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Ascent of English Benchmark on 2017-02-12

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:supported by Rose
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, February 12, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:English Benchmark
    Location:USA-Texas
    Elevation:871 ft / 265 m

Ascent Trip Report

"COHPER BEWARE ?????? --- ONE OF OUR WORST COUNTY HIGHPOINTING EXPERIENCE TO DATE -- GUN -- REALLY BAD SHIT".

A xcountry/bushwhack CCW loop hike to 6 areas and a gun totting rancher .... 3 miles, 2 hours RT.

We followed Scott Surgent's TR of 2004 which still applies, this TR attempts to update/add detail, but in particular to record/advice-others of a real bad encounter with a local Rancher - perhaps one-of-two worst experiences county high pointing Texas, the other being at the Victoria COHP.
This is not a stand alone TR, one must read Scott, I've numbered the 7 candidate high point areas a la PB.
I visited 6 of the 7 areas, I didn't go to Area 5 - I agree with Scott, the construction of roads/buildings on such a small contour will remove any natural area.

We parked on FM3252 a good distance N of the nice lodge signed "La Bandera" (somewhat hidden from the lodge). I stepped over the low old fence and walked xcountry SW(grass) .25M to AREA 1 - at the obvious 3 large trees, couldn't find the English Benchmark, perhaps its hidden below the large ant hill.
From Area 1 I basically did a CCW Loop xcountry/bushwack to the other 5 areas (6, 7, 4, 3, 2 & 1), using straight lines and staying away from the oil platforms. Some short rough brushy sections but overall easy, nothing obvious I just stomped the areas to my satisfaction (maps and a GPS is a must). The only obstacle of note is the tall fence at the E-W Hamilton Ranch Lane. A RT of less than 3 miles.
I agree that the 3 small contour Areas (4, 3 & 2) are probably not contenders.

As I was walking back from Area 1 I could see a car parked behind our van, a blue-shirted-guy talking to Rose (sitting in the van). He first saw me as I stepped over the fence and immediately stepped back away from Rose, looking at me and yelling, "Keep your distance.". Before we knew it, he pulled a hand gun from his back-belt and momentarily pointed it at me before dropping it to his side.
He had been very friendly to Rose so she hollered at him, "Why are you doing this, you were so nice to me."
He shot back, "I don't know if you were telling the truth."
Then he went on an a huge weird/erratic rant - "Keep you distance to at least 20 feet, I try to help the Border Patrol catch aliens, they spook our animals. steal our crops, damage our fences, scare the daylights out of our families, etc. etc. etc."
We could see he was super-hyper and jumpy and couldn't be trusted, a real weirdo, never before seen anyone act this way. If I just moved a bit he'd remind me "Keep your distance".

This went on for perhaps 5 minutes. When he saw a truck northbound on the fence line across the road, he called to him and went over to talk to the driver (I don't think they knew each other) - putting his gun away and not mentioning about me being an alien (???). I also went over to socialize and I could see that he kept an eye on me and his distance.

The friendly truck driver was making his trap-rounds - he had just caught a coyote. He allowed me to take a photo of him with his coyote. Apparently they run in packs and will kill deer and domestic animals. After about 10 minutes the truck driver had to move on, so we returned to Rose who I could see wasn't a happy camper (kept quietly telling me, "Let's get the F... out of here."

By this time the blue-shirted-guy had warmed some. His gave us his name, James Hamilton (note: the above road named Hamilton Ranch Lane), tel # 876-2760 & 876-8900 (no area code), his ranch is about 3 miles to the west (!!! imagine if this encounter happened on his property ???).
Said he was in a hurry, "Should you come back this way, give me a call and I'll give you a tour of my ranch."
Ya right!!
I said to him, "Boy, you sure have a fancy Cadillac, you must have money."
He replied, "They're worth 75,000 dollars and I buy one every year."

When I first got back to the van I had told him that I only went looking for the English Benchmark and couldn't find it. So as we broke up and he was about to leave he said to me, "Aren't you going back to look for the Benchmark, it's right there by those tall trees." ?????? How weird was all this.

As Rose and I left there was a long reflective quiet in the van, neither saying anything, stunned with the whole thing.

"DIMMIT COUNTY WAS FOUNDED IN 1858 AND IS NAMED FOR PHILIP DIMMIT, A MAJOR FIGURE IN THE TEXAS REVOLUTION. AS OF THE 2010 CENSUS ITS POPULATION WAS 9,996 WITH ITS COUNTY SEAT IN CARRIZO SPRINGS."
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:91 ft / 27 m
    Total Elevation Loss:91 ft / 27 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:61 ft / 18 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 31 ft / 9 m; Extra: 30 ft / 9m
    Loss on way in:30 ft / 9 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:visit to 7 areas
    Start Trailhead:FM3252  840 ft / 256 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:61 ft / 18 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 31 ft / 9 m; Extra: 30 ft / 9m
    Gain on way out:30 ft / 9 m
    Route:visit to 7 areas
    End Trailhead:FM3252  840 ft / 256 m



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