Ascent of Snake Benchmark on 2018-02-15

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:supported by Rose.
David & Joe.
Took 2 visits per TR.
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, February 15, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Snake Benchmark
    Elevation:850 ft / 259 m

Ascent Trip Report

It took me 2 visits to complete Duval County - founded in 1858 and named for Burr H Duval, a soldier in the Texas revolution who died in the Goliad massacre. As of the 2010 census the population was 11,782 and the County Seat was San Diego.

VISIT 1 DATED 2017-02-13 ..... unsuccessful due to locked gates, requires permission.

Scott Surgent (per his TR) could not find a western approach, so I researched the east side and had what I think is "the" route for this county, unfortunately I ran into some locked gates (what's new in Texas). Permission needs to be obtained from the information provided here.

From the city of Hebbronville (JCT 359/16) we drove north on 16 for 24.7M to a left turn on Las Lomas Ranch Road (27.66870,-98.64694), if coming from the north its 15 miles to JCT16/44 in Freer. Then went 3.8M west (rough gravel) to a number of large locked entrances. The road here splits/continues west as 2 parallel roads. The HP is approx. 3M due east on roads, then a short 200 yds xcountry/wack.
There are a whole bunch of oil signs here, inside is a nice log-cabin type gate house with a small pond and a windmill.
On the gate house is "RANCHO LAS LOMAS, W H YODER, with phone number 956-522-0332", FREER, TX."
On one entrance gate are "Emergency Numbers 956-522-0332 ... 956-330-2166 ... 956-605-5114".

Marty, the guard, try to help us out. He works for the security company contracted to do the security work. He called his boss, who told him, "I can't grant entry without the owners permission.", something I expected. So should there be another visit, a lot of work will have to be done to get the necessary approval. Marty said that this is a big company.

VISIT 2 DATED 2018-02-15 .... successful visit, whack eb ... .25 miles, 80' gain, 1 hour RT.
Last November I called the 3 emergency numbers noted above, getting an answering machine at two of them and a response at the third (956-605-5114) - the owner was very cordial, he told me to call David (956-522-0332) who would take care of me.
After a few back-and-forths with David, we agreed to a February visit, I was to call him a few weeks before to fix a date, which I did.

He was waiting with his assistant Joe at the gate as Rose and I drove up. After the usual pleasantries we had a long chat, getting a lot of information.
The 6000 acre Rancho Las Lomas is a hunting ranch (with meals/lodging), has gas and oil wells, the owner who has a Ford Dealership lives on the ranch just east of the HP, David (ranch manager) also lives on the ranch (southwest of the HP).

David was were wearing knee-high snake boots, I just had ordinary hiking boots/pants, so He said to me, "You're going up there with that (looking at my pants), rabbits come out of this brush without any fur." I put on my snake-chaps.

Rose and I followed David and Joe to the north side of the HP to a large clearing (passing-by the owners house on-route). The HP is a tough/dense whack 300yds to the south, David said, "Jump-in the back (had an ATV) and I'll get you a lot closer." He drove Joe and I (Rose stayed back) to the northwest side of the HP at 150 yds - he had to go there anyway to check on a water-trough.

David and Joe had never heard of the Duval COHP or of Snake Benchmark and had never been on top of this hill, so they were very keen to come along. The 150 yd climb is a dense/thorny whack, deer paths aided the way, a few yds of rock scramble at the top.

The fairly flat rocky summit has small brush and fairly easy to move around. A yard-square concrete base with a 2 yd tall Pipe marks the HP (etched 2-9-1981). I had explained Benchmarks to David and Joe so we all spent a lot of time looking for it. We had given up and decided to start down when as luck would have it, there it was 15yds south of the Pipe, a bit worn "USCG, SNAKE, 1935".

Once back down we followed David back to the gate, both plainly pleased with their experience, Joe saying, "That was some adventure, I loved it, were going back-up there for sure." Took photos.

I thank the owner for his generosity, this would not have happened without him.

NB: Today was our 46th day of our "82 Day Winter Trip 2018" and the last day COHPing TX - we will leave TX with 17 outstanding COHPs of which perhaps a handful-or-so may get done (with a lot of more work, persistence and kindred spirits ????).
I should note that I have already contacted these outstanding counties prior to this "Winter Trip 2018", so perhaps/hopefully the "never-give-up-attitude" will yield results.

From this COHP we will go back to The Woodlands (north of Houston), visit with Michael and Celine for a few days before starting a return trip home - COHPing in TN and KY on-route.

THAT YOU MAY GROW IN POWER AND WORTH, THROUGHOUT THE AGES LONG." ..... lyrics from the texas state song.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:80 ft / 24 m
    Round-Trip Distance:0.2 mi / 0.3 km
    Route:whack eb from ranch track
    Trailhead:ranch track west of HP  770 ft / 234 m
    Route Conditions:

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