Pennington County Highpoint Trip Report

17 unnamed hills (1,185+ ft)

Date: May 27, 2005
Author: Mark Ness

partial completion

Pennington County's 17 Highest Points are located in Sections 12, 23, 24, 25, 26, 34, 35, and 36 of Reiner Township. It is the flattest-top county in the state -- although the same number of highest contour areas, the ones in Chippewa County are small and distinct. The ones in Pennington are generally larger. I attempted to summit this county in the waning hours of the day, in some drizzle. The locations of the high point areas in Pennington county resemble an upside- down question mark. I numbered the areas 1-17, beginning with the "curvy" part on the southwest corner.

From the southeast corner of Red Lake County, I drove 1 mile north to State Highway 92, and turned right. I continued east on S.H. 92 for 8.65 miles to 270th Street, turned left (almost straight), drove east on 270th Street for 1.57 miles, and turned left onto Polk County Road 2. I continued north on C.R. 2 (changed to C.R. 27 at the Pennington County line) for 23.83 miles to a point approximately in the middle of area 1.

Area 1 (road build-up on County Road 27 between Sections 34 and 35): This area appeared to me to be purely road build-up. In addition to appearing to be as flat as the road north and south of it, it was well built-up, at least 5 feet (the contour interval for this quad) above the surrounding terrain, so it is not a candidate for the county high point. I then turned around and drove back south on C.R. 27 for 0.8 mile. I turned left onto 160th Street NE, toward areas 2 & 3. I turned into the driveway at house number 39444, about 0.3 mile east of the intersection to ask permission. I received no response.

Areas 2 & 3 (small pair in the south central part of Section 35): I continued east and parked on the road near the half-section line. I hiked north along the road there, which was the business driveway for that homestead. I walked between parked farm equipment. The road here was muddy and wet in places, as the nearby pond spread out following recent rains. On my way to area 2, I heard what sounded like two shotgun blasts coming from the farm place but I continued walking. I arrived at area 2 in about 4 minutes. It was in a newly planted wheat field and was barely perceptible as a rise above the surrounding farmland. I then turned toward area 3, and watched as a pickup truck driving on the muddy field road approached my position and parked just south of area 2. The sound of the pickup made me think that the sound I heard was not shotgun blasts but engine backfire. The driver exited and we walked toward each other. He was concerned that I had entered the land to steal gas and batteries from the farm equipment.

He asked me if I was the county assessor but I told him that no, I was a county highpointer. I briefly explained my purpose. He told me that the owner was his father and that they were at a birthday party. He walked away mentioning the word "trespassing" and expressing a desire to have been previously notified. I watched him go, and proceeded to area 3, which was just about as flat. Time for this pair was about 15 minutes.

Areas 4-6 (section 36): I skipped the areas in section 36 and continued to the 7-area group in Sections 24 & 25. I parked at the intersection of Sections 23, 24, 25 & 26. Leading east is a "Minimum Maintenance Road" that crosses the ditch at the half-section line and continues as a field road east for another 1/4 mile into the woods.

Area 8: This area is relatively well-defined, the top of which is near a lone steel bin in a grassy area.

Area 9 (small area in north-central part of Section 25, just west of the ditch): Just south of the "Min Maint" road, this is smaller and lower than Area 8. I continued east to area 12.

Area 12 (large area split between sections 24 & 25--Section 24 part): At first, I thought that the road that goes north from the end of the "Min Maint" road was on natural ground. Then I concluded that it was built up from dredging out the ditch. I identified some higher points to the east of that and visited those. I then followed the field road east along the section line, which turned to woods about where the contour begins.

Area 13 (small area split between sections 24 & 25): I followed the woods road to where it ended and bushwhacked a little to claim this point.

Area 14 (small area in northeast quarter of section 25): I then proceeded through the newly planted wheat field to the small area 14, which showed no rise at all above the surrounding terrain.

Area 12 (Section 25 part): I then returned to area 12 and crossed the ditch (not shown on the topo map) to its southern part. Next to the ditch were several small hills, which I eventually concluded were piled up from digging the ditch. Difficult to say where the natural ground was and did not see any rise to the east in the field.

Area 11 (medium area just south of area 12): I skipped area 11 when I saw area 10.

Area 10 (large area in northwestern quarter of Section 25, extending into Section 26): Like most of the other areas, I could see that this area, as large as it is, showed very little vertical change. It, too, was in a newly-planted wheat field.

Area 7 (oval shaped contour in southwest quarter of Section 24): From my parking spot at Spot Elevation 1180, as I walked east at the start of this hike toward area 8, I glanced north several times toward area 7, looking for some kind of rise but did not see it. Then, on the way back to my car, I decided to try it anyway. As I walked toward it, I noticed that it still appeared flat, and the whole area both before arriving at the contour and while in the contour was under 2-3 inches of water.

That was the last straw for me, as I skipped the remaining areas and drove toward Thief River Falls on State Highway 1.