Backbone Mtn., MD directions

Backbone Mtn., MD directions

Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

June 18th, 2007, 2:16 am #1

I visited MD and PA a couple of days ago in very thick fog and mist. I was passing through from NY to Chicago (via a route only a highpointer would take), and i didn't have time for the big hike up WV's prominence that i want/need/will do another time. But anyway, finding the MD highpoint "trailhead" was NOT an easy no-brainer. In 37 highpoints for me, this is the first one i had a hard time locating via web directions and an ordinary highway map. Maybe it was just the fog and the predawn darkness, but this might help someone else in those conditions:

When approaching Backbone Mtn. from the north, you will go through the town of Silver Lake. You get to an intersection of sorts, with Backbone Ridge road on the left and the World's Smallest Church on the right. From that point, drive .65 (maybe closer to .6) miles further. There is an unmarked dirt pullout on the left. That's the road/trail. On the back of a h ighway sign "MD" is spray painted on, but in the dark it doesn't show up, and there is no other indication. Likewise, the "HP" spray painted on some of the trees on the way up don't show up in the dark either. Just keep following the most-cleared road uphill until you get to a fork. There are 2 large cairns on the left. Take that fork. Again, i didn't see any signs. After that, you'll get to another fork with signs and then a few steps later the highpoint.

This might be in all the guidebooks, but for the rest of us, i hope this helps.

No trip report other than that. They were deserted, eerie, and with no views. I did about a 4-mile loop on Mt. Davis, PA, that was ok but very wet. I took Shelter Rock Rd to Shelter Rock Tr. to Mt. Davis Tr. to the highpoint and up the fire tower. On the way down i took the Highpoint Trail. 13 to go...

h.h.!
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

June 18th, 2007, 12:35 pm #2

Wish you had asked, Mark. The trailhead is at 39° 14.728' N, 79° 29.483' W.

The MD highpoint is at 39° 14.250' N, 79° 29.131' W.

The trailhead is definitely an ill-marked turnoff, so having the coords set in your GPS can make it a lot easier to find.

(I also found two typos on my WWW site when I double-checked these waypoints...definitely need to correct that.)
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

June 18th, 2007, 11:05 pm #3

GPS? Guidebook? That's like hunting pheasant with a semi-automatic weapon! Bottled oxygen for Britton Hill anyone?

Just teasing...thanks for the offer. I might take you up on it for Boundary Peak someday.
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 8:13 pm

June 19th, 2007, 12:55 pm #4

Y'welcome, of course, Mark!

(Planting tongue firmly in cheek...)

These long and arduous ascents were similarly documented by Mark Twain, who apparently had your same disdain for good beta about his routes. Take a look for instance, at Twain's account of his ascent of the Riffelberg.

(Removing tongue from cheek...)

I don't have any highpoints on my list this summer (two weeks at Philmont instead) but depending on my plans surrounding the Konvention in Flagstaff next year, Boundary Peak may well be on the itinerary. Hopefully, we won't need quite as many supporting staff as Twain did for the Riffelberg...
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Joined: January 20th, 2004, 9:07 pm

June 20th, 2007, 5:11 am #5

Sounds like Mr. Twain could have used a makeover from Jardin. I do like the idea of having porters bring along spring mattresses though. I'll work on that for Gannett.
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Joined: January 21st, 2004, 3:15 pm

June 21st, 2007, 3:16 pm #6

Wish you had asked, Mark. The trailhead is at 39° 14.728' N, 79° 29.483' W.

The MD highpoint is at 39° 14.250' N, 79° 29.131' W.

The trailhead is definitely an ill-marked turnoff, so having the coords set in your GPS can make it a lot easier to find.

(I also found two typos on my WWW site when I double-checked these waypoints...definitely need to correct that.)
The highway near Backbone is almost entirely overgrown with trees, and in the foggy conditions that Mark encountered, I'm not sure that a GPS would be reliable.
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Joined: November 25th, 2000, 10:31 pm

June 28th, 2007, 2:10 am #7

Sounds like Mr. Twain could have used a makeover from Jardin. I do like the idea of having porters bring along spring mattresses though. I'll work on that for Gannett.
That Mark Twain account of a 7-day ascent of the Riffelberg--only to find a hotel on top--was the darndest piece of verbal "quickstep" I ever suffered through. Oh well some of it was funny. (never mind trying to hitch a ride on a glacier)

I encountered another confusing trail--up Taum Sauk Mt. in Mo. One source or another--this was last year--led me to the Claybaugh Creek Trail. I found the trailhead, past the turnoff to drive up Taum Sauk, but the sign said nothing about Taum Sauk. There was something about a "shutin" which I assumed meant a hospice or an asylum ie where patients would be shut in. Apparently it means a box or hanging canyon, or something like that; I'd never seen the term before. These was also a notice about that pumped-storage pond that failed being closed; but this was much farther on.

I took the trail anyway. To make a long story short, it eventually passed another trail, to Mt. Rogers I think. I didn't have a map and hadn't heard of this so carried on, back down to the creek then up a steep climb. It went on & on on top & I didn't know just where I was (had no GPS) so I finally gave up and turned back. I tried that side trail coming back, and wound up on the Taum Sauk Road, followed that all the way to T.S. and a fire tower which I climbed (of course, the trap door was locked, like the one on Timms Hill; but I climbed most of it). It went on and deadended at an FAA radio facility. A side road apparently went to the TS summit but it was getting late so I turned back, finding my spare tire had "walked off" when I got back to my jeep before dark.

Next day I drove to the summit, took the short level walk to the HP then a trail that led down and joined the one from the day before. I followed this til I recognized the rock where I'd had lunch and turned back, thus closing the loop to make another HP gained on foot which I prefer (including Panorama Point despite the bumpf about bison). I did better on Magazine which I reached from a picnic site 3 mi. or so away, and on Driskill, Black Mesa and 2 Buttes (skidded on gravel and ran off the road on the way to Sunflower, but stayed up and recovered). However a sign at the start, and the trail junction beyond, about Taum Sauk would have helped (also if I'd had a decent map). Roger Williams, Boulder, Colorado.
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