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Ascent of James City County High Point on 2006-07-29

Climber: Scott Surgent

Date:Saturday, July 29, 2006
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:James City County High Point
    Location:USA-Virginia
    Elevation:140 ft / 42 m

Ascent Trip Report

James City is a county, not a city, named for the settlement of Jamestown, where the English first landed here back in 16-something, only to be nearly wiped out by Indians and germs. Nevertheless, Jamestown marked the first permanent English settlement in the new world, and look where we are today.

There are six areas comprising the highpoint of James City County, all rising to 140 feet elevation and all (except for one) along a busy local thoroughfare called Old Stage Road (also known as Barhamsville Road or Virginia state highway 30). We exited Interstate-64 and drove north a short distance onto this road.

The plan was to visit them in order from south to north, with the southernmost area being on a golf course. Reports said to drive in and "park as best as possible" near the sixth tee, but there really wasn't anywhere to park without being partly in traffic, so we turned around back onto Old Stage Road and drove 3/4 of a mile to a gravel clearing along the road across from the J&M Country Store.

At this point, Beth had a bout of common sense and decided that walking to six scattered "highpoints" in this gruesome humidity wasn't her cup of tea, so she decided to stay in the car in the shade, put her feet up and relax with a book. I, of course, possess no such common sense, and off I went.

I visited each of the six areas, going from south to north. From the car I walked south the 3/4 mile to the golf course, where I walked up a small hill and onto the sixth tee, where there was no one. I explored the area and checked out the nearby brushy areas just to be sure. I would say that the sixth tee itself probably was highest for this immediate region. As I walked back to the car, I visited areas 2, 3 and 4 along the way.

Area number 2 is a small area on which sits an abandoned home, found on the east side of the road about 200 feet north of the golf course access road. The land was posted against trespassing, but standing at the chain gate put me inside the contour, and visually the place was not prominent at all, and rather uninviting. So I called it good at the gate.

Area number 3 was another few hundred feet up the road, on the west side, in front of some homes. Grading probably reduced the natural highspots, so I called it good near a large tree in the front yard. Area number 4 was beside where we parked, a small natural sections of woods that seems to have never been developed. The map has a spot elevation of 135 feet on the road here, with the 140-foot contour just to the east of the road. I walked up onto the grounds and looked around. Since this put me back at the car, I revisited with Beth to see how she was doing. Depressed being married to a highpointer, she was doing alright, all things considered.

Area number 5 was a short walk north of the car in front of homes near the junction with Holly Forks Road, so I decided to walk to that one as well, then back to the car. There is noticeable prominence here, but I doubt this area is a serious contender for the highpoint as it's very small, and has been graded for home construction. The road actually dips here, giving the effect of greater visual prominence to this tiny blip. Just to be sure, I tagged the high ground, and kept my visit short.

The remaining sixth area is off the highway a ways, but easily accessed by an old road through the trees that leads literally right to the highest point. We drove to a small gravel road on the west side of the road to a gate, which put us far enough (maybe 60 feet) off the highway so as to give us privacy. Beth stayed at the car while I walked to this remaining area.

I hopped the chain "gate" and walked the road about 1/4 mile, up and down some small rises, then took a right at a Y-junction. The road dipped, then gained, and at another Y-junction where the better road stayed left, I went right, hopped another chain-link "gate" and stayed on this lesser road a few hundred feet as it bent to the right and surmounted the highest area. I walked past this area a little to be sure, but it seemed to be the right place. Fortunately there was no forest-bashing necessary, and the undergrowth was very light.

I immediately turned around and jogged back to the car, gone for 20 minutes (and about a half-mile total hiking). I was absolutely soaked with sweat. I daresay I was more sweat than human at this point. I changed into a dry shirt, toweled myself off and let the car's air-conditioning work its magic on me. Two ticks attached themselves to my legs. I didn't feel them, of course, but once I saw one, I got a little freaked out and did a full scan to find any others.

From here, we drove a few more miles to our hotel in Williamsburg where we both took refreshing showers. After a dinner, we visited the easy highpoint areas of Williamsburg City as the sun set for the day.

My feeling is that areas 1, 4 and 6 are the best of the six contenders, with area 4 being a nose ahead of the other two for county honors. It's large (relatively speaking) and undisturbed natural woods. The same is true for area 6. Area 1 in the golf course has natural woods nearby and probably wasn't altered too much. The other three areas are easily visited, but probably not realistic contenders.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:40 ft / 12 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2 mi / 3.2 km
    Trailhead:100 ft / 30 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Open Country



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