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  • Writer's pictureDale Hill

Fletcher Island High Point

Updated: Mar 4, 2021

Date: February 16, 2021

Distance: 2.3 miles

Total Elapsed Time: 1h 3m

Total Moving Time: 1h 0m

Summit Elevation: 4,695 feet

Elevation Gain: 70 feet

Trailhead: Marty Minshall Trailhead

Previous Ascents: N/A

Notes: Peakbagger Summits - 1, Survey Marks Recovered - 5

Part Two of my day was to hike to the Fletcher Island High Point and bag the peak. This was a short, easy, and enjoyable hike located in the Cuyamaca Meadow Natural Preserve. I parked in the dirt turn-off area for Cuyamaca Trout Pond and the trailhead for the Marty Mishell Trail. This is just across SR 79 from the entrance to Hual-Cu-Cuish Campground and it was the same place we parked when we did the Middle Peak loop trail last spring.

The clouds were beginning to roll in over Cuyamaca and Middle Peaks but my hike out to the high point and back was perfect. I was keeping an eye on Stonewall Peak (Part III of my day) and was hoping that it would continue to stay in the sun.

This may literally have been the easiest peak that I've ever bagged on the Peakbagger site! While the summit elevation is listed at 4,695 feet, the elevation gain from trailhead-to-summit was only 70-feet!

Irregular Boundaries and Special Survey Monuments

The coolest part of this hike was the survey markers that I recovered along the way, five in total. If you check out the graphic below, I've summarized the location of each mark that I found. You can see they are all located on a boundary line (a single black dash, separated by a single black dot) with periodic red squares (each with a dot in the center).

The line reflects the border of a State forest or park, in this case, Rancho Cuyamaca State Park, and the red squares are special survey monuments. I traced this particular boundary line full-circle and checked it against the public lands grid on my Topo to verify that it was all part of the Rancho Cuyamaca State Park. Working clockwise along the boundary line, beginning from marker #52, I counted all the special survey monument icons on the Topo and accounted for all 52.

The five Special Survey Monuments I located with correct orientation

After doing some research, this boundary fits the description of a special survey as defined in the Bureau of Land Management Glossary of Surveying and Mapping Terms.

"A cadastral survey that involves unusual application of, or departure from, the rectangular system. They often carry out the provisions of a special legislative act and include such work as small tract surveys; townsite survey; island and omitted land surveys; homestead, homesite, trade and manufacturing site surveys; also the survey and resurvey of portions of sections."

When I started out on the trail, I quickly came upon several new lathe strips used as survey stakes, they were really hard to miss with all the florescent orange tape and spray paint. 😂My first thought was that I'd find these lathe strips at each corresponding square on the map, perhaps a new survey was verifying the existing boundary and corners.

I stopped by the first stake I came to and found a small depression filled with grass and mud. I cleared away the debris to find a very common lead tack and tag set, it didn't have any specific markings on it, and it was apparently set below ground level but hadn't been completed covered up. I figured I check one more to see if it was the same style, then pass on the remaining ones as these really aren't all that exciting.

I passed a few more stakes along the trail that didn't seem to match up with the small boxes on the map, none of them had any other visible mark nearby so I guessed they were just intermediate points. I was ready to pass on checking out any other stakes when I saw two metal stakes set about a foot and a half apart, and lots of orange paint. Clearly, this had to be something.

Jackpot! This marker was placed by the State of California, Department of Natural Resources, Division of Parks and is a brass pipe cap mounted on a 2" pipe (the diameter of the top of the cap is just approximately 2 ¼"). One of the things that struck me about this marker is that all the lettering was raised instead of stamped in (or cut) as is most common. The surveyor would stamp the angle of the corner in the center portion and align the cap to reflect its position along the line, the reference number is also stamped into the outer ring of the cap.

The five corner markers I located today all followed the shoreline and as such, could be classified as Auxilary Meander Corners. Which would mean the segment of the boundary that followed the shoreline would be considered a Meander Line (A traverse along the approximate mean high water line of a permanent natural body of water). It's hard to tell exactly without seeing the original survey and accompanying field notes to know the full intent of the surveyor of record, but this would make a lot of sense.

An Auxiliary Meander Corner is established at a suitable point on the meander line of a lake lying entirely within a quarter section or on the meander line of an island falling entirely within a section and which is found to be too small to subdivide. A line is run connecting the monument to a regular corner on the section boundary.

Now that I had an idea of what to look for, I paid closer attention along the trail, looking for the witness stakes and metal fence posts that were close to where the monument icons were on my map. Unfortunately, much of the area on either side of this trail is signed as sensitive habitat, or as 'no trespassing' (Helix Water District) so I was careful to only recover those that were within 6-feet of the trail. As I continued towards Fletcher Island, I located marks 49, 35, and 34. On my way back to the trailhead, I found number 52.

I'll definitely be returning to the Cuyamaca Meadow Natural Preserve to hike the rest of the Marty Minshall Trail and the trails to the Stonewall Mine. I hope to recover more marks on this boundary line to see if they are the same type, especially the marks that are not along the shoreline. Part two of my day a huge success, it was time to head over to climb Stonewall Peak for my last objective - locate the Cuyamaca Azimuth Mark, Reference Marker 1.

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