LiDAR - US State High Points

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bdloftin77
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LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by bdloftin77 »

Summary:

I've found class 2 (ground) points a foot higher than Pennsylvania's traditionally accepted high point, the top of a ~5' boulder. Since these are class 2 only, it's likely that there are boulders in these areas that are a few, if not several feet higher than the traditional high point. See links below:

New PA high point (highest class 2 returns): https://listsofjohn.com/peak/218278

Old PA high point (class 1 return on traditionally accepted boulder): https://listsofjohn.com/peak/17861
Notes: https://listsofjohn.com/lidarnotes?id=17861

Background:

I've been taking a look at some state high points recently, especially ones with lidar coverage and that have competing contours. No surprises until I came to the Pennsylvania high point, Mt. Davis. John Kirk, Andy Hatzos (Andy Martin's friend), and I agree that the traditional high point is on top of a boulder ~5' above the ground, with a class 1 lidar return reading at 3212.73 feet. Looking elsewhere though, I came across class 2 returns (ground only - not including boulders, trees, etc) that were above 3213 feet, some even almost 3214 feet.

Areas with class 2 returns over 3213':
39.783126,-79.178375,3213.45 (four returns, highest shown)
39.783179,-79.17820,3213.19 (four returns, highest shown)
39.783520,-79.177894,3213.55 (six returns, highest shown)
39.783648,-79.177709,3213.71 (seven returns, highest shown) (~900 ft from old HP)
39.783773,-79.177766,3213.25 (two returns, highest shown)
39.798385,-79.171250,3213.81 (11 returns in 3 clusters, highest shown -- 2 returns tie for highest) (0.9 mi from old HP)

John and I agreed on the traditional high point location and elevation, and he also agreed with the other findings. John notified Any Martin, who notified several others - one of whom (Andy Hatzos) responded with the email below:
Attachments
LoJ Announcement
LoJ Announcement
PA State HP.png (48.22 KiB) Viewed 3053 times
Last edited by bdloftin77 on Thu Dec 22, 2022 7:19 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Re: LiDAR - Pennsylvania HP (and other state high points)

Post by bdloftin77 »

(email from Andy Hatzos):

Hi all,

I had time to look at the data last night, so I wanted to share what I found. The short version is that I still agree with the assessment that has been put together.

Three images are attached, all created using the the DEM from the 2019 LiDAR data. These aren't geo-referenced or anything, just quick and dirty output for the sake of illustration.

Image #1 (10ft contours)

This is a general overview of the entire site. There are two areas on Mount Davis that exceed 3200 feet, and from there, I've broken it down into three separate "clusters" of areas of interest.

The southern 3200-ft contour is significantly larger than the northern one.
Image 1
Image 1
Image 1.jpg (37.17 KiB) Viewed 3052 times
Image #2 (2ft contours)

The "southern cluster" is a fairly large area that includes the spot that John and Ben identified 900 feet SW of the main Mount Davis location. Within this cluster, I looked at the LiDAR ground return point data, and identified five separate sub-clusters where there were several ground returns in the 3212-3213 foot range (and a few above 3213 feet). These coordinates are approximately in the middle of those five sub-clusters:

39.78300, -79.17823
39.78311, -79.17837
39.78318, -79.17820
39.78352, -79.17788
39.78365, -79.17771 (this is the one originally listed by Ben)

The "middle cluster" is the area that includes the accepted Mount Davis boulder, and is very close to the observation tower. There are two sub-clusters of ground returns in the 3210-3211 foot range, both of which were identified in Ben's first message:
39.78598, -79.17662
39.78608, -79.17665

I also agree that the boulder location (39.78599, -79.17676) is nestled within an area of ground returns that are about 3207 feet.
Image 2
Image 2
Image 2.jpg (209.92 KiB) Viewed 3052 times
Image #3 (2ft contours)

The high point identified in Ben's first message (39.79839, -79.17125) is dead-on with what I'm seeing. It's an isolated raised area at the northern end of a larger 3200-ft area that is sort of shaped like an inverted triangle. This area is coincident with a sub-cluster of several ground returns in the 3212-3214 foot range. The terrain here looks considerably steeper than at the "accepted" Mount Davis HP location!

One thing I should note is that there are some chunks of empty space in this general area when plotting out the ground returns, suggesting some spots the LiDAR didn't catch (or at least didn't catch as a ground return). So that means the DEM in this area may be imperfect.

I did compare this area to the 2007 data as well. The two sources are in general agreement, though not perfectly. Interestingly, the 2007 data suggested some high areas further south in the triangle, but the 2019 data actually does have plenty of ground returns in those areas, all of which are considerably lower than the sharp rise at the north end of the triangle.
Image 3
Image 3
Image 3.jpg (152.38 KiB) Viewed 3052 times
------------------------------------------

In my opinion, we have plenty of enough evidence to suggest that the "accepted" Pennsylvania High Point boulder is not actually the highest point in the state. I also think the evidence suggests the highest spot in the northern cluster is the most likely new HP. However, the southern cluster is really really close, based solely on ground return data -- and actually has a larger surface area that exceeds 3212 feet. So really, any boulders in any of those spots could tip the scale from one to the other. And given the weird terrain and vegetation, the LiDAR is probably not 100% perfect!

I do think a site visit to all these new spots is going to be a key part of this exercise, and I'll be really interested to see what those spots are like. Hopefully not a miserable bushwhack...

My conclusions:

1) The highest point in the northern cluster is the likely PA HP.
2) The southern cluster (including my five identified sub-clusters) is also in contention and should be investigated.
3) The area near the tower, including the accepted boulder, is not likely to be the actual HP.

Thanks,
--Andy H
Last edited by bdloftin77 on Thu Dec 08, 2022 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: LiDAR - Pennsylvania HP (and other state high points)

Post by bdloftin77 »

Here are some pictures of the traditional Pennsylvania high point. Class 2 (ground only) returns elsewhere are about a foot higher than this point. A boulder elsewhere near those ground returns is likely the new Pennsylvania high point.

I'll let you know if I hear any more news from field visits to those candidate areas.
Traditional Boulder
Traditional Boulder
Traditional Boulder 1.jpg (313.25 KiB) Viewed 3036 times
Traditional Boulder
Traditional Boulder
Traditional Boulder 2.jpg (287.48 KiB) Viewed 3036 times
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by bdloftin77 »

Data is finally available for both Michigan high point contenders! And class 2 lidar returns indicate they are indeed both contenders, with Arvon being only 1.5 inches higher than Curwood. This is definitely within the error range, and either one could be higher than the other. Online searching didn't reveal any notable natural rock features on either summit.

https://listsofjohn.com/peak/17857
https://listsofjohn.com/peak/135375

There is still a data void near the summit of Black Elk Peak, South Dakota. No lidar coverage yet for Kings Peak, Utah.
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by ChrisinAZ »

Aha! You guys have brought up one of my pet projects...

Excited to review the MI data, that's new and wasn't available when I first checked the area. But yes there's a lot of little surprises in the LiDAR data across the country I've been looking at...here are some state highpoints that are unresolved or have interesting issues:

DC: Fort Reno Hill (the natural ground part, anyway) is lower than "American University Hill" https://peakbagger.com/peak.aspx?pid=93175 I visited this one earlier this year, pretty easy.

DE: highest ground isn't at the benchmark or sign, but in a mobile home park between Alpha and Sulky Rds, 2 trailers deep from the main road. Private property but I just walked through and made a quick pass. This ground may not be natural but who knows where the actual high ground is...

FL: high ground isn't at the little roadside monument but instead in a patch of woods SW of it, requiring a short hike on trails and easy bushwhack. I wrote a trip report on peakbagger.com

HI: awaiting data to confirm Puu Kea (the bump north of the traditional summit with some of the observatories) isn't higher.

IN: I need to do a more full review of the area, but there's a spot 0.1 mi SW of the standard HP that's a contender. Both LiDAR and personal field observations from a recent trip indicate it's about a foot lower. Interestingly, I heard it used to be higher, but it was graded down to keep highpointers from trudging out into the middle of a field...could just be a myth though.

IA: haven't had a chance to exhaustively review this one yet but preliminary reports are that the summit marker has it right

MI: I visited both candidates and am glad I did. Curwood was a long drive on increasingly rough roads and we hiked the last mile or two in

MO: big flat summit area but the accepted rock seems to likely be the highpoint

NE: Panorama Point at the monument is higher than the multiple nearby contending contours

OK: the highest ground on the mesa actually appears to be about 0.1 miles west of the monument at 36.931998284, -102.999078562, roughly 6" higher. I gotta go back for this one.

PA: I also returned here this year to visit the new northern and southern candidates. The short version: this is one of the singularly most shitty bushwhacks I've ever done in my life. ESPECIALLY the southern contour...picture an hour to go 0.2 miles kind of horribleness. Impenetrable brush, with the southern area having lots of brambles too. I feel like I did a pretty decent job covering the likely high ground in the northern contour (where I found a pair of sunglasses still sitting in the heavy brush, several feet off the ground, from a previous visitor!) but I only hit the likely highest candidate for the south area and called it good. You could literally spend days whacking around the southern contour and still maybe never find high ground. If you want to claim you've visited the highpoint of Pennsylvania, you are really gonna have to earn it, and go above and beyond the normal level of peakbagging insanity most people possess. Here's my account: https://peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=1971482

RI: I do want to pay a repeat visit here, saw some potentially higher ground NE of the clearing at around 41.84922231 -71.77882363, however it didn't seem to pick up the traditional summit boulder.

WV: high ground is either at the tower or at the rocks immediately north of it, on this very broad and flat summit plateau.

WI: three candidates here: Timms, Pearson, and a farm hill contour just S of Pearson. I can't find my notes on this trio but recall Timms and Pearson being too close to call, with the farm field obviously lower.

For those of you interested in county highpoints and what's changing with LiDAR, there's a whole lot of discussion going on in the cohp group (link is on cohp.org)
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by KentonB »

bdloftin77 wrote: Thu Dec 08, 2022 10:12 am Data is finally available for both Michigan high point contenders! And class 2 lidar returns indicate they are indeed both contenders, with Arvon being only 1.5 inches higher than Curwood. This is definitely within the error range, and either one could be higher than the other. Online searching didn't reveal any notable natural rock features on either summit.

https://listsofjohn.com/peak/17857
https://listsofjohn.com/peak/135375
Thanks for looking at this Ben! Even though I'm originally from Michigan and used to drive "right by" these peaks on my way to/from college, I've never been to either. Looks like I'll have to tag them both the next time I'm out that way! If I recall, Mt. Curwood used to be considered the State High Point until 1982 when a survey concluded Mt. Arvon was 1 foot higher. Looks like it was a lot closer than they thought!
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by Flips »

This reminds me of what my old Pappy used to say. "Never let the facts get in the way of a good checklist."
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Re: LiDAR - Pennsylvania HP (and other state high points)

Post by nunns »

bdloftin77 wrote: Mon Jun 13, 2022 2:25 pm Here are some pictures of the traditional Pennsylvania high point. Class 2 (ground only) returns elsewhere are about a foot higher than this point. A boulder elsewhere near those ground returns is likely the new Pennsylvania high point.

I'll let you know if I hear any more news from field visits to those candidate areas.

Traditional Boulder 1.jpg

Traditional Boulder 2.jpg
What a shame; those 2 women were SO close to a winter ascent!!!

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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by Ptglhs »

Is the high point of Delaware still in that trailer park? :roll:
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by ChrisinAZ »

Ptglhs wrote: Tue Dec 13, 2022 1:28 pm Is the high point of Delaware still in that trailer park? :roll:
How natural that spot is is up for debate. But yes, highest ground is as described in my last post and reasonably obvious when you're there.
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by Yury »

Why should we care?
I like NY Adirondacks approach.
They defined their list of 46 highest peaks about a century ago and stick to it completely disregarding those new fancy gadgets like GPS and LIDAR.
This approach allowed them to define a list and avoid shooting a moving target.
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Re: LiDAR - US State High Points

Post by timisimaginary »

Yury wrote: Thu Dec 15, 2022 7:13 am Why should we care?
I like NY Adirondacks approach.
They defined their list of 46 highest peaks about a century ago and stick to it completely disregarding those new fancy gadgets like GPS and LIDAR.
This approach allowed them to define a list and avoid shooting a moving target.
i'd support a hybrid approach. there can be a "legacy" list based on past measurements that never changes, and a current list that is updated with any changes or new measurements as they are found.
if you complete the legacy list, you can rest assured that your completion status will never be usurped. but people are never going to stop measuring things and getting more accurate data, so you just have to accept that that list may not actually represent what it was initially defined as.
and some people will always want to know that they summited the actual highest points, or tallest peaks, or full list of peaks that meet some arbitrary altitude and prominence standard, so they'll have a list to refer to for that even if it changes periodically. some people probably even enjoy having the moving target, it gives them an excuse to keep chasing more summits.
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