Ascent of Mount Sunflower on 1996-05-25

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Saturday, May 25, 1996
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Sunflower
    Elevation:4039 ft / 1231 m

Ascent Trip Report

Over Memorial Day weekend 1996, I planned to visit the three state highpoints that border Colorado, those of Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. I flew into Colorado Springs, drove north on Interstate-25 into Wyoming and proceeded east toward Pine Bluff on the Wyoming-Nebraska state line.

The weather was growing worse by the minute, with ominous dark thunderstorm clouds building everywhere. I visited Panorama Point in Nebraska, then spent time listening to the weather reports on the radio. It seems like the bad stuff was here and points south. Thus, I altered my route and headed north, climbing Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota, all this being yesterday. The weather wasn't so great up here, but at least it wasn't thunderstorming and tornadoing at the very moment. It was mostly foggy, cold and gloomy, with spells of rain to break up the monotony.

From the Black Hills, I drove south through Badlands National Park, the Pine Ridge Reservation, and the Sand Hills of Nebraska, aiming for Burlington, Colorado. I enjoyed the Sand Hills a lot, and the weather was okay for this half-day. The Sand Hills are quite interesting and I made a mental note to return here some day (which I did, in 2004).

Today's weather was as bad as yesterday's. It was miserable, with heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and a foreboding darkness. The drive to Mount Sunflower followed interstate and a series of state routes and local roads, until finally I rumbled up a gravel road from the south, 80 miles overall from Burlington. The highpoint is optimistically called Mount Sunflower, named for the state flower, but don't let names fool you: there is no "mount" of any sort to be seen here.

The Great Plains tilt downward ever so slightly, west to east, so that the highpoint of Kansas is, not surprisingly, along its western border with Colorado. However, much to my delight, the highpoint was decorated with a couple of railroad-spike sculptures and a plaque, so that there is actually something to see once you arrive. The land is privately owned, but the owners have set aside this small patch of land for our visiting and amusement pleasure. I didn't spend a whole lot of time here, since the weather was so bad.

I drove south toward the panhandle of Oklahoma. I entered into Colorado and passed through Lamar, then Springfield, then entered Oklahoma and worked my way to Boise City, aiming for Black Mesa, Oklahoma's highest point. I was successful on that hike, but the weather was so rotten I didn't enjoy it at all. The sky was jet-black, and later that day, the weather service reported numerous big twisters slamming parts of north Texas and Oklahoma.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:10 ft / 3 m
    Distance:0.5 mi / 0.8 km
    Trailhead:4029 ft / 1228 m
    Route Conditions:
Open Country

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