What takes 15 hours and 13 minutes over 753 miles to become 21 hours over 850+ miles? A weekend trip with George and Mark (Ranger + Bwana). George planned this as a quick weekend trip to capture two more US hi-points, Kansas and Oklahoma, which were relatively easy places to get to. Hah!! We met at Denver on a perfect clear fall day and started the first leg of 197 miles to Mt. Sunflower, the Kansas hi-point at 4039'. The high altitude mountain plains east of Denver wrap around you as you drive on H70 to the Kansas border. Once you get close, a right turn down H385 for a short distance and a quick jaunt over some county roads and you are there. Well, at least close. As we discovered, these roads meander around property lines and do not grid out logically. After seeing more than enough Colorado farm country, we skirted down to H40 and button hooked into Mt. Sunflower (Kansas actually had signs, what a concept). Not much of a climb, just a walk from your car, but it is technically the high point!

Mt Sunflower - Kansas

Black Mesa - Oklahoma

After a quick set of photos, it was off to our next point of interest, Boise City, OK where we had reservations at the best Kansas Gopher Snake Sep 2008motel in town. Another 199 miles down the road with dinner to snag along the way. However, as we headed out and raced along, up ahead in the road was what looked like a big stick but when it started to move we decided to slow down and investigate. Turned out to be a rather large Kansas Gopher Snake that is a friend of the farmers as it keeps rodent populations in check. A few camera shots and we were on our way. Dinner turned out to be a stroke of luck as we went thru town after town with no sign of any services, and when we rolled into Lamar, CO to gas up the attendant gave us a tip on the only non-chain restaurant in the area. A truck stop cafe, but it got our bellies full and we darted off to Boise City for some sleep. Our motel was clean and that is about all I will say. Since we were heading out early in the morning, we picked up some frozen egg biscuits, orange juice and set our alarm clocks.

Up early and off in the cool pre-dawn, we moved east along H325 looking for Kenton, OK and the turnoff to Black Mesa and the trailhead. We were looking good time wise even though we had made a turn that was for the wrong Black Mesa. After getting geared up, off we went on what was to be an easy 4 miles in and 4 miles back. The air was still cool as we hiked along the canyon floor and we came across a wolf spider in a warming crunch just waiting for the sun to rise to heat his cold blood. We made great time and shaved about 45 minutes off our delayed timeline. The Oklahoma high point is an arbitrary location as the Black Mesa geological high point is miles away in Colorado, but where it crosses the state boundary it becomes the state high point. An accident of artificial boundaries. A nice monument marks the spot with a marble obelisk built on the cardinal points. It was a fun hike and we had time to take plenty of pictures and capture images of the high altitude mesa plains flora and fauna.

Critters We Met

Race to Denver

We were off the mesa in plenty of time for our drive to Denver, and then it happened. The Google map directions were not entirely clear, and given that Oklahoma does not believe in street signs, we meandered back and forth in the area losing valuable time. At one point we felt we were going in the right direction but a No Trespassing sign stopped us in our tracks, and not wanting to be shot on sight, we backtracked to Kenton, OK and then headed into New Mexico to catch a Colorado highway showing on our rental car map. After maintaining a healthy speed down deserted roads and zipping thru Branson, CO, we met up with H25, and thanks to a 70 mph speed limit, made Denver by the skin of our teeth. A lot of quick moves thru security lines and a mad dash to the gate ensured we both made our flights. In fact, I remember the same scenario on the last trip with George to Colorado. Obviously I never learn...

May our paths and errands meet...