IntroductionNovember 25, 2007
Objective: Mt Sunflower (4,039’) – KS Rank 1
Route: Kansas Rd 3 off I-70
Total Distance: ~.25 miles
Elevation Gain: ~50 ft
Participants: Jim & Karen Ohl
Karen and I spent a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday in Topeka visiting family and left for home on Sunday morning. Not being entirely thrilled about the 8.5-hr drive back across the plains to Colorado Springs, we decided to spice things up by stopping to see the World's Largest Prairie Dog...a lifelong dream of Karen's. Unfortunately, the exhibit is closed on Sunday's so it was on to Plan B.
After a 2+ month hiatus from summiting anything other than a ladder or 2 flights of stairs, we were starting to feel the itch. As luck would have it, Mt Sunflower, the Kansas state highpoint, was just a short detour from our route home. Why not. At least it would more exciting than bagging two ranked 4ers in Bent County, CO.
Our Kansas state roadmap showed some sort of county road stemming off of I-70 at Kanorado (1 mile east of the Kansas/Colorado border), heading south and passing somewhat near a small map symbol indicating the highpoint. The road wasn't even labeled on the map, but who needs to know that anyway? About a mile after leaving the interstate the pavement ended and we headed down the straightest dirt road on planet earth. Not seeing any signs indicating we were headed toward Mt Sunflower, we stopped at a house along the way to ask for directions. 21.9 miles, a sharp left, followed by a sharp right later (the only turns in that road) we reached the turnoff for Mt Sunflower. The true summit wasn't exactly distinct even at this point...not surprisingly, but we persevered. A half mile further we came to the trailhead.
The "Climb"Since highpointing is fairly lax on rules, we turned right at the trailhead and drove the rocky road on up to the true summit and I practiced my "drive-n-drag" technique as we topped out at 3:40pm. The views from the summit were actually pretty unique for anyone not used to unobstructed views for dozens of miles in every direction...it was a bluebird day indeed!
I figured the hills a bit further to the west were actually a bit higher than us, but then again, those hills were in Colorado. We spent about 15 minutes on the summit taking in the views and signing the summit register before it was time to go. Thanks to the Hayden family for allowing free access onto their property for everyone to test their mustard on the slopes of mighty Mt Sunflower!