Friday, September 18, 2009

State High point trip

Here is the short story of a brief trip that covered a lot of ground. Cath and I tackled four state high points and drove over 1,500 miles in just over 48 hours.

I raced at the NE 5 mile championships on Saturday (09-12) and a couple of hours later were in the car heading south and west. Needless to say, driving more than 500 miles right after your first race in three months probably is not the best thing. I was very sore when we arrived in western PA at 9:30 PM.

Sunday morning arrived much too quickly and after a 4 mile run on the hotel treadmill (while watching Sportscenter) we were off to bag some summits. First up was a foggy drive to the top of Mount Davis (3,213’). There was an observation tower on top, but due to the fog there was nothing to see. Next up was an hour of driving to get to Hoye Crest, the highest point in Maryland (Backbone Mtn – 3,360’). This was a nice hike up a well worn jeep road. The side trail to the MD/WV state line monument was slick, but the marker was one of the biggest I’ve seen. The summit had a register and it looks like this peak is quite popular. The entire book was filled in the last 5 months.

We took a short side trip to what is billed as the smallest church and smallest post office in the U.S. (there are many other sites that make the same claim). Then it was off for another 1:30 drive to Spruce Knob (4,861’) the highest point in West Virginia. This was another “drive-up” with only about 400m of actual walking to get to the summit. There was also a nice 400m trail that circled the top and had some decent viewing platforms. We finally had some views, but nothing too fantastic as it was still cloudy. It was a good stretch of the legs before hitting the road again. We pulled into High Point, NJ well after dark and checked out what time the park would be open. The 8am-8pm, opening times were not quite what we’d hoped for.

After another short night we were on our way to the top of the final state high point of the trip. We parked near the ranger station and stealthily made our way into the park. It was still pretty dark at 6am and we had about 45 minutes to hike to the monument to catch sunrise. We made it there in time but were once again foiled by the fogged. Even the monument was tough to see in the dense mist. On the hike back to the car we checked out the viewing platform that is on the Appalachian Trail and were rewarded with some dim sun trying to burn through. By 7:30 we were headed toward home.

Instead of a direct drive home we headed out towards Keene, NH for a couple of hikes. The first stop was the Madame Sherri Forest which we’d read about in “Haunted Hikes of NH”. There was an interesting bunch of ruins where the old house used to be and a staircase to nowhere. I then put in a 3m run up to Mine Ledge and back over mostly run-able trails. Next we headed over to Arrowhead rock for another “Haunted Hike”. This was a little less interesting with just a few stone walls to show where the settlements were. I’ve seen a lot more than that while Orienteering.

The final stop of the day was an attempt to bag the Hyland Hill Firetower. I’ve already bagged all 16 of the active towers but still have four standing to visit (they are not active fire towers). When Miller state park went into service in 2005 Hyland was retained on a stand by basis.

We had some trouble finding the woods road that lead to the top but eventually found a pull-out that was posted. The signs noted that the area was “under surveillance”. The signs did not look particularly legal; they had no contact information and were not posted at regular intervals. We hit the dirt road hoping to get up and back quickly. At about ¼ mile in we began hearing some very loud gunfire. Cath was spooked and wanted to head back, I wasn’t worried so I headed off to the top at a run. The road wasn’t posted after the entrance and I started seeing signs reminding people to not litter and other signs showing that this part of the road was also a snowmobile trail. I had not trouble finding the tower and was rewarded with a nice view of Monadnock. The run down was fine until I neared the end when I saw three police officers up ahead. Damn! I called out, ran up to them and they immediately asked me if I heard any shooting or saw anyone. I was relived that they were not here because of me! One of the “heavier” policemen wanted to know how fast I had run up and down and he shook his head when I told him. This was a much better encounter with the police than I’d had at other times J

Totals for the trip:
4 state high points
1 fire tower
2 haunted hikes (zero ghosts)
1,553 miles driven

Grand totals for me:
20 state high points
79 county high points
21 NH fire towers (active and inactive)

No comments: