Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for photos and map
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Sacajawea from the Thorp Creek Trail - Granite beauty
GPS or compass in one hand, map in the other, typical of Bob chasing
the elusive county ' liner ' highpoint of Wasco Oregon
The middle pic was taken on top of Crane Mtn of Lake county
on Sep 1st and represents his love of standing on top of peaks.
Far right pic was taken on Grayback Mtn near Krause cabin. Bob's smile radiates his love for the mountains.
It may be a strange title for a trip report but Sacajawea was the last peak that stood in the way for Bob as he pursued all of the county highpoints of Oregon. The 7th of September was a day that was the finish line for an effort that had started many years before and if you check the dates listed below however, you'll see that the majority of his effort came in the past year and a half. I wanted to write this up as both a trip report and a tribute to one of the finest people I've gone into the mountains with. Bob has a passion for the mountains like I do, he lives, dreams and lusts after them. His motto of "So many mountains, so little time" is one I can appreciate since as one ages one knows that window of opportunity is getting smaller and smaller. For those of you who don't understand the attraction of county highpointing, I would hope this reports gives you a taste of what makes it fun. Fun is the key word. The highpoints of Oregon range from lowly bumps on cattle ranches to lofty summits like those of Hood and Jefferson. Once again, congratulations to Bob for having fun and achieving a goal. Of course, he wants to do the top 100 peaks of Oregon, Washington, Colorado, etc.....
One of the goals a person addicted to the pursuit of county highpointing is to stand atop the highest point in every county in a state. When that is accomplished, the state is turned "green", a significant event considering the miles, time and effort required to do such a thing.
Bob's 4runner made some of the county highpoints alot easier
Some turn out to be wonderful gems like Strawberry Mtn, the highpoint of Grant county or Grayback Mtn, the highpoint of Josephine county. Some will flatten your tires as you try to access them like Malheur county's Stevenson highpoint. One is even on federal property that has to have special permission on the few days you could even access it. (Polk county's Laurel Mtn.) Regardless, by the time you have completed the task of getting all 36 counties, you have done the ultimate in county highpointing.
He started the day off with 35 Oregon county highpoints completed and realized that today, if he summitted Sacajawea , he'd finish the state of Oregon, becoming only the 3rd person to do so. Red Mtn of Baker county had been the 35th notch on his ice axe. (pic of Bob by Dennis Poulin)
We had left the Red Mtn effort and headed north, stopping for Pizza at Halfway Oregon (delicious Pizza BTW) and then headed north to Joseph and west through town to the Hurricane Creek road, which takes a strange left about two miles from town. If you find yourself heading to the right and north to Enterprise, you missed the hard to see turn. Turn around and you'll nail the dirt road you need. This map will help you find your way (click on it on its margins to negotiate the road to the TH of Hurricane Creek. Sleeping at the TH, we were up early and ready to go by 6:30 a.m.
Our third member, a fellow county highpointer and Summit post member was Dennis Poulin, who is just one Mt. Jefferson away from completing Oregon as well. Dennis goes by, losman90 and has done some impressive solos (and we found him to be a great companion) and he had been with us on the Red Mountain climb, and of course joined us for this one too.
The TH sits at 4988 feet and since the peak is at 9838 feet, this one gains almost 5000 feet in a little over 5 miles. Soon we were on the trail, heading for the unsigned Thorp Creek trail which we knew we'd find about the 1.8 mile mark. The elevation of the creek crossing is at 5400 feet so you know the majority of the work is still ahead of you. The first bit of trail goes fast and easy right up to the creek, a torrent that is difficult to get across early in the season. However, it is an easy crossing this late in the season and after crossing it we were soon heading up, on a relatively decent trail (unmaintained). At 5650 feet, we crossed Twin Creek, the last water for awhile so it is a good place to camel up. From Twin Creek, the trail goes to work, going mainly up with but a few switchbacks. It is an unmaintained trail so there were a few trees down across the trail but none posed any kind of a problem. It was obvious to us that horses had been up this route in the past week so I would guess that the horsey people may keep it open. The next mile and a half gains close to two thousand feet and at about 7500 feet, we found ourselves in a neat meadow area where the trail ended, 3.5 miles from the TH and we basically made our way across the meadow heading for the east ridge of Sacajawea. Lots of animal tracks and sign in this meadowed area (bear, cougar, deer, elk, goat, chipmunks and vicious snarling pikas).
After we made it across the meadow to a spring located at 7800 feet, the last water we found but great water. Heading on up the little valley that the spring is located, the trail starts up the backside of Sacajawea, Bob and Dennis were doing great but I knew I wasn't going to be standing on the summit this day. I had to pull the plug on my effort as the previous day and lack of sleep for two nights in a row had emptied my tank and leg cramps were making my walking painful. I was deficient in needed electrolytes (no Cytomax, no Gatorade) and I hadn't had cramps in my legs since I had been in high school and used to run track. Bob (read his trip report) and Dennis continued on and had to make haste as the weather was threatening and could change into something nasty (and did later on), so they continued on up to bag the summit in the face of the threatening weather.
The route tops out at a little saddle and then swings up the backside (westerly) of Sacajawea. Nothing difficult, just a long slog up scree that requires careful foot placement although at this time of the year there is a pretty obvious path most of the way up. The views continually improve as you get higher and the light colored granite of the Matterhorn is quite a contrast from the darker yet reddish coloration of Sacajawea. The Hurwal divide dominates the skyline to the south and east. As you walk up the ridge heading for the summit, there are several places where you get a great airy view of the meadow below and of the surrounding peaks. I lost sense of time as I waited for my leg cramps to ease up and during that time I could see Bob and Dennis as they made their way up along the ridge. Finally they disappeared from my view and at that time I didn't know how close they were to the summit (I wouldn't know that until I climbed it myself) As Bob approached the summit , Dennis snapped a picture of Bob raising his trekking poles in triumph as he had done it, he had completed all of Oregon. I'm sure that if they'd had better weather, Dennis would have been interested in working the ridge over to the Matterhorn, which at one time was thought to be higher than Sacajawea.
I was sitting down in the meadow and could hear the shouts of jubilation emanating from the summit. I at least knew that Bob and Dennis had done it but I felt sorrowful not being up there with them. I vowed, never again (I'll have that cytomax with me) Nonetheless, it was a notable accomplishment, and very appropriate that Bob would become the third person to pull this feat off. Strangely enough, no Oregonian had yet to pull this off. The first two, led by Ken Jones from Seattle who was the very first to complete the effort and Arizonan Bob Packard became the second to do so, so with Bob Bolton becoming the third, two of the three completions have been accomplished by Washingtonians. The entry left in the summit register atop Red Mtn. actually inspired Terry Richard of Portland's Oregonian newspaper to become interested and find out more about county highpointing. He got in contact with Ken Jones and did an article about Ken's county highpointing efforts (reproduced at the bottom of this page). Terry has only two county highpoints left in Oregon so he most likely will become the first Oregonian to complete all of the Oregon highpoints, with Dennis P. probably completing Oregon a short time later.
My climb of Sacajawea was accomplished on Sep 27, 2003 in the company of SP'ers Cornvallis (Tom) and Annalisarabinek (Shelby) and four more Oregon county highpoints were done in October leaving me one peak, Mt. Jefferson (2004) to finish all of Oregon. Dennis Poulin and I us need Mt. Jefferson to finish the whole state, and Terry Richard, mentioned prior needs Wasco and Marion counties to finish. So there you have it, if you would like a change of pace, consider county highpoints as another worthy and fun goal. Another goal is to get the 100 highest peaks in Oregon someday.
It needs to be mentioned that Bob has great support on the homefront from his wife who accompanies him from time to time as this picture taken during the quest for the highpoint of Wasco county demonstrates.
Perhaps, you might find the following interesting, a record of Bob's county summits, in chronological order:
DATE HIGHPOINT ELEV COUNTY(S)
1967-04-16 Mt. Hood 11,239 Clackamas / Hood River
1977-09-04 Eagle Cap 9,572 Union
2002-08-17 Strawberry Mtn 9,038 Grant
2002-08-17 Tower Mtn 6,850 Umatilla
2002-08-17 Spanish Peak 6,871 Wheeler
2002-08-17 Lookout Mtn 6,926 Crook
2002-08-18 Black Mtn 5,932 Morrow
2002-08-23 Saddle Mtn 3,283 Clatsop
2002-08-23 Long Mtn 2,265 Columbia
2002-09-29 Saddle Mtn 3,464 Washington
2002-11-10 Trask Mtn 3,424 Yamhill
2002-11-23 2 areas 3,400 Lincoln
2002-11-23 Laurel Mtn 3,589 Polk
2003-02-08 3 spots of 4,285 Gilliam
2003-02-08 unnamed area 3,000 Sherman
2003-03-23 Rogers Pk 3,706 Tillamook
2003-06-10 Buck Pk 4,751 Multonomah
2003-06-12 Mary's Peak 4,097 Benton
2003-06-13 Mt. Bolivar 4,319 Coos
2003-06-13 Brandy Pk 5,298 Curry
2003-06-14 Grayback Mtn 7,048 Josephine
2003-07-04 Mt. McLouglin 9,495 Jackson
2003-07-05 Mt. Thielsen 9,182 Douglas / Klamath
2003-07-06 So. Sister 10,358 Deschutes / Lane
2003-07-20 near Olallie Butte 6,280 Wasco
2003-08-09 N Ridge Mt Jefferson 9,000 Marion
2003-08-17 Mt. Jefferson 10,497 Jefferson / Linn
2003-08-30 Steens Mtn -2 spots 9,733 Harney
2003-08-31 Stevenson Pt. 8,027 Malheur
2003-09-01 Crane Mtn. 8,456 Lake
2003-09-06 Red Mtn 9,560 Baker
2003-09-07 Sacajawea Pk 9,838 Wallowa
A few of Oregon's highpoints share a common boundary giving you two counties for the one effort. Some of the most difficult county highpoints to get were the logging counties. They are open only during hunting season and you go on weekends only. The ranch counties are best done in the winter. A GPS is very helpful in several of these counties as it would be difficult
to know exactly where you are at times, especially in some the heavily timbered areas of western Oregon. I find a GPS to be as essential as my map and compass (and I carry extra batt's)
Congratulations to our fellow SP'er, Bob Bolton
On the Jefferson-Linn county highpoints known as Mt. Jefferson
Relaxing on the summit of another County Highpoint
Bob and his group on the summit of Mt. Hood in 1992. Bob has his arm around his wife who summitted with him on this trip
Far right pic showing Bob and his super friend Duane on a high point checking out the next peak to climb.
Map showing proximity of Sacajawea and the Matterhorn
Left Pic - Bob just leaving the spring to head up for Sac's top
Mid Pic - Bob & Dennis atop Red Mtn with Sac at far left
Rt Pic - Bob atop Roger's Peak (Tillamook Co) highest point
BTW, in case you might be interested, it is very possible to also do the Matterhorn from Sacajawea. There is a ridge route over to it but it requires some class 3 scrambling in a few spots and those spots have stopped many from doing the traverse over and back. SP'er Tom (Cornvallis mentioned above) had no problem in zipping over and back, 45 minutes each way. This shows him standing atop the Matterhorn. I was content to watch him as it was nice to laze in the sun on Sac's summit.
Great area, the Wallowas are a must visit area with tons of peaks.
Update: I found this neat album of a group that did the Sacajawea to Matterhorn traverse. Click here.
The complete text of the Oregonian newspaper article about Ken Jones, first completion of Oregon is reproduced below as I cannot link to it:
HE'S HIT THE HIGH POINTS IN EVERY OREGON COUNTY
Date: Sunday, June 18, 2000
Page: T04 Terry Richard - The Oregonian<
When Kenneth C. Jones set out to climb to the highest point in every
Oregon county, he never thought the most difficult challenges would be
driving muddy logging roads in Tillamook County, a traffic jam of
climbers in Linn and Jefferson counties or checking for ticks in
For the record, Jones, 42, thinks he became the first person to visit
the high points of all 36 Oregon counties when he reached the top of
Greyback Mountain (7,048 feet) in Josephine County in August.
So just why would anyone want to climb to the top of every county?
After all, some of the high points are so obscure that it takes hours
detective work poring over topographic maps just to locate them.
"It's been a good excuse to drag my family with me to every corner of
Oregon," said Jones, who lives in Newcastle, Wash., and works as a
computer analyst for Boeing. "I've seen corners of the state I never
expected to get to and found a lot of things that were nicer than I
expected them to be."
Jones didn't know he was laying the groundwork for this quest more than
two decades ago when he hiked Mary's Peak (4,097 feet) in Benton
At that time he was a student at Oregon State University.
Since then, he's seen a lot of peaks.
One nice surprise, according to Jones, was 9,038-foot Strawberry
Mountain, the highest peak in Grant County. Tillamook County's Rogers
Peak (3,706 feet) wasn't as much fun. The high point was an easy hike
roads and along ridges, but the challenge came from driving to the peak
on muddy logging roads in a passenger car.
"We went through a couple of muddy spots where I would have hated to
get stuck," he said. "At one point, there was enough slash on the road
that I picked up a branch on the axle. It sounded like a horrible
mechanical problem until I stopped the car and found out what it was."
Mount Jefferson, the shared high point of Linn and Jefferson counties,
is Jones' favorite mountain in Oregon. The 10,497-foot mountain also is
the most difficult to climb because it's made up of what Jones calls
"There were several other parties on the mountain that day, which
caused a traffic jam at Red Saddle," he said. "We had to wait for
on the traverse across the base of the summit block. That meant a late
return to camp and a hike out in the dark. We finally got back to the
cars about 3 a.m."
Sherman County's high point is an unnamed rise in a field covered by
sagebrush. While hiking, Jones, his wife and two boys removed a dozen
ticks from one another after they had bagged the 3,000-foot-high
Among some mountaineers, high pointing has been elevated to the status
of a cult.
The quest to reach the high points of the seven continents appeals both
to experienced mountaineers and to climbers who do it simply because
they can afford the big money that it takes.
Jones has climbed the high points of all 50 U.S. states, including
Mount McKinley in Alaska, so his quest for county highs was a natural
He wanted to finish the counties in his home state first, but
Washington's 39 counties proved to be a major challenge. Bonanza Peak,
the high point of Chelan County, alone is a four-day ordeal. When
another climber finished the Washington list first, Jones switched his
attention to Oregon.
He continues to work on Washington's counties, having completed 30 of
39. He wants t
o finish Nevada, Arizona and Idaho, and eventually
Colorado and Utah. He has no plans to tackle the 254 county high points
"As I get older," Jones said, "county high points make a lot of sense
because most of them aren't too difficult to do."