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The Peak: 1,772 feet
Drive through the Ozarks–one of the few ranges in North America that run east-west-up, up the winding road to Taum Sauk Mountain State Park. There’s a paved path from the parking lot to the polished granite summit marker, which is shaded by a sturdy oak. It’s a bit tamer than in 1874, when Jesse James hid here after robbing the Ironton Train. Head a mile down the trail to Mina Sauk Falls and it’s still easy to lay low.
In 1986, Jack Longacre, a Michigan native living in Seattle, placed a notice in a magazine saying he’d like to hear from high pointers. Two dozen replied and a club was born. Now the Highpointers Club has a quarterly newsletter, an annual convention, and 2,677 members in 50 states and eight countries. The seventh person to climb all 50 high points, Longacre lived alone in a double-wide trailer 2.5 miles from Taum Sauk Mountain and was 11 high points short of climbing them again when he died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 64. “Jack’s Ash Scattering Project,” honoring his final wish to have his ashes sprinkled on all 50 high points, will be complete after a dusting this summer on Gannett Peak, WY. For information, see www.highpointers.org.