A view from the trail to the summit of Mt. Rogers, Virginia’s highpoint.
While many people take up highpointing as a hobby to enjoy the great outdoors and to travel to new places, Chief Master Sgt. Dean Werner highpoints as a way reinforce the four pillars of comprehensive airmen fitness: mental, physical, social and spiritual fitness.
The idea of highpointing providing such reinforcement should not come as a surprise to those involved in the activity. While there are many peaks that only require walking a few hundred feet from a parking lot, there are several that require long hikes or travel over difficult terrain, pushing people past limits they may have seen as impassable. Highpointing is a way to make one mentally tougher than they have been before, but also it has a way of making people push their critical thinking and decision making skills to another level as well.
It would also be tough to argue that highpointing is not good for one’s soul. Who doesn’t have moments from highpointing trips that have become part of the fabric of who they now are? Whether this has been a result of nature, company of the trip, or other factors, the quest often provides new dimensions to one’s life.
How has highpointing changed or reinforced the person you are?
The 2017 Massachusetts Convention schedule has been announced, and it features three days of events for highpointers who will be in attendance.
For many, exploring the Great Outdoors means disconnecting from the busy nature of everyday life. Perhaps this is the reason why two new proposals to bring cell service to Mount Rainier National Park have created such a stir.
While the park has yet to issue a decision, many have already issued opinions on the matter.
For South Dakota’s highest peak, 2016 turned out to be a year of change. First, the highpoint saw its name change from Harney Peak, and now, a new survey claims the mountain stands more than ten feet shorter than originally thought.
Results from a private survey claim that while Black Elk Peak is still the highest in South Dakota, it only stands at 7231 feet, not the 7242 at which it is officially listed.
Jerry Penry, a professional surveyor from Nebraska, undertook the private effort.
It will be interesting to see if this becomes the official height of the mountain.
The observation tower at the summit of Cheaha.
Finding the right New Year’s Eve activity can drive anyone crazy this time of year. Do you want to sit at home and watch the College Football Playoff, head to a party, celebrate with a late dinner, or just call it a night early to get a jump on 2017? For highpointers, there could be one more decision to be made.
Cheaha State Park in Alabama will be in the celebrating spirit on December 31 with its annual Turkey Drop. The gates to the park will open at 9pm, and Pinhoti the Turkey will be at the observatory at the state’s highest point teaching the Turkey Trot to visitors.
At midnight, a lighted ball will be dropped to celebrate the start of 2017, and breakfast will be served in the CSP restaurant.
For highpointers, this is a great chance to make a first ( or second, or third, or….) trip to a state highpoint and mix in a little New Year’s Eve fun as well.
The following day, the park will host a First Day Hike that ends at Alabama’s highpoint. The hike will start at the Bigfoot Trail Head.
A photo near the top of Clingmans Dome.
Highpointers have the opportunity to encounter all sorts of interestingly named places in their quest to reach the highest point of every state. Some names, such as Hawkeye Point and Hoosier Hill, make it easy for folks to know the state to which these points belong. Other names, such as Cheaha, point more to the history of places, and there is no shortage of highpoints named after people.
Once such highpoint is Clingmans Dome in Tennessee. What is interesting is how much Thomas L. Clingman’s life is tied to neighboring North Carolina and Elisha Mitchell, the man for whom the highest point east of the Mississippi River is named.
Michael Hardy at the Avery Journal dove into the topic of Clingman and his ties to the area recently in an article worth the read.
As time goes on, there will undoubtedly be continued pushes to rename certain highpoints. This makes it all the more important to learn the history behind the name to see if it really does best reflect the area.
Highpointers hoping to reach the top of Illinois will have five weekend opportunities in 2017 as the access dates for Charles Mound have been announced.
For those looking for a winter accent to the top of The Prairie State, access will be granted on February 18 and 19. However, the lane leading to the highest point will not be plowed.
After February, highpointers will have to wait until the summer months to reach the top of Charles Mound. Access to the highpoint will be available June 3 and 4, July 1 and 2, August 5 and 6, and September 2 and 3. These dates are similar to the first full weekend dates set in 2016.
Charles Mound sits on private property in Illinois, and it should be treated as such. The property owners, The Wuebbels have three firm rules for visitors:
- No cars up in our lane.
- No pets
- No visitors after dark.
Highpointers planning to attend the 2017 Convention in Massachusetts may want to adjust their lodging plans as the Howard Johnson Williamstown has replaced the Holiday Inn Berkshires in North Adams as the host hotel for the Convention.
The Howard Johnson has an availability of 35 rooms, so another hotel, the Cozy Corner Motel in Williamstown will act as the Host Hotel Overflow venue. The Cozy Corner Motel has 12 available rooms. Both hotels are honoring a “Highpointers Rate,” and they are about seven minutes of driving time apart from each other.
The Howard Johnson can be called direct at 413-458-8158, and the Cozy Corner can be reached at 413-458-8006.
Hotel rooms are moving fairly quickly in the region as the Williamstown Theatre Festival will be taking place during the Convention.
For those wanting to stay on the summit of Mount Greylock, Bascom Lodge is an option. It sits next to a tower at the top of Massachusetts’s highest point. The lodge features just nine rooms. Bascom Lodge can be reached at 413-743-1591 or by emailing email@example.com.
Highpointers wanting to get a new view from the highest point of South Carolina will have to wait just a bit longer as reports out of the Palmetto State indicate that construction on a 15-foot observation tower on Sassafras Mountain will be delayed until Spring 2017.
Sassafras Mountain has undergone extensive changes during this decade. An observation deck adjacent to a parking lot near the summit was completed in 2013. While it is not located on the highest point of the state, the deck does allow for views into North Carolina.
2014 saw a radical change to the summit as the forest surrounding the area was cleared to prepare for the construction of an observation tower and to open up a view that had been previously unavailable. On days without many clouds and low humidity, it is estimated that one can see 50 miles from the summit of the mountain, a view that encompasses four states.
Sassafras Mountain F. Van Clayton Highway or from the Foothills Trail.