Wednesday, March 31, 2010

1,000 miles of fun

I planned on visiting my parents (like I did last year) in Florida to help them file their taxes, so of course I had to add on some side trips.

I headed out early on Thursday, flying from Manchester to Huntsville. A quick 91 mile drive got me at my first goal at 11:15 am. I stood on the unimpressive summit of Woodall Mountain, the highest point in Mississippi. There was a view off of one side of the mountain, but mostly there was just trees and radio towers. There was a benchmark showing the elevation but no register to sign. I lingered just long enough to take a picture. With this summit I’d reached my 100th county high point (and 26th state high point).

I settled in for the long drive from Iuka MS to Cheaha State Park in Alabama. The driving went by quickly with some good tunes and only a few areas where the speed limit was less than 70. I covered the 240 miles in less than four hours. It was eerily quiet on top, except for the hum of cell towers. At 3:30 on a Thursday I had the place to myself. The stone tower was pretty neat, but there was no view from the top due to a lot of rain clouds. I found a witness marker but couldn’t find the benchmark on the summit; I also never saw a register. Next up I drove down to the Pinhoti trailhead and headed out for a nice relaxing run. It was a bit rocky in spots but mostly very run-able. I bagged the summit of Hernandez peak (Clay County High Point – 2,344’) and continued on to McDill point (2,188’). On the way back I picked out the National forest boundary which was blazed in red, and bushwhacked around a bit to make sure I got the NF high point. On the way back I picked up the jeep trail that is on the topo map but for some reason not on the state park map. It turned out to be a nicer run with better footing. The round trip was a little more than 5 miles. I made one more stop on my way out of the park doing a quick 1 mile round trip run up/down Abel peak. The summit had one of the tallest firetowers I’ve ever seen. It was also the most rickety I’ve ever attempted to climb. The first flight of stairs and one rail had been removed. I negotiated that and the first landing had ½ the boards still in place. I started climbing higher and the entire tower seemed to be shaking. That was enough for me. Back to the car and off for a 256 mile drive to Andalusia AL for the night.
Pics from Cheaha state park

Day two of the trip was another early rise as I hit the treadmill at 5am and was on the road by 6. It was only a 40 mile drive to Paxton Florida and I arrived about 10 minutes prior to sunrise. I stopped briefly at “the second highest hill in Florida” then continued on to Britton hill. There is a really nice park on Britton Hill (345’) with trails and maps and High Point information. I had a few minutes to read the register and noted that only about one person per day had visited the site over the last week (including a couple of New Englanders). Too bad more people don’t go here, they’ve done a nice job to make it worth visiting. I got some sunrise pictures and hit the road.

Next up was the Washington County high point on Barden hill (331’). I arrived around 9am and walked up the long dirt driveway. Trip reports noted that the owners were receptive to high pointers so I knocked on the door. No one answered so I kicked around in the woods a bit to pick out the top then headed for the car. I had about 300 miles to go to get to Tampa. It didn’t take long thanks to the 70 mph speed limit. I turned in the rental car with just under 1,000 miles on it in just over 29 hours. In all everything went smoothly and I picked up – 3 state high points, 5 county high points, a state park high point, the second highest hill in Florida, a fire tower, and a couple of other random hills.

I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with my parents and enjoying my birthday. Mom also joined me on a couple of runs (she on the bike) which was a lot of fun.

1 comment:

Wilesthing said...

Dave, cool trip. I don't know what I would have expected, but I was surprised that Florida's high point is only 345 feet.