Baca County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: November 6, 2004
Author: Kevin Baker

From looking at the map, it appeared that there were no easy ways to get from southwestern Otero county to western Baca county. To avoid going all the way up to La Junta then south, we tried going southeast from the town of Houghton on Road 133.8. This quickly dumped us into a dead end at the Pinon Canyon Military Reservation, which looked like Colorado's version of Area 51! We turned around and had to go almost to Trinidad before finally hooking up with US-160. We had a little under 1/2 tank of gas at this point, so we decided to keep going, hoping that there would be a gas station before the highpoint in either Kim or Pritchett. We got to Kim at around 3:20, found a gas station, and found out that it closed at 3. As we approached Pritchett, it looked like it would have a gas station but to no avail. At this point, we were at 1/8 tank, so we had to pass our turnoff for Carrizo Mountain so we could get gas in Springfield. This would mean that we would be hiking in the dark with no moon to help us.

We had no problems finding the ranch, which is now named Sikes Ranch. I am not sure if it has a new owner or not but being as late as it was we didn't want to bother anyone. We made the left turn just past the ranch, passed through the gate, and took the right fork in the road instead of the correct left fork.

We turned around and started our hike a little further down the road, since we couldn't see much in the way of obstacles on the road. We started our hike at 5:30pm, with only a few shades of daylight left. We headed up the road and quickly crested the mesa. At this point, we turned on our head lamps and headed southwest, using my GPS way point as a bearing. We ran into a fence running east-west, so we crossed it until my GPS said we had arrived at the spot but we did not see another fence in the area. We retraced our steps, found the fence again, and decided to find its junction with the fence at the Las Animas county line. We felt we could find the highpoint from there. We then headed north in error, then quickly discovered that we should be going south. We crossed the fence again, then came across some cairns on the fence line! We continued south to make sure that was it, then found the 5278-foot BM noted on the USGS quad, so we knew the cairn was it!

There was no register but we knew we were at the right place. On the approach, we could see the outline of Potato Butte but we didn't have time to bag it. We headed back across the butte, using a way point I had set to find the road again.

It took us about 1 hour 20 minutes on this one (3.8 miles and 300 feet of gain).

Before leaving, we took some time to enjoy the awesome display of the stars and the Milky Way dotting the sky.