Natrona County High Point Trip Report

Date: May 23, 2003
Author: Jerry Brekhus

We approached this one via the 101-mile South Bighorn/Red Wall Back Country Byway, leaving US 20 at Waltman. The road is paved for eight miles or so to Arminto. There's not much there -- you'll know you're there when you cross the railroad tracks. At the junction with Natrona County 109 bear left on 109. The road gets a little rougher here, but it is still pretty good as back country roads go. At 1.25 miles past Middle Fork Buffalo Creek a side road heads west toward BM Mine. We got out and walked around here and located BM 8463, confirming the correct side road.

Drive in on this road as far as you choose. Weather and vehicle type may affect how far you drive. On this May 23rd there were still a few patches of snow. About a mile from BM 8463, the road enters posted land. However, you can stay on public land by hiking on the north side of the private land keeping to Section 11 for 1/2 mile. The HP itself is on BLM land. The Lysite BLM 1:100,000 map is helpful for determining the land ownership in the vicinity. At the benchmark (elevation 9121) we found a small cairn on a rock formation obviously higher than the benchmark. Likewise, Dave Olson's pinnacle is clearly higher than the benchmark.

By hand level, we sized up the pinnacle as approximately 4 inches lower than the sloping rock where the cairn was placed. There is also a way without instruments to learn something about the relative height of the pinnacle. I got in a position so that I was sighting with the top of sloping rock directly in line with the apex of the pinnacle. The background on that sight line was into the ground on nearby hillsides in Natrona County to the west. Since we were on the highest hill in the county, this line of sight had to be on a slight downward slope.

We tagged the tip of the sloping rock to claim Natrona County. We did not attempt the pinnacle. If you go there, I invite you to make your own determination of the exact high point.

On our way back to US 20, we continued the remaining 70 miles through one rather deep ford to complete the byway for the second time. If you are in a hurry, I suggest you return to the highway via Arminto.