Edgecombe County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: January 12, 2008
Authors: Shannon Dillmore and Brian Bockhahn

The area numbers are given as numbered on the cohp.org website but the report is laid out in the order we approached the contours. Clicking on areas 2 and 3 on the website call up the same contour and the one immediately south is ignored. Area 3 in this report refers to this more southerly contour of the two. Another note is that one 140-foot contour in Edgecombe is not listed on the website. This one is southwest of area 8 and is located under the "GE" letters in Edgecombe county on the topo map. We will call this area 36. The topo maps didn't always match the terrain perfectly as many newer buildings aren't shown and we often found that areas shown as clearings had been reclaimed by loblolly pines and thorny briars. This is definitely one to do in the winter.

We met at 7:15 at a Holiday Inn parking lot in Rocky Mount and Brian offered to drive in his high clearance pick-up for the day. The high clearance came in handy more than once and got us closer to some contours than Shannon’s Camry would have.

Areas 3 and 2: We took the US 301 bypass south to Sharpsburg and turned left onto Floods Store Road. Immediately after crossing over railroad tracks, we turned left onto East Railroad Road then right onto Phillips Road. A few hundred feet after passing under the power lines shown on the map, we pulled over to the side of the road with a small clearing on the right (south) to area 3. We headed into the woods where we noticed a slight rise. We wandered around the woods, finding it necessary to cross a ditch using a plank that had been laid down to act as a bridge. Some wandering is in order as trees limit line of sight. We headed back to the truck, with 1 down and 35 to go! As we were crossing over Phillips Road, we encountered a tenant of one of the trailer homes at the north end of area 2. He granted us permission to explore the area as well as a healthy dose of pity for whatever went wrong in our lives to lead us to this hobby. We basically followed a dirt road that seemed to bisect the contour and explored the off-road areas as necessary. We favored a tree in between two trailers as the high point.

Area 7: We headed east on Phillips to near the end of the road. The rise is pretty distinct here, decorated with a bench and what looked to be a garden. It being early in the morning, we decided not to disturb the residents to ask permission and did a quick touch-and-go.

Areas 1 and 4-6: We turned around on Phillips Road, heading back east to the dirt track adjacent to the RR tracks that is shown on the map. Brian expertly drove the potholed track to where the road bends, ending at a heavily posted gate with an abandoned house just on the other side. On the way, we passed through area 1, where the high area is clearly at the road. One could drag their foot on the track and claim the area. After pulling off the road as far as possible, we walked out into the unposted field through area 4 (a harvested corn field with an orderly row of tree stumps ) to area 5. After reaching this nondescript area, we followed under the power line to area 7 just south of a rusty old shed. Deer paths assisted our exploration of this area.

Areas "36" and 8: To get areas 36 and 8, we decided to avoid the stream shown on the map – and some potentially posted areas – and follow the railroad tracks along the county boundary. We later realized this may not be necessary but is probably the best way to approach area 36. We crossed a ditch just west of where we parked for the areas 1 and 4-6 and followed the railroad tracks (note that the railroad tracks are active; we heard several trains pass through during the day) about 0.15 mile to area 36. The best way to approach this is by recrossing the ditch and hopping a single strand electric fence (unposted) at the southwest corner of the pasture shown on the topo map. From there, the high point in the field is fairly obvious, if not prominent. There were no cows in this section but there were in area 8. We returned to the railroad track and followed it north to area 8, where we determined that the wooded area of area 8 was higher than the pasture. We decided to approach this and reevaluate along with areas 9 and 10 later in the afternoon.

Areas 14 and 15: We returned to Brian's truck, headed east on Phillips Road and turned north onto Old Wilson Road. We followed this for about 0.7 mile to the road between areas 14 and 15. We pulled over next to the pond shown on the topo map, which was posted by the "Le Gay Heirs" against hunting and fishing. We later discovered that this posting was not made by a group of French social progressives but by the Le Gay family that apparently lives in the area. Area 14 was our first IBI (ignore by inspection) of the day; little or no rise in the cotton field and lower than area 15. We considered approaching area 15 by following the pond but realized the higher land in the contour might be in fenced pastures next to a large blue barn, so we decided to ask permission. We made our way to Triple M Farms by continuing north onto Old Wilson Road and right onto the first major road, McKendree Church Road. A main dirt track that leads into the fenced pasture seemed to be the way to go for the highest ground. We knocked on the door, which was answered by an amiable young man probably in his early 20s. He went to ask his mother, who ran the farm, for permission on our behalf. We were denied, as she didn't want us back there with the 4,000 pound bulls they had. We were pretty certain we didn't want to be in the same pasture as 4,000 pound bulls either. One of the bulls confirmed this though, doing, um, the thing bulls do when cows are around. Probably in a pretty aggressive mood. Disappointed, we decided to complete the remaining areas and decide what to do next.

Areas 16 and 17: We headed back a short way to the Old Wilson Road/McKendree Church intersection and parked on the berm on the northeast corner. We made our way to area 16 via area 17, all in a sparse unposted orchard of some sort. We think we detected a slight rise for 17 but our GPS was needed to 16. Easy stuff.

Area 18: IBI. The map doesn't really match the terrain. The highest point is probably around the house shown at the end of the driveway that goes through this contour but this would be artificial. Back-sighting from area 12 confirms this can be ignored.

Areas 12, 13 and 19: The map shows three buildings here; one was an old barn, two were trailers – the only sign of them is the pads they left behind. We parked by the pads. We mainly explored the area north of the road, the south was clearly lower, as was area 13, which can be skipped by future visitors. Area 12 consists mainly of a cotton field. We thought a slight rise in the northwest area of the contour or the area just by the road was highest. Area 12 is unposted but 13 is marked against trespassing. We backtracked towards area 19, following our GPS. The wooded and cleared areas around 19 really didn't match up at all, so we wandered around a bit. There is no rise here whatsoever, 19 is definitely lower than 12 and can be skipped by future visitors.

Areas 8-10 and 20-21: After driving a short distance west on McKendree Church Road to the intersection with Arlington Street, we parked just north on the side of Arlington. An abandoned house a shed with farm equipment is just south of this intersection and shown on the map. We proceeded along a dirt path through the yard and followed the power lines south. We crossed two gates and a recently burned patch of pasture but none of this land was posted. We soon reached area 9 where pasture began to give way to woods. Area 10 is another IBI. We made our way through the woods to area 8. The terrain here is a bit different from the rest of the areas we visiting – these were mature pines growing on ground that was considerably undulated. Tough to tell if the undulations were artificial or not but this may be a good candidate for the true HP. The pastureland also looked lower from this vantage point. We headed back north along the power lines, crossing McKendree Church Road to go for areas 20 and 21. This area is not as well mown as the rest of the land we visited. Heading north, we passed about six deer carcasses in varying stages of surrendering themselves back to nature. We headed up through some brush to area 20, which was also in the process of being reclaimed by briars and loblollies. The brush really got nasty at the border of this contour as we tried to make our way to area 21, so we returned to the power lines and made our way north to the pond shown on the map. There is a path on the south of the lake, which we took to a suitable jumping off point for a bushwhack towards 21. We didn't entirely avoid the briars but is was easier going than from area 20. We thrashed around a bit, then returned to the path south of the pond, taking it all the way to the road. The pond approach would be easier but we found it to be posted when we made it to the road (the first posting we had seen in the area).

Areas 22 and 23: We returned to the truck and went north on Arlington Street. Area 22 is an IBI, behind two houses where the power lines turn northwest but easy enough to visit. Area 23 is a huge contour but the rise is not very discernible from the road. East of the road is pastureland and the highest area appears to be just along the road in a grassy area. The road shown just north of the Tolson BM on the map is now a loop populated by trailers. For the highest point in this contour we liked where the southern component of the loop intersected with Arlington Road or the far end of a hedgerow separating the trailer park from the crop field south of it. The unimproved road shown on the topo across from the new trailer park was gated, locked and posted, making area 24 inaccessible from this direction. We'd have to try it from the east.

Area 32: We headed further north on Arlington and parked along the road. Once again, the area east of the road appeared lower. We explored the area west of the contour. The ground falls away from the road but as we proceeded west we kept rising, which was unfortunate because the brush here was the worst of all areas we visited –- thick and very thorny. The clearing shown on the map no longer exists and was identified by Brian as a mass of blackberry and greenbrier. We both got some battle scars from this area.

Areas 25-29: From area 32 we continued north on Arlington Street. To get to areas 25-29 we searched for the unimproved road that would take us there. After a bit of searching, we realized this road was just in front of a gas company across the street from the Faith Tabernacle Holy Church. This was another placed where I was glad we had high clearance. Area 29 was a faint rise in a crop field, while area 28 was in the midst of some brush that was decorated with a hunting blind. From here, we headed south towards areas 25-27, south along a dirt path. The clearings shown on the map are corn fields and make for easy going. There was a discernible rise in area 27 and we tromped around there briefly. As we headed to the south of the contour, we were disappointed to see some land further south fenced and posted. Luckily, the woods to the east was not posted and made for easy going, so we followed that south along the fence line. Eventually, the fence petered out and we were able to access areas 26 and 25. There was a metal gate and posting at the southwest corner of area 25; as posted.

Areas 30 and 31: We imagined these were artificial contours from railroad construction and quick inspection confirmed this. There is no way these areas are natural. Compared to the surrounding area, these are striking ridges covered by pine and we think these can be ignored.

Area 33: We continued north on Arlington for a few hundred feet and turned right onto Vestal Road (SR 1154) and turned right onto Old Wilson Road at the intersection. Area 33 comprises fields of beans and cotton as well as some woods. Not a whole lot of rise in any of this area. The extreme northeast was pasture. We liked the northwestern area near some woods but some areas in the southern half of the dumbbell-shaped contour looked like good candidates as well. Some wandering is in order.

Area 24: We approached this from Old Wilson Road. There is a posting near the beginning of this road but it's unclear if the posting refers to the gravel road or the abandoned house just to the right of the road. We looked around for a bit then decided to drive the gravel road into area 24. We stopped at the clump of buildings near the "139" marking on the map, as the road was posted here. The field to the west here about a hundred feet or so from an lone old tree is clearly the highest in the area and there is actually significant relief here. This may also be the actual Edgecombe highpoint.

Areas 34 and 35: These areas are on either side of Daughtridge Farm Road, a short distance east from the Old Wilson Road intersection. The building shown just to the south of area 34 no longer exists. Area 35 -– in a crop field -– neighbors to the east of us saw us out in the field and seemed unconcerned. Not much rise here.

At this point, we had visited all the areas except 15. We decided to return to the pond near area 15 and take it from there. When we arrived, we realized we wouldn't be able to make it to the clearly higher ground within that area from the pond but we did have a clear view to area 12. We rigged up a tripod with a level and a sighting scope to try to determine if 12 was higher than 15. We took sightings from a couple of different spots on either side of the road just east of area 14. A resident riding around on his ATV clearly thought we were out of our minds, if harmless. Our readings from both locations led us to comfortably conclude that area 12 is higher than area 15 but would appreciate the next visitor to Edgecombe to verify our findings.

In the end, we feel comfortable claiming Edgecombe county. With the IBIs (10, 13, 14, 18, 19 and 22), artificial areas (30 and 31), and elimination of area 15, we think the number of contours one needs to visit is reduced to 27. A few hints for those attempting this in the future:

1) The best time to do this is out of hunting season in the winter. Don't even think about this in the summer, as the brush and thorns were bad enough in January. We also saw 15-20 hunting blinds while exploring the area.

2) The power lines are very helpful for many of these contours. The positions of the pylons appear to be accurately marked and are useful for getting one's bearings.

3) Allow the bulk of a day for this one. We spent over 7 hours and walked over 7 miles on foot to visit the areas.