Saturday, May 29, 2010

Cheaha Mountain (Alabama Highpoint)

We had a pretty uneventful drive from Rutledge, AL to Cheaha State Park today but it was interesting to see things change as we went north.  We left behind the coastal areas and eventually reached rolling hills and even honest to goodness mountains as we approached the state park.  The route we took from Lakewood Park in Florida required us to meander through a lot of very small towns and kept us off of freeways almost the entire time.  That made for a more entertaining drive.

This particular highpoint is much more developed than most.  There was a lodge, campgrounds, chalets, cabins, restaurant, observation tower and a number of other facilities which were all part of a state park on the mountain.  From my experience to this point, most highpoints don't have near that kind of development on them.  Well, I suppose this all made the place unique in its own right.

As you can see from the pictures, the highpoint was socked in with clouds while we were up there.  After climbing and descending the observation tower it also began to rain.  That was our signal to jump back into the car and head for Atlanta where we will be spending Memorial Day weekend with my sister, Carolyn, and her family.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Britton Hill (Florida Highpoint)

After reaching the Lousiana Highpoint this morning and making it back to the hotel, we were a little bit slow getting back on the road so I knew it was going to be tough getting to Britton Hill in Florida before it got dark.

As it turns out, the long drive, traffic in Mobile, and extended meal breaks all conspired to make us miss daylight at the highpoint by just around 30 min.  No matter though, we still arrived (a little after 8:00pm) and Sy and Soren joined me for a few pictures before jumping back in the car and working our way up north.

The funny thing about this highpoint is that I had been within a 30 min drive of this spot at least 4 times in recent years.  My family has had a couple of family reunions near Walton Beach just south of  here!  It may seem like a long detour for just this purpose but it felt good to achieve this highpoint... who knows when I will be in the area again!

Driskill Mountain (Louisiana Highpoint)

Now that I have graduated and we have a place lined up in New York, it is time to play a little!  Our moving truck came on May 24th but won't arrive in New York until June 3rd.  What do you do with all that time?  Well..... drive across the country visiting friends, family and state highpoints, of course!

Starting last Sunday, I left Provo, UT with Sy and Soren.  Anne caught up with us in Austin, TX and we spent a couple of days there visiting with friends, colleagues, and also checking in on our rental homes in town.  After a packed visit in Austin, we stopped in Houston to see my brother, CJ, and his family.  We had a great visit with them as well.

Now..... if you are in Houston and you are heading to Atlanta, you wouldn't exactly call Shreveport "on the way" ..... and even if you did, you wouldn't then head as far south as Pensacola, but that is exactly what we were about to do.  We headed north for about 5 hours and finally crashed at a hotel in Minden, LA around midnight.  Minden is about 30 miles NW of the LA highpoint.

I knew we had a full-day of driving ahead of us the next day so I woke up at 6:30am and finished the drive to Driskill Mountain while everyone was still sleeping.   While driving I reflected on how much just driving to these places is a part of the highpointing adventure.  Even the ones that don't require significant planning (i.e. Rainer, Granite, etc..) or long trail distances (i.e. Wheeler, Whitney, etc...) still bring a reward.  These places are pretty much always off the beaten path and you get a better feel for a place as you drive the country and local roads.  The directions are rarely as straight forward as they seem on paper and four wheel route finding is just part of it all.  Driskill Mountain was that kind of a highpoint.....

The trail head sits beside a graveyard and a local church in a rural Louisiana community.  The trail is surprisingly well maintained with excellent signage courtesy of a local Eagle Scout project.  The hike was about a mile each way.  Hiking it early was a good idea because even though I was in and out before 8:30am, the heat and humidity were already starting to have an impact.

In summary, it felt great to be making progress toward the highpointing goal again.  After being out west for a couple of years, it was exciting to be back in the dense forests that lie to the east.