Ascent of Mine Benchmark on 2016-06-09

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Artski
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, June 9, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mine Benchmark
    Elevation:9121 ft / 2780 m

Ascent Trip Report

From Shoshoni we took US26E until the turn for Arminto on Arminto Road. Arminto turned out to be a town of a few buildings, but no businesses. Shortly after the "town", we came up on a sign welcoming us to the scenic Wyoming Backroad route. This is on Buffalo Creek Road/105. The sign says to have food and water with you while you travel this backroad which should take three to four hours to complete. We would not being doing the full route, but instead we turned on Bighorn Mountain Road/109 to the left after a few miles. On that stretch we saw cowboys on horseback herding cattle around. There were also strange bluffs on the creek side that had white stones that had fallen over red dirt, making it look like someone had thrown furniture off of all of the cliffs. Once on Bighorn Mountain Road we started gaining elevation. This road was just fine for a Subaru and would have been fine in a Corolla, too. We soon crossed the South and Middle forks of Buffalo Creek which had signs that said so. This may be the trickiest part of the road if the water is running high. We then passed the campground and about a mile later came up on a somewhat difficult to see intersection. When we ere right on the crest of a hill there, we turned left/west onto a two track that met a gate after a couple hundred feet. This road passes through private land and BLM land, with the highpoint being owned by the BLM. We opened the gate and drove through, shortly thereafter to meet a second gate where we did the same. The road got really rough and had big loose rocks in it that made it slow and precarious. We decided to park when we saw a spot and found one after the next few turns. From there we began walking in the sun and nice temperature weather along the road. the road got a big boggy in one spot which helped justify hiking instead of driving farther. It was nice high country, and there was nothing unpleasant about the hike. We stayed on the road until it went into a meadow and then we were able to see the rocky rise to the right of the road which was the highpoint. We went up a mixed grass and soccer ball sized rock slope that was the home of some marmots which got us up on the flatter summit area. From there we crossed a single snowbank and made it to the pointy rocks on top. We found the benchmark which gives this point its only name and then stepped on the highest rock next to it. I did an Eddy the Eagle flap on top right as a large golden eagle took off from under one of the rocks, spooked by our presence. Wow! There were also remains of some wire and wood object on the top. We went back the way we came, seeing more marmots on the way. Once back to our car, we drove back to Bighorn Mountain Road and took a left. Our road went by a guest cabin and then merged onto Hazelton Road. There was a monument built here that explained the heavy BLM presence up here. Aparantly this ridge is a traditional sheep driveway that was once threatened to be stopped by homesteaders which were claiming lots and cutting off access for the herders via the Homestead Act. The government realized there was a problem and removed these lands from the Homestead Act's reach on the sheep driveway to allow that nomadic way of life to continue. Our adventure was yet to be over, though. We continued north on Hazelton Road, which was a rougher surface than Bighorn Mountain Road, and then turned onto the rougher Barnum Mountain Road in hopes of going through Barnum and getting out to Kaycee. However, there was a gate on this road that said that the road was private property and no through traffic was allowed. This was confusing, because Delorme shows this road as "major connector" which is three orders of magnitude higher than the unnamed road which goes by the highpoint. Unhappy, but not wanting to risk a locked gate on the Barnum side of the road, we got back onto Hazelton Road and headed north. Artski failed to head my "look out" shout and drove over a coil of barbed wire with both passenger side tires. However, nothing seemed to happen right away, but I was suspicious. We continued to R85/Dry Farm Road and took a left on it. It was then that the sheep driveway earned it's name as we saw hundreds of sheep coming over a crest together. This road comes into the "town" of Big Trails where we took a left on Spring Creek Road for a tenth mile. We then took a left onto PAVED road (WY434) and headed to Tensleep. It was our first pavement since our turn onto Arminto Road. We camped in the Bighorns that night and filled a slow leaking right rear tire in Buffalo the next morning. The following morning, though, we found a totally flat tire and had to put on the small spare to get from our campsite in Oacoma, SD to get to Chamberlain where I fixed the puncture at the Sinclair.

Next time I would recommend taking a right and heading east on Hazelton Road to Thirty Three Mile Road and then heading north on Lone Bear Road to Kaycee. Hopefully those roads are trustworthy, as Barnum Mountain Road is not.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:571 ft / 174 m
    Total Elevation Loss:571 ft / 174 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.3 mi / 3.7 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:571 ft / 174 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Start Trailhead:8550 ft / 2606 m
    Time:35 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:571 ft / 174 m
    Distance:1.1 mi / 1.9 km
    End Trailhead:8550 ft / 2606 m
    Time:28 Minutes

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