Wahkiakum County Highpoint Trip Report
BM Huckleberry (2,673 feet)
Dates: November 2 and 15, 2008
Author: Edward Earl
From I-5, I took exit 39 and headed W on WA-4 through Kelso and Longview.
After about 25 miles is the tiny town of Cathlamet. Less than a mile W of Cathlamet,
I turned N on Elochoman Valley Rd. Call this point mile 0.0. At 3.5 miles I went
slightly L at a fork. The right fork is Beaver Creek Rd. At 11.5 miles the
pavement ends. At 11.6 miles, I drove through an open gate just after a sign
with regulations regarding public access to logging roads. At 11.9 miles, the
road crosses a bridge just before a fork. I went L at the fork and through an
open gate. At another fork at 12.8 miles I went right, turning steeply uphill at
"point 626". At 14.0 miles, I went L at a fork and gained the crest of a ridge
only 0.1 mile thereafter. At 14.8 miles, I went R at a fork. At 14.9 miles is
another fork. The L branch is soon blocked by a locked gate; the R branch goes
around a hill and soon ends at a cul-de-sac turnaround amid piles of logging chaff.
I parked on a wide pullout on the L side just before the fork. The road
condition is suitable for any street-legal vehicle.
There are almost no numbered signs marking road intersections in this logging
road grid, which diminishes the utility of previous trip reports that rely these numbers.
I hiked past the gate at the L branch of the fork. The road traverses W along
the S side of a long ridge just below the crest. After about 4½ miles, the road
makes a hairpin turn through a saddle on the crest of the ridge and heads E.
Just before the saddle is a muddy side road on the L; just after the saddle is a
gated road identified by a white sign as Road 770 (the only numbered sign I ever
saw in the area). I followed road 770 around the N side of a small hill to fork
at another saddle. I took the L fork, which passes through the saddle and
returns to the S side of the ridge. A few minutes later the road goes through a
cut between rocks. Immediately past the cut, I turned R and headed steeply up a
grassy side road. In 10 more minutes I gained the HP, which is occupied by a
corrugated metal shack in a clearing. The highest ground is about 40 feet N of
the shack in front of a small evergreen tree.
It is possible to drive as high as I did only during elk hunting season, which
starts the first Saturday in November and continues through the following Sunday
(9 days total). All other times, one of the gates lower down is locked,
necessitating an additional 3 miles and 1400' elevation gain on foot
(or bicycle) each way.
Based on a trip report of a visit to Huckleberry Ridge on Nov 2,
several individuals questioned whether or not I actually reached the highest point.
I had identified the highest ground as a rise in the clearing before and to the
right of a small shack. I looked for the bench mark by the roadside but never
found it. Other highpointers said the BM was in the brush on a small ridge on
the E side of the road, just before the shack. I had seen this brush-covered
ridge on my first visit, but the ground sloped downward toward it and I
neglected to check for higher ground hidden inside it. I therefore decided to
make a return visit and lay to rest any questions about having reached the HP of
Wahkiakum county (and being a WA completer).
With a spell of good weather on a weekend in mid-November and a bicycle I had
repaired just a few days earlier, I made my return trip on Nov 15. I expected to
find the lower gate near Camp 2 closed, as other highpointers have reported that
it is open only during elk hunting season, which lasts only from the first
Saturday in November to Sunday of the next weekend (9 days total). I was
pleasantly surprised to find it open; I though it should have been closed a week
earlier. I was able to drive all the way to the upper gate, the same place I
started my hike last time. Having a bicycle this time, my visit was short and sweet,
and my 5½ mile one-way, 800' gain ride took less than 1 hour up, and
about ½ hour down. The weather was much better, too: fog with occasional rain
the first time, sunny with views of Rainier, St Helens, and Hood this time.
Upon arrival to the vicinity of the HP, I soon found a worn path into the brush
on the ridge, and it led straight to the BM. There was a 6-foot bright orange
fiberglass pole next to the BM, and some rocks near the BM were spray-painted
bright orange. My hose level works even when there's no visibility between
contending points, and I determined that the BM is about 5 to 6 feet higher than
the rise near the shack. Without a doubt, the BM is the HP.
The questions about whether or not I can claim the HP on my previous visit are
serious enough that the records should probably be revised. It is probably most
appropriate to base my WA completion on my second visit to Wahkiakum, Nov 15.
This should replace the original record of having completed 12 days earlier in