If we were meant to stay in
one place, we'd have roots
instead of feet.
Connard, author, touches Alaska's lowpoint near Ketchikan and finishes his "50 lowpoints" quest.
Facing various obstacles, including floods, muddy river banks and long stretches of roadside scenery, Connard Hogan becomes the fourth recorded person to visit every US state “lowpoint.”
* Note that all, except California, of the 50 states which border the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans have a shoreline lowpoint. You choose the location.
* A number of minor edits (shown in parentheses and italicized) have been applied to this article as it originally appeared.
When I set my goal on the 50 (fifty) low-points, I'd already played in the ocean in Florida and Hawaii. I'd never thought about visiting “all the lows” until Bob Nungester said he wanted to do that. He'd already completed his fifty high points but was willing to travel with me so that I could work on my high point list, while he worked on his low point list.
Why not work on both at the same time? Couldn't pass that up.
I've posted greater details of my descents on my blog <Primate's Big Adventures> at http://sbprimate.blogspot.com (moved or in the process), which includes the majority of my high points, if you'd like more detail. However, I'll include some highlights of the low-points here, or should I say low-lights.
Bob and I divided the country into two tiers, northern and southern, for two trips across and back, catching high and lows in the most efficient way that Bob could determine.
* Most state lowpoints are either ocean shoreline or river state boundary crossings.
* California's lowest point, the US and North American as well, lies several miles off the road in the Badwater Basin of Death Valley, smack in the middle of the salt lake bed. Dry when Bob and I visited there, anyway, Nov. 24, 2011.
* A shout-out for the late Christopher Marks who accompanied us on the northern trip to the Atlantic Coast and halfway back before he departed for home on an urgent matter.
* A visit to the Little Big Horn massacre site proved educational. "Where Custer made his last mistake," Bob noted.
* North Dakota's Red River crosses into Canada. Steep, muddy bank made the final few feet an exciting challenge, but only after a border guard hurried over to query us about our intentions. “You should've told me beforehand,” he said. Interrupt your coffee break, did we? But he was non-confrontational about it. Just doing his job, I reckoned.
* Ohio's lowpoint lies at a river junction and two other state borders. Wouldn't you know? A power plant sprawls along the bank there, and they didn't want the public wandering across their property. In that situation, failing to secure their permission, we worked our way to the closest dry land possible. Besides, the actual state boundary lay mid-stream and who wanted to use a boat? Not me, babe. If anyone does, they could claim their low points based on GPS coordinates.
* West Virginia's lowpoint on the rapids of the Potomac at Harper's Ferry provided an excuse to visit the Civil War Museum there.
* We couldn't pass up the Wash, DC low point for good measure – nearest to it on dry land, that is.
* In April 2013, Bob and I headed across the southern stretch of states, zigzagging as needed to catch our remaining high and lows along the way to the Atlantic and back.
* I felt disappointment at the AZ low point, when our closest approach left us blocked by the twenty-foot border fence some two-hundred yards from the Colorado Riverbed low point. A border guard drove out of his way to investigate us close up, too. The border fence adjacent to the highway in El Paso, TX shocked me. Shouldn't have, but did.
* A tour of the Tabasco (hot sauce facility) on Avery Island, LA broke up our journey. Our LA low point under a New Orleans bridge overpass left me underwhelmed and on my keester, thanks to some rain and two generous drinks I'd consumed on Bourbon Street.
* Flood waters covered the southwestern tip of Kentucky near it's low point, 5/6/13, so we touched the water from the closest dry land we found, a short wade through 18-inch deep water and a hundred yards from dry Tennessee where we'd left the car. No way we wanted to bushwhack through flooded territory to the Mississippi bank, hundreds of yards distance west of our position.
* A jar of “Popcorn Sutton's” moonshine, procured in Memphis, legally, added a unique flavor to the trip.
* Upon my return home on 5/17/13, I'd completed 49 (forty-nine) low points. Although, I'd been to Alaska twice, once to ascend Denali (Mt. McKinley), I didn't touch the ocean either time.
Oh, well. I'd just have to go back to Alaska on a cruise. Hard work, but somebody had to do it (me).
8/25/14 I touched the ocean in Totem Bight State Park, outside Ketchikan, Alaska, to complete my 50 (fifty) low points (including Wash, DC).
As far as records show, I become the Fourth (sic) person to complete the 50 Lowpoints. - Connard Hogan
1) Jack Parsell - 7-1-91 OR
2) Clark Hall - date-state unknown
3) Bob Nungester - 5-16-13 UT
4) Connard Hogan - 8-15-14 AK
Jack, Bob and I are 50 Highpoint completers, and Clark finished the Lower 48. Bob's writeup appears on pages 14 & 15 in Issue #105 (2Q-14) and his photos are online. If interested, contact the editor.
Jack Parcell's guidebook to the 50 Sate Lowpoints was first published in 1997, so it may need a few updates.
(* This adventure originally appeared in serial post on "Primate's Big Adventures" blog.)
Photo Credit: Connard Hogan