Friday, February 3, 2017

See 5 state highpoints from Le Conte

The website peakfinder.org will help you simulate and identify peaks visible from any point you choose.
This is the projection south/southwest from Myrtle Point on Mount Le Conte. Click on the link and zoom

and pan to see the entire panorama. Click on the name of a mountain to get the bearings and distance.



     Rock City advertises that you can see seven states from Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga. The scenery in Rock City is spectacular, but it falls short of the barnyard hype—you'll be lucky to see four states: Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina. A monument at the overlook points toward Kentucky, Virginia, and South Carolina, but all of those are way beyond the horizon. (South Carolina is 120 miles away, not 80 as the sign says.) And of all the mountains you can see from Rock City, none of them are the highest in their states.
     From Mount Le Conte, however, it is possible to not only see five states, but also to see the highest point in all of them.
     On a perfectly clear day in the Smokies—antithetical, I know—all five should be visible from Myrtle Point on the east side of Le Conte. From right to left, the panorama includes Tennessee's Clingman's Dome (7 miles southwest), Georgia's Brasstown Bald, (57 miles southwest, just to the left of Clingman's), North Carolina's Mount Mitchell (66 miles east), Virginia's Mount Rogers (126 miles northeast), and Kentucky's Black Mountain (92 miles north/northeast).
     The highest points in Tennessee and Georgia can be seen from the Cliff Top overlook on the west side of Le Conte, and the Kentucky high point is visible from Le Conte Lodge.
     It may also be possible to see six states and five state highpoints from the tower at Clingman's Dome. Virginia's Mount Rogers is hidden from there, but South Carolina's Sassafras Mountain may be barely visible 57 miles to the southeast. The computer projections at peakfinder.org and heywhatsthat.com are inconclusive, but once the tower is built on Sassafras later this year, we'll put it to the eye test.
     (There is a Sassafras Mountain visible on the horizon southeast of Le Conte, but alas, it is not the one in South Carolina.)
     Can you really see all the way from Myrtle Point to Mount Rogers? It is far-fetched but not impossible, considering the way those peaks are aligned across the upper Tennessee Valley. Looking down the same corridor, I've been able to see Mount Guyot from Elk Knob—a distance of 100 miles. 
     Even if Mount Rogers is out of range, several closer Virginia peaks should be visible on the horizon northeast of Le Conte, including High Knob near Norton, Va.
SPEAKING OF PEAKFINDER.ORG, I highly recommend the Peakfinder app ($4.99), which works with the iPhone camera to create an augmented reality. It will show you the names and outlines of the mountains before yousuperimposed over the image on your camera. The overlay moves with you.