Lincoln County Highpoint Trip Report

Lookout Mtn (1,920 ft)

Date: January 14, 2007
Author: John Hasch

an attempt

The road to Lookout Mountain was about to provide the most intense experiences of all the Wisconsin summit quests. I figured out a paved route to Lookout Mountain from the Timmís Hill area but, along the way, I decided to take some of the local roads that were on my maps. These local roads were expected to save a lot of time and distance. I left the Timmís Hill area at 12:32 pm heading east on WI-86 toward Tomahawk. When WI-86 intersected US-51, I continued straight (east) along the paved road known as County Road D. I drove about 4 miles to the intersection with paved County Road H. I turned south and drove about 4 more miles to the intersection with County Road S (paved). County Road S turned right (west) and I turned left (east) onto an unpaved but plowed dirt road, the first of the local roads. The route was marked as an ATV trail, which should have been a clue for what was to lie ahead. The road was snow- and ice-covered and passable for my front-wheel drive Honda Civic.

I continued east for about 1.75 miles to a T-intersection. I turned south for about 2 miles. Then I turned east and began my trip down a long, winding, hilly road for maybe 2.9 miles until the road made a 90 degree turn to the north. This course was followed for maybe 0.7 mile before it wound east for about 2.5 miles to an intersection where the new road went sharply to the right. I continued straight (left) past Turtle Lake for another 1.5 miles before arriving at another paved road - County Road B. Hooray!! This trip was definitely eerie and heart-stopping. I never knew whether I was going to encounter a hill that was too steep or too icy. I just kept plugging forward at a speed swift enough to take me up each hill encountered. I only passed two vehicles, both 4WD, along this entire wilderness route. I kept to the hill side of the road. If I was going to slip and lose traction, I thought, I wanted to make sure I fell into the uphill side of the road. Several times I thought about turning around, but I rationalized that I had already come this far and did not have much more to go.

County Road B hit me as one of the roads I needed to arrive at Lookout Mountain. I paused for a moment to look at my maps closer. I realized that Lookout Mountain was behind me. The road I was traveling was the exact road I needed to approach Lookout Mountain. I traced my route back for the 1.5 miles along this Bear Lake Trail Road to the Turtle Lake area. Shortly past Turtle Lake, I came to the dirt road that turned to the left and rose up the hill towards the Lookout Mountain summit. This road was also marked as an ATV trail but it turned out to be narrower, more slick, and steeper than the roads traveled so far. I confidently rolled up and around this road until I finally got to a hill that was too steep. Lacking enough momentum to take me up the hill, my car stopped and rolled back down the hill until it stopped in a snow bank.

At 2:15 pm, I was stuck in a significant spot with the rear of the car needing to be pushed uphill to get out. Stuck and very concerned! I was concerned but I knew I had to keep my cool. I went to the back of the car to get the snow shovel. Where was the snow shovel? I looked all around the inside of the car before realizing and concluding that the shovel had been left at James Lake earlier that morning! My heart began to race a little faster. Fortunately, I had put some tools in the car, just in case they might be needed. I found my tool of choice, a claw hammer. The snow was icy but disintegrated nicely with some blows from the hammerís claw. I clawed the snow and ice a few times and then used the hammer to push the loosened material out of the way.

The routine went something like this: claw the snow/ice, push the loose material out of the way, and continue to the next wheel. Once all 4 wheels were clear, I got in the car, started it, and backed up as far as possible. This process was repeated maybe 4 or 5 times until the car was no longer willing to go backwards up the slight ridge in the road. A modification to the strategy was needed. After clearing the 4 wheels, I got in the car and started it, and then put the manual transmission in reverse. While the car was running and the wheels were spinning, I got out of the car and went to the front where I applied some added pushing force. Sometimes this worked and sometimes the carís engine stalled. Eventually, however, I got the car near the top of the ridge and I knew if I pushed much more, it would go down the hill without me. So I made one final clearing of each of the wheels and I started the car. This time, I just opened the driverís door and stepped outside. I pushed the car from this position so I could jump in and steer when the car crested the ridge.

This plan worked well and I got the car over the ridge. I jumped back in and steered as I turned and looked out the rear hatch window. After about 50 feet of this maneuver, the car was then deliberately banked again when I reached the low spot in the road. The time was now about 2:40 pm. I prayed a lot and thanked God for being with me so far. I appreciated that He would continue to be with me for the next step.

The car was banked because I knew I needed to turn the car around. I couldnít drive it out by driving backwards. So I chose the low spot in the road to make this turn. I used the classic 3-point turn technique, modified to make a 30-point turn. I straightened the wheels and drove forward as much as I could, and then I turned the steering wheel and drove backwards into the snow bank. This repeated straight-forward, turned-reverse had the effect of turning the car bit-by-bit. After about 30 such cycles, the car had successfully been turned around in this narrow part of the road by about 2:46 pm. I returned the 1/2 mile to Bear Lake Trail Road and turned right and made the 1.5 mile trip back to paved road. At about 2:50 pm, I was relieved to be back on County Road B!

A few minutes later, at 2:58 pm, I was stopped in front of the locked gate that was the preferred, but private, route up Lookout Mountain. I considered hiking the trail to the top. I was not sure but I used my maps to estimate about a mile each direction to reach the summit and return. The No Trespassing signs on the gate were obliterated but I decided not to chance it. Getting stuck and maybe getting arrested for trespassing did not appeal to me. I decided to abort this attempt and used my remaining daylight to chase the other summits.

At 3:14 pm, I pulled away and was on the road to Sugarbush Mountain.