Monday, August 30, 2010

Sage conquers Mt. Jefferson!

Sage and I had a great hike up Mt. Jefferson yesterday. Check out the trip report on her blog:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Highpoint: Ohio. Campbell Hill (1549 ft). August 9, 2010 -- End of the 2010 Road Trip!

Ohio -- the final state of our two month highpointing road trip.

Not a difficult peak by any stretch of the imagination, since you can drive right to the following sign.

There's a register by the parking area...

...and a short path which leads to this...

and this...

And...we're done!

We still have to bag Vermont before the snow starts to fly, but that's an easy daytrip from New Hampshire. Next year, we'll tackle Maine and New York. Apart from those three states, we've now highpointed everything east of Colorado.

Number of states highpointed on this trip: 29.
Number of states highpointed before June 2010: 4
Grand total of states highpointed as of August 2010: 33

After Vermont, it'll be 34. After next year, it'll be 36.

After that, who knows, we'll see what happens as the girls grow. Maybe our total will stay at 36, maybe it won't. Whatever floats the girls' boats is fine by me.

Throughout the summer, I purposefully kept my posts short and sweet, usually with only basic trail info and pictures, as I did not feel it appropriate to fill this highpointing blog with long paragraphs of prose. For the sake of my kids, however, I will soon start to write of our many adventures so that, when they're older, they'll have a solid reminder of their accomplishments. Hopefully I'll be able to begin working on that within a month, after I finish taking care of some immediately pressing matters.

For now, I'll say the following:

If you ever get the chance to spend an extended period of travel time with your loved one(s), do it. Get in your car, spend many weeks driving on tiny back roads, camp out everywhere, get dusty and dirty, eat gas station food and farmers' market produce, reach peaks, see a rattlesnake or two, walk through herds of wild ponies, dodge tornadoes, escape lighting in the middle of the night, let an elk eat your campfire ashes, step lightly over horned toads, drive a tiny car through bison pastures, and swim in oil-infested waters. Well, okay, maybe not that last one. Tar doesn't fully wash out of swimsuits.

I am fortunate to have two kids that are best friends. Not once during our entire trip did they complain about the long hours in the car. They read to each other, played games of pretend, sung aloud with the music on the radio, and laughed (a lot). I know I'm their mom and all, but I have to say that both my girls rock.

I am also fortunate to have Hugh as the father of my children. When I proposed the idea of taking the kids all over the country for eight weeks, sleeping in tents at remote campgrounds and hiking in places we'd never previously visited, Hugh didn't bat an eye. He felt as I did, that this was a great opportunity for them, and for me. We worked together so that the timing of our highpointing whereabouts coincided with a few of his business trip locales. In this manner, the girls were able to spend time with their father every couple of weeks while I got a nice break from the road. I must say that I am very grateful to him for the trust he has in me when it comes to our kids. He has always had complete faith in my judgment, and I appreciate that more than I can properly express.

Next stop: Vermont (but not for a month or so).

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Highpoint: Indiana. Hoosier Hill (1257 ft). August 8, 2010

Indiana's highpoint lies by a cornfield a few miles from the Ohio border. I'm standing by the car in the picture below, looking up the few dozen feet toward the "summit."

Needless to say, the three of us made it to the top rather quickly...

It was a cute area, complete with a bench and picnic table built by Eagle Scout Kyle Cummings from Troop 820 in Lakeside Park, KY (thanks, Kyle!).

The geographical marker lies a tenth of a mile down the road, no idea why...

Here's the view of the highpoint area from the marker.

Next (and final!) stop: Ohio.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Highpoint: Illinois. Charles Mound (1235 ft). August 7, 2010

The owners of Charles Mound restrict public access to the first weekends of June, July, August and September, so the girls and I had a week to kill before highpointing Illinois. We spent a few days hanging about Michigan's Upper Peninsula before heading down through Wisconsin. A few more days at the Dells, and it was time to begin the last leg of our highpoint spree.

The first Saturday in August arrived. We drove to the property's edge, parked at the gate, and began the mile and a quarter walk to the summit.

It's a lovely amble, we enjoyed the rural setting.

Views from the top of Illinois.

Next stop: Indiana.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Highpoint: Michigan. Mt. Arvon (1979 ft). July 31, 2010

The last leg of our highpointing trip begins...

Michigan's highpoint, Mt. Arvon, lies in the Upper Peninsula near L'Anse. Rumor has it that this peak used to be difficult to locate, due to the myriad of logging roads that encircle and cross the mountain. When we arrived, however, we found the way well marked by signs such as the one below. The signs, combined with the excellent directions posted on, made this highpoint easy to find.

I carefully drove my car up the bumpy, gravel road to the parking area, then the girls and I walked the easy half mile to the summit.

Not much to say about this one. There aren't any views to enjoy, other than the surrounding trees. After a few minutes of chomping our lunch, we ambled back down to the car.

Next stop: Illinois.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Highpoint: Wisconsin. Timm's Hill (1951.5 ft). July 26, 2010

Our next stop was Timm's Hill, the highpoint of Wisconsin. The trail leading to the top is only a half-mile long; the girls and I ran the entire way.

There are two towers at the highpoint. Here's the first, which we easily climbed.

Views from the top of Wisconsin...

Here's the second tower, seen from the top of the first one.

We chose not to climb this one, since one little misstep will send you plummeting to the ground.

The marker's right underneath the second tower...

Mission accomplished, we ran back down the hill, jumped in our Honda, and drove to Chicago, where we met Hugh for a three day break.

Next highpoint: Michigan's Mt. Arvon.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Highpoint: Minnesota. Eagle Mountain (2301 ft). July 25, 2010

Eagle Mountain Trail, 7 miles roundtrip, 700 feet elevation gain.

I had once worried about including Eagle Mountain, along with three other state highpoints (those in VA, OK and SD), in our 2010 highpointing spree. However, since Sage handled the first three "big ones" with such aplomb, by the time we arrived in Minnesota, I was no longer concerned that this hike would be too challenging for my youngest daughter. This summer, Sage has repeatedly demonstrated that she's a strong little Amazon; Alex and I will be taking her up some 4Ks when we return to New Hampshire.

We arrived at the trailhead after spending a couple of lovely nights in nearby Grand Marais. Grand Marais is a quaint little town on the edge of Lake Superior, just 30 miles or so from the Canadian border. If you're ever up that way, I highly recommend checking it out.

I had been warned to douse ourselves with bug repellent before entering the MN woods. We all smelt of toxic chemicals as we entered the forest.

The girls were in a jovial mood that morning, as usual.

At first the trail was a decent-sized width...

...but the path soon narrowed until we almost felt as though we were bushwhacking.

The trail enters a Wilderness area less than a mile from the trailhead.

Bog bridges! Haven't seen those since we left the Granite State.

After 2.5 miles of relatively flat walking, we came to a clearing at Eagle Lake, where we could see Eagle Mountain rising majestically in the distance...

Around the lake we went, toward the trail that leads up...

We soon arrived at a viewpoint, where we took our first break of the day.

Views from close to the top of Minnesota...

We ate, we drank, we continued onward...

Less than half a mile after the viewpoint, we found the little clearing at the top containing the highpoint sign and marker.

The return trip was quick and uneventful, with the exception of nasty bug DEET had worn off and I had to swat mosquitoes with every other step. In spite of my long pants, the critters ate my legs; I spent the next 24 hours constantly applying "after-bite" lotion. Luckily, the girls were fine. Seems the insects had ignored them in favor of me.

Only a handful of short walks in various states, and then we're home.

Next stop: Wisconsin.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Highpoint: Iowa. Hawkeye Point (1670 ft). July 22, 2010

Iowa! Land of clear skies and zero precipitation! Well, at least for the 24 hours we were there. Three weeks before we arrived in Sibley, a small town in Iowa's extreme northwest, a huge tornado (F4) ripped through the area, coming within two miles of the highpoint. Luckily, there were no human fatalities.

We arrived at the "peak" just before sunset.

The summit area houses a variety of interesting structures. The owners, past and present, have done a beautiful job creating a lovely, peaceful environment.

The girls and I spent about an hour admiring our surroundings before heading to the local Super 8. Here's the highpoint from a slight distance; Alex took the photo as we drove away.

Next stop: Minnesota.