I had already been to two state high points on July 11, 2001, Ohio and Indiana, and was hoping to make Illinois my third. I got a later start than I would have liked from Cincinnati. If I had left home earlier, I would have been able to do all three. But I arrived at Scales Mound, Illinois just after midnight. I had been driving for hours, was very tired, and couldn’t really see anything in the dark. So I pulled up into what appeared to be a gated farm entry road and decided to sleep until first light. I slept for about 5 hours until it was just starting to get light.
I was on Charles Mound Rd. but didn’t know where the entrance gate was. I went back to the beginning of the road and drove for 1.3 miles, knowing that the entrance was supposed to be at that point. Surprise surprise, the little gated entrance where I had slept was right at the 1.3 mile point. The gate was completely unmarked. Another 40 feet down the road was an entrance to another farm. I knew that the owners of the Charles Mound lived near the mound, so I decided that it must be the second entrance. I pulled into the lane and parked right away, remembering that I wasn’t supposed to pull up toward the house at the request of the owners. I hopped out with my camera and tripod and headed up the lane. It was just after 5:00 am and no one was up. I figured there would probably be signs at some point, so I hiked all the way up to the house. Nothing. No signs. Now what? At this point I could see two hills to the north of the farm home, each with a barn near them; one to the east, one to the west. I remembered reading somewhere that the mound was behind a barn, so I headed up toward the barns. I looked for a path thinking the whole time that it was ridiculous that there wasn’t a path to the highest point in Illinois. I hiked through three fields, hopped a couple of fences and was heading for the barn to the east. I finally got to another fence and realized that the barn to the east wasn’t as high as the hill behind the barn to the west. I changed my direction and headed for the other barn and hill. As I passed the barn, I saw something that made me slap myself…a road. A nicely groomed road. A beautiful road. I’m an idiot. This is a state high point. There has to be a path. People visit this everyday. What was I thinking?
I was now at the road. I was an idiot, but after nearly an hour of hiking through fields, it was good to see a path. I followed the path another couple hundred feet and voila, there was the high point. It was good to see but at an annoying cost. The high point was very nicely groomed, the grass was mown and there were even a couple of lawn chairs set up to look out over the surrounding area. I had hoped to make it in time for the sunrise but just missed it. I snapped a few pictures and noted that the Wuebbels (the property owners) actually live right on top of the mound, just a bit further down the road to the west.
As I headed back out, I was getting worried that the property owners where I had parked my car would be awake and wondering where the owner of this car was. I headed down the road. Once I got to the barn, I saw several signs telling high pointers where to park. I’m assuming this was prior to the current instructions that want people to park at the gate. I followed the road, which forked (I don’t know where the other side comes out; I would have taken the time to find out, but I was worried about my car). Happily, the fork I took was heading in the direction that my car was parked, which was south of the hill. As I was rounding the last corner before the long, straight stretch to Charles Mound Rd., I realized where I was going to come out – the small gated entrance where I had spent the night.
I’m a double idiot! Not only did I miss the entrance the second time I looked for it, but the first time, unknowingly, I had found it and even spent the night there but went out of my way to convince myself that it wasn’t the entrance. I hopped back into my car; the car was unharmed and the neighbors hadn’t said anything. Off to Iowa’s Hawkeye Point.
I was coming from Ohio’s Campbell Hill. I took US 36 from Ohio to Indiana. The route wasn’t very fast. It may actually be faster to take I-70, even though you would have to travel quite a bit further. The directions I had, said that the high point was on County Line Road. I didn’t see the high point. Rather than drive around for a while, I stopped in Arba, Indiana (it isn’t really a city per say, but more like a group of houses) to ask for directions. They told me to head south on Arba Rd. until I saw a sign directing me to the high point. There is a sign on Arba Rd. giving directions.
From the sign, it was just a couple more minutes to the highpoint. While I was there, a van of older people (it was a group from an old folks home) stopped by. They were upset that they couldn’t walk to the highpoint because they were unable to cross the fence. So, the nurse and driver climbed over the fence and took the registry to the van to let them sign it. I snapped a few pictures, signed the registry and headed out – I was trying to make Charles Mound in Illinois that same day.
Trip Report This was my second high point (King’s Peak in Utah was my first). I had to finish a TA assignment at the University of Cincinnati on the morning of the 11th so I didn’t leave Cincinnati until 11:00 am. I arrived at Campbell Hill around 1:30 pm. I actually ‘climbed’ the hill twice. I forgot my attachment for the bottom of my camera to attach it to the tripod so I could take pictures of myself (not arrogance, just proof).
I must admit that I was a little saddened by the fact that there were two workers on top of the hill working on the roof of one of the buildings that sits atop Campbell Hill. Knowing that people just hang out on the top of this state high point has the tendency to remove the thrill of reaching a high point. Of course, lots of people have been to lots of high points, but to think that these workers likely take no note of the fact that they were on top of the highest point in the state of Ohio has a tendency to reduce the feeling of achievement. The view from the highpoint marker is pretty good, but because of all the buildings that are also on top of the high point, you can’t really see anything but the northern side of the hill. I didn’t take the time to walk to the other side (I would have had to pass the workers which would make their intrusion on this ‘sacred’ locale even more real). So, I snapped a few pictures and made the incredible journey back down to my car, parked in the bus parking area near the cosmetology school.
Directions Here’s a map from Bellefontaine, OH to the highpoint:
Trip Report Now this was an adventure. First, we used the information and directions on www.americasroof.com to find the route to the trailhead and the route for the hike. Based on the information we found on the site we were under the understanding that the route into the trailhead was a road in Lonetree, WY. We were coming from Salt Lake City, UT and headed into WY on I-80. We took the exit heading into Fort Bridger and then followed I-414. When we hit Lonetree, we saw no sign telling us where to go or marking the trailhead, so we just kept right on driving. Strangely, Tom’s father is from McKinnon, which is just a bit further down the road. When we had scoured all of I-414 from Mountain View to McKinnon, and had not found a sign marking the path into the trailhead, we gave in and decided to stop by Tom’s Uncle’s house to see if he knew where the road was into the trailhead. We were hiking King’s Peak in Late June. Well, according to Uncle Steve, Tom’s Uncle, we were going to be hiking through a blizzard (and he thought he was joking). He was friendly and quite humorous, but was still unsure of how to get to the trailhead. He and his family ride four wheelers up toward the peak nearly every summer, but they leave from his farm. He could see King’s Peak from his house. After a bout of joking, he left us no closer to finding the entrance into the trailhead. We had left Salt Lake around noon and were leaving Uncle Steve’s house around 8:30 and still had no idea where to find the trailhead. We headed back toward Mountain View and started asking around, but had no luck. We even stopped by a bar asking for directions, but no one had a clue how to access the trailhead to King’s Peak; though some people were convinced that King’s Peak wasn’t really accessible from the Wyoming side. We must have tried 10 different roads that ended in the middle of fields. No luck. We finally decided to just drive back to Lonetree and scour every inch of the place until we found the entrance road. Come to find out, there is actually a road in Lonetree, one road. That is the road. Don’t miss it. Drive to Lonetree, stop there and do not go any further. Find the road and follow it in. There is another way into the trailhead that is a better kept road, but we only found it on the way out. It comes out near Robertson. I have no idea how to tell you to find this one, but there must be a guide somewhere. As for Lonetree, it really is one of those places that you could miss if you blink, well, more like half a blink. Whatever you do, stop there. And take that road.
Anyway, once you find the road, it takes almost an hour from I-414 to get to the trailhead. We made it there around 12:30 am on the morning that we were supposed to be heading out. We had hoped to set up our tent and spend the night in that, but it was far too late to set up camp, so we laid down the seats in the Honda CRV we were in and slept in there. It was uncomfortable and far too tight for 3 men, but we made do. Just after we pulled in, there were two hikers that set out on the trail at around 1:30 am with head-lights.
I didn’t really sleep, so I was up bright and early around 6:30 or so. We got our stuff together and headed out around 7:30. We met the hikers that had left that morning at around 10:30. They had already reached the peak and were almost back out. They had seen the sunrise from the top of King’s Peak. Boy were they on the move. The hike was nice, it was level and quite picturesque until we reached where we hoped to camp. We reached our camp site at around noon. We quickly set up our tent and dropped our big packs off. We were a little tired, but we could see the peak in the distance and felt that we could make the rest of the hike that day, then head out the next day.
We continued on and aimed for Gunsight Pass. We had been told that this way was a bit longer than Anderson Pass, but it was less treacherous and not as steep. As we climbed the Pass, it began to rain for the first time (note the foreshadowing). The climb to the pass wasn’t that bad but the weather continued to worsen. It was at this altitude that we began to see snow. The cooler temperatures mixed with the rain and occasional hail really started to make the climb miserable. We had a couple of options at this point. We could climb the face of a rock fall/cliff just to the right of the pass and bypass the longer route that drops you back down into another valley and around an outcropping before taking you up to the base of the peak. We’re young and adventurous and crazy, so we opted for the rock scramble and cliff. First we crossed a patch of snow and then headed up the cliff. It actually cut quite a bit of time off the hike because we didn’t drop in elevation, but it added to our weariness because it was quite difficult.
It was at this point that the wind really started to pick up. Once we reached the base of the peak, we started to notice that lightning was striking the surrounding peaks and the sky was really getting dark. If we had not been so hurried to make it to the top, it would have been smarter to head back to our camp and try the next day, but we pressed on. The climb up the peak is pure rock scramble, though about 1/2 of it was covered with snow when we climbed it. It took about an hour to climb that last stretch. Tom made it to the top first. He seemed to be the most well-prepared as well. He had thought that it might get a little cold so he had brought along some pajama bottoms. They probably didn’t do a whole lot, but he wasn’t complaining at all. He also had on a heavier coat which definitely must have helped. I had only brought a non-waterproof windbreaker that was helping, but not much. Mark, on the other hand, hadn’t brought anything. In my emergency gear, I had a poncho that I lent him. It kept him dry, but didn’t do much for warmth. When we finally made it to the peak, we were exhausted. I think I had expended all of my energy on the climb up and didn’t know how I was going to make it back to camp. Mark had vomited at one point and was really not feeling well. Tom was the only one that was hanging in there.
We reached the peak at around 5:00 pm but only stayed for about 15 minutes before we headed back down. By that time, I was so exhausted I only snapped one shot of me on the peak and filmed a quick panorama (which I may put up here someday). As we were heading down, Tom kept talking about sliding down the snow. He has become quite a snowboarder, but there was no way he was going to find a rock that would carry him down the snow. He tried several times and eventually gave up on that. But then he came up with the idea that saved our bacon (vegi-bacon for me). He pulled his coat under his bum and leaned back. Off he went, dropping 200 to 300 feet of elevation at a time. He slid down a snow patch first before Mark and I would try it, but when he stopped at the bottom without injury, we were convinced. We slid two snow patches down to the base of the peak and cut our descent time into 15 minutes. Then, instead of heading back to gunsight pass, we moved to Anderson Pass because it is much closer to the peak and drops right down into the valley where we were camping. To our luck, there were two patches of snow still in the pass. However, the descent was nearly vertical. We were a little hesitant about this, but our other option would have been to work our way back down through gunsight pass, which would have taken another 2 or 3 hours. Twenty minutes later we were standing at the bottom of Anderson Pass pulling our boots off and emptying the snow. Our 5 hour ascent had turned into a 35 to 45 minute descent. We just had to cross the valley back to our camp and we were home free. We crossed the valley to our camp in about 30 minutes and crashed.
Stupidly, neither Mark nor I had brought extra shoes because we had not planned on tromping through snow the entire day. So, Tom turned into our servant as we tried to dry out our shoes. We prepared a quick and not very good supper and went to bed. To add insult to injury, Mark snores loudly and the wind rushed all night. Again, I could not sleep. I woke early the next morning (rather got up rather than sit there and listen to Mark snore) and roused the others. We broke camp by around 7:30 and were back to the car by around 10:30 or 11:00.
From now on, we are going to plan better. This expedition very easily could have turned into a major fiasco. We were lucky and didn’t have any serious problems, though a rock did fall on my shin while climbing the peak and left a pretty nasty cut. Aside from the ill-preparation, we had a very good time. Especially once we had descended from the peak. We will forever remember sliding down the snow patches. It was probably very stupid because we could have had more problems, but we lived and were not the worse for wear. This is also why we are starting out with some peaks that are not going to kill us off from the beginning. As we progress to higher peaks, hopefully we will learn our lessons and not make such stupid mistakes. And if we forget how stupid we were, hopefully this site will remind us.
Directions Here’s a map from Evanston, WY to Henry’s Fork Campground, the trailhead: