Ascent of Jorgenson Hill on 2014-07-29

Climber: James Barlow

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Jorgenson Hill
    Elevation:348 ft / 106 m

Ascent Trip Report

Where there is a will, there is a way...

Method of transportation to trailhead: aircraft carrier then fire truck!

I knew that our ship would be pulling into Indian Island, WA for a 3 day port visit for official business, and I figured that there is a chance that the crew could do things like jog around the base for exercise in the evenings. With this in mind, I did a little research about this obscure island high point that is generally off-limits to everybody. I had maps and GPS coordinates ready to go should I be able to get up this thing.

As our July underway period grew closer, it seemed that all access to the base would be completely restricted. The plan was for a beach area to be set up at Crane Point for all the Sailors to recreate with sea kayaks, sports equipment, food, and of course, beer. We would not even be allowed to walk to Crane Point and would need to ride in buses there to be surrounded by guards who would hold us in our pen. Not my idea of a good time, but certainly better than being trapped on the ship for 3 days.

We arrived on Monday and I had the pleasure of facilitating a tour of the Medical Department for the base firefighters and EMTs. At the end of the tour, one of the firefighters offered to give us a tour of their fire station. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to see something different and even mentioned the idea of taking a tour of the whole base, including the high point. Amazingly, he agreed to drive me up "Radio Tower Hill" as it is known locally. They do not use Jorgenson Hill even though it is named that on the USGS topo.

When the ship released us to Crane Point for the day, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed out there to call my contact at the fire station. As soon as I arrived there, I skipped the beer, bad food, and other activities and waited for my lift. He picked me up a few minutes later and we were off. Our first destination was the high point! There is a gravel road off Burma Road that takes you right to the top and is not on the topo or google maps, though it is clearly visible on satellite view on google. The summit area has been completely altered by man and is now home to a large grassy knoll. I walked up the grassy slopes of the small hill as well as walking to the woods at the edge on what seemed to be the high side. No need to split hairs forever over this silly bump.

After the successful summit, my chauffeur provided a full tour of the base, which I found quite fascinating. We went along the fence that separates the state highway from the base and then headed north to Anderson Pond, complete with a nature trail around it. We then passed an old homestead site that has been abandoned. From there, we headed along the east coast of the island, enjoying views of Marrowstone Island through the trees until we reached the northern tip of the island. Apparently the northern tip of the island used to be used as a dump by every ship that passed through from the 40's until the 70's and is a former Super Fund site. It looks quite beautiful now and the Navy has put a lot of work into restoring it.

Some observations of Indian Island:
1) Access is strictly forbidden except twice a year when the base hosts a run/race of some type that is open to the public. Not sure if it includes the high point, but I doubt it.
2) Employees of the base are allowed to apply to hunt, fist, gather, camp, etc all over the base. Only bow hunting is allowed due to the nature of the base's mission.
3) The island is over-run with deer, though the guys I spoke with have noted that the number of coyotes has increased which is preventing some of the fawns from reaching maturity in recent years.
4) Indian Island is very conscious of the environmental resources the island is home to and does a damn good job of managing most of the island as a near-nature preserve.

Overall, the guys I met who work on Indian Island are amongst the most friendly DoD civilians I have ever had the pleasure of interacting with. They are a close-knit community over there, yet very welcoming to outsiders like us. It was definitely an experience that most other people will not be able to replicate, but if you are given the opportunity, seize it. Indian Island is one of the most interesting places I have been to in the Puget Sound region with its fascinating mix of nature and history.

Pictures, pictures of course!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:20 ft / 6 m
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:20 ft / 6 m
    Route:SE Slope
    Start Trailhead:328 ft / 99 m
Descent Statistics

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