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Ascent of Russell Point-South Slope on 2016-05-01

Climber: Fred Lobdell

Others in Party:None
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, May 1, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Russell Point-South Slope
    Location:USA-Alabama
    Elevation:1680 ft / 512 m

Ascent Trip Report

Those planning on doing this National Monument high point should read John Mitchler's trip report on the COHP Web site. John has done his usual detailed and accurate report. The report should be studied together with the topographic map for the area, as it may not be entirely clear on first reading.

I followed (mostly) John's report for the ascent, but made a couple of errors on the descent. As John did, I started on the boardwalk and paved hiking trail behind the Visitor's Center. Stay on the Hiking Trail rather than the Nature Trail. Following John's recommendation, I left the Hiking Trail at its highest point (about 1030 feet elevation) and bushwhacked a short distance uphill, coming out on an old gravel road at an estimated elevation of 1080. Here I tied a piece of red surveyor's ribbon to tell me where I should bushwhack back to the trail on my return. (The dashed lines on the topographic map represent the old gravel roads. The trails are not shown on the topo.)

I turned left (south) here and followed the road to the gate that marked the southern boundary of the National Monument. From there I bushwhacked steeply uphill to the next road, where I turned right (north). I followed this road for a half mile until it turned sharply northwest. From there I bushwhacked generally north-northeast uphill through some unpleasant thorny and fairly thick vegetation. When my GPS unit told me that I was on the NM boundary I looked further uphill and saw the official boundary markers perhaps 50 feet north of me. The boundary itself at that point looked fairly level for a stretch, as accurately depicted on the topo. From there I bushwhacked a short distance to the fairly well defined summit area of Russell Point, one contour higher than the boundary HP. As with similar areas, I thought the high point was at the base of a sizable tree.

On the return voyage, I tried to find where the two roads intersected, but ran into a maze of roads. So I returned to the gate and bushwhacked downhill to the first road I had used on the ascent. I kept watching for my red ribbon but somehow missed it, and finally realized I had gone too far. So I bushwhacked downhill to another road and turned right (southeast). This road intersected the trail, so it was with renewed confidence that I returned to the Visitor's Center.

I had been concerned about the time. The sign at the entrance said the gates closed at 4:30 CST. Of course, that means 5:30 CDT. But when I asked a ranger about the closing time, she said that they operated on Eastern time and that they closed at 5:30. In the event, it turned out that they closed at 4:30 Central time, in disregard of what was on the entrance sign. I got back at about 4:15, and I don't know what would have happened had I been delayed past the closing time.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1000 ft / 304 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1000 ft / 304 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Grade/Class:Class 1+
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Bushwhack
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
Warm and humid
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1000 ft / 304 m
    Distance:1.5 mi / 2.4 km
    Route:Paved trail, gravel road, bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Visitor's Center  680 ft / 207 m
    Time:1 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1000 ft / 304 m
    Distance:1.8 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:Same
    End Trailhead:Visitor's Center  680 ft / 207 m
    Time:1 Hours 15 Minutes



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