Keokuk County High Point Trip Report

twenty-two areas (900+ ft)

Date: March 5, 2004
Author: Bob Schwab

This is one of several muddy field slogs that Iowa has to offer to the desperate mid-western "high" pointer. Andy Martinís book reports 26 areas spread out over four quads, but due to overlaps, there are only 22 unique contours which must be evaluated. I strongly recommend that you visit this one when the soil is frozen solid, since the clay/muck on my boots (and plastered under my truck) was particularly sticky.

three areas (including spot elevation 909 ft) in the northern half of sections 2/3-77N-13W

Leave I-80 at Exit 201 and drive south on Route 21 for almost 13 miles to the county line. Watch for a sign that points east to "Tilton EMC." This road is actually 100th Street (Keokuk Co), but most of the signs will say 540th Avenue (Poweshiek County). Turn left here and drive east along the county line for one mile to 140th Avenue. Along the way, you will crest on a slight intrusion into the cornfield to your south (area 1). The high spot is right along the fence near some brush/bushes. Spot elevation 909 is right in the intersection at 140th Avenue and may very well be the highest area within this large contour (area 2). Note the survey markers on opposite sides of 140th Avenue (Keokuk side of the intersection). These bean/corn fields are wide open and can easily be evaluated when the fields are empty.

Continue east for roughly another 0.6 mile to a driveway going southeast to the home of Ed Huffman (#14660). His house sits on a small spot (area 3) near the edge of a bank, however I thought the field near his barn looked just as high. Ask for permission to wander out into the middle of section 2 if you want to explore more of area 2. You may also ask him for permission to visit area 12, which is south of area 2 and roughly 0.7 mile south of the road. Iíd save this one until later when youíre down on 110th Street, because from there youíll only have to slog 0.25 mile across the field to check it out.

one area in section 1-77N-13W

At this point, be very cautious about continuing to drive east on the county line road. If there is any possibility that the dirt road is wet or unstable, backtrack to 140th Avenue, drive south 1 mile, then east on 110th Street for 2 miles, then north on 160th Avenue for 1 mile to get back to the county line road. I made the mistake of continuing east from Mr. Huffmanís place and discovered that while the road appeared to be dry, it was really a very mushy, sticky mess of clay/mud. You quickly drop down into a low spot, your tires get that clay/mud on them and you have no traction, no matter how good you think your low 4WD is. I was spinning muck everywhere, and while I didnít get stuck, I did spend quite a bit of time at a car wash trying to dislodge literally hundreds of pounds of clay from underneath my truck.

Once you get yourself to the county line and 160th Avenue, you are at the intersection of three counties (Poweshiek, Iowa, and Keokuk) and at spot elevation 907 feet within area 4. There is a bizarre "C" shape to this contour as it swings west along the county line, then down into the field and eventually almost back to 160th Avenue. I thought the highest part of this contour was up along the county line road (the muddy section west of the intersection), and in the yard of the house that sits on the corner. This area also overlaps into the What Cheer quadrant.

seven areas in sections 5/6-77N-12W

Continue east on the county line road (now called Keokuk/Iowa Road in Iowa County) for another 2 miles. You will crest over three areas (5-7) that intrude from the north between 160th and 170th Avenue, and there are two more areas (8 and 9) south out in the field. Park along the county line and hike south to investigate these areas. The southern area (9) is definitely higher than area 8 and is more easily reached from 170th Avenue. Continue east on the county line to 180th Avenue. Most of this distance cuts across a large contour (area 10). Walk south 0.3 mile from the county line, just east of the half-section line (section 5) to investigate area 11.

four areas in the southern half of sections 2/3-77N-13W

Drive south on either 170th or 180th Avenue to 110th Street, and then drive west on 110th Street to 150th Avenue. From this reference point, continue west on 110th Street for roughly 0.5 mile and park along the road. Hike north 0.25 mile into the field to investigate area 12, which overlaps into Deep River Quadrant.

After returning to the road, continue west on 110th Street for roughly another mile, crossing 140th Avenue. At this point, a contour (area 13) crosses the road with some houses/buildings nearby. Two other areas can easily be visited in the corn/beans to the north. The smaller, less distinct area (14) is just to the northeast. The larger contour (area 15) overlaps into the adjacent quadrant. All three are quite flat and have very little rise within their contours.

two areas in section 4-77N-13W

Continue east on 110th to the intersection with Route 21. Turn north on Route 21, then immediately left at the white house (#10833) with several bins and sheds. There are two areas here, just west of Route 21. The high point of the larger area (16) is in the yard, somewhat west of the house. The second tiny spot is hard to discern (area 17), but it is at the end of a tree line that extends southwest from the farm buildings. No one was home when I visited, so I didnít linger in their yard.

one large area in sections 6/7/8-77N-13W

Drive south on Route 21 to 120th Street (Route G-13). Turn right and continue west for 2 miles to the tiny settlement of Gibson. Turn right on 110th Avenue and drive north to 110th Street. Along the way, the road crosses two arms of an extensive contour that covers parts of three sections and overlaps into the Barnes City quad. 110th Street also cuts across this contour in two places. Anywhere along these roads you can park and hike out into the cornfield to collect great gobs of clay/mud on your boots and pants. By the way, there isnít a county line sign on 110th Street, but there are fences so you can tell if/when youíve strayed into the adjacent (Mahaska) county.

four areas in sections 4/5-77N-13W

From the intersection of 110th Street and 110th Avenue, go north 1 mile to the county line. Turn right and drive east for 0.5 mile to spot elevation 905 (area 19) where youíll find another Keokuk survey marker. Continue east another 0.35 mile to another contour that intrudes from the north. The house is gone, but there are still two sheds and 2 bins on this area (20), and there is a second low contour (area 21) out in the field about 0.25 mile to the south. Continue east on the county line for roughly another 0.4 mile to where the road cuts across the final contour (area 22). There is a posted gate to the field to the south, and just east some very dilapidated buildings in an adjacent woods. I didnít wander way down into the field, but it was quite pleasant and grassy near the road (no mud!).