Highpoint #1: South Carolina

It’s official.  We reached our first state highpoint today around 2:06 p.m (local time).  As planned, we drove up the Sassafras Mountains to South Carolina’s highest point.  I have to admit, this trip was a lot different than I expected, but I’m glad we finally made it.

We left our hotel around 11:00 a.m., thinking that this was a simple two hour drive and that we’d stop somewhere for lunch along the way.  After bathroom breaks, wrong turns, and crying kids, we decided we should eat in the car to make good time.  After three hours, we finally made it just as the GPS flashed it’s last screen showing we had made it to the waypoint (highpoint).  Then the GPS batteries died, and the screen went black.

The road up the mountain was a long, twisty road.  Twisty doesn’t begin to describe it.  The road was crookeder than a dog’s hind leg and full of motorcycles.  Looks like we chose the wrong vehicle to ride these twists and turns.

Once we reached the summit, I expected something a little more impressive.  Instead, we found a simple parking lot next to a closed (and locked) gate.  The sign next to the parking lot was unreadable and unfortunately not very rewarding.  The parking lot had a few remnants of old campfires, and could hold about 20-30 cars.  We walked around the gate, up the hill about a hundred yards and expected to see a nice peak with a sign.  Instead we found a couple of power lines, an old road that made a single loop, and an old weathered hiking trail sign.  Oddly enough, the hiking trail sign made no mention of the highest point in South Carolina, and even failed to include the traditional “you are here” sticker!

DSCN0020-2We were still pretty pleased with ourselves, and spent some time hiking the trails all around the summit.  We were all set to take a family photo using some old cut logs to hold the camera when Oldest Son suddenly called out “Wait!  That’s a black widow spider!”

“What?” I replied.  ”Yeah, sure.  No way is that a black widow.  And how would you know?”

“Dad, I’m a boy.  I know spiders.  Look, it even has the hourglass marking on its abdomen.”

“Oh.  Really?  Okay then.  Everyone stand over here instead.”  I replied quickly pushing them in the opposite direction.

DSCN0025-2We finally took our family photo, along with a couple more for posterity.  A picture of the summit is shown below.  That’s a telephone pole you see near the center of the photo.  I’ll only post those pictures here that respect the privacy of my family.  In the end, we were very glad to have this one under our belt.  Highpoint number two comes tomorrow.

South Carolina summit:

DSCN0031-2This is half of the road that forms a ring around the geological marker.  Not very impressive, huh?  The actual high point is the base of a tree across from a trail sign (not shown).  If it hadn’t been for others who hand-wrote notes on the trail sign, we wouldn’t have believed this was the highest point.  The road leading to the summit:

DSCN0032-2The non-descriptive sign near the parking lot.

DSCN0010-2South Carolina summit geological marker:

DSCN0030-2

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