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This was one of my most interesting highpoints yet. Charles Mound, the highest point in Illinois is located in the far North Western corner of the state. Rising only 1,235 feet above sea level, with a road all the way to the summit, this typically isn't much of a challenge. However, my visit was anything but boring due to the fact Charles Mound is located on private property. The web indicated that the highpoint was only open to the public the first weekend of the month in June - Aug, but I felt I could sweet talk the owners considering the distance I had traveled from Lexington, KY.

Having attended a wedding outside of Chicago the night before, I was a little sleep deprived when I set off on my drive to Charles Mound well before sunrise. The long drive was enjoyable enough as I rocked out to some new tunes and used my laptop to navigate thanks to my GPS USB dongle and Streets and Trips program. After arriving at a locked gate, I tried the next drive over. This dirt road took me only about a mile before coming upon a small county house. While turning around I noticed the owners were up and coming outside. The gentleman was very friendly and sympathetic to my position. When I asked if he could call his neighbors to see if they would let me visit the summit, he told me just the weekend before someone from even farther away had been denied access. I thanked him anyway and said goodbye. When I reached the end of his drive, I took a moment to study the map and see if there was another way. I had come too far to give up now.

I followed a road that looped around to the east side of the summit and was happy to see a access road into the fields. I followed this as far as I could and parked by a small pond. From here I would have to continue on foot. I set out with my laptop in hand so I could use the GPS to find my way to the summit. The hike proved easy enough at first as I walked along the edge of the cornfields. Soon i would be forced to cross directly into the field since it was no longer taking me in the right direction. This was a bit spooky since the corn was over 8' tall and towered well above my head. Without any sort of visual cures, I would set off following a row of corn counting out three or four hundred paces, then check the GPS to ascertain my position. This was not especially accurate, however I soon found my way across the field and very near the summit.

I followed a trail through the woods and up to the summit. I took a few pictures but didn't linger very long in fear of running into the owners. The whole adventure had more of a feeling of a covert-op than a typical highpoint visit. I wish the owners weren't so selfish, but still felt bad for being there without their express permission. Maybe one day they will have a change of heart and allow public access to Charles Mound. In the end, I escaped without any incident and was headed back to Chicago to meet my friends for some Pizza downtown.


Map of US HighPoints
KEY: States: Green - summited, Yellow - attempted, White - Not visited
Dots: Green - State Lowpoint, Red - State Highpoint


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©2008 Kyle E. Hoelscher. All rights reserved.

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