The 2016 High Point Trip: Delaware, New Jersey and Rhode Island

I lack the skill to type efficiently on my cell phone.  Is this technology passing me by, or are my fingers just too clumsy? I must be getting old.  I came to this realization when I went back through my old posts and rolled my eyes at ALL THE TYPOs.  Apparently I cannot type, text, or proofread my texts when I am working from my phone.

That is the reason my posts were so short during my summer hiking trip. Starting here and continuing in the next couple of weeks, I will post a more detailed account.

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This is my view from the Bainbridge Island Ferry as I cruised toward Seattle, on the way to SEA-TAC airport. We created our plan of attack months ago, poured over the details, and had a working itinerary.  The goal was to hit as many NE State High Points in as few days as possible.  We landed on the following destinations:

  1. Ebright Azimuth, DE – Ranked 49th at 448 ft
  2. High Point, NJ – Ranked 40th at 1,803 ft
  3. Jerimoth Hill, RI- Ranked 46th at 812 ft
  4. Mt. Frissell (south shoulder), CT – Ranked 36th at 2,380 ft
  5. Mt. Greylock, MA – Ranked 31st at 3,491 ft
  6. Mt. Marcy, NY – Ranked 21st at 5,344 ft
  7. Mt. Mansfield, VT – Ranked 40th at 1,803 ft
  8. Mt. Washington, NH – Ranked 18th at 6,288 ft
  9. Baxter Peak, Mt. Katahdin, ME – Ranked 22nd at 5,268 ft

We routed out the shortest driving distances between the points.  Even with the shortest routes to hit all the high points, we would be driving 1,350 miles or about 30 hours total.  We analyzed the hikes, knowing that we had some tough hikes ahead of us.  While we would start out slow, we knew each of the hikes increased in elevation gain.  High Point is, on average, a gain of 250 ft per mile, while Katahdin is, on average, 900 ft per mile.  We were hoping to hike 50 miles and gain over 17,000 ft in elevation during the trip.

We met on Friday afternoon at the Philadelphia Airport, gathered baggage, and picked up the rental car.  I was surprised when our rented SUV turned out to be a 2016 black Suburban – not only did we look like FBI agents, it was nice and roomy!  Our first order of business was to get to the first High Point – appropriately in the First State – Ebright Azimuth in Delaware.

Ebright Azimuth was named after the land owners, the Ebright family.  The high point is now surrounded by a suburban neighborhood.  To get to the high point, we drove about 25 miles from the PHL airport, parked where we could find a spot at the trail head and hiked over the burning hot asphalt while avoiding malicious squirrels and barking dogs.  In other words, we crossed the street.

Ranked 49th overall in State HPs, the elevation is 448 ft above sea level.  Total hike time was 2 minutes.  Elevation gain was 0 ft. IMG_1343.jpg

After taking our requisite photos to commemorate our achievement, we went to find an early dinner and get on the road.  We had 155 miles to drive to our hotel for the night in Port Jervis, NY.  That is 3 hours of driving with a break or two.  The nice thing was that the drive took us through the Pocono Mountain region, which was green and picturesque.

On arriving at our first hotel, I cannot tell you the disappointment.  Normally our hotel picks are spot on nice – either in a great town or a great location or super quaint.  This had nothing going for it.  Since I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say anything at all and I won’t even mention the name (but it was a major chain).  Tired from the drive, eager for the next day’s hike, we just went to bed.

The next day, we were up bright and early and headed to Muller’s Port Jervis diner for a hearty breakfast – a great place that opens up early and one which we recommend if you are in the area.  Port Jervis is also a cute town; but we did not have time to stop and check it out.  High Point Visitor center is about 6 miles from Port Jervis.

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While you can drive up to this monument, we decided to hike to the top utilizing the good old Appalachian Trail.  We utilized the AT as a trail many times on this trip, getting more and more familiar with it’s characteristic white blaze. In fact, Kerry and I think we have probably completed about 1/8 of the AT just by hitching a ride on several segments from our last trip and this trip.

We parked in the AT parking lot (which is free) at 1,300 ft elevation, and hiked through shaded woods for about .25 miles to the Visitor Center.   After leaving the Visitor Center, we reconnected with the trail by crossing the highway and crossing a field, and entering the woods.  The woods were just about done with flowering, but very green.  The shaded trail made for a very pleasant hike, even on a sunny hot day.  The bugs were light, which was a surprise.  We didn’t even run into many other hikers.    There are a few side trails, all well marked, which branch to the left and lead down to the beach at the lake.  We kept to the AT trail to the HP.  A little over 2/3 of the way there, we were at the observation deck, where we stopped for some photo ops and then continued on our hike.  Once at the top, we celebrated by climbing up the 291 steps of the War Memorial to the tip top.  Be warned:  the small windows in the memorial building are cloudy and steamy, and do not afford a better view.

Ranked 40th overall in State HPs, the elevation is 1,803 ft above sea level.  Round trip distance from trail head to peak is 3.8 miles with an elevation gain of 503 feet.  The Ascent took us 1 hr 5 min, the descent 45 min, for a total hike time of 1 hr 50 min.  We spent 25 min at the Visitor Center and 45 min at the peak.

Back at the trail head, before 11:00 am, we piled into the car and started the drive to Rhode Island.  This is where it hits us:  getting from one HP to the next involves a LOT OF DRIVING.  While we took turns driving, for the most part, Kerry is our main driver – because she says she wants to be.  And we do not argue.  The trip from High Point NJ to Jerimoth Hill RI is about 185 miles.  It is a pretty drive, and not too complicated. But we hit traffic.  Lots of Connecticut traffic.  We  crossed the Hudson, passed through Danbury, Newton and Hartford (why all the gold domes?), and finally hit the RI state line.   The trip took us about 4 hours with stops and traffic.

Our entire RI visit was over and done in under an hour.  Jerimoth Hill is off a highway just barely past the state line of CT/RI.    You will see the sign on the road as you approach the high point.  We parked across the street and, once again hiked over the burning hot asphalt while avoiding speeding obstacles, malicious squirrels and barking dogs.  After carefully crossing the street, we  made our way to the trail head.

Interesting to note, this high point has a long history of being off-limits to the public.   A previous owner did not welcome High Pointers, and restricted access to only 5 days a year.  Then it was purchased by Brown University, and access opened up from 8 am to 4 pm.  As of 2014, the land is under the RI public lands and access is posted open from 8 am to 6 pm.  The walk to the high point is about 500 yards.  Someone has made a good effort in marking and maintaining this high point.  The signs are clear and plentiful.  Once you get to the high point there is a rock cairn and a sign-in book kept in a well marked metal box.

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Ranked 46th overall in State HPs, the elevation is 812 ft above sea level.  Round trip distance from trail head to peak is 1,000 yards with 0 elevation gain.  The walk took about 5 min, and we spent 15 min at the peak.

And our day is not over yet.  Hop back into the Burb, seat belts buckled, and we head to our next Hotel in Sturbridge, MA – the Publik House.  Luckily, Sturbridge is only about an hour away.  This place was great – so great that I want to tell you all about it in the next blog and include it in my Massachusetts HP.   For now, Happy Trails!

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