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Ascent of Beacon Hill on 2018-11-15

Climber: Chris Gilsdorf

Date:Thursday, November 15, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Beacon Hill
    Location:USA-Rhode Island
    Elevation:211 ft / 64 m

Ascent Trip Report

This obscure, out-of-the-way summit is not only the highpoint of the town of New Shoreham, the highpoint of Block Island, and the most prominent summit in Washington County, RI--it is the most isolated peak in the state, and thus earns a spot on the EPIC list. Hence, while it was just one of several peaks on our agenda for the day, it was the one I badly, badly wanted to climb...

My dad and I headed down on a weekday in the off-season--which, I understand, is the safest time to tackle this one--and got to the ferry terminal in Galilee, in the town of Narragansett. Free parking was actually quite limited, and appeared to be confined to some 4-hr roadside parking (the lady at the ferry ticketing office reassured us that, in the off-season, cops would likely not be strict about this). We parked, bought our tickets, and boarded the ferry for our 55-minute journey. The ferry offers a heated indoor compartment with a small snack bar. Please note that the schedule varies daily, so plan your arrival and trip accordingly!

Prior to departing, I attempted to contact Vin, the taxi driver mentioned in Covill's TR, but was informed by his co-driver that everyone with his, or any other taxi service on the island was otherwise occupied, or on the mainland. Drat. Guess we were walking...we docked in New Shoreham at noon, and wasted no time in setting out across the island to our objective. Traffic gradually lessened as we made our way to the dirt Beacon Hill Rd. The 2-mile-each-way walk, while not difficult, wasn't the most scenic, and sidewalks were near-nonexistent.

We reached the private drive that led to the highpoint, and seeing nobody about, quickly made our way up, staying left at the first split. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the car parked at the lowest of the three homes along the drive, but just kept walking, and in another minute found myself atop the island, at the cool lighthouse-like home on the very summit. High ground appears to be at the front porch. The views, while not a full 360 degrees, were still expansive. From what I could tell, the summit homes appeared to be some kind of guest homes, with a larger estate sitting on a nearby hilltop. Retracing our steps, the first house with the car had its windows boarded up. We walked back out to the road without incident.

I had been planning to take my dad out to lunch somewhere in New Shoreham, but a quick perusal of the nearest restaurants seemed to show everything closed for the season. We wandered down to the beach, to make this a true base-to-summit ascent, then admitted defeat and got back on the ferry to take advantage of the warmth and snack bar on board. Anticlimactic, but hey, we got the summit...all that remains for me on the EPIC list is Denali, Sierra Blanca in NM, Sacajawea in OR, the unexciting Morton Hill in NE, and the too-exciting Mt. Haley in Oklahoma...
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