16 October 2012

Benchmarking Time: Fish Lake Hightop, Utah

Posted by Jessica Ball

For this week’s benchmark, I thought I’d share one of my favorites: the USGS marker on the highest point in my undergraduate field area, the Fish Lake Plateau in Utah. Fish Lake itself, which sits in a graben, is bounded by Mytoge Mountain on its southeast side and the Fish Lake Hightop on the northwest. The Hightop is accessible from the Pelican Canyon Trail, which leads you over a moraine and up a lovely glacial valley.

Looking up at the Hightop from the Pelican Canyon trail

Passing through aspen forest in a glacial valley

A classic u-shaped valley, looking southeast toward Fish Lake, Mytoge Mountain, and beyond

Once you reach the top of the trail, you’ve got a little scrambling to do before you reach the summit…

Not quite finished climbing! Deposits of Osiris trachyte on the summit of the Fish Lake Hightop

Just a few more boulders...

And see this!

Notice anything interesting?

I had a great laugh at this when I finally found it, because honestly, there’s nothing more ironic than having dragged a bunch of concrete and a heavy brass marker up to 11,633 ft / 3,546 m and then realizing that you forgot to engrave the elevation on the thing. I’ve always kind of wondered if the USGS knows that – could there be some obscure reason why it was never engraved? (Anyone from the USGS, who do I write to about getting this fixed? Does anyone care?)

Elevation-less benchmark aside, it’s a beautiful view from the Hightop.

High points abound! Mytoge Mountain, Geyser Peak and Thousand Lake Mountain in the distance.