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Ascent of Dunham Hill on 2017-06-07

Climber: John Hasch

Date:Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Dunham Hill
    Location:USA-Indiana
    Elevation:960 ft / 292 m

Ascent Trip Report

Dunham Hill
Peak in Kosciusko County, IN

Ascent Date: 6/7/2017

I was in nearby Columbia City, IN for some other business today. It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon, so I decided to go another 17 miles to attempt a visit to this peak. Dunham Hill is not a county highpoint, but it is listed in Peakbagger as my nearest unclimbed peak in the database.

I set my GPS to the coordinates of the peak. As predicted beforehand, I traveled US30 from Columbia City to Pierceton, then turned north on IN13. The GPS then took me to South Barbee Drive, an unanticipated route that ran near the south shore of Big Barbee Lake. I then turned south (left) on EMS B24 Lane and drove that to a large house with a relatively big hill beside it.

This did not appear to be correct based on the topo maps I had studied before, and I was especially deterred by the large fence that was signed something like "private buffalo reserve". So I turned around. But rather than returning the way I came, I turned right from this house and followed a two-track along the edge of a woods. Eventually the track turned right, and I continued until I reached pavement. I did not know it immediately, but this pavement turned out to be the private drive to the house at the top of the hill.

I followed the pavement, thinking I would eventually arrive at a road that would return me home with a failed attempt. But as I drove, a car approached from the opposite direction. As we passed, the car halted, and the driver's window opened. The elderly driver and her husband confirmed that they were the owners. So I explained that I was searching for the Kosciusko County high point, and I asked them if they knew that their home was a contender for the high ground. I was searching for things to say though I knew that the true high point was miles away and several feet higher in elevation. So then I asked about the name Dunham Hill, and they confirmed that name was attached to the property several years before. But they were not the Dunhams. They told me about a nearby property that was similar in elevation to theirs, and a later look at a topo map confirmed the location about a mile northwest of their hill. Dunham Hill was a named location on the topo map; the other hill of equal elevation had no name.

As we drove off in our separate directions, I realized how close I had come to completing this summit. I was disturbed that it was such a near miss. I believed that all it would take was a quick visit up the driveway. So I turned around, determined to drive to the house and ask a few follow-up questions. I followed the driveway to the large house on top. As expected, the driveway was clearly the highest elevation as I exited my car and approached the door. The woman inside saw me coming, and she opened the door just as I was about to ring the doorbell.

Using my smart phone, I had realized that the Kosciusko County high point was near Dewart Lake. So I explained that I was actually looking for Dewart Lake rather than Big Barbee Lake. She recognized the name and gave me a couple quick directions. I then thanked her and apologized for bothering her again. Wishing her a nice day, I left. The brief walk to the door and back had allowed me to wander over what clearly was the highest visible ground. I returned home satisfied that I had reached the summit of this peak.
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