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Rhode Island Highpoint - Jerimoth Hill - 812 ft
22 Mar 2006, 1:55 pm. Highpoint #38.
After making a half-joking comment about trying to go to the Rhode Island highpoint and back on the same day, I made a search for any flights that would make this possible. After looking for a bit, I found exactly one set of flights that would work. I had to leave from Houston, not Austin, but my parents live in Houston close to the airport, so this would work ok. By returning the same day, I'd cut out hotel and other expenses, and with the two-month advance purchase, keep the cost to something halfway reasonable. The timing would be pretty tight: My flight was scheduled to land in Providence just before 1 pm, leaving me just over two hours to pick up a car, drive to the trailhead, hike to the highpoint and back, and lounge on the summit, before the property access closed at 3 pm. Then, I'd have to get back to the airport for my flight home just after 6 pm.
Close, but doable. The Jerimoth Hill expedition was on. (I have to admit: Most of the people I mentioned this plan to thought it was pretty strange.) The 22nd started with the usual early 'alpine start', with a 3:40 am wakeup. The set of flights was first from Houston to Philadelphia, then Philadelphia to Providence, then returning from Providence to Charlotte, and finally from Charlotte to Houston. These US Airways flights were the only set of flights, on any airline, that fit the one-day constraint.
I made sure to book window seats the whole way, both to help me catch some sleep and to provide a better view. The landing into Philadelphia had some neat scenery, as the flight path went over the shipping docks area. I didn't use my camera on the landing, but I did take some pictures on the flight out, although the view wasn't as good then. I wonder if I ought to use my digital camera during takeoffs and landings. It won't emit the kind of radio signals that a phone or computer will, but it is an 'electronic device' and so it is supposed to be turned off. Hmm. I cheated again on the approach into Providence, taking some pictures of the Narragansett Bay area. After landing, I picked up a car, and started the drive to the trailhead. The weather was overcast, cool, with some very slight drizzle.
US Airways flight 1710, Houston to Philadelphia, preparing to depart.
Philadelphia dock area, on the flight out.
Views of the Ocean State on the landing approach into Providence.
As I headed west on US 6, then SR-101, towards the highpoint, the road became fairly hilly. Thirty miles from the rental car office, I parked at old 'official' highpoint sign on SR-101 in Foster, across the street from the new trailhead. It was just 1:48 pm, nearly 45 minutes ahead of the schedule I had planned, so I had plenty of time. The trailhead is to the left of the red house, and is well marked with a map, as well as a hunting notice. The area is an active hunting area from September through November, plus it is open season on coyote all year round. (They must not like the San Antonio Spurs much around there.)
The signed trailhead is to the left of the Mosley's house, at the left edge of this picture.
Map on the trailhead sign. South is up on this map.
The trail, first on a narrow path, winds through the woods for a bit, passing some USGS markers, then joins a wider path before crossing onto Brown University property. Soon afterwards, I had my first glimpse of the elusive Jerimoth Hill summit boulder.
The elusive highpoint of Rhode Island.
To be honest, this was a little anti-climactic. The short trail is very level, and the summit boulder doesn't stick up very far (around two feet), so there isn't much sense of having 'climbed' anything. Even Britton Hill has more elevation gain. The terrain in this part of the state is hilly, but you don't get a sense of this on the main trail. What I probably should have done, was to drive another mile or so, further west along SR-101, to the Connecticut-Rhode Island border, parked there, and started the hike from that point. This would have provided about a 160 foot climb, up along SR-101, before reaching the real trail. This road isn't that busy, so this walk probably would have been fine. I had considered this in my plans, but since my timing was so tight, I decided to forget about it. As it turned out, I had plenty of time for the extra distance, but I still skipped it. If I had a 'do-over', I'd add this extra short hike.
At the summit, there is now a mailbox with a register, as well as the Brown University astronomy observatory, which consists of a wood storage shed and some telescope mounts. I took a few minutes to look through the register, which opened with the names of many of the people who worked on the new trail, including guidebook authors Charlie and Diane Winger. After some pictures, I headed back to the car, then back to the airport and back to Houston. After changing planes in Charlotte, I landed in Houston around 11:15 pm, and was back at my parents place just after midnight.
Sunset, over the airplane wing, on the flight out of Providence.
Total distance traveled was 3166 miles by air, 87 miles by car, and about 2 miles by foot, mostly in the airports, taking about 20 hours. (Not counting the drive from Austin to Houston and back.)
Note on Jerimoth Hill access
Jerimoth Hill has had some contentious access issues in the past. The actual summit is on Brown University property, which has an observatory there. However, access to this requires crossing other private property. Previous owners have been reluctant to offer access to highpointers, who had to content themselves with reaching a sign on the road instead of the true highpoint. The approach was at times off limits completely, but eventually access was allowed on six specific days per year. There were even incidents of trespassing highpointers being threatened at gunpoint! The new owners, as of 17 June 2005, Jeff and Debbie Mosley are, happily, much more welcoming. Visitors are now welcome on any weekend, from 8am to 3pm. There are even improvements to the access trail, there is now a new path, a register mailbox, and new signs noting the 3 benchmarks. Below, I have copied the text of a letter from the Mosley's to the Highpointers Club that explains the new access rules.
To all of you, Highpointers or
just visitors to this area! My wife (Debbie) and I wish to welcome anyone who
wishes to visit Jerimoth Hill, Foster, Rhode Island. We are not going to stop
anyone from visiting as long as our privacy is respected. The site is open
Saturday and Sunday, from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
We would ask the following conditions be followed:
(1) Please clean up after yourselves and your animals and take all trash with you!
(2) All animals must be leashed!
(3) No picnicking or alcohol is permitted!
I have cleared the path at the edge of my property and my next door neighbors. The path will be cleaned up more as time permits and made more accessible for all who wish to travel it!
Debbie and I wish all of you a pleasant and memorable walk to Rhode Islands high point! We enjoyed your visit on the 3rd of July and hope there will be many more to come!
If anyone wants to know, John and Joann, our next door neighbors, are the ones who deserve all the credit for changing Debbie and my minds about the visitation by all of you! We were lead to believe many things that we both now see, are just not true!
Sincerely Jeff & Debbie Mosley
212A Hartford Pike Foster, R.I. 02825
14 June 2005 attempt.
Back to 2005 Northeast Highpoint Expedition
When I swung by Jerimoth Hill while collecting the New England highpoints, the Mosley's hadn't bought the property yet, and access was limited to just a few days per year. I couldn't time my arrival for that, so I had to settle for the sign on the highway, which was sometimes counted as the "official" highpoint, but it wasn't the true highpoint, so I didn't reach my goal. I did go to the highest point I was allowed, on the road a little behind the sign (which is attached to a metal tower), but was still not the summit.
The once 'official' sign on the north side of SR-101.
This sign may be moved across the street, to the new trailhead.
Highpoint Adventures, Charlie and Diane
Winger, Colorado Mountain Club Press, 2002.
Highpoints of the United States, Don W. Holmes, University of Utah Press, 2000.
Apex to Zenith, Fall 2005, No 70, p 41 - Map of new access trail.