We had two days to get from Charlotte, North Carolina to Athens, Ohio which is around a 6 hour drive. The thing is there are 4 high points that we had yet to summit sort of on the way. It seemed from the descriptions I could find online that 3 of the 4 high points were just a short walk from the car, at the most a mile hike. Mt. Rogers in Virginia seemed like it would take 4 to 5 hours. On a map they all looked fairly close to one another. I charted several ways to hit all four in two days. At best we would be looking at a 14 hour day and a 12 hour day of travel and walking, while certainly possible it wasn’t the way Cindy wanted to spend her vacation which I completely understand. So I compromised and dropped the Virginia high point.
We headed west and dipped south back into South Carolina. At 3560 ft. Sassafras Mt. would be the lowest of the high points, it would also be Cindy’s very first high point. We got to the parking lot for various trailheads, none of which mentioned any sort of high point or summit. So we started up the hill hoping it was the right trail and that once we got to the top it would make more sense. It didn’t. We found the survey control marker but there wasn’t much more than that. And there was no view of any sort. I tried to use my smart phone to confirm that we had indeed reached the summit, but unfortunately there was no service, so we snapped of a couple photos and headed back to the car again hoping that we had been to the right place. Around an hour later up the road on our way to the Mt. Mitchell we were able to conform that we did in fact reach the highest point in South Carolina.
We were in a race to get to Mt. Mitchell and then as close to Black Mt. in Kentucky before 9 o’clock when True Blood started.
Mt. Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi and thusly gets much more recognition than its southern sister. The temperature was in the high sixties and for the first time in months, walking outside in the middle of the day was comfortable. There was a visitor’s center and gift shop. People were heading up and down the mountain to the tower. The views were beautiful. But we were on a tight schedule so couldn’t linger about for too long.
We found a hotel that had HBO and after going to the local market to find something that could pass as dinner we settled down in front of the TV with about 10 minutes to spare.
I was most concerned about this high point, not because of the hike which seemed to be about a mile each way, but because it was on private property that required a signed waiver to access.(I had already downloaded and printed it, but still). The access road was mainly intended for coal mining trucks and apparently many of the surrounding hillsides were ravaged by strip mining.
We were able to drive all the way up with no problem. We did get to a huge tower of some sort that was topped with what looked like a space ship. We looked all around but could find no survey marker or anything indicating that we had reached the summit so we drove a little further and hit paydirt.
Skye and I have now reached the highest point in 12 states. We plan to hit Virginia on our way back to Atlanta. And some time before we leave Georgia, we’ll slide into Alabama for that one and then we’ll have bagged all of the highest peaks in the Southeast.