Friday I had plans to meet with Jill from the Summit Chicks (Raina was out of town) – we had plans to meet for lunch to catch up and walk over to the highest point of Washington DC, which is in Fort Reno Park. I decided to keep my bike in my hotel room and take the metro. I haven’t ridden the metro since I was little on vacation in DC with my parents so I was a bit worried about making it on time, but it turns out that google maps makes it really easy. You just type in where you are and where you want to go and there are options for drive, bike, walk and public transportation – it was awesome. I typed in the time I wanted to be there and it gave me the time I should leave, the metro line I wanted to hop on, how many stops until my connecting stop, the connecting stop line – everything was really spelled out – piece of cake. I would HIGHLY recommend using that if you are somewhere and need directions!
After I flew into Las Vegas my BFF Jen picked me up from the airport and we drove to Flagstaff, AZ to spend a few days of sightseeing. On the list of planned activities was hiking Humphreys Peak. We were up before the sun and headed out to the trailhead which was only about a 15 min drive from Flagstaff. The sun was just coming up as we started down the trail at 6am – I was seriously wishing I had some gloves as it was a little chilly, but I knew it would warm up as the day went on.
First, let me start this post by saying I GOT TO MEET THE SUMMIT CHICKS!!! I GOT TO MEET THE SUMMIT CHICKS!!!! 🙂
Let me backtrack: I have been using the Summit Chicks’ blog for quite some time as a reference for my own high pointing road trips. I was so surprised and excited when they contacted me shortly after I started my blog and asked if I would want to hike a highpoint with them – ummm YES!!!! 🙂 They found me because I left a comment for another blogger who was starting out highpointing and I suggested she check out their blog. After chatting back and forth we decided Katahdin in Maine would be the peak we would go after – how exciting! The Summit Chicks (Raina and Jill) put together the whole trip – it was in the works for MONTHS because you have to snag a campsite about 4 mths ahead of time for Baxter State Park. They have a ton of crazy rules and the girls did a lot of research to figure out what would be the best option to hike Katahdin.
Kevin and I got up early to pack the final things we would need for our trip and put them in the truck. We gave Willow (my cat) her insulin shot and set out for Stowe, VT to try to hike Mt Mansfield before they closed the toll road at 5- I knew we would be cutting it close and my heart sunk when I punched the address into the GPS and saw the estimated arrival time was 3:30- that was over an hour what my phone GPS said!! “We’re not gonna make it” I said – it takes approx 20 mins to drive up the toll road – plus let’s say 2 hrs to hike and enjoy the views and then 20 mins to drive back down- the website says all cars must start driving down by 4:45 at the latest because the gate closes at 5. This did not give us enough time. Kevin said his GPS the time always goes down as he drives. We figured we would give it a try and see if we made it- I wanted to be there by 2 to be safe but knew that just wasn’t possible. On the long drive I started looking for options for plan B.
They were calling for rain again so we headed out as early as we could. Again we put ourselves within about an hours drive of Charles Mound, the highest point in Illinois so we could snag it first thing in the morning and then continue our drive home. I was expecting there to be a lot of people there as well as this highpoint is on private property and only open a handful of days during the year.
I typed in 688 West Charles Mound Rd, Scales Mound, IL and my GPS took us right to the gate. It was closed with a chain around it, but there were signs directing us to park and continue on foot. My dad parked off the road as far as possible and as we were putting on our hiking shoes a truck pulled up and a man inside warned us to be careful because where we parked there was a big drop off that was hidden in the tall grass. He also stated it looked like it was gonna be a busy day – it was around 8AM or so and there were already a few cars parked besides ours. The man in the truck turned and drove down the lane next to the gate for the highpoint so we are assuming it was Mr Wuebbel who owns the property but he didn’t introduce himself so I am not sure.
From Sioux Falls, SD it was maybe a little over an hour drive to Hawkeye Point – the highest point in Iowa. We set out early because the weather predicted storms and we were hoping to catch a tiny window before the rain. Actually we ended up driving through the rain and got ahead of the storm as we reached the highpoint.
I plugged in 5467 130th St Sibley, IA into the GPS which is the address I found on roadsideamerica.com and it took us right there. It was very easy to get to and since everything is so flat we could see the silo and flags in the distance (as well as the approaching rain) as we drove closer. For some reason my GPS took us off the main road and down some dirt roads the back way to the entrance, but either way works.
We started the long drive back east – we needed to be at the Illinois highpoint on Saturday because it is on private property and only open to the public a few days a year. We looked at a map and figured out ways to split up the rest of the trip so it would put us close to the Charles Mound Illinois Saturday morning so we could continue back to PA. More on that in the next few posts!
Along the way east we drove through the Badlands National Park – I think it is so beautiful here and we had nice weather (unlike last year when it was rainy and very foggy!) The bison are always awesome to watch and the prairie dogs are too cute!!