Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi Highpoints (aka the disturbing states)

I'm still trying to believe Lorri actually agreed to go on this trip to some of the more disturbing states in the nation. We arrived in a balmy Nashville, Tennessee on the evening of November 7th then drove north to Cave City, Kentucky where we stayed the night. Ironically, our rental car had New York plates so we would be "Carpet Bagging" our way through the southeastern states.

The following morning we headed to Mammoth Cave National Park, home of the cave system that is allegedly the longest in the world. There are no self guided tours there so we opted to take the 2 hour "Historical Tour." I was expecting stalactites and stalagmites but instead we passed through "Fat Man's Misery" and "Tall Man's Agony" without seeing either on the 2 mile journey.

"Historic" Candle Graffiti - Mammoth Caves, KY

There are many caves in this area of the country but we didn't come here to see caves, we came to Kentucky to see something even more famous...

We had to stop there!

With higher cholesteral we were on our way to Black Mountain, the highest point in Kentucky. If you have disturbing thoughts of hillbillies and coal mines when you hear "Kentucky" your feelings are valid. I couldn't figure out how a mobile home and the cars rusting in the front yard got to the other side of the creek when you have to walk across a suspension bridge to get there from the road... Things just weren't adding up in eastern Kentucky. When we finally arrived at Black Mountain it was well after dark but that was okay since there isn?t really much to see other than radio towers and broken beer bottles...

On the summit of Black Mountain, KY (4,139')

On the 9th we drove to Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia where you can access the Appalachian Trail (AT) and hike to Mount Rogers, VA. The route is a pleasant 4 miles each way through open meadows and occasionally forest and there are wild ponies everywhere. The hike starts on the Rhododendron Trail which reaches the AT in 0.5 miles. The next 3 miles are on the AT. The final 0.5 miles is on the Mount Rogers spur trail which reaches the densely forested anticlimactic summit. Getting there is the best part...

Hiking on the Appalachian Trail near Grayson Highlands State Park, VA

The USGS Benchmark on the summit of Mount Roger, VA (5,729')

After returning to the trailhead we drove to Mount Mitchell, North Carolina, the highest point east of the Mississippi. This scenic drive took longer than I had expected but we managed to get there just before dark and the park closed. This would be the end of the nice weather we had been enjoying as Hurricane Ida pushed into the area.

Mount Mitchell from the Blue Ridge Parkway... Yeah, it's that dramatic

The benchmark on Mount Mitchell, NC

We stayed the next two nights in Ashville, NC which is a nice town. From there it is about an hour drive to Great Smokey Mountain National Park and another 45 minutes or so to the Clingmans Dome parking area. By this time Ida had arrived in force and we got pretty wet on the half mile hike to the summit. The lookout tower is quite unique but didn't serve its purpose that day...

The lookout on Clingmans Dome, TN

No views but plenty of wind and rain from now Tropical Storm Ida - Clingmans Dome, TN (6,643')

View of the Great Smokey Mountains

On the 11th we headed for perhaps the least loved of the state highpoints - Sassafras Mountain, South Carolina... I think the name says it all even if you read it backwards. My memories of this mountain are a radio tower, a pile of trash, wind and flash flood warnings.

On the summit of Sassafras Mountain, SC (3,560')

The only sign we saw with "Sassafras Mountain" on it... note the pile of trash beside it

From Sassafras Mountain we drove west to Georgia. The weather was improving and we could see the lookout tower on Brasstown Bald, Georgia from miles away. I was sure we were going to get a view...

A sign near the summit of Brasstown Bald, GA (4,784')

What did work out for us was that it was the last day the visitor information center was open (not sure about the road) and there was no fee because it was Veterans Day. A half mile trail leads to the summit or you can take a shuttle bus. By the time we hiked to the summit the view was gone. There is a Tennessee Valley Authority benchmark that is in a locked area but one of the bored Forest Service rangers was happy to unlock the door for us.

The Tennessee Valley Authority benchmark on Brasstown Bald

I promised Lorri a view...

After concluding that it would probably be a long wait for a view we drove to Kennesaw, GA and visited the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. A significant Civil War battle was fought in this area in 1864 when the Confederate army attempted to stop the advance of General Sherman commanding the armies of Cumberland, Tennessee and Ohio in the Atlanta campaign. There is a 1 mile trail to the summit where there are several well preserved cannon emplacements.

An evening stroll - Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, GA

On the 12th we headed to Cheaha Mountain, Alabama. The route is well marked since the summit area is a state park. A stone lookout tower decorates the summit...

The historic lookout on Cheaha Mountain, AL (2,407')

Then they went and did this...

Even more disturbing than the summit radio towers was what awaited us at the scenic overlook we stopped at to get a photo of Cheaha Mountain... a used feminine hygiene product and one sock carelessly dropped made for some morning nausea. Lorri is going to beat me for putting that in this report but if you are going to 'bama you should know what you are in for...

An even more disturbing view of Cheaha Mountain

We had one highpoint left on this trip but it really isn?t very high. Woodall Mountain is the 47th highest, or 4th lowest depending upon how you choose to look at it. We chose to look down... You can drive to the summit which features more radio towers.

On the way to the highest point of Mississippi

The benchmark on Woodall Mountain, MS

Now that we had reached the highpoints of most of the southeastern states we were off to Memphis to find "The King." On the way there we stopped in Corinth, Mississippi and visited the Corinth Civil War Interpretive Center. Corinth was a critical railroad junction during the Civil War that allowed the Confederate army to receive supplies on the Mississippi River and bring them inland. It fell to the Union army in 1862 despite the Confederate army's extensive fortifications. When we finally made our way to Memphis we headed down to Beale Street to enjoy some BBQ and Blues.

We found the King!

No? Really? I wasn't going to get off that easy. Much like the Confederate Army in Corinth I was besieged and eventually had no choice but to surrender. I was going to have to go to Graceland. Perhaps the most touristy thing I have ever experienced I felt like a cow in line at a slaughter house as we were paraded through room after room of Elvis memorabilia and gift shop after gift shop. It was really quite disturbing and I just wanted it to end... Probably the way you feel about this trip report if you suffered through it to this point.

Graceland can I get out of this?