Ascent of Burge Mountain on 2017-03-21

Climber: Ben Lostracco

Others in Party:supported by Rose
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Burge Mountain
    Elevation:3260 ft / 993 m

Ascent Trip Report

Today is day 84 and our last hiking day of our 87 day "WINTER TRIP 2017, COUNTY HIGH POINTING TEXAS." We met our goal of attempting all of the 254 Texas COHPs - we completed 231 counties. Access to the remaining 23 (except for 1) is a major problem, requiring a lot of research and hopefully a kindred spirit at the other end. It is very doubtful however that I will get them all - but as the song goes "Que Sera Sera".

We also had time to visit a bunch of TENNESSEE COHPS, more than originally planned - with today's summit we now have completed 81 of the 95 counties. Hopefully and with some luck we will be able to complete the remaining 14 this coming winter.

A hike to the 3 candidate high point summits with all of the in-between-driving, including the drive on the access road from Hwy #116 took us 4:15 hours.

We used the route in Ken Oeser's TR of 2002 to access the 3 candidate high point areas, an excellent route requiring little hiking. Special thanks goes to Ken for pioneering this route.
The hardest part of this trip was the gravel road driving - a vey stressful drive with our dodge caravan, especially the first 2 miles, where the road is extremely steep with numerous spots having rock outcrops. It is best driving with a high clearance vehicle with a good set of tires. On the descent we had to stop to cool the brakes.
One must read Ken, this report attempts to update/detail today's ground conditions and is not a stand alone.

From the JCT Hwy #62/#116 we drove #116 N to the Armes Gap, where we parked and climbed Big Fodderstack - a straight forward moderate hike - before continuing E on #116 to Ken's gravel road on the left, 9.5 miles from #62 (GPS 36.14966,-84.38616, 1400' elev). This gravel road is signed "Southern Coal Corp Haul Road #3", across the road is the large industrial "Southern Coal Corporation Plant, Premium Coal Co.".

The gravel road climbs/winds westerly for 4.5 miles (the first 2 miles very steep) to a sharp right bend (elev 2550') then continues northeasterly to the ridge and a Main Road JCT at 6 miles from the TH (GPS 36.16908,-84.41969, elev 2920'). At 5.1 miles I stayed left at the fork.
A left at this Main Road JCT heads W to Guinea Gap, a right heads E to Burge Mountain. We saw a number of trail markers on the ridge "Cumberland CT Trail".

BURGE MOUNTAIN .... track/wack ... 1 1/4 mile, 250' gain, 38 minutes RT.
From the Main Road JCT we went right (E) for 1.3 miles to the TH for BURGE MOUNTAIN (all as per Ken).
A rough woods road on the right (with marker CT TRAIL) climbs 100 yds E and continues left at a fork,. I stayed right at the fork on a small ATV track which turns/climbs the ridge N 300 yds and turns E.
The PB coordinates puts the HP a short 200 yds bushwack N from this turn.
I then came back to this turn and followed the ATV track E 400 yds to another high ground, shown on topo as "VABM 3264" (a low wet area is between these 2 areas). Not sure which is higher.

We drove back to the Main Road JCT and continued W for Guinea Gap. We had to park at 3/4 mile as the road got much too risky for our van. This was my TH for Guinea Hill Knob and Walnut Knob.
I walked the road W for 1 mile to Guinea Gap (36.16763,-84.44388, elev 2880'). Immediately left is an unused/rutted track that climbs to Guinea Hill Knob, 75 yds further W is a 4-way Jct where a dirt road descends left and a gravel road ascends right for Walnut Knob.

GUINEA HILL KNOB ... rough track/wack sb ... .8 miles, 360' gain, 33 minutes RT from Gap.
I climbed the rough track south bound then wacked to find the high ground, no views.

WALNUT KNOB ... rough ATV track/wack nb ... .8 miles, 360' gain, 40 minutes RT from Gap
I climbed the gravel road 100 yds NE to an oil pump/tanks, where I picked up a rough/rutted ATV track that led me N, half way up left the track and bushwacked to the summit. Stomped around to cover my bases.

As noted above all of the 3 hikes are short and easy, however the rough road driving, especially the first 2 miles (very steep and full of protruding rocks - not for our dodge caravan) is another matter. A very stressful drive, more so for Rose!!!!!.
We were lucky to get out without problems - our biggest concern/fear during these types of out-of-the-way back-road summits is always "car trouble". It must be said that our dodge caravan has served us well over the years.

We would arrive home in 3 days to cold and a snow storm, offset by warm hugs/reception of family. By chance and NOT BY DESIGN, our sons family (minus one) from different parts of the USA, was up to Montreal. We would gathered for a nice lunch at a local sugar shack, plus one of Rose's famous lasagna dinners.


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1600 ft / 486 m
    Extra Gain:610 ft / 185 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.8 mi / 4.5 km
    Route:visit to 3 summits
    Trailhead:Hwy #116  2880 ft / 877 m
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack

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