Highpoint: Sassafras Mountain
State: South Carolina
Height: 3560 ft.
Highpoint #: 15
Date: 7/4/2002
Trails: N/A
Distance: About .2 miles roundtrip.
Vertical Gain: 100 ft.
Time Taken: 30 min.
Weather: 70s-80s.
Group: JO & BC
Comments: We drove up Mt. Sassafras first. This top was nothing special, but the drive up the mountain involved one of the twistiest and steepest roads we have ever seen. We wouldn't have thought a road could be that twisty. Never the less, BC and JO rose to the occasion and did some really intense hard sport driving that the WRX Impreza was meant for. At the top there was a marker and a higher mound nearby. There was strange white plastic running along the ground near the marker. Not sure what they were for. At least the drive was memorable.

JO at the summit of Sassafras Mountain.

Highpoint: Clingman's Dome
State: Tennessee
Height: 6643 ft.
Highpoint #: 16
Date: 7/4/2002
Trails: N/A
Distance: About 1 mile roundtrip.
Vertical Gain: 330
Time Taken: 45 min.
Weather: 70s-80s. Hazy
Group: JO & BC
Comments: From South Carolina, we drove to the Tennessee highpoint. Clingman's Dome was a zoo. You'd think it was Disneyworld.  But then again, we were in the most visited national park in America (Great Smoky Mountains Nat’l Park) on the 4th of July.  Oh well.  The hike to the top, although paved, was actually fairly steep. At the top was a high tower with a ramp curving way out 360 degrees around the tower, allowing for wheelchair access. The views were ok, but the trees were in bad condition. There's a debate over whether beetles or acid rain are causing the trees to die, but JO thinks it's acid beetles. We could have hiked Clingman's dome, but the shortest trail to the top was along the Appalachian Trail and was ~18 miles roundtrip. We felt that this would have been pretty excessive, so we became tourists that day.

JO and BC on the top of the summit tower on Clingman’s Dome.

Highpoint: Black Mt.
State: Kentucky
Height: 4145 ft.
Highpoint #: 17
Date: 7/4/2002
Trails: N/A
Distance: About 600 ft. roundtrip.
Vertical Gain: 50 ft
Time Taken: 30 min.
Weather: 80s.
Group: JO & BC
Comments: From Tennessee we drove the short distance into Kentucky. For this highpoint you're supposed to mail in forms in advance that waive the coal company that owns the mountain of liability for any harm that may come to you while visiting the high point due to "negligence, gross negligence, criminal negligence, or any criminal act." We mailed these forms in advance, and carried copies with us just in case. The gate was closed so we walked under it and arrived at the top where there was a large tower and a marker under it. We weren't sure exactly where the highpoint was so we walked over all the little mounds in the area.

The tower at the summit of Black Mountain.  Pretty run down, but then again, the coal company has no incentive to fix it up either.

After Kentucky we drove over to Virginia and found a nice campsite in Mt. Rogers State Park. There was a July 4th camping/cookout/party going on in a neighboring campsite. As we were deciding what to do about dinner since all we had were granola bars, a nice lady from the party brought over 4 homemade July 4th cupcakes for us. These were invaluable. We were able to sleep without the rain tarp on the tent, which made for a great nights sleep. We awoke refreshed Friday morning and headed out to tackle the 8.6 mile Mt. Rogers.

 

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