Saint Mary’s County Highpoint Trip Report

64 points (180+ ft) or 8 areas (190+ ft)

Date: June 24, 2006
participants: Chip Clark, Don Desrosiers, Fred Lobdell, Mike Schwartz, Charlie Zerphy

Thus did the Five CoHP'ers of the Apocolypse set out to conquer the last unclimbed county in MD.

Do NOT attempt this county on a Sunday. At least two of the areas are owned and farmed by the Amish. They are nice people but take the Sabbath (i.e., Sunday) very seriously and will not discuss anything with you. Period. End of sentence. We all know you are a fine upstanding person and would ask nicely but please respect the beliefs of these landowners and leave them alone on Sundays. Don't try to stealth it either.

You have a couple of choices with this county. First, you can go with the USGS maps which indicate there are 64 areas 180+ (Hughesville 11, Benedict 1, Mechanicsville 1, Charlotte Hall 52 with one overlap). A problem with this strategy is that while St Mary’s has not undergone the development of other counties closer to DC, it is getting to that point. There are roads not shown on the topos. The contours are (for the most part) 20 feet. It is going to be a lot of hot and sweaty work.

You can contact the St Mary’s County GIS office. They have maps with 5 foot contours (soon to have maps with 2 foot contours). If you ask them nicely (and pay the appropriate fee), they will make you a wonderful map of the northern part of the county. This map will show 8 areas over 190 feet. Additionally, in all cases it tracks more closely with current ground conditions than the USGS maps. Plus, the county folks are nice people.

All coordinates below use the NAD27 datum. Mileages were not critical based on other directional landmarks. All points are fairly close together.

We began at MD 5, just south of the Charles/St Mary’s line. There is a shopping center at the intersection of Route 5 and Mohawk Drive (1st light into the county). Walked back to Route 5 to look for the area allegedly between the lanes (38° 30' 24" N, 76° 46' 29" W). Chip and Don had already confirmed this area was gone but we wanted to pound a wooden stake into its heart (just in case). This existence of this point makes absolutely no sense based on basic civil engineering principles, so we were surprised to find it on a USGS map. We were convinced of its non-existence en masse.

1) Head south on Route 5 and turn left (east) onto Mount Wolf Road. Approximately 1/4 mile along, park on the right, across from Indian Creek Road. This candidate point is in the field on the right (38° 30' 04" N, 76° 46' 16" W) among the ATV trails. Due to the PVC pipes sticking out of the ground, this may have been man-enhanced in the past. Use a good faith effort.

2 and 3) Continue east on Mount Wolf Road to the power line. The highest ground was along the power line about 200 yards to the south (38° 30' 07" N, 76° 45' 59" W), although we also investigated a possible point about 300 yards to the north (38° 30' 12" N, 76° 46' 02" W). Scoping indicated these areas were lower than several candidate areas farther east on Mount Wolf Road (point #4).

4) Continue on Mount Wolf to the obvious highest ground across from #38135 at the 192 SE (38° 30' 22" N, 76° 45' 25" W). We explained to the homeowner what we were doing. With the predicted rain, he was happy to be on the highest ground.

5) Get back to Route 5 and turn south (left), then east (left) onto Golden Beach Road. Park across from #30665. Highest ground is to the north and was obvious (38° 29' 40" N, 76° 46' 11" W). The two buildings shown on the topo are gone. We walked along the edge of the winter wheat field to be sure of getting this point.

6) Continue on Golden Beach Road and turn right (south) onto Laurel Ridge Road (not shown on topo) and immediately right onto Laurel Ridge Court. Highest point was in the back yard of #38468, next to the dog (remember what I said about the stealth thing). The owners were very friendly and recognized Chip from another life. This point caused great discussion among the group members. The USGS Mechanichsville quad indicates this area should be 190-200. However, the St Mary’s map shows 205-210 (in fact, the only contour of 200). The property owner said that the land was not greatly disturbed to build the subdivision. The current ridge goes east-west but does contain some evidence or a northeast-southwest area. This is probably the big enchilada for the county.

7) Back to Route 5 and turn south (left). At the intersection of Newmarket Road, turn east, cross over the northbound lanes of Route 5 and turn left into the first left at the county solid waste transfer station. With the permission of the county person in charge, we parked there and bushwhacked through the woods back toward Route 5 and the 188 SE (38° 28' 26" N, 76° 46'26" W). While the St Mary’s map indicated this area was 185-190, and thus not a contender, due to the approximately 15 feet of relief up from Route 5, we felt it appropriate to at least check this point. Other expeditions can probably ignore this one. During Saturdays in the summer months, there is a large farmers market at the intersection of Route 5 and Newmarket Road.

8) Back to Route 5 and turn south (left). Turn Right (west) onto Route 236, a.k.a. Thompsons Corner Road. Park at the corner of 236 and Dixie Lyons Road. We felt the highest ground was just behind the red tobacco barn (38° 26' 52" N, 76° 47' 26" W) just to the northwest of the intersection. There was nobody home to ask permission, although we tried.

9) Continue on Thompsons Corner Road to Ryceville Road (on your right) near the Red Gate School (shown on topo but not on the ground). Park. The highest ground (approximately 38° 25' 53" N, 76° 48' 41" W) was in a cow field and was obvious. The Amish landowner kindly granted us permission to access, although he warned us to, "Watch out for the bull." We presume he meant the animal in the field and was not otherwise commenting on our group.

The serious COHP'er should get all 8 candidate points (ignoring #7) since other than schmoozing, they are not difficult. #6 is probably the true COHP.

With this county falling, MD has now been completed by Chip Clark, Don Desrosiers, and Mike Schwartz. Fred Lobdell was a victim of the weather and lacks one dubious point in one county (which may prove to be a non-contender, in which case he deserves first completion co-credit). Charlie still needs 3 counties but we believe he will finish them quickly enough. This should be Don's 20th First Ascent.