Ascent of Kleberg County High Point on 2017-02-21

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:Rose
Date:Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Kleberg County High Point
    Elevation:168 ft / 51 m

Ascent Trip Report

Kleberg County has 4 candidate high point areas all at the very northwest corner of the County, just inside the Jim Wells County line and all inside the fenced-in King's Ranch It took more than one visit to complete. I've numbered the Areas a la PB.

VISIT #1 DATED 2011-01-18/23 .... unsuccessful
On this 1st visit I came/tried-to-visit the Areas from the north side in Jim Wells County, the shortest approach, even if meant "scooting" under a fence at the County Line as reported in Scott Surgent's TR. I would find out later that the 3 E-W northern areas would be just inside the County Line but not the west/southern area - here, the ranches N-S property fence is not on the County Line but much further W inside Jim Wells.

We found our way to Ben Bolt, JCT 281/FM2508 and drove E on FM 2508 1.7 miles and parked on the right (coordinates 27.64519, 98.05801), this is in Jim Wells County - Area 1 & 2 is due S inside the E-W Jim Wells/Kleberg County Line at .7 miles ..... my goal.
Too risky to try it from here, so we drove a few hundred yds up the road to the large house on the right (set back in the field), the gated driveway is numbered #1112. No one answered the intercom system at the gate so I went to the house across the road for information, the guy told us that the large house owns the whole property back to the county line (King Ranch) We didn't want to proceed without permission.
He informed us all about the King Ranch offering tours and how to get there, so we decided to pay it a visit.

We drove to Kingsville and then on to the King Ranch Visitors Center where we purchased a tour (17$) which lasted about 90 minutes. It takes you through a very impressive working ranch and the guide talks about the animals, cowboys, wildlife, housing for the employees, etc. It is the largest working ranch in the USA at 825,000 acres (in 4 parcels) with 60,000 cattle, 500 wild horses and 140 employees who most live on the property.
Richard King was a self made man, into shipping before getting into the ranching business. The King Ranch, a national historic landmark, is recognized as the birthplace of the ranching industry. Founded by Richard King in 1853 the ranch was enhanced by his wife and descendants. Today it is still privately owned and run by a Corporation with a Board of Governors. Richard King's wife founded Kingsville, the town of Alice to the north is named after their daughter. The ranches main source of income is oil, cattle and hunting. They have a museum and a saddle shop in town with their own line of products. The King Ranch produced the first registered quarter horses and raised the triple crown 1946 winner "Assault".
While at the Welcome Center I inquired/talked to, on the phone, with the Manager about permission to go the the Highpoint area. She told me that she couldn't give me permission without the Boards approval. I would have to send in a written request to her: Rhonda Silguero, PO Box 1090, Kingsville, TX. zip 78364, her phone number 361 221 0335.

We would come back 2 more times, both failures.
On the 19th we spent the day visiting the Corpus Christi area ( Padre Island, Mustang Island, downtown).
On the 20th we left Corpus Christi for Kennedy and Willacy Counties. We were driving 281S passing through Ben Bolt, so why not take a short detour to the intercom at #1112 FM 2508 ..... again no answer.
On the 23rd, after having lunch with our Ontario snow-bird-friends, Sharon and David, at Donna, TX. we started our CW-trip around the Gulf on the way to the Florida Coast. We would be stopping/visiting our Son's family, at N of Houston.
Again we tried the intercom at #1112 FM 2508 for the third time. This time the gate was open, Raul and his daughter (with a rifle in hand) were driving their golf-cart to lock the gate. After the usual introductions and the reason for our presence, the very friendly/hospitable Raul told us that he was coming to lock the gate before going hunting on his back property with his daughter. He offered to drive me to the County Line fence (???? NOT AT ALL WHAT I WANTED, I would have preferred being alone in order to stealth the 4 areas ????).
Raul drove through a number of fences, his whole back area is grazing land with grass and tall brushy woods. I got off the cart and walked the County Line fence at AREA 1 (on Jim Wells side) - ??? to my surprise a tall solid fence ??? no-way to "scoot" under this fence.
My coordinates at the fence were 27.63578, 98.05802, I touched the other side and could actually claim AREA 1 as successful.
For Area 2 to the S and Areas 3 & 4 to the E (at about 1 1/2 mile) I would have to get inside the fence and no way that would happen in the presence of my hosts. So I thanked my host and left it for another day.

Later I found-out that perhaps I screwed up, I could have followed Scott's footprints and probably succeeded at my first visit. I believe Scott left FM2508 at 1M further E (27.64596,-98.04128), where a 2 track grass road unfenced could be driven south .7M to the County Line. It was here where Scott "scooted" under the fence. As reported the fence today is a tall solid fence, but still a doable obstacle with some risk. The whole question of hunting season would need attention.

The only safe option is the legal way - that is to say with the King Ranch approval.

VISIT #2 DATED 2017-02-21 .... successful at all 4 areas, a drive up with a bit of walking.
We decided to go with the legal route - and a perfect example of how hard-work, persistence and the will-to-succeed is rewarded, all as per the following.
1) I first sent a letter to the King Ranch, Kingsville, as I was told to do at our first visit (per above noted address) - no answer.
2) I called the Ranch (361 221 0335), Kathy, the secretary, said they received my letter but could not grant entry. I requested she escalate my request to the Board of Directors. She promised to do that and get back to me - no feedback.
3) Just before Xmas I sent another letter to the King Ranch Corporate Office, Three Riverway suite 1600, Houston, 77056, att: The President - knowing full well that I would not get feedback before we left for our "Texas Winter Trip 2017" on the 28th.
4) As is the norm when away from home, we check our home answering machine from time-to-time. In Mid Jan 2017, we got a message from Bob Kinnan, King Ranch Area Manager, "Give me a call and we'll see what can be done."
5) I called Bob, he told me that he got a call from their CEO who told him, "To take care of this.", Bob requested GPS coordinates and after a number of emails/calls he granted permission for today's visit. I was told to call Robert Johnson, an employee of "A Hunting Outfitter Company" who leases the whole northwest area of the the King Ranch for their private hunting business (Oct-Mar). I called him and we agreed at time and place (all as per following).

I was met by Robert Johnson's partner (who has the same first name, Robert) at the signed Morgan Gate at 10h00 hours, on the E side of the JCT hwy281/CR448 (3.7M N of Hwy 141 or 2.8M S of FM2508 in Ben Bolt).

Robert first drove me in his truck (Rose not in the mood to join us) to AREA 2 (I walked 200 yds right/east-of the road, stomped the open grass with some brush), then to AREAS 1 & 3 (both open short grass field along the fence line) and finally to AREA 4 (60yds south of the fence in dense rough thorny brush). In all cases no real obvious HP. I do not think that Areas 1 & 3 are contenders.
We were in-and-out in 1:30 hours.

On-route we saw hunters stand, windmill, a truck with a number of hunters and hunter's cabins of sorts. There is a good network of roads inside the ranch.
Robert would not accept a tip for his gas - a real nice gentleman and a marksman who can hit targets at 500 yds and working to get to 1000 yds (another American Sniper).

Many thanks to the King Ranch, in particular their CEO and Bob Kinnan for their understanding and generosity - who went the extra mile to help out a little guy - true kindred spirits, something that is much too rare in today's society. The easiest thing seems to be "to just say no".

I later called Bob to thank him, he told me not to include his personal contact information in this TR, "They should call the Ranch with their request."


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:28 ft / 8 m
    Extra Gain:10 ft / 3 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:drive up to 4 areas
    Trailhead:281/CR448  160 ft / 48 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country, Bushwhack

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