Monday, May 29, 2006

Cheaha Mountain, AL

Highpoint #3
2,407 feet ASL

Our weekend at Oak Mountain State Park with our good friends, Kim and Disco Dan Jordan was over and it was time to head back home to Orlando, FL. Instead of retracing our steps back through the highpoint of Florida, Krisha, Zoe, and I decided to go back through Cheaha Mountain in Alabama.

On our way to Cheaha State Park, which contains the highpoint, the directions we had got confusing. In addition, the road signs in Alabama were very poor. Needless to say, we got lost trying to find the main road leading into the park. Several folks offered directions to get us back on the right track. I ended up going with the directions from a lady at a gas station we had stopped at. She interrupted me as I was looking at a map in her store and said she could give me better directions than the map. She was right. We were back on our way and quickly arrived to the entrace of the park.

We paid the $1 entrance fee to bag this highpoint. I again got lost. The road in Cheaha State Park is circular in nature. So, I decided to do a few laps before spotting the sign pointing to the location of the highpoint. The summit was nice minus the radio towers and some parking areas that looked like they could use a repaving job. Zoe was glad to get out and stretch her legs and sniff a golden retriever at this highpoint. (I don't think the golden retriever was as excited as Zoe, judging by the retriever's growls.)

There is a stone tower on the summit with several NGS survey markers. I climbed the tower on the summit, however, the views were less enjoyable. The skyline seemed to filled with a pretty thick smog. The actual highpoint appeared to be to the rear of the lookout tower. Zoe and I got a picture. After this summit, we were headed back home.

Final trip counts included 3 highpoints (FL, MS, AL) in 4 days, 0 miles hiked, 0 feet elevation gain, 3 NGS markers, 2 times getting lost, 1 broken down car

Topo Map

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Woodall Mtn, MS

Highpoint #2
806 feet ASL

The plan for today was a drive-up summit of Woodall Mountain Mississippi. With the reliability of our car in question (see Florida description), our friends that we were visiting, Kim and Disco Dan Jordan, graciously offered one of their cars for my summit trip. At about 1:00pm, I left Oak Mountain State Park and headed on my way to the highpoint of Mississippi. Unfortunately, I had to travel alone as Dan had to work (although he is interested in getting started on his own journey of hiking the 50 highpoints) and Krisha, Kim, and Zoë decided to take a day for rest.

It was a bright and beautiful day with clear skies. The drive was pleasant once I was off the main interstate. As I made my way across the Alabama-Mississippi line, I unfortunately missed my intended exit, which caused me a 15 minute delay. However, I knew I was back on the right path as I saw signs leading to the 806 foot hill.

I started the ascent up the gravel road. I became somewhat worried as my transportation was a 4 cylinder Hyundai Elantra and began to lose power in the loose gravel. But at 4:15pm, the summit was acquired. I pulled to the top and beheld the tall and majestic radio towers. Yeah, the summit is covered with multiple radio towers. There is a NGS survey marker at the top as well, which I always find interesting.

The locals seem to like it, however. Connoisseurs of Nattie Light, Bud Light, and Michelob Ultra visit the top and leave wonderful mementos of their good times. Cigar Aficionado must have had their last retreat up here as a box of premier Swisher Sweets were observed. This summit is also a popular destination for honeymooners as some packets of unmentionables were observed. The one ray of hope for this summit of sin was found in some graffiti (go figure) on a table at the top. It read “Jesus Lives.” Well, Amen to that. At 4:30pm, I had had my fill, so I jumped into the car and descended down this mountain and back to home.

Topo Map

Friday, May 26, 2006

Britton Hill (Lakewood Park), FL

Highpoint #1
345 feet ASL, Lowest Highpoint in the US

Confucius said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Well, for me, “A journey of the 50 highest US peaks begins with the lowest peak.” The journey began early, 5:30am to be exact. My wife and I rolled out of bed. The itinerary was for my wife, myself, and our English Bulldog, Zoë to visit three highpoints in 4 days with a base of operation with some good friends of ours, Kim and Disco Dan Jordan, in Birmingham, Alabama.

By 7:15, we were on the road, but we had to get through a few mishaps before things would eventually smooth out. First, Zoë decided the back seat wasn’t good enough for her and for the first two hours of the trip she constantly attempted to push her way to the front seat. This was flattering that she wanted to be so near us, but not while driving. (And by the way, she is very strong.) My wife and I started to wonder if we were going to make it the whole way with her. She finally settled down, but that was because she had to pee and where better to pee than in the backseat. This was pretty frustrating. But, we pushed on after a stop to clean up the mess. Things got back to normal for a little while until the car problems started. Don't all good road trips have to have at least one.

We were just west of Tallahassee and had to stop to fill up. As we pulled off the exit the car stalled. I checked the oil and started the car again. Thank goodness it worked, we thought. At least enough to get us to the gas station and then the car stalled again. After some stressful hours, we finally got a tow truck, but he wouldn’t let our bulldog ride in the A/C cab with him. Zoë was already hot from being outside, but she was going to have to endure more heat. My wife thought Zoë was going to die and this may not have been far from the truth.

Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at the maintenance shop and to say Zoë was overheated was an understatement. Thankfully, there was a bike shop right next to the maintenance shop, so I went and asked if they were dog friendly. They were. Zoë came in and plopped on the cool concrete floor. It was a site to behold. The bike guys also supplied us with a water bowl. (Their kindness was truly extraordinary.)

Thankfully, the car was fixable and at 4:00pm we were back on our way. Zoë, now exhausted, slept in the back. At 6:30pm, with darkness approaching, we arrived at the peak. Krisha exclaimed that this highpoint was rather lame. I agreed, but would not be let down. It was the start of an adventure and I was in good company, a great wife and a sometimes great dog. All three of us managed to summit this peak.

Topo Maps