Now let's try something really different.
The last two weekends I met my adventure partners at 1:30 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. and we did long, tiring, cold 14ers. On both of those trips I went with really strong partners (Homie, Wes, and Derek on Culebra and Homie and Danny on Antero) and really benefited from their help. But it was time to up the ante, from a single peak in a single state, to three peaks in three states!
These aren’t just random peaks either, but state highpoints. What’s more we wanted to do it in a calendar day from our houses and none of the peaks were even in Colorado! Impossible, right? Well, no, if, like I did with the winter 14ers, you pick the right partners. This adventure would involve nearly 1000 miles of driving, so I needed a car and a driver. Enter Mark Oveson.
Mark owns a 2002 BMW M5 - the same car that was used to set the record for driving across the entire United Sates (since broken) in 31 hours, averaging nearly 100 mph for the entire trip. Installed in Mark’s car is a Valentine V1 radar detector and a Laser Interceptor laser jammer. Supplementing this hardware, he ran the Escort iPhone app which tracks speed traps in real time. All this equipment is useless, though, without a motivated driver. Mark was motivated.
|Our most essential (and pretty much only) piece of equipment: the M5.|
The peaks we were after might seem less impressive than my previous weekends, but this was the only weekend where I regretted leaving my helmet behind. Speeding through the inky blackness of eastern Colorado at over 100 miles per hour had me thinking we should be dressed more like a NASCAR racer than a mountain climber. I wasn’t dressed as a mountain climber either, though. I was in my pajamas.
|Highpoints around Colorado. I've now done them all. The three eastern ones are the KNOHPIAD.|
In order to fit this into a calendar day, I calculated we needed to start at 2 a.m. Mark immediately chopped an hour off the total driving time and we met at 3 a.m. and were rolling by 3:06. We had a full tank of gas, a cooler full of drinks. It was dark. We pulled on our sunglasses and hit it.
|Mario Andretti's long lost brother.|
|Derek pacing himself for the night driving on the way back. Oops! He can't drive a stick. Dang. Bad parents, clearly.|
The road signs here all face south. Our 80 mph speed when headed the other way may have also been a contributing factor, but the trailhead was very clearly marked as we headed back to the north. We pulled into the small dirt lot and Mark swung into action. In 5 minutes he had used the bathroom, pulled on his tiny pack, and was off down the trail. Derek and I took another ten minutes or so to get ready. Mark took off early because of his limited mobility.
|Surprisingly nice hiking on Black Mesa.|
|Derek atop the true high point of Oklahoma. I wonder how many highpointers cheat and just touch the marker...|
Back at the car, we punched in the coordinates for the nearest gas station, which was in Boise City. Mark’s computer said we had 30 miles of range left. The gas station was 40 miles away. Mark slowed below the speed limit for the only time during the entire trip to milk as many miles out of the rapidly drying gas tank. The computer’s range readout went to 3 miles with 13 miles to go. We started calculating how long it would take me to run to town, get the gas, and wrangle a ride back to the car. The readout went blank with still nine miles to go. We were sensitive to any perceived change in the car’s velocity. With three miles to go, it would only be a minor inconvenience. By the time we pulled into the Toot ’n Tote’em for some high-octane petrol and some world-famous hotdogs, we knew that the M5 can go at least ten miles further than its computer thinks it can.
|Glorious Mount Sunflower. Ah, the vistas from atop this "mountain."|
|Mark's Escort app. Derek's in the back watching a movie and I'm writing this blog. I mean it's only 129 mph.|
After crafting a suitable Strava track, we bid farewell to this solitary monarch, jutting so majestically out of the Kansas ranch land. We folded ourselves back into the M5 and once again unleashed the Kraken. It was on this next stretch of road where Mark set his personal record of 151 mph. Up a hill. On a two-lane road. A bit after this a road sign indicated a curving 90-degree turn ahead. Mark was approaching at 90 mph. I wasn’t overly concerned, but did say, “Mark, turn coming up.” He said, “Oh, so you want me to speed up?” We exited the turn at 98 mph.
|Now we're talking. This got everyone's attention.|
|Nebraska's Panorama Point|
It was cold and windy here, to be expected at a nose-bleeding altitude of 5,424 feet. I know this because I sometimes gets nose bleeds at home too, which is almost exactly this height. We took some photos and looked around and then hopped back in the car. A half-mile away Mark remembered that we didn’t get a Strava track. Ack! Mark turned off traction control, punched the 400-hp V8, and we spun a neat 180 degrees. Back at the highpoint, while Derek stayed in the car (he forgot his watch), Mark and I walked around in circles until our phones registered a tenth of a mile. This is mountain climbing at its finest!
|Just in the nick of time. I mean, who would go highpointing at night? That's when we go cow tipping!|
This was my first real experience with high pointing. I guess I’m a high pointer now. Crossing that line is sort of like joining AARP for a climber. I’ve now done both, but, dammit, I’m still not retired. Probably this blog entry will get a lot of attention and I’ll soon be asked to speak all across the country. Though probably not at the high pointers club, since I’ve only done 14.
|Enjoying the panorama at Nebraska's Point. This captures the true essence of highpointing...|
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