Ascent of Martin County High Point on 2015-01-05

Climber: Heather Hasch

Others in Party:Dick Ellsworth
Josh Carlson
Steve Andrews (escort)
Date:Monday, January 5, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Martin County High Point
    Elevation:870 ft / 265 m

Ascent Trip Report

870+ ft.

Monday, 1/5/2015

It was the best of times, and it was the worst of times. Making my way north from Kentucky, I was filled with anticipation as I approached Martin County and the Crane Visitor’s Center in Crane, IN. On the one hand, I was about to visit the most restricted HP in Indiana. I appreciate Dick Ellsworth taking the initiative to make arrangements for the visit. On the other hand, I did not yet know that this was about to become the most expensive trip of my peak-bagging career. Keep reading to understand why.

I was the first to arrive at the Crane Visitor Center, located near the main gate on IN 558. You can imagine the relief I felt when the Visitor Center staff handed me my ID badge. We had previously been subjected to background checks, and all that was needed today was to sign in and show a photo ID. Nevertheless, having the ID badge in hand eased most concerns that I would be admitted today. (I was recalling my experience at Quirauk Mountain, Maryland years earlier when I arrived but was told they had no prior notice of my visit.)

Soon, I was joined by Josh Carlson and Dick Ellsworth. Shortly before noon, we were met by Steve Andrews, the civil servant point of contact who would accompany us to the HP. Note that Steve is the same person who met and escorted Schwab and Mann in 2002. He led the way in his vehicle, and we were allowed to follow behind in the single vehicle of our choice. Josh volunteered his vehicle, so Dick and I climbed aboard. I set my GPS for the HP coordinates, which was around 10 miles from the main gate.

Mr. Andrews took us through the base’s main gate, and we wound through the typical “main base” streets and eventually onto a maze of winding wooded roads that had the appearance of any state forest. Finally Mr. Andrews stopped, and we climbed out. He had a map that had the HP coordinates showing on it. He invited me to compare my GPS coordinates to his map, and we were pleased when we recognized that he had brought us to the “expected” destination.

The Andy Martin “bible” (same name, no connection to Martin County) originally listed two potential candidates, but the government surveying teams had long ago eliminated the second contour from consideration. As reported by Bob Schwab in his trip report, we were about to access the lone contour that contended for the HP of Martin County.

We walked into the woods, and we did not find any obvious markings. Mr. Andrews confirmed that no special survey markings were in place to mark “the” spot. So the four of us wandered around the area and stepped on every high spot of interest. Thea area was basically flat, with only slight variation in the elevations within the contour. Once we were all satisfied, Mr. Andrews volunteered to take group photos for our archive purposes. (These are the only photos we took anywhere on the base.)
On our way out, Mr. Andrews invited us to stop at his office to see a special biology / nature exhibit that was on display in the building. It had several stuffed animals, several old photos, and various other items similar to what you might see in any museum or zoo exhibit. We thanked him for his hospitality, and he allowed us to return to the main gate and off base unescorted. To obtain souvenirs, the three of us “forgot” to return our base passes, a maneuver that Mr. Andrews told us would probably be okay.

Back at the Visitors Center, we made plans to go our separate ways. Before we split, Josh surprised Dick with a special treat. Similar to the Colorado ice ax, Josh had prepared a large framed antique-looking photo of the counties of Iowa. Josh and Dick each signed the back of the photo as two of the three known completers of the state’s HPs (Bob Schwab was the first). The goal will be to get Bob’s signature and then have all subsequent Iowa completers sign it too. Photos were taken to memorialize the moment.

The Iowa completion was not the only effort being celebrated today. With his ascent of Martin County, Dick Ellsworth became the second known completer of all the Indiana county HPs. With 80+ counties now done, including the two large multi-contour counties, Josh will likely soon become the 3rd completer. With reasonable diligence, I will one day become the 4th completer of my home state.

Dick departed to finish the day with a visit to nearby Owen County. He was going to “reclaim” that county by visiting the newly-discovered southern contour candidate. I was on my way home, but Josh and I agreed to travel to nearby Dubois County for one last conquest before I headed north. I expected to be home and back to work tomorrow, but events in Dubois County changed those plans.
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