Mole Hill mountain biking trail in Charles Darwin National Park. We had been to both towns before but this showed us parts we didn't know about. We got in the van and hit the road. DAWN WAS BUT A RUMOR on the eastern horizon when our climbing team set off from base camp, heading north toward a mountain so elusive it wasn't even named until 1998. (Hey, it happens. This is the version of our website addressed to speakers of English in the United States.

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Atop a treeless, imperceptible uplift stood a majestic, ten-foot-tall iron sunflower.

We fired up our cigars and read on the marker that Texas was 31 miles away, Colorado was 4.7, and New Mexico was but 1,300 feet to the west. That was 25 hours away! It seems to me they just mindlessly follow lemming tracks up places like Rainier and Everest, blathering about European knots and turnaround times, rarely attempting anything new. A California-based documentary filmmaker who helmed the riveting A&E special on the history of cleavage (called, helpfully, Cleavage), Dave figured he could squeeze a film out of our still-close gang—two decades after graduation—as we schlepped around in a van, notching heartland "peaks."

We made good time until the trail angled up Black Mesa itself, which is notorious for rattlesnakes. She was just a few feet away from us and massive. Though we wouldn't be the first to take on seven relatively lame summits—way back in 1987, a group of Kansans blitzed through Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma—we liked to think we would do it with a style and lack of grace all our own.

"No way," I said, though in much coarser language. Keep ahead and follow path along riverside, passing through underpass. I stretched out on it, not caring how many toothpaste tubes I squished. This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Would he feel kinship with monkeys who climb "because it's been done—often"?

There, we loaded sleeping bags, mats, climbing gear (sport sandals and Hawaiian shirts), and an ammo box stuffed with 98 Nicaraguan cigars into a rented 15-passenger Ford Econoline Club Wagon. Catch the train to Leatherhead Station, where the Mole Gap begins and follow the silver arrows. Cow pastures surrounding the area providing some natural music as they called to each other. (Note: "We're not in Kansas anymore" is a line from 19-bleeping-39. It was retired farmwife Donna Sterler, who emerged from her white clapboard house with a hearty midwestern hello. After that there would be 700 miles across the Texas panhandle and Oklahoma before we got to Arkansas and the last summit—not to mention the final four-hour slog back to K.C. We'd have to forget Arkansas or drive all night or both.

Even though I refused to be stopped, I could see Casper's point. What would George Mallory think? Though a three-hour drive and our highest summit—South Dakota's 7,242-foot Harney Peak—awaited, we were ready, willing, and punctured by neither horn nor branch: the Chosen Ones of the Great Plains! Since all seven of us hail from the Sunflower State, we badly wanted this 4,039-foot trophy.

Cross road on far side of mini-roundabout just before Town Bridge, and walk over bridge.

As we neared the top of Mole HiIl, a giant doe crashed into the clearing and bounded down the side of the mountain in two leaps. "Welcome to our home," she chirped.

For about two hours.

more, Top Selling Tours & Activities in and around Dayton. I exclaimed, flinching. VERY BUGGY.

But now look at us. Cross river and follow path ahead to kissing gate and to Westhumble.

Continue ahead with care along Chapel Lane for 25 metres then turn left down narrow path between fences and hedges.

Cross over Chapel Lane and turn right along footway. We'd been slugging it out against the vexing factor of distance, but now that other awful variable—time—had jumped us from behind and was punching our kidneys. But we felt disconnected from Thomas P. Martin's world of wonder even before Iowa's flapping cornfields gave way to the arid vastness of the Great Plains. Casper, the father of an infant son, was especially ready to quit—having skipped his shower in North Dakota, he was desperate for creature comforts.

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