Snagging the Rockpile: Mt. Washington, New Hampshire (19/50)

mt washington summit

At the summit of Mt. Washington, the highest point in New England. (Mt. Washington photos)

The Mississippi Gulf Coast has had one wet and rainy summer, so it should be little surprise that a storm messed with our plans to drive up the Mt. Washington Auto Road to grab the highest point in New England.  However, after a great trip to Portsmouth, we set out the next day to snag the highpoint of New Hampshire.

The Mt. Washington Auto Road is a private road that many call one of the scariest roads in the United States.  Narrow, with many tight turns, one has to be fairly self-assured to drive a car up the road. While I was ready for such a challenge, Mother Nature (some may say Divine Intervention) did not all me to partake as weather forecasts called for severe storms in New Hampshire’s mountains.  An outdoor adventure race up the auto road cancelled any driving plans for the following day as well, leaving us only the option of taking the cog railway up to the top of the mountain as hiking this one with Ben at this time seemed sort of unlikely.

The cog railway provides a different experience, and it is one that children will especially love.  The incline railway climbs several steep grades and at times the passengers in one part of the train are about 20 feet higher than passengers in the other part of the train.  Ben thoroughly enjoyed taking this ride up and down the mountain.

However, no part of the trip beats actually being on the summit of Mt. Washington where the conditions are usually anything but gentle.  On the day of our trip to the summit, the temperature was hovering around 40 with winds gusting to 40+ mph forcing a windchill in the 20s.  It was sort of nice having to wear a hoodie in July!

Standing around outside on the summit almost felt like we were in a different world than that one in which we had started our morning.  A warm and sunny day gave way to a cloudy, windy and cold one. In fact, the weather in the winter on Mt. Washington can be so unpredictable, according to our guide on the train, that folks hoping to climb Mt. Everest use the mountain to train for the elements.

While on the summit, take time to visit the Tip Top House, an old hotel on Mt. Washington’s summit.  Also the actual park office on the summit provides a place to grab lunch, a gift shop, a museum, and a post office to mail items from the top of New Hampshire.

You should also take time to view the Presidentials.  My son found Mt. Adams to be quite interesting as its two peaks made this mountain perfect for a father-son combination.

My biggest regret about taking the cog rail to the top is that your time at the summit is limited to 90 minutes.  However, I have a strong feeling I will be back this way one day to hike this mountain and others.  When we were heading back to the train station, Ben asked if we could come back and hike Washington and the other Presidentials when he was older.

Sounds like a plan to me.

Here’s a cheap plug for Portsmouth.  I was ready to move after being there for about an hour.  The city has the charm of a downtown area, historic places to visit, and has a bit of a big city vibe to it.  If you are a burger fan, check out Lexie’s Joint.  It was amazing.

If you are history buff, swing by the John Paul Jones House.  It was here that the father of the navy oversaw the building of ships in the Piscataqua River, a river that runs between Kittery, Maine and Portsmouth, New Hampshire and has been a source of controversy over the years.   If you are just looking for a place to hangout for a bit, enjoy the smell of the ocean, and just relax, hitting up Four Tree Island is relaxing.

Since we were in the area, we hit up Maine for a little bit as well, stopping at a Dairy Queen and Ft. McClary, which provides a good experience into old seacoast forts and allows for some great views as well.

ft. mcclary

Panoramic photo from Ft. McClary, Maine.

We capped our free day off near our hotel in Concord, visiting the Capitol and grabbing pizza at Vinnie’s Pizzaria. They claimed to be the best in New Hampshire.  They convinced us.

It’s easy to go on vacation and really like a place. I’m pretty sure I went on vacation and fell in love with New Hampshire. It’s a state of amazing beauty with so much to offer. I daydream about it every day. I can’t wait to go back to it.


The Highpoint by a Sidewalk: Ebright Azimuth, Delaware (18/50)

Ebright Azimuth Sign

Ben and I in front of the sign explaining Ebright Azimuth. The actual geodetic marker is about 20 feet away.  (Ebright Azimuth photos)

Tom Petty once said that good love is hard to find.  Apparently, one of the easiest highpoints to snag in all of the United States might be too, at least for me, as I drove past the Delaware highpoint four times.

Located just inside Delaware’s border with Pennsylvania, Ebright Azimuth does not do much in the way of standing out.  In fact, my son still asks if Delaware’s highpoint is also its second lowest point. The confusion is understandable as this spot checks in at a less than whopping 447.85 feet.

However, as with some other highpoints, there are some quirky characteristics to Ebright Azimuth.  For starters, the geodetic marker is found in a cut out area of a sidewalk.  That’s right.  At one point, this marker was going to be paved over for a sidewalk. Those plans were changed, and instead, the marker was bypassed when the sidewalk was built.

This sidewalk is located in a neighborhood, so one has to wonder if some local jogger has the record for most trips to the highest point in Delaware.  It seems likely to assume there may well be someone who has ascended Ebright Azimuth hundreds or maybe more than a thousand times.

While the elevation of the highpoint may not pack much sizzle, the folks maintaining the highpoint have done a pretty nice job making it a bit more special.  There are signs explaining the highpoint and a bench for sitting if needed.

Ben and I snagged this highpoint as part of a trip up to New England to see how many highpoints we could get.  After hanging around this highpoint for just a bit, we hit up Dunkin Donuts and started a push toward New Hampshire.

The parking for this highpoint can be a bit tricky.  There are traffic control measures in place that making parking on the side of the road next to the highpoint very difficult.  Additionally, there are two private roads in the area to complicate things more.  However, there is what looks to be an abandoned road between the highpoint and the state line.  That looks like your best bet for parking and snagging this highpoint.

Tripoint No. 1: Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama


The disk showing the boundaries of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia.

We walk around in a world full of geographic points of interests.  For many of us, we do not realize this until they are pointed out to us.  That is how I was about highpoints and tripoints, but once I learned of them, I became very interested in them.

I had heard about tripoints since I started chasing down highpoints, but even then, I had not really thought about them. In fact, in doing highpoints, I am pretty sure that I have come close to several tripoints without thinking to stop.

I nearly did the same thing this summer when heading home from Spruce Knob, West Virginia.

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The Top of the Allegheny Mountains: Spruce Knob, WV (17/50)

There are few states that can match West Virginia in terms of beauty.  Going back to childhood visits with my grandparents in Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania, I have made many trips to and through West Virginia, and every time, I leave thinking that it is a special place.

That same feeling remained after making a visit to Spruce Knob, the first highpoint of 2016 for Ben and me.

(Spruce Knob Photo Album)

The trip to Spruce Knob took a while to develop this summer.  A week before heading that direction, we were riding around Key West on a moped going to see the southern most publicly accessible point (or so they say) on the mainland of the United States.  After a quick trip back home, a few days in Atlanta, and a visit with family in Charlotte, we began the trip to West Virginia.

Let me warn anyone who suffers from motion sickness.  You will either need to take medicine, sleep, or drive when going through the mountain roads to this highpoint.

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Picking up the Keystone State: Mt. Davis, Pennsylvania (16/50)

After picking up our coldest highpoint in MarylandTaum Sauk Mountain is a close second as it was only one degree warmer), we headed north to Pennsylvania to pick up Mt. Davis for our second highpoint of the day.

                               (Photos from Mount Davis)

One of the things that I will always remember about the drive was passing a city called Friendsville.  You see, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead, and if there was ever a town with a name that should be on that show, Friendsville is it.  Couldn’t you just see getting there and everyone acting nice only to find out that they stole and killed from people looking for refuge?  Maybe they even have a zoo of walkers?  I digress.

Another thing to remember were the amount of wind turbines on the mountains as we headed to Mt. Davis.  I remember thinking that it was great to see people taking advantage of a renewable energy source, but even then, it was impossible not to note how much they had changed the landscape.

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Bagging Backbone Mountain: Maryland (15/50)

MD Highpoint sign

Getting ready to head to the highpoint of Maryland 

Backbone Mountain (3360 feet) Photo Album

First things first…I’ve got to get more timely in writing these posts….

Thanksgiving week always makes for an interesting time in my household.  It marks the end of college football season and rivalry games, especially the Battle for the Golden Egg, celebration with family, and working out time for my son to spend time with me, my family and his mom and her family.  One week does not always seem like enough.

Thankfully, I have an awesome family who knows that those of us in the education business are limited with our time off and when it occurs, and his mom is pretty flexible when I want to take him on a trip, so we decided to forego football (good thing because Mississippi State got popped hard), have an early Thanksgiving dinner, and then take off on a fast five-day trip to Backbone Mountain, Mount Davis, Gettysburg and Washington D.C.

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