On the summit

Hoosier Hill, 1,257 ft

Date Climbed: Nov 29, 2008 12:06pm

“Did you boys bring your oxygen masks this time?” our Grandma Wright asked over the phone with a giggle. She was alluding to the previous year, when she had asked us the same question atop Campbell Hill, the highest point in Ohio. Now we were on yet another Midwest high point, Indiana’s Hoosier Hill (1,257ft). That morning, we had made the fateful decision to leave Grandma’s supplemental oxygen at home in favor of a fast and light attempt at the summit, and it had paid off.

The previous year we had begun our mini-tradition of climbing a high point the day after Thanksgiving by driving sixty miles from Columbus, Ohio to Campbell Hill, the highest point in the state. This year we had decided to up the ante by driving 124 miles to Hoosier Hill, located just within the Indiana border two miles from the Ohio line. We were visiting family in Columbus for Thanksgiving and wanted a little post-turkey adventure.

Our dad was enthusiastic about yet another driving expedition, so we set out from Columbus at 8am the day after Thanksgiving and headed west. In terms of our high point list, we were currently just over the “hill,” with twenty-six high points summited so far. We were starting to realize that within the next few years we might actually finish the list. We were beginning to contract “high point fever,” and the thrill of the chase turned a four-hour trip to a remote little hill in east-central Indiana into a worthwhile outing.

Matthew and Eric on the summit

We turned off of I-70 near Richmond, Indiana and turned north. With nothing but fields of corn stubble extending to the horizon it was hard to imagine that the highest land in Indiana was lurking somewhere off in the distance. We turned on Bethel Road, then Elliott Road, and began to notice an almost imperceptible rise in the woods to our left. It was definitely a local maximum, but it was hard to believe it was also the global maximum for the entire state of Indiana.

A short walk along a gravel road brought us into a clearing and lo and behold we found ourselves on the roof of Indiana. An all-star Eagle Scout had built a very nice wooden sign, brick-encased mailbox summit register, and awesome picnic table on the summit. We thank him for his valiant efforts.

We found a few green, bumpy, grapefruit-sized spherical fruits (later I discovered that they’re Osage Oranges) and Eric decided that he needed to juggle them. On the summit, that is. On one foot, of course. Five of them, to be precise. And the one foot needed to be balanced on a two-foot wooden post. Our dad snapped two photos: one of Eric juggling four Osage Oranges, and one photo of the two of us with both of our arms raised. We gathered a small rock from the top and in so doing we marked the beginning of our high point ritual list. From Hoosier Hill onwards we strived to repeat those three summit rituals on every state high point, as long as juggling materials were available and there weren’t any steep drops nearby.

Eric juggling 4 osage oranges on the summit pedestal

We were delighted to see that there was a summit register, which seemed like it was more of a west-coast concept and isn’t commonly seen east of the Mississippi. We left our mark in the little journal and flipped through the other pages. We were shocked to see that our friend Darren had signed in a week earlier! Had had been passing through I-70 on had decided to check off another state high point on his list. We had climbed Montana’s Granite Peak and Wyoming’s Gannett Peak with Darren earlier that summer and he had caught the high point bug.

We ate some Thanksgiving leftovers at the picnic table and admired the view from the highest point in Indiana.

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