Ascent of Carlton County High Point on 2006-02-25
|Date:||Saturday, February 25, 2006|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
|Peak:||Carlton County High Point|
| Elevation:||1450 ft / 441 m|
Ascent Trip ReportAccording to trip reports on CoHP.org, there were 2 approaches to this remote spot in the north woods: a direct route from the south and MN 210 on a ski/snowmobile trail, pioneered by Edward Earl in winter; or from the west via the Cromwell lookout tower, a route taken by Bob Packard and, later, Mark Ness. The first route was more direct but swampy in summer, while the second route, while shorter and drier, was harder to follow. My plan was to use the first route--it was winter, I didn't know if the access roads for the west route were plowed, and I wasn't worried about swamps. It had snowed ten inches the night before over already snowy landscape.
I parked on MN Highway 210 about 5.5 miles east of Cromwell and about 12 miles west of I-35, at the snowmobile trail crossing where Edward has started his hike. There was a sign on the north side of the road saying it was a snowmobile trail, and a snowy road leading south, perhaps to a parking lot. I parked on the shoulder of the road, not wanting to get my rented Dodge Neon stuck in the snow of the side road.
After getting changed into outdoor clothes and getting my rented cross-country skis figured out, a large group of snowmobilers crossed MN 210 on the trail. I realized that my route was not a ski trail at all, but it seemed like the only route I could take, so I started north on the wide, well-packed trail at about 4:20 PM. It was a pleasant 20 degrees out, very clear, and a Saturday afternoon, and the snowmobilers were out in force. I estimate that at least 50 of them passed me on my 2-hour, 6 mile trip, most of them in groups of between 3 and 8 snowmobiles. There were long stretches of perhaps up to 1/2 hour when I had the wintry quiet of the forest and bog to myself, but then I would hear the whine of snowmobile engines, get over to the side of the trail, and wave to them as they slowed down to pass me, often waving back. To them, I was perhaps like a deer or moose--a rare wildlife sighting, the endangered cross-country skier, and not something they wanted to hit.
The trail was very flat for the first couple miles, passing large open snowy areas that in the summer are probably huge swamps. My GPS told me that I was right on track for the summit, the road leading almost directly there. Despite years of experience on downhill and backcountry skis, this was my first time ever on super-skinny non-metal-edged cross-country skis, and I was a bit tenative on them. I soon got into a good rythym and was able to ski along at a good 5 mph. The snowmobiles had left some pretty good tracks for moving along. After one rest stop I took a brief detour into the dry, deep, pristine white powder to the side of the trail--I wish I had snow like this to ski on a real mountain!
After a couple miles the trail entered an area of rolling hills, where I sometimes has to herringbone up or carefully cruise downhill. I checked my GPS, and knew I was getting close to the high point. When almost there I reached the only real trail junction on the trip, where another snowmobile trail branched left (west). I think this is where Bob and Mark has come in. A little ways further the trail crested a rise and the high point was ten feet to the right (east) of the trail. I skied around the pristine snow in the area and rested a bit. I took off to the east a little bit, hoping for a view of Rogers Lake, but all I could see was the drop-off the topo map indicated was there. It was about 5 PM.
Trip reports suggested that perhaps a "north summit" was almost as high, so I skied along the road down and up a little bit, then took off to the left (west) into the woods to the summit area there. It did look lower than point 1450+. In the open winter woods I could see the "south summit", but it, too, looked lower. I confirmed the topography of the area matched with the map of where I thought I was, then ate my final snack before setting off.
A very large posse of snowmobilers came by southbound as I was just about to leave. Since the snow of the summit was undisturbed, I knew I was the only one to reach it today--ironic that the only x-c skier on the trail was also the only one there for the HP.
I took off, sucking diesel exhaust, and soon came upon the snowmobilers stopped at the junction, conferring amidst the roar of their engines. I passed them, but they, unfortunately, decided to head my way (to MN 210) and they passed me again, temporarily filling my world with fumes. The good thing is that they move fast (speed limit was 35 mph on the trail) and I was soon alone in the woods.
I got a couple of mild downhill rides as the trail led through the rolling hills before hitting the flats, where I had to stride along using more energy. My left middle toe was hurting (rented x-c boots too tight) and it was getting late, so I was anxious to get back to the car. I saw a brief bit of beautiful sunset at about 5:45 PM as I crossed the large, open, frozen swamp, and had a final bunch of snowmobilers pass me as the trail meandered a bit. By 6:05 or so I reached my car, darkness falling rapidly.
In winter and with a snowmobile, this HP is a gimme. If you snowshoe or ski to it, it is probably best to come on a weekday to avoid the snow machines. In the summer, I would follow the advice of Bob Packard and Mark Ness and approach from the west.
|Summary Total Data|
| Distance:||6 mi / 9.7 km|
| Route:||Snowmobile Trail|
| Trailhead:||MN 210 |
| Quality:||3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)|
| Route Conditions:||Road Hike, Snow on Ground|
| Gear Used:||Skis, Ski Poles|
| Weather:||Cold, Calm, Clear|
| Time Up:||45 Minutes|
|GPS Data for Ascent/Trip|
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Peaks: climbed and unclimbed by Greg Slayden
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