sigh of relief soon followed as I passed the landfill, found the road bending from due south to southeast, and the open field beyond. I parked and began my excursion of this final HP candidate.

From the car, I could see the field had a definite upslope at the far side, near a row of pine trees. I made the trek across the field and investigated what I believed was the highest ground. I concur with Bob that this land was likely altered when the new rail tracks were put in, just beyond the row of trees. It was difficult to see where the modified land ended and the actual HP depicted by the topo map began. I made my best effort to step on all high ground to assure myself that I had in fact visited the field’s highest grains of dirt.

All the time I was there, a stiff breeze was blowing south off the landfill mound. You can imagine that the air was quite “flavorful”. I don’t plan to bottle it and sell it as perfume, and I think you know why. I returned to my truck just as the sun was setting, crossing the same berm referred to in the Schwab notes. I presume the berm is there to protect against landfill run-off. Trip statistics: Time = about 25 minutes of wandering the field; Distance = about 0.6mi for the round trip; Elevation gain = 30 feet total.

I am pleased to have completed the three targeted counties before sunset, adding three new counties to my home state and home glob. From here, it was a peaceful drive across southern Illinois to St. Louis.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:219 ft / 66 m
    Extra Gain:74 ft / 22 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.3 mi / 3.6 km
    Route:Wandered for all 3 Vigo candidates
    Trailhead:Truck near Dining Hall  609 ft / 185 m
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Time:28 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:28 Minutes

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