Montgomery County Highpoint Trip Report

four areas on Willse (a.k.a. "Wiltse") Hill (1,600+ ft)

Date: August 23, 2006
Authors: Sue Ann Miller and Frank Price

Summary: We concur with previous CoHPers who grant the true summit status to the area closest to the tri-county junction where the southern contour overlaps the county line.

southern contour along county line (1,656 ft?)

We were beginning to think that it would be possible to Martinize this one. We took our CRV in via the western approach up Vickerson Road, which, if you clear a rough band of flaky shale at 0.5 mile, is easily drivable to at least 0.7 mile beyond the barn where a sign marks the beginning of a seasonal road. We could have gone a little farther but, like predecessors, decided to park at 0.6 mile and were just as glad not to drive through puddles that filled lengths of road just beyond the sharp turn to the south that is shown on the topo (about 0.8 mile). We never saw markers on trees on the hillside visible to the south of the road as described by Dan Case, but about 0.1 mile south of that turn, a well-traveled ATV track climbed to the right (west) and had no postings.

That track soon leveled off and shortly thereafter we spotted orange twine on a tree trunk to the left that was leaning across the trail. We noted it and walked on to discover that the track led to the small, mowed clearing shown on the topo. Our path came in from the east; others led off south, west, and north. We eventually took the north track down and more directly back to our car, which we could see from the edge of that clearing. First we took the south path until it came to a tin shed near some large bedrock mounds that rise 3-4 feet above surrounding ground. All of this is in Herkimer County, so we wandered further east to what we hoped would be the county line. We Lobdellized the area and returned to the clearing to go east back to that twine-marked tree.

Despite long staring, we saw only one twine marker onrth of the track but we found a line of several trees with twine south of the track. These could be remains of indication of a county line (they trended properly for that). They could also be markers left by an anonymous CoHPer because, when we followed the series into the waist-high snapdragons and briars hiding rotting logs and mossy rocks, we discovered a small diameter tree trunk on which someone had painted a series of orange dots and white horizontal bars (now faded). Just to the east of that, Sue found a metal rod tipped with orange paint sticking loosely in the ground and hidden in August undergrowth. Could this be a previous CoHPer's attempt to mark the spot? This area is north of the red marker on the topo linked to the CoHP site but we understand that is a random marker for attention and centering rather than a precise indicator on this broad area. We Lobdellized the area around the metal rod and returned to the track. Not even a bold SUV driver could not Martinize this one.

We returned to the small clearing and followed the north path downhill around the field and back to the road at 0.7 mile from the start of seasonal road at the farm and 0.1 mile eastof where we parked.

We parked where a span of orange twine crossed an overgrown field access south of the road and across from where a clear farm equipment track led northeast through a cornfield. This track follows the course of the path shown on topos. It was easy to find in tall August corn. Hikers facing cut stubble should still see the tracks later this year. The track skirted left of trees, up an incline and near the top, cut left across fallow field to young trees, then turned right along their edge. Walking across fields to edges of re-growth would be effective in snow cover, and the visible continuance and descent of the farm road north through woods would help confirm locations.

This track lead easily to the two north contours that straddle the Herkimer- Montgomery County line. Neither appears to be as high as the prominence to the south that can be viewed from the southern aspect of this contour. Just over what is probably the county line (i.e., in Herkimer County), there are higher bedrock mounds in the northern area of this contour. The northernmost is easily 10 feet higher (but not in Montgomery County). We saw no twine or anything else marking the county line here. Young forest is now reclaiming what is shown on the topo as open just to the west of this track at these potential HP contours. If you continue to follow the track downhill from this area, you reach more fields with a great view north over the Mohawk Valley to southern Adirondack foothills.

Weed whacking east, we followed broken foliage tracks in the goldenrod, sneeze weed, and blackberry tangle by firewood gatherers, deer, and perhaps another CoHPer. Under the trees we pressed through chest-high briars using our Leki poles to push stems aside. Line-of-sight comparisons are not possible in August but that eastern bump does not seem to compete with the rise of land that the county line crosses to the south. Despite suggestions of the topo map contours, we suspect that the 4 points are not that equal.

Conclusion: We believe that the highest ground is at the metal rod in the area of the southern contour. Faded paint on the north side of the trunk of a small diameter tree can be seen in any season and that rod would be visible after leaves fall and frost and snow knock down the undergrowth. We may return with a GPS to refine this but for now others should know that the road is drivable and walkable from either west or east (Fallesen route).