Bent County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: October 7, 2006
Author: John Mitchler

26 persons from 6 states converged on the San Jose Ranch in southeastern Colorado to climb the highest point in Bent County. Saturday October 7, 2006, was the date when John Collard and Phil Congdon completed Colorado with Bent County being their 64th and final county summit. Ranch owner Tim Erickson generously granted access to the group to visit this remote mesa and we hope our appreciation and behavior gained his respect to allow open access again.

A group of 15 left Denver at 7am and drove south on I-25: Kathy & John Mitchler, Dave Covill, Ken Jones, Travis Canon, Zoeann Corn, Phil Congdon, Renata & John Collard, Tim Worth, Corrine Konrad, Rich Allen, Rob Cobb, Holly Storm, Walt ONeil (yes! Walt is back!). We picked up Kevin Baker in Colorado Springs and Bill Schuler in Pueblo and the group swelled in La Junta where we joined Christy & Dennis Dean, Sue & Dave Pellegrini, Mouser Williams, James Wedekind, and Ron Tagliapietra. At the ranch, we met Tim Erickson and his pastor Mike Beecham who both climbed with us. Four dogs attended as well.

The day was clear, warm, and windy as we hiked up the steep 300-foot slope to the mesa top, where we strolled the flat terrain among junipers to the highest spot. There were a couple rocky spots along the way. A group photo and mini-celebration took place on the top. Half the group descended and left for other adventures and half the group hiked to 5 other areas along the mesa (that had a similar contour as the true highpoint but were judged to be lower). Some steep slopes were encountered but safe routes were selected. All the mesas have a 10- foot sandstone cap which provides a barrier to passing, so breaks must be found for ascent and descent. Belly-on-the-rock hand leveling was done to suggest that the lone area south of the highway is lower.

After a safe descent to the cars, the remaining group split up to seek county highpoints throughout southeastern Colorado.

Before and after the Bent County climb, highpointers took advantage of the good weather to visit other counties in Colorado (and Kansas!) either alone or in small groups.