Ascent of Hoosier Hill on 2006-12-27

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Summit:Car
Peak:Hoosier Hill
    Elevation:1257 ft / 383 m

Ascent Trip Report


Left home at 7:39am 12/27/2006
Arrived at Hoosier Hill at 9:40am
88.6 miles from home to Hoosier Hill
28 steps (which could have been even fewer, if parked differently, from parked car to elevation marker
Estimated 8-foot rise in elevation from parking spot to elevation marker

Accurate photos found at:
(Click on “Photo Gallery” link on the left to see many relevant photos)
(Kyle Cummings’ Eagle Scout project to update/renovate the summit area)

“Don’t dream. Do.” I heard those words spoken yesterday in a radio commercial by famed TV psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw. I decided he was right. Why put off until later what can be accomplished today? Later might never come. I decided right then that I was going to do it. Tomorrow. This is the slow week at work between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Besides, I could make the relatively short round trip to Hoosier Hill and Campbell Hill and still make it back for some work. My peak-bagging career was about to begin.

I got up this morning around 7:15am. After a quick bowl of cereal and brushing my teeth, I grabbed my wife’s 35mm camera, and I was out the door and on my way at 7:39am. This first road trip was pretty spontaneous, and I had not made any preparations. No backpacks, tents, flashlights, water, food, first aid kits or other checklist items were taken. I was simply on my way, willing to face whatever came at me.

The route to Hoosier Hill is almost straight south down US Hwy 27 for most of the trip. This stretch of road is among the most familiar to me since my wife’s family still resides in the Portland, IN area. Actually, I first became acquainted with this road as a teenager and young adult who drove to Richmond, IN for several summer camps. Among those trips are fond memories of riding my 750cc Honda motorcycle in heavy downpours on one such trip.

Portland is about ½ way between Fort Wayne and Richmond, the county seat of Wayne County, where Hoosier Hill is located. Half way between Fort Wayne and Portland is Decatur, IN, and Hoosier is roughly ½ way between Portland and Richmond. My rough estimates expected the 80-mile trip to take around 1.75 to 2 hours.

The trip started in the dark since the sun wasn’t rising until about 8:10am. But it was a definite treat to be on the road when the sun came up. The east/southeast skies were filled with the brilliant glow of orange and peach hues. With rough surfaced clouds filling the entire sky, it looked like a ceiling of colorful low-pile carpeting.

Gasoline prices are traditionally lower in these southern cities, and I stopped in Decatur to top off the tank of my 1988 Honda Civic. Not much on looks or luxury, this classic chariot definitely gets me places at low cost. The recently overhauled engine is regularly clocked in the range of 37-40 mpg.

The county surveyor’s office maintains an online database of 2-foot topographic contours of the entire Allen County. A recent check revealed that my front door was mapped at an altitude of 788 ft. Hoosier Hill has an altitude of 1257 ft., so the total elevation gain for the trip is a mere 469 ft. Indiana is basically a flat state except for the southerly regions that have some lower altitudes as the state drops down to the level of the Ohio River. So I did not expect to see much on the trip down Hwy 27. I did, however, find irony in the fact that I was traveling from Fort Wayne, also known as the “Summit City”, to the true summit of Indiana.

Driving through Portland, I made the obligatory wave as I passed the street where the in-laws hold many family gatherings a short 2 blocks away. Continuing south, I was out of Portland mere minutes later. South of Portland, I was surprised to see that Hwy 27 had several stretches where the rise in elevation was noticeable. As I continued down the highway, the road in front of me maintained a near-constant rise that saw the elevation increase with each passing mile.

About 20 minutes later, signs announced the arrival of US Hwy 36, the place where I would leave Hwy 27 on the final approach to Hoosier Hill. From this intersection, it was about 4 miles east, 3 miles south, and then less than a mile to Hoosier Hill.

I learned today just how wonderful it is to be a peak-bagger in today’s world. Over the past few days, I had been reviewing on-line mapping resources, primarily Google Earth and Microsoft Live. These relatively current satellite images showed the exact route I was to take, and I made the entire trip from memory. There were no surprises because I had made the “virtual trip” so many times before. I drove east on County Line Road, south on Elliot Road, and turned west onto the gravel turnabout a short distance later at the street sign declaring “Highest Point”.

I arrived at Hoosier Hill at 9:40am, almost exactly 2 hours from home. From the positioning on the internet maps, I expected to make a short ¼ mile trip to the woods directly in front of me to find the high point cairn. After pausing a few minutes to put in my contact lens, I drove the car forward several feet to the end of the gravel. Why hike any more than necessary, I thought? Then, to my surprise, I looked out the right side windows and saw a picnic table that reminded me of pictures I had seen on the internet. Then I saw the mailbox for the logbook, the sign, and the cairn marking the high point. I was parking not more than 50 ft away from the high point! The internet is obviously not exact in all ways because this was not where I expected to find the summit.

Hoosier Hill is located on private land. However, the owner lives some distance away, in Indianapolis I believe. Since the area had some obvious “tourist improvements” (including renovations by an Eagle Scout to remove the fence and ladder over it), and due to the coverage I found on the internet, I had not sought permission to visit the site. My thanks go out right now to the owner who has so graciously hosted the peak-trekkers over the years.

I got out of my car and lifted the camera to take a picture that showed my car and the summit cairn. The camera clicked. Then to my horror, the camera started to rewind! My lack of preparation had included not having other rolls of film, and I had not realized the camera roll was at the end. Too late to waste precious energy contemplating the dilemma, I embarked on a short 28-step hike up an incline of about 8 ft., and I was there.

The weather at the summit was cool and still. There was just a slight breeze, and the temperature was estimated to be about 35 degrees. Just two days after Christmas, this was a near-perfect day to make the 300-mile round trip that would take me to Indiana, Ohio, and back home.

I wandered around the summit area that I approximate as a mostly circular clearing having a radius of about 25 ft. I said a brief prayer. This seemed like an appropriate thing to do at this quiet, yet contemplative part of geology that was as physically close to God as I would get in Indiana. No other person was there during my stay. I found the logbook and made an entry that marked Hoosier Hill as my High Point #1, 44th highest on the list of US states. Only 49 more states to go for a complete set! In less than 20 minutes, I left to continue my trek on to Campbell Hill, OH.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8 ft / 2 m
    Route:Boy Scout trail, about 28 steps
    Trailhead:Gravel Turnabout  1249 ft / 380 m
    Weather:Cold, Calm, Overcast

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