Trip 5--July 21, 2003

Highest Point in North Carolina

Mt. Mitchell

6684 feet (2037 meters) above sea level

Traveling Companion: John May
Vehicle: John's 2002 Hyundai Elantra

This was the first trip that I took because I hadn't yet been to a state's highest point that month; however it was not until I got back that I realized my streak would increase from three months to five months by including lowest points. John and I took a day trip from Raleigh and Chapel Hill, respectively. First we stopped in Statesville, NC, to get socks at the Thorlo store.

Here's John with his new hat.

While it is possible to drive to within one-tenth of a mile (100 vertical feet) of the summit, there are at least two different trails of length greater that two miles leading to the apex, where there is an observation tower.

Mt. Mitchell is the highest point in the United States east of the Mississippi. It was determined to be so by Elisha Mitchell (1793-1857), a professor of mathematics and geology at UNC-Chapel Hill for forty years as well as being a preacher and the university's bursar.

Elisa Mitchell

Thomas L. Clingman

Unfortunately, Mitchell's former student Thomas L. Clingman, who served twelve years in the US House of Representatives (as a Whig) and then six years in the Senate (as a Democrat) before being expelled from the body for supporting the Confederacy and being commissioned a brigadier general in the Conferderate army, disputed Mitchell's claim, saying that Clingman's Dome, the highest point in Tennessee, was higher. In 1857, Mitchell tried to reverify his claim, but he died on the expedition falling off a waterfall. He is buried at the very zenith of Mt. Mitchell in what is labeled as the highest grave east of the Mississippi.

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