Notes from the trail, care of my adventurer-in-crime…
Climbers on Everest embark on a journey that includes weeks upon weeks of acclimatization as their bodies adjust to the ever-thinner air and the deadly lack of oxygen in the high Himalayan air. Hikers slowly work their way up to the Everest base camp at roughly 18,000 feet, and they then embark on a series of excursions to ever-loftier heights in preparation for the final push to the highest point in the world. Along the way, there are moments when many climbers actually descend to lower altitudes to maximize their ability to adjust to the lower levels of O2.
With that in mind, Abby and I set our sights on our second high point in our quest to reach the highpoint of each of the fifty states. We began our expedition back in October with an epic bike trip to Ebright Azimuth in northern Delaware, a devastatingly high 447 feet. Worried about biting off too much too soon, we backed off for our second highpoint and hopped a plane down south for the first half of winter break. While the trip was primarily an eight day sojourn in New Orleans, we wanted to bag a peak or two while we were there, and with the physically demanding Delaware in mind, we set our goals on the modest Britton Hill, our nation’s lowest of the fifty highpoints.
Unable to bike from New Orleans, we hopped in our red rental Nissan Cube, and we drove east, through lowland marshes and small southern coastal towns.
After a night holed up in Biloxi, MS, a rather quiet and anticlimactic city after expectations of a southern Atlantic City, we drove through Mobile and into the panhandle of Florida.
As we are quickly realizing, one of the joys of “Highpointing” is getting to see parts of the country you’d never ever visit. We’re fairly certain we drove through towns no tourists have ever seen, and ultimately we ended up parked at Lakewood Park, a small “hilltop” park just south of the Alabama border. At an oxygen rich 345 feet, Britton Hill sat before us, on the other side of the parking lot. A small but nice monument sat in the middle of a small clearing; on one side of the small field, a tree-line hid sylvan rustling and birdsong, and behind us, a majestic view of the Floridian “hills” rolled away to the horizon.
Pictures and videos taken, we set off on a short walk into the woods, a surprisingly charming stroll through the cool winter woods of the panhandle.
Upon returning to the car, we ran into another pair of highpointers, an older couple from New York whose primary goal in traveling is to visit every winery in the United States, with a secondary ambition to visit highpoints easily accessible. We parted ways, and after debating driving long miles and hours to visit a second southern highpoint, we elected to call it a day and save Louisiana for another trip. With the lowest highpoint behind us, we decided we were ready for something a bit more challenging. An upcoming trip to New England promised an opportunity to hit a couple more highpoints, and considering their significantly higher elevations and the winter storm raging back home, we figured we’d find our next few highpoints to be a bit more challenging. Thankfully we have acclimatized well and trained hard through Ebright Azimuth and Britton Hill, and we feel ready to take a shot at the mountains of the northeast, at least some of the shorter ones.