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by Ted Cookson
Published in April 2007
Summiting this mountain had been one of my
top goals for the
last two years. Yet my fiance Barbara and I had severe doubts. Totally
inexperienced at mountain climbing, we wondered if we could physically summon up
strength and the
stamina to climb such a world-class peak.
Several weeks of planning were necessary to help ensure the ultimate success of our mountaineering expedition 2-3 March 2007. Seats had to be reserved on a critical morning flight on 2 March, the day prior to our attempt on the summit. We also had to secure transportation from the airport to our base camp which, luckily, we were able to reach with no mishap early on the evening of 2 March. All that maneuvering put us in place for our attempt on the summit early on 3 March. Yet we slept fitfully at base camp on the night of 2 March. Although weather conditions appeared to be favorable, we both knew that anything could go wrong, especially at such an altitude.
After so much anticipation, we felt very relieved when we actually set foot on the summit late on the morning of 3 March. After all, we had traveled a full 250 km (155 miles) from base camp that day.
We had taken a morning flight from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Jacksonville, Florida. Our vehicle was an Avis rental car. Our base camp was a Holiday Inn in Florida's capital city of Tallahassee; and the summit was that of Britton Hill, the highest point in Florida!
Britton Hill is situated in Lakewood Park, west of Paxton in Florida's Walton County. Part of the string of rolling hills which runs along the northern edge of Florida's panhandle, this hill is only about 2 km (1 mile) from the Alabama border. In fact, Florida's Britton Hill, with an elevation of only 105 meters (345 feet) above sea level, claims the dubious distinction of being the lowest state high point in any of the fifty U. S. states!
Varying in width from 48 km to 81 km (from 30 miles to 50 miles), the Florida Uplands extend some 444 km (275 miles) from west to east and then stretch south into the central Florida peninsula. This hilly region is characterized by its red clay soil and by both hardwood and softwood forests.
Lakewood Park, apparently named for the former postmistress of the nearby village, is adjacent to a county road. It is only a short distance off US Highway 331, a major route between Montgomery, Alabama and Panama City, Florida, a beach resort on the Gulf of Mexico. Signs near Paxton, Florida, located just south of the Alabama border, announce the existence of Lakewood Park. This Walton County park boasts not only picnic tables and restrooms but also a granite summit marker.
Historians say that in 1818 Andrew Jackson, before he became president, camped for several weeks on a nearby lake (now called Lake Jackson) while on a campaign to fight Indians in the region of Pensacola. Local lore also has it that the floors of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City were made from the wood of long-leaf yellow pine trees felled in the area.
Florida's 170,383 square km (65,785 square miles) make it the twenty-second largest U. S. state. However, since the mean elevation of the entire state is only about 30 meters (100 feet), Florida doesn't offer much in the way of mountain vistas. Nevertheless, the view from the summit of Britton Hill is pleasant. From there Barbara and I could look down (ever so slightly) on the nearby fields.
ABOUT TED COOKSON: Egypt's most widely-traveled travel agent, Ted has been to every country in the world! He has also visited 307 of the 315 destinations on the list of the Travelers' Century Club (visit www.eptours.com and refer to World Travel Club). A travel agent in Cairo since 1986, Ted manages EGYPT PANORAMA TOURS, a full-service travel agency, at 4 Road 79 (between Roads 9 and 10, near the "El Maadi" metro station) in Maadi. Contact Egypt Panorama Tours (open 7 days a week 9 AM-5 PM) at: Tels. 2359-0200, 2358-5880, 2359-1301. Fax 2359-1199. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Web site: www.eptours.com.
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