Starting with 158.5 miles, 20,750 ft. ascent
Blackwater United Methodist Church to Mountain View Restaurant
12.2 miles, 600 ft. ascent – 5:13 hours
Sharon and I had placed a car at the Mountain View Restaurant in the town of Pilot Mountain.
Starting at the church in Blackwater, we walked through the town of Ararat and stopped at the post office, a very small building. We introduced ourselves to the postmaster who was delighted to see us. As we walked on the road, we kept taking pictures of the wedding cake top of Pilot Mountain. The mountain popped up at every turn. No wonder, it was considered a sentinel by the Sauratown Indians.
We were going through pleasant, bucolic landscape that reminded me of walking in England – cows, goats, lots of barns and abandoned buildings. We were in rolling hills with church steeples sticking out of trees among a cluster of houses.
Yes, we had to deal with more furious dogs, sometimes on both sides of the road but I’m not going to belabor the point.
We talked to everyone who showed any interest in us and told them about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Sharon petted an old dog under the watchful eyes of his owners.
This is to prove that we’re not afraid of all dogs, just the ones that bark and run after us – more about a good, friendly dog later. We met a couple in the church graveyard changing out their plastic flowers.
This was a more rural area than yesterday with some stands of trees where we could take comfortable breaks. We passed several poor trailers with just dirt in the front yard and no grass or bushes. But we also passed fancy homes.
Walking on NC 268 was not as bad as I thought. We kept waving at trucks and cars. We crossed over US 52 and walked back to our car that we had left at the restaurant in Pilot Mountain.
We needed to find tomorrow’s destination but the map wasn’t clear. We turned into NC 66 and took Taylor Road. I got out my map and the North Carolina Gazetter. A car with two women and a child in back stopped. We told them what we were looking for. The driver took us to the parking area for the Sauratown Trail off Rock House Road. That’s where we’ll end tomorrow. Then when I thanked her, I noticed that she was a rural mail carrier. No wonder she knew these exotic places.
We continued to Hanging Rock State Park where we had reserved a cabin. It started raining and we had tea and a snack in the cabin.
It’s not easy to do this kind of hiking. Planning food, mileage, where to park how to get back to the car… So how did we know where to go? As I say probably once per section, this ain’t the Appalachian Trail.
There are no white circles on the road because it is not officially the MST – only the trail portions are. So how did we know where to go?
Scot “TABA” Ward, who has hiked the MST three times, has written The Thru-Hiker’s Manual for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail of North Carolina. The book is a step by step turn right, turn left set of instructions for the trail. It’s the only current guide and the only one easy enough to use on the road. Based on four days of following the guide, we found it accurate. And that’s the most important thing.
Cumulative after day 13 – 170.7 miles, 21,350 ft. ascent