Ascent of Tyrrell County High Point on 2016-02-29

Climber: Tom Layton

Date:Monday, February 29, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Tyrrell County High Point
    Location:USA-North Carolina
    Elevation:17 ft / 5 m

Ascent Trip Report

Tyrrell is the lowest COHP in NC. The highest spot elevation is just 17 feet above sea level.

The county GIS map has 2-foot contours derived from LiDAR, but these are not much help. First of all, the GIS map discredits the 17-foot spot. Even worse for COHPers, LiDAR found dozens of 16-foot contours in the vast swamps of the Pocosin Lakes Wildlife Refuge. LiDAR even imagines there is a 16-foot contour offshore in Lake Phelps, which is 11 feet above sea level.

Against all odds, Charlie Zerphey and I made a good-faith effort.

We approached Tyrrell from the Swan Quarter ferry after bagging the Hyde COHPs on Ocracoke Island. (In hindsight, it would have probably been quicker to take the Hatteras Ferry). From Swan Quarter, take US264 west, then turn right on NC45, then right on Smith Wick Road, which twists several times before hitting the impossibly straight DeHoog Rd. Follow this gravel road (watch out for potholes) for about 8 miles until it dead-ends at Shore Drive. Turn right and go to the entrance of Pettigrew State Park's Pocosin Overlook. Turn right here onto unsigned Evans Road. Go about a mile and turn left (east) onto unsigned Harvester Road. This is an odd intersection that makes a U-turn to cross a canal and then turns right onto Harvester. Cross 2 more canals (the second is called County Line Canal) and then park.

In the quadrant to your north is COHP Area 1, a 300-acre pine thicket where the USGS quad shows a large 15-foot contour and LiDAR says there are more than a dozen 16-foot contours. I don't trust LiDAR to be that precise. Also, the terrain has been changed by logging and wildfires that burned off several feet of peat. Charlie and I decided to make our way into the largest contour, find high ground, and call it good. The bushwhacking wasn't as bad as I feared, but it was pointless to explore.

LiDAR also saw some 16-foot contours south of Harvester Road at the next intersection eastbound, but these were probably manmade, and the largest one is actually in Hyde County.

The two other points should be easy. We backtracked westward around Lake Phelps and turned right (east) on Newland Road, headed for Newlands Road (not the same). GPS eventually got us there. Spot elevation 17 should be in the field west of the West family cemetery. The problem here is that LiDAR shows only a 14-foot contour here, which means this is lower than the swamp.

COHP Area 3 is a genuine wooded hill at the Eastern 4H Center, 100 South Clover Way, Columbia, NC. It has a spot elevation 16 on the USGS quad but, like the cemetery, is only a 14-foot contour on LiDAR.

We ruled out COHP Area 2, which has a spot elevation of 15 but is only a 12-foot contour on LiDAR.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:10 ft / 3 m
    Round-Trip Distance:1 mi / 1.6 km
    Trailhead:7 ft / 2 m
    Quality:3 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)

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