Ascent of Brunswick County High Point on 2015-11-11

Climber: Tom Layton

Others in Party:Fred Lobdell
Charles Zerphey
Vince Kloster
Date:Wednesday, November 11, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Brunswick County High Point
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:75 ft / 22 m

Ascent Trip Report

UPDATE 2018-04-10: Brunswick County GIS now has online maps with 4-foot contours. These show a number of 72-foot contours in Brunswick County. However, the COHP area pinpointed by previous LiDAR research is not one of them. It is only a 68-foot contour. I would encourage further research of this. In the meantime, if you are seeking the Brunswick COHP, don't waste your time and flesh wading through the swamp between Maco Road and Albright Road.

Looking at the Brunswick maps, I was suprised to discover an 84-foot contour in a new gated community that may be called Sea Side or St. Andrews Plantation. Enter 3715 Pepperbush Drive, Southport NC. On the USGS quads this is shown as a 55-foot contour between two Carolina bays. I suspect the hill has been built up artificially, but could it be a natural dune that somehow was overlooked by the quad-makers? It can't be an old landfill, since expensive homes are being built on top. If by chance this hill is God-made, bagging Brunswick would be as simple as getting a guest pass. It looks like it might also be accessed on foot from NC-906 to the west.

If you want to discuss this, email TommyL810(at)hotmail(dot)com.

ORIGINAL REPORT 2015-11-11: After spending three hours hacking back and forth through this swamp, I have to wonder if LiDAR saw a mirage when it placed the COHP inside what the USGS quad shows as a 65-foot contour. We found some slight hillocks but nothing as significant as LiDAR did.

We had a chapter meeting of the COHP century club in the swamp. Brunswick was the 949th COHP for Fred Lobdell, the 783rd for Charlie Zerphey, the 378th for Vince Kloster, and my 181st. That's a total of 2,291 COHPs. By the time we were all finished with this trip, Fred had 89 of 100 in NC, Charlie 83, me 73, and Vince 62.

If you are determined to follow in our footsteps, start at the mailbox at 927 Maco Road SE and look for the trail that the four of us hacked (though it will probably be overgrown by next spring). Don't go in without knee boots, gloves, loppers, safety goggles, and a partner. (Don't take a machete--you'll be falling a lot and there's no room to swing it.) Don't go without understanding the subtleties of GPS--a difference in datum or a disagreement about direction will defeat you. And for peace of mind, don't leave Brunswick without scaling some of the 75-foot contours nearby.

If you think it's foolish (or even antithetical) to look for a high point in a swamp, you're probably right. I don't have much confidence in this one (nor in neighboring Horry County SC, which is also in a swamp). But until someone can prove me wrong, I'm claiming it.

The swamp was so thick that my GPS had trouble keeping track of my position, and the breadcrumb trails are not reliable.
I did stop to take a couple of waypoints (these all should be NAD83 datum):

N34.2135 W78.0939 Where we parked at 927 Maco Road.
N34.2142 W78.0913 First waypoint in the swamp.
N34.2146 W78.0930 Second waypoint in the swamp. This is the point marked by an 81-foot spot elevation on the Arc-GIS World map. It's wrong--there's no hill here.

N34.2142 W78.0928 Highpoint marked by marked by Tom Dunigan's LiDAR research
N34.2144 W78.0937 The waypoint set by Shannon Dillmore and Brian Bockhahn on their 2008 "ascent".

If you plot those points, it looks like we were wide right. However, we zig-zagged to a lot of points that I don't have. I have only two waypoints for three hours of bushwhacking. Also, my two swamp points are within the triangular 75-foot contour that shows up on some levels on the NC OneMap site, which I think is based on an Arc-GIS World map (available on ListsofJohn).

So we were inside the summit contour, and in this case I don't mind invoking the Rule of Schweiker.
The corners of this contour are:
N34.2147 W78.0929 northern corner
N34.2140 W78.0935 SW corner
N34.2140 W78.0929 SE corner
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
The three roadside points and the two eastern points are mine. The more northwestern waypoint was marked in 2008 by Shannon Dillmore and Brian Bockhahn. We did a lot of zig-zagging in three hours in that swamp, and I'm confident we hit the highpoint even though I don't have a waypoint to prove it. (2015-11-11). Photo by Tom Layton.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1 ft / 0 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Trailhead:74 ft / 22 m

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