Cindy often says I make things harder than they need to be.
I don't really agree with her on that.
I can be a bit ambitious at times and let's say perhaps optimistic to a fault. And that might end up making it seem like I don't always choose the easiest route.
This time was going to be different.
I was going to take my time getting down to Atlanta for Skye's orthodontist appointment and then casually head down to join Cindy in NOLA.
While everyone one else from the wedding parties were scrambling to check-out and head back home, Skye and I decided to stay and additional night at the hotel.
I didn't do much but kick back and sleep.
The next day we slept in and had to ask for a late check-out.
I could get used to being relaxed and taking things easy.
Or Could I?
September 9 near Polk, OH via mobile
On the road again, much more relaxed schedule. An appointment in Atlanta Wednesday and then heading to NOLA to reunite with Cindy. But first off to collect some High-points; Pennsylvania here we come
Wait a second, isn't Pennsylvania almost due east of where we were and isn't Atlanta pretty much due south.
Why yes, indeed.
However, last year we had made plans to get to all of the state high-points in the Southeast, but Skye's medical emergency(burst appendicitis) and week-long hospital stay changed our itinerary considerably.
Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland were all grouped within a couple of hours of one another, and not too far from Ashland, Ohio, well worth the detour.
By my calculations, we could make it to Pennsylvania and Maryland and then get a hotel close to the one in West Virginia, and be on the road to Atlanta by 10 am no problem.
Remember that part about me being overly optimistic at times?
Finding the actual state high-point can sometimes be more difficult than you'd think.
It would seem the place might be clearly marked and perhaps a plaque or some sort of monument or something.
And very often that is the case.
But sometimes not.
And then there is the fact that high-points are very often in areas with spotty internet reception. So that double-checking info from a website might not be an option.
Also a lot of the information about high-points is volunteer-based like Wikipdeia, so the quality and accurateness of information is inconsistent to say the least.
Mysterious Mount Davis
"To reach the summit, you can either take the summit road for 1 mile to the parking lot, or park at the Picnic area, which is just past the summit road, and hard to miss. From there, you can take the highpoint trail about 0.8 miles to the summit, with an elevation gain of about 200 feet."
From this description, I figured we had at least 0.8 miles of walking. I somehow breezed over the "you can take the summit road to the parking lot."
So when we got to the parking lot and I saw signs for the "highpoint trail", we made a run for it.
The sun was setting fast and we still wanted to make it over to the Maryland high-point.
After running downhill for around 1/2 mile toward the picnic area, it dawned on me that perhaps we had ran right past the high-point.
Back up the trail we went and then we scoured the area for the actual highpoint.
You see at most every highpoint there is a USGS survey markers and part of the fun is finding it.
Oblivious to the Obvious
When we finally made it back to the main area near the parking lot and determined that we were near the actual high point, the information was still fairly misleading.
One of the informational plaque reads, "The point is not a prominent pinnacle but the tip of a rock extending a few inches above the others on the rock-strewn nearly level plateau."
Except its on top of a big boulder clearly higher than the surrounding rocks.
The sun was still out when we took this picture. However we would have to drive through Maryland and back into West Virginia to reach the Maryland high-point.
As confusing as Mount Davis really wasn't, Backbone Mountain and the journey up to it was, especially in the dark.
We had both decided, based on the description of the trail as well as what not getting close to the West Virginia trail-head that evening would mean for the following day's travel, that a little hike in the dark would be worth it.
"It is a nice easy hike with a fairly decent view at the top. Once you reach the trailhead follow the logging road for about 20 minutes, always noting that you follow the the orange blazes on trees. A few hundred yards into the hike, you will see a red sign pointing to the left-this is NOT the correct left-hand turn. After around 3/4 of a mile on the logging road, a footpath junctions to the left of the logging road. Follow this well-cairned path a short distance where it temporarily divides, the right path being grassy, and the left path being rocky. The two paths converge back together very shortly and shortly thereafter, you find yourself at the summit of Maryland's highest mountain. There is a sign commemorating this highpoint. Some of the trees to the east have been cut so that you have a decent view to the east. There is also a picnic table where you can rest after this not-so-strenuous 1 mile, 700 vertical foot climb."
There were several inaccuracies about above description. And while they might be slight, they were incredibly significant in the dark.
We got lost a couple of times and I really began to wonder if this was a big mistake.
Once we found it and finally got back to the Rav4, we both agreed we had made the right decision.
My optimist bent slid right past realist and became a bitter pessimist, which was at best a realist at this juncture.
I had planned on getting to the Maryland highpoint around sunset, not several hours later.
And then I thought we'd get a hotel somewhere close to the West Virginia highpoint of Spruce Knob.
There are no hotels near Spruce Knob. Not many campsites either. We ended up pulling into Big Bend campsite, somewhere in West Virgina well after mid-night.
We backed into a sight and then tilted back the seats and got a few hours of sleep.
So much for the plan of getting a decent night's rest in a comfy hotel bed.
We pulled out a little after 6 am, knowing that we were looking at a full day if things went well.
Third times a charm.
We were getting back into the whole confusing high-point game and relatively quickly we found the marker for the West Virginia high-point of Spruce Knob
It wasn't marked and the High-Point sign was a couple of hundred yards from the actual high point which had nothing to point out where it was.
So we decided to help out and made this little stack next to it.
It would have been helpful the night before if I had read this little tidbit, "Spruce Knob is also the 13th-most isolated peak (with approximately 175 miles of isolation) in the contiguous United States"
Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
We managed to capture our 3 elusive state high-points, bringing us up to 22 states, almost half of the lower 48 and all of the Southeast.
We didn't get to Atlanta as planned, but we landed just a couple of hours out, which ended up being more than OK because we got a killer room for a lot less than what we would pay in Atlanta proper and we made it to Skye's ortho visit the next day with time to spare.
Road Trip Awesomeness