Ascent of Monument Mountain on 2003-03-16
|Others in Party:||Bob Martin|
|Date:||Sunday, March 16, 2003|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Elevation:||2160 ft / 658 m|
Ascent Trip Report The highpoint of Mason County is Monument Mountain, part of the Blue Mountain "Range", which, more accurately, is one big sprawling mesa covering many square miles. The map shows a road gets close to one area, from where it would be about a mile to the other area. We come in from Junction via US-377 and FM-385 and FM-1871 and tried to get to this road.
Not surprisingly, this road was gated at the highway, miles away from the highpoint. Had I been alone, I probably would have bailed on the spot and continued on my way. But Bob wanted to try a secondary route from the east, along Mill Creek Road, which is nothing more than a local dirt road.
I had no reason to think this way would work, given how abundantly fenced, gated and posted all the land out here was. I went down this long county road with Bob, fully expecting to find fencing and posted notices. It seemed like a waste of time, but I went along to appease Bob.
We found what seemed to be an abandoned residence and an open, unlocked and unposted gate. Still a little unsure if we were in the right area, Bob broke out his GPS unit, and rode with me as I drove in a little side road. Bob confirmed we were on the side road shown on the topographical map as the one getting close to the summit. We had to pass one gate (unlocked, no notices) and drive past cattle. We managed to get as far as a windmill shown on the map at spot elevation 1,847 feet. A second "gate" blocked our access. It was not locked but it was nothing more than old metal gates and junk leaning up against a fence.
Since we were now within 1.5 miles of the top, we decided to walk the rest. We breached this second gate, entered into a field and a Y-junction, and proceeded to take the left fork. This turned out to be the incorrect choice. But we followed the left fork as it went in toward the mesa's sides. We found paths that helped us enter the brush, and in short time we were on the mesa top ... but clearly not on any useful road. Bob's GPS showed us to be southeast of the summit. The trees were thick, and line-of-sight navigation worked intermittently.
After about 20 minutes of battling the brush and trees, we came out to an ATV track which led to a more substantial track, which eventually led to the road we should have been on in the first place. We had the top within view. The final hike was up a moderately steep slope with heavy brush and branches, but in minutes we were on top. The hike from my truck had taken 45 minutes.
The top is about 200 feet long, flat with spotty trees, cactus and grass clumps. The other 2,160-foot contour area mentioned earlier was visible to the west. it has been graded flat and was clearly lower than where we were. After 10 minutes, we started down, following the good road all the way back to my truck.
I was curious as to how we missed this good road going in. At the aforementioned Y-junction, the two roads look about equal in quality. If we'd followed the right fork about 200 feet we would have seen that the quality improved considerably. We got back to my truck and drove out to Bob's truck, then convoyed back toward the US-377 junction, where Bob and I parted ways. My thanks, as always, to Bob for being so persistent. I very likely would have let this one go if I'd been by myself.
|Summary Total Data|
| Total Elevation Gain:||320 ft / 97 m|
| Round-Trip Distance:||3 mi / 4.8 km|
| Trailhead:||1840 ft / 560 m|
| Route Conditions:||Road Hike, Open Country, Bushwhack|
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