Ascent of Black Mesa on 2013-07-13

Climber: Alan Barber

Others in Party:Cameron
Date:Saturday, July 13, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Black Mesa
    Elevation:4973 ft / 1515 m

Ascent Trip Report

At 4972.79 feet above sea level Black Mesa is the 23rd highest state high point in the United States. Cameron and I picked up a car and drove north toward Oklahoma from the Amarillo airport. The trip took about 3 hours and was an easy drive. After picking up water bottles at a gas station, we made it to Kenton Oklahoma and looked around. That did not take long. The Kenton Merc was closed (probably because it was a Saturday- who would think that the "information center" would be open on Saturday?).

We backtracked about 1/2 mile out of town to the park road and turned north. Just past the turn off for the Black Mesa Bed and Breakfast was an interest looking but abandoned building which looked like a movie set western town. A little further on we arrived at turn off to the Nature Conservancy preserve parking lot and the trail head. This is about 5 miles from the main road to Kenton (CR 325).

The gravel parking lot has a restroom but no water source. There is an information board with a map of the area just inside a metal gate which has examples of several animals' foot prints on it. We passed through the gate and started up the trail about 12:30 PM. The weather was hot (in the 90s) and dry. Some clouds appeared to give us shade during our return trip later in the afternoon it was not much help.

Since we were delayed getting into Amarillo, and a little behind schedule we decided to walk-jog. While the trail for the first 2 miles was fairly level, the first mile was rocky and had a few hills. The 90+ degree temperature slowed us down and we ended up walking after the first mile. In retrospect, jogging the second mile or the trail on the top of the mesa would have been a better idea. Occasional metal poles with arrows clearly marked the trail for us and there was a bench at miles 1, 2, and 3. We did not find a fourth bench. At the 2 mile bench the trail turned to the left and we approached the actual Mesa and began to climb.

The trail is like a rocky 4 wheeler track and not too hard to climb. It consists of a series of switch backs leading to the top of the mesa. Along the way we met 4 college kids from Kansas coming down and stopped for a short chat. Once we passed the 3rd mile bench it was only a short distance to the mesa top. This bench faces back down the hill and offers a great view on the area and the trail. From there the trail was flat and ran west across the top for about another mile to the actual high point. By the time we reached the summit we were almost out of water. We really needed two water bottles a piece for the hike!

The High point is marked with a 4 sided obelisk set in a concrete base. The obelisk is made from native Oklahoma Indian head granite. There is a summit register which we signed and a summit marker set in the concrete base. A short distance from the monument is a concrete bench provided by a local scout troop. We signed the register, walked around a little, and took our summit photos before heading back.

As usual heading back down was easier that coming up. Not only were we descending, but the sun was at our back, the breeze had pick up and was in our face, and the clouds were giving us more shade. The trip up took a little under 2 hours. When we reached the parking lot, the entire lapsed time was 3 hours.

The route is 4.2 miles each way starting about 4300 feet at the parking lot and reaching the summit of 4973 feet.After changing out of our sweaty clothes and drinking some water, we headed back to Amarillo to catch our plane. Along the way we visited the Cadillac ranch just west of town. This "artistic installation" of old Cadillac's buried nose down in a line is easily visible from the highway. After a short hike into the field we had a close look at these 10 graffiti covered cars. We finally arrived at the airport for the flight home.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:650 ft / 198 m
    Quality:2 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:650 ft / 198 m
    Start Trailhead:4323 ft / 1317 m
Descent Statistics

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