Don Holmes has provided us with an excellent guide to the highest points in each of the fifty states. He gives route directions, trail descriptions, alternate routes, and a set of references for each state. Some of the references are to web sites. For instance, there are two good web sites devoted to the highpoints: highpointers.org, and americasroof.com (neither uses the www prefix). Holmes' book can be used to even greater advantage when combined with the information available on the web. I am happy to report that the people who control the access to Jerimoth Hill in Rhode Island (the Wide-place-in-the-road State) have been convinced by the Highpointers Club to put up their shotguns on four days of the year to allow access to the highpoint. I suppose that we should be grateful - grateful that so many of the natural landmarks in the United States are held open for the public by government ownership. The book's subject has presented me with some unanswered questions. Why do many states celebrate their highpoints with monuments while some others ignore them? It cannot be a regional issue. Pennsylvania has surrounded theirs with a park while nearby Maryland leaves it to a small but dedicated group of individuals from West Virginia to mark a trail and maintain the highpoint. Why are so many of the highpoints near the boundaries of their states? I suppose that in the midwest where the land is flat and the slope is uphill toward the continental divide, the highpoints can be expected to cluster on the western edges of their states. However, many of the eastern points lie on state boundaries. Perhaps the mountain ridges helped to define those boundaries. Finally, what attracts people to highpoints? Why is the summit of Mt. Elbert so crowded while nearby Mt. Massive is relatively ignored. I did find local residents on Mt. Katahdin and also Wheeler Peak who make annual trips to the summit of their highest peak. Certainly, the pursuit of highpoints does provide an excuse for traveling to new places. I would never have gone to Kenton if it were not for Black Mesa. It was worth the trip. I suppose that you cannot visit all fifty of the highpoints without also visiting all fifty states.
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