Ascent of Black Mesa on 2017-07-04

Climber: Gustav Sexauer

Others in Party:Artski
Date:Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Black Mesa
    Elevation:4973 ft / 1515 m

Ascent Trip Report

After hiking up Mt. Sunflower this morning, we still had it in us to tackle another peak. We drove through Colorado mostly on US285 S and decided to go to Boise City instead of coming in on gravel county roads. Artski was loaded down with a full trailer and the extra miles and time were probably worth it. The way to the trailhead was signed from Boise City, but you will realize that Black Mesa State Park is not where the summit is, and you actually follow the signs that say either Black Mesa Preserve or Summit. We left his car at the intersection of that unnamed road to the trailhead and OK325. Unnamed road was actually paved, to our surprise, but it was somewhat narrow and windy, so it was just as well that we rode together for a few minutes. There is a weird strip mall type building along the way that is not completed and not on a road. The windows still had the stickers on them, but some were broken. I guess someone thought that Black Mesa was going to be big? We saw two cars that looked like they were hikers coming from the parking lot, and there was one car left once we got there. It was after 3pm, so it was late in the day to start. We set off in 93F heat, but fortunately the heat was at its peak and let up slightly by the time we were done. The trail followed an old two track and current cow track over some slightly rolly terrain, then hooked left towards a face that presented a road cut with only one read switchback. We passed a family of four on the way, the two college students looked fine, and the parents, following minutes behind, looked quite beat. There was no water in the creek bed or wash at the base of the mesa. The road up was kind of steep, but mostly hard rock. On the top of the plateau we felt like we must be near, but really there's almost a mile to go to gain the last 50 feet. The plateau played tricks on me and I though that the monument was downhill of us when it came into view and that the summit was to the south. We later hand leveled it (with a smartphone) and found the monument ground to be higher. The monument was really well done and classier than Kansas', but not as heart felt or folksy. There was a great view at the top, but also the whole hike, of a landscape which we didn't know existed in this part of the country. The valleys between the mesas are somewhat deep, there are colorful rock faces along the rims, and there are small trees and bushes speckling the landscape. It doesn't look anything like even the central part of the Oklahoma panhandle which I drove through a month and a half prior. We followed the trail back and tried to make time, but our hand leveling must have taken a bit because we were slightly slower on the way down. We were also fatigued, but very happy that we had enough water. I told Artski that many had scoffed at Black Mesa for having a somewhat non-direct trail, and for it having to be hiked from over 4 miles away. We had even considered skipping this highpoint because of the hike and had only confirmed coming after visiting Mt. Sunflower. However, we agreed that Black Mesa really is a standup state highpoint and HIKE. It makes up for the Mt. Arvons and Taum Sauks of the state highpoint list whose summits have been ruined by roads and easy access.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:837 ft / 254 m
    Extra Gain:100 ft / 30 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.4 mi / 13.6 km
    Route:Black Mesa Trail
    Trailhead:Black Mesa TH  4336 ft / 1321 m
    Grade/Class:Class 1
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Weather:Hot, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 20 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 24 Minutes

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