Ascent of Madison County High Point on 2007-10-26

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Friday, October 26, 2007
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Madison County High Point
    Elevation:1010 ft / 307 m

Ascent Trip Report

Friday, 10/26/2007

Clint Eastwood starred in a recent popular movie “The Bridges of Madison County”. But this county is not known for any covered bridges. That was Hollywood fiction more aptly based on the historical content of some other Indiana counties. Today I would modify the movie and visit “The Highpoints of Madison County”.

Madison County has 9 separate contours that could contain the true highest point. A satisfactory HP trip would have to evaluate each point. For reference purposes, the nine points are labeled 1-9 starting at the northernmost and finishing with the southernmost.

I used the Bob Schwab trip report that I found to be accurate and still relevant. The only difference for me was that I approached the region from the west. From I-69, I traveled east on IN 38 through Pendleton and Markleville about two miles to the rise in the road at the county line. As I approached this rise, I could see the prominent bump in the field to the southeast. I made a mental note of a farmer’s pullout that would be a good place to park when I returned to hike to this contour. I continued past the county line to CR975W (Henry Co.) and the southernmost contours.

I stopped briefly at the nearby tri-county point for Madison-Hancock-Henry counties. A sign on the north side of the intersection showed “1100S”, an obvious reference to Madison County. In the southeast (Henry Co) quarter, two signs showed “E 1100N” and “N 1200E”, references to Hancock County to the west. I wandered around and found no other notable features except for the brass marker located in the middle of the intersection of the two roads. I set my GPS next to the marker and recorded the location as N39.94587, W85.57619.

This tri-county point was valuable for the hike of Madison County that would take place a few minutes later. I used the longitude reading at this intersection to keep my bearings while hiking north in the farm fields.

Driving west on the Madison-Hancock county line road, I stopped at the first house on the right, 4786 E1100S. I woman was mowing her yard/horse field on a riding tractor. Two horses approached as I waited for the woman to arrive. Two dobermans were spotted, possibly members of the pack noted by Bob Schwab. But the woman instructed them to stay, and they obediently kept their distance. I later learned from the woman that these animals had won several awards for obedience skills. Great! Watchdogs who knew their limits and stuck to them.

I asked the woman about the farm fields that surrounded her home. She was acquainted with one of the farmers better than the others, and she invited me to park in the field pullout just east of her home. This was at the doorstep of the largest contour and would be a great place to use as a trailhead. I told her I intended to make an extensive hike of the fields all the way to the power lines if possible. She told me I might encounter a few fences along that way. She did not have authority to give me permission to access the various fields. I told her I understood and appreciated her graciousness in letting me park where I did.

So I began my “Lobdellizing” of this largest contour. Along the way, I set several GPS waypoints atop the most interesting bumps. The first (and ultimately highest in my opinion) bump was near my car just to the northeast of the woman’s house. The various GPS readings and the elevations of each were:

1027’ – at car just west of woman’s property (initial stopping point)
1030’ – N39.94753 W85.57969
1022’ – N39.96054 W85.57729
1025’ – N39.96178 W85.57761
1025’ – N39.96148 W85.57920
1024’ – N39.96223 W85.58292
1013’ – N39.95651 W85.58817 (a waypoint only; wasn’t a HP candidate)
1026’ – N39.95551 W85.58489

From the first bump, I backsighted to the house and concluded the house was lower. I hiked east, intending to use my GPS to find the county line and hike north from there. However, as I approached the line’s longitude reading, I noted two different farm fields. One was harvested; the other was not. The two fields were planted in different directions, so the division was obvious. My assumption was this was the county line, and I turned north to head for the power line towers about a mile away.

As I hiked, I scanned the field for any obvious HPs. Only one was noted in this first leg. I continued north, passing through or over some fences. No dense woods were seen in this area either. I trended through light brush or through dividing tree lines when necessary as I reached near the power lines that passed through denser brush. I hiked east under the power lines and observed that the power lines continued northwest across land of similar height. I returned west to visit some more farm fields.

Most of the fields consisted of harvested cornfields. Some soybean fields were encountered and easily crossed. Fortunately, the fields of unharvested corn did not reveal any high contour candidates that needed to be visited.

I continued north and west, south of the power lines, until I believed I was in the areas of the second and third northernmost contours. I visited each HP candidate before turning south to complete the contour loop. At this northern point, I noted two red farm grain trailers that were parked to the south in a field near some of the unharvested corn. The significance of this marker will be explained later.

I generally trended south and west as I returned to CR1100S. A few more bumps, a few more fences, and a few different fields to cross brought me back to the road just west of the mowing woman’s property.

Hike duration: 1hour, 33min. 4.64mi.

On this hike, I visited the largest contour (area 4). Two smaller northern contours (areas 2 and 3) were either visited or ruled out by observation. One smaller southern contour (area 8) was also ruled out by observation.

I next drove west to 4210 E1100S, the eastern edge of the contour that lies north of the road. I knocked, but no one was home except for the 2 calico-colored cats that greeted me. I took a quick peek out back and determined that this house was on the highest elevation. Looking into the fields to the north, I ruled out a need to visit the 3 small contours (areas 5,6,7).

I hiked west (and then back) along the road for several hundred feet to make other observations of the northern elevations. Nothing changed my opinion that the house was the highest elevation in this immediate area (area 9).

Sidenote: The folks at this house take Halloween very seriously. Their home was decorated extensively with tombstones, spiders, webs, Halloween ghouls, axes, and other assorted props. Several cars (nearly a dozen) lying around the property made me think this was a vehicle graveyard. Many cars had signs and other attention-grabbers.

From here I returned east along the county line, turned north (left) at CR975W, drove past a farm on the left that had 2 llamas tethered in the yard (“mowing” the grass?), and turned left (west) at IN 38. I returned to the farmer’s pullout and parked my car to visit area 1.

In 11 minutes, I hiked 0.3mi across the field and back to complete the visit. With a maximum elevation of 1016’, this was not the HP in my opinion. From my car, I was able to look across the field to the SW and see the 2 red farm wagons I had hiked past earlier. These wagons were about 0.5mi away, on the other side of the power lines and consistent with where I had been when I thought I was near areas 2 and 3. I could also look SSW and see the hog farming operation that was in Hancock County across the street from the doberman woman. My observations from this viewpoint confirmed that none of the ground between here and the wagons appeared to be higher than area 1 just visited.

Having visited or ruled out by observation each of the 9 HP candidate contours, I was satisfied that I had visited the highest ground in Madison county. I could now claim a “Bagging of Madison County”. This was significant because the county is a bridge that connected 8 previously-visited southern Indiana counties to my home glob. On this day, blue becomes yellow as I cross the “Bridge of Madison County”.
Summary Total Data
Ascent Statistics
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Route:Loop visit to all 9 contours
    Time:2 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics

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