North Carolina

20 September 2015

The Mississippi River provides a clear divide of our nation. Twenty-six states lie to the east and twenty-four to the west. The iconic river draws lines not only of territory, but of culture and personality. In terms of geography, the highest point east of the Mississippi is the top of North Carolina.

 

I reached the summit of Mount Mitchell in the late evening, moments after the sun dipped behind the mountains. After capping Mount Rogers in the early afternoon and spending the remaining daylight driving through Virginia and North Carolina, I hastened to the peak. A long, curving road led to a parking lot beside the summit. Like many highpoints on this trip, a short path finished the route to the peak. The view was obscured by fog and diminishing light, for it was a view undeserved. The experience felt cheap, as I raced to the mountain before darkness fell. Withheld scenery was earned. I may have met the ends—holding my flag at the highpoint—but my rushed means left little for the memories. If nothing else, I will remember this lesson: a hasty highpoint yields a personal low point.

 

Mount Mitchell. 6684 ft / 2037 m. 25 May 2014.

 

North Carolina