[Published in Apex to Zenith #50 – Third Quarter 2000]
Highlight: Going on a 14,000-mile, 53-day, 17-state highpoint road trip.
What a long wonderful journey it has been. When I reached the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, with my wife to be on July 20, 2000, at 9:50 a.m., I completed my quest to stand on the highest point in all 50 states. This could only be surpassed by my 51st high-point. The next evening I married my soul mate, Marilyn at the Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. I stood again on the summit of Manna Kea on July 28, 2000, with the Highpointers Convention folks.
This was truly a very wonderful experience. In all, my wife and I spent 17 days on the Big Island, and had the time of our lives. How about that food at the Luau and banquet!
I have had the honor and privilege of attending the last two conventions. I must say that I have never met such a nice bunch of folks in all my life. To all members that have never attended a convention, I highly recommend it. I may not see you in Maryland (1st anniversary trip back to Hawaii), but I will definitely see you in Oklahoma 2002. It is my intent to remain a lifetime member of this club.
On June 26, 1983, I reached my first state highpoint at Mt. Hood, Oregon. It took me just over 17 years to complete all 50 highpoints, and over 18 years to find my soul mate.
Without a doubt, the most beautiful and challenging highpoint was Mt. McKinley. We reached the summit on June 17, 1988 and spent 21 beautiful days on the mountain. We had only four snow days (two of those were after returning on June 19th to base camp) and only one wind day. The trip was through Rainier Mountaineering. Inc. Guides for the trip were Erie Simonson, Dave Hahn, and Craig John. Mt. McKinley was indeed my favorite highpoint.
- Highpoint summits that I reached more than once – Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, Mauna Kea and Taum Sauk Mountain.
- Least favorite – Granite Peak, Montana. This mountain is falling apart. As Parnell Taylor said “too much boulder ballet” in and out coupled with nasty rock at the top.
- Windiest – Katahdin in Maine. While enroute to the summit, I was literally blown off my feet several times above timberline.
- Wettest – Mt. Marcy in New York. A torrential downpour lasted all day long.
- Friendliest – Hawkeye Point, Iowa. This is where I met the Sterler’s.
- Highpoint attempted twice -Kings Peak in Utah. Due to bad weather, I was unsuccessful on my first attempt.
- Most dangerous highpoint – Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island. I had three encounters with a property owner (1) where x marks the spot (2) back at my car (3) at the roadside marker.Most difficult to find – Mt. Frissell, Connecticut and Driskill Mountain, Louisiana.
- Other favorite highpoints – Mt. Whitney, California; Mauna Kea, Hawaii; Mount Sunflower, Kansas; Harney Peak, South Dakota and Gannett Peak, Wyoming.
Highlights along the way include:
- Reaching the summit of 6 of the southern highpoints in 1991 with my tent mate from McKinley, John Lindermuth and his wife, Debbie;
- 28 of the highpoints, solo;
- 16 of the high-points with my son, Jeremy.
- Finding a Highpointers Club flyer in the mailbox at the Mount Sunflower Registrar in Kansas.
- Going on a 10,000 mile, 50-day road trip in 1996, where I reached the summit of 9 state highpoints. Also, I did the complete Exum Ridge on the Grand Teton with Exum Mountain Guides. and a rim-rim-rim trek of the Grand Canyon with my friends, John & Debbie Lindermuth. During this road trip on Granite Peak in Montana, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a real climbing legend in Pete Schoening and his friend, Fred Dunham. I had dropped down into the saddle, and I saw the upper part of the mountain. I decided that the rock looked too bad to continue on solo. I started back down Tempest Mountain when I met Pete and Fred. Pete was 69 and had just returned from Mt. Everest and Fred was 56. I was 41 at the time. Pete and Fred were heading up the mountain, so I asked them if I could go along with them. They said, “sure thing.” Although I reached the summit with them that afternoon, it was all I could do to keep up with them. They were 20-30 minutes ahead of me all the way to the summit. I truly reached the summit on their coattails and wouldn’t have made it that day without them. I thanked them for that! Once they made sure I was safely back to the saddle, they were off like a streak of lightning to town. They had left high camp that morning, went back to high camp, broke camp and hiked all the way out. Pete said he preferred to sleep in a hotel bed that night. Needless to say, I slept in high camp. I will sure be glad to reach that age and pick up a little speed!
- Going on a 14,000-mile, 53 day 17-state highpoint road trip in 1998. I met Mr. Irate on this trip.
- Making new friends and visiting old friends on my road trip.
- Meeting Guru Jack and Paula nd Lila Zumwalt at the 1999 Convention.
- Sitting at the table with the other 50 state completers at this year’s banquet.
- Receiving my 50-state completers plaque from Board Chairman Don Holmes.
- Meeting and marrying my soul mate.
What’s next? I would love to do some trips to the world’s greatest mountains and reach the 50 state high-points again with my wife, Marilyn. However, I believe a bad neck and’ back will prevent me from doing that. In the meantime, I will complete as many of the 50 highpoints again that I can, and travel all 50 states to do the 50 state lowpoints. So long for now, I need to go call Jack Parsell.