Ascent of Palm Beach County High Point on 2016-12-22

Climber: Dave Covill

Date:Thursday, December 22, 2016
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Palm Beach County High Point
    Elevation:53 ft / 16 m

Ascent Trip Report

I visited here about a decade ago, and something didn't quite feel right. Beckie & I went to the southern area, and after reading the TR's were a bit apprehensive about the Lantana Road spot and its owners. We pulled up, knocked, met a guy, and he was happy to have us visit the side yard. It was noticeably, like a couple feet, higher than the surrounding area. We then went to the northern area by Bluff and Ridge Roads. We went out the road, and felt that the high ground must surely be behind someone's house. We then drove to the next road north (Knoll Way) and wandered past the playground to the high sandy area with the 2 concrete items. From there, I used my level to look southeast towards the Ridge Road area, and could tell it was higher than where I was standing. Hmmmmm...... I shared my thoughts with Spooky Mike Schwartz, who was first to visit this place along with Fred Lobdell around 2000. Mike got me a digital copy of the old topo map, which had no contours but did have a 53' s.e. here. I superimposed it onto the aerial photo, and then onto the newer contour topo, and found that the high ground was indeed behind #323 Ridge Road. I let Mike know, and he went and visited that winter. Several others have come since, and have walked the narrow strip of grassy sand behind the houses.

I returned on my way to the Fort Lauderdale airport on Thursday Dec 22nd 2016. I read that one visitor parked down low by the junction with Seashore, but this did not look good; too open. I drove up to the end of Ridge, and parked in the very large circle cul-de-sac under a nice shade tree. I made a beeline for the west edge fenceline, and walked past the last house, and sure enough, there was a lovely path about 4-8' wide, flat and level with the rear of the houses. It appeared to extend indefinitely to the southeast behind all the houses. It was occasionally invaded by a dropping branch, but seemed to be a maintained right-of-way of some sort. BTW - each house has a 4-5' high semi-solid fence behind it for a backyard privacy, although a person walking here over 5' tall could definitely be seen unless they were crouching in a suspicious manner. I followed it, counting houses with my aerial photo, until I was right behind #323. The ridge angles here more southward to the right. In stark contrast to the ridge behind the first 8-9 houses, which dipped off sharply down into the jungle of the greenbelt below, the land bowed out here about 12-18'. There is a large dead tree, amidst smaller but still good-sized pine trees. The ground here seemed to be at least 2 and maybe 3' higher than in either direction. This must be where the old 53' contour was. The ground seemed naturally intact. BTW, I saw two very large box turtles, and a couple of large snakes, on the path. I chose not to return the way I came, for two reasons. I had sensed that some homeowners were home and may have noticed me walking past, and I didn't want to repeat the trip and have them sight me a second time. I also was very interested in where the path came out on the SE end. I continued, counting houses, and got to the last one.

The path come out onto a grassy area, and I walked hard right to the street in about 50'. I proceed uphill up Ridge Road, and saw a guy my age tossing a ball to his dog, in front of the second house on the right (N) side. We chatted, and I said I was interested in purchasing a home in the area on the road to the north, and that I was from CO, and interested in the hiking path possibilities in the area. He laughed and told me that there was no path at all through the jungle of the green belt, but that there was a neighborhood right-of-way at the rear of all the houses. He invited me into his house (#303), and we walked through to his backyard, and looked over the fence at the tiny lane. He said it was for owners who needed mechanical access to the rear, i.e. if they wanted to install a pool, or have plumbing repairs etc. I nodded and looked over to his immediate neighbor, who did have a small pool. I thanked him, and walked up the street to my car. Just as I was getting in a woman about my age walked out of the next to last house (#339) into the street to go for a walk. I stopped her and had a similar discussion. She mentioned she was about to list her place and move closer to the beach, and said she was hoping to get $675 for it, and that it was recently renovated. She said other places that were original from the ~1980 timeframe might be worth closer to $475 or so. She agreed that the area behind the houses was a neighborhood right-of-way for access to the rears, and said that workers occasionally mowed the strip. She said she rarely saw people out her back window. I thanked her and drove off. I would urge future visitors to this north area to go to the cul-de-sac, park, and walk down past house # 341 from that far W end like I did, get to the dead tree, and either continue as I did, or quickly return.

I drove down US 1 and then over to the Lantana Road spot for a brief visit, as I had an extra half hour in my schedule. I drove up, and pulled into the vacant lot as one TR writer did. This is NOT the high ground. The high ground, as can easily be inferred from the topo map via transposing with the aerial photo, is clearly in the side yard of house # 6644 High Ridge Road extending to behind house # 6640, and looked by quick observation to still be a few feet higher than over by the vacant lot, which btw is an entire house southward beyond the proper house. A previous TR mentions # 6636, but this is the house one to the N in deeper woods where the road bends. I did get out of the car, but did not have time to go schmooze again.

I would not consider Palm Beach County FL properly visited until both spots were done, but to each his/her own.



Please forgive me at this Holiday time of year, as I should be in the spirit of giving etc.... But, it seems that many people who are COHPing in Florida the past decade are doing so with what I will refer to as lower standards of style than the pioneers of this hobby held themselves to in the 1990's. I see TR's of many FL cohps being visited with what I would refer to, at best, as a Partial Completion. Some of the contours get visited, others not. Some places get visited but the true high ground that lies deep within the contour gets waved at. Some places are visited on a street or road, when the high ground lies in a backyard etc. I really think that people need to ask themselves one question; "do I really consider myself to be a County Highpointer? or just someone who is interested in visiting the general vicinity of county highpoints?" I feel there is a difference in the two, and that it is fine to be the latter, but it's a different game than the former.....
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