Alabama: Cheaha Mountain (2,405ft) Ranked #35/50 COMPLETED: 31 Jan 2015
On January 31, 2015, a large group of Airmen and their families were crazy enough to participate in a campout at Cheaha State Park, Alabama’s highest point. The high point (2407’) is accessible by car, so the group rendezvoused at the Bunker Observation Tower, enjoyed a picnic lunch, some mild weather (approximately 55 degrees), and got to know the new faces in the crowd.
Everyone in the group climbed up the tower and then assembled in front of the Alabama’s Highest Point sign for the photo shown below. When everyone had found a spot, I told them about the Wrath 11 crash, the subsequent USAF7Summits Challenge, and about how the USAF50Summits challenge was envisioned to get more Airmen outdoors to enjoy physical challenges, camaraderie, and spiritual growth. Right after the group picture, we did a 2,407 push up challenge in memory of our veterans, fallen warriors, and lost friends and loved ones. Everyone participated in the challenge from the youngest to the oldest (2-69). After a countdown and group start, everyone started doing pushups on his or her own. When they got tired, they reported their pushups to the scorekeeper, who kept a running tally of how many the whole group had accomplished. It took long enough for everyone to burn out and then dig deep to find a few more reps, about 13 minutes in total. The event was a lot of fun. It was great to see young kids getting into it and even younger ones sitting on their dad’s backs while they pushed away. After the pushup challenge, the group transitioned to the campground.
The overnight campers set up tents and equipment while the kids ran loose. A couple groups led hikes on nearby trails. Around 1600, a chili and brat potluck dinner was brought together and enjoyed by everyone. Kids roasted their sausages, the Butchers baked monkey bread in a dutch oven, Drea Fleener brought baked potatoes, the O’Keefes made beans, the Cooks mixed some drinks, the Vanweezendonks added more protein with some additional dogs, an burgers and the Trews pitched in some French Bread and extra brats. It was a good meal followed by s’mores, kids running around in the dark with chemlights and beer and wine for the adults.
The temperature dropped during the night and some very strong winds moved in. At daybreak, the tent campers quickly packed up, then the Vanweezendonks hosted breakfast before everyone headed back towards home. Soon after departure, it started to rain, so we were all glad we packed up when we did.
Participants: Mark (Trip Leader), Heather, Eric, Ryan, and Eden Uberuaga (SAASS); Pat Healy (USAF ret); Alan and Zack Zeigler (USAF ret, from Bham); Andrea, Gabe, and Olivia Fleener (ACSC); Russ, Stephanie, Natalie and Justice Cook (SAASS); Byron and Carolyn Batey (SOC); Rick Bailey (SAASS); Mark, Christine, Charlie, Kees, and baby Mark Vanweezendonk (SAASS); Don, Sarah, and Abigail Butcher (ACSC); Bobby, Jill, Nathan, Sean, Emily and Adam O’Keefe (SAASS); Jason, Jennifer, Jack, James, and Jude Trew (SAASS).
Cheaha Mountain, often called Mount Cheaha, is the highest natural point in the U.S. state of Alabama. It is located a few miles northwest of the town of Delta in scenic Cheaha State Park, which offers a lodge, a restaurant, and other amenities.
The highest point is marked with a USGS benchmark in front of Bunker Tower, a stone Civilian Conservation Corps building with an observation deck on top. The CCC also constructed a road to Cheaha, but the road has been closed for years. The old road is known as CC Road and contains interesting ruins. Near the peak is Bald Rock, which was recently improved with a wheelchair-accessible wooden walkway that provides an impressive overlook of the surrounding region. The entire area gives an impression of being at a much higher elevation than it actually is, in part because of the relatively low elevation of the adjacent area to the west.
Cheaha Mountain is part of the Talladega Mountains, a final southern segment of the Blue Ridge, unlike other elevations of the Appalachians in north Alabama, which are part of the Cumberland Plateau. The mountain also has the unique distinction of being the highest geographical point in the eastern portion of the Sun Belt (south of Interstate 20, and north of the Gulf of Mexico). Geologically it is composed of weakly metamorphosed sandstones and conglomerates of the Cheaha Quartzite, of Silurian / Devonian age, and stands high topographically due to the erosional resistance of these rocks.