Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Sauratown Trail, Day 3 and 4

Starting with 170.7 miles, 21,350 ft. ascent

Pilot Mountain to Sauratown Trail, section 4
15.4 miles, 1,700 ft. 7:45 hrs

MST5 - horseandPMweddingcake

Sharon and I woke up to freezing temperatures in Hanging Rock State Park – I had to scrape my windshield.

We drove back to the Mountain View Restaurant where we left off yesterday and walked into the town of Pilot Mountain. The trail took us through the full length of Main St.

Make Pilot Mountain a trail town!

Surely the MST will have several towns with that designation. They’re usually small towns where you can get a cup of coffee, meet a couple of locals and pick up a few things you forgot at home. The only place to get coffee in Pilot Mountain this morning was at the bar and grill where we met three guys smoking outside in front.

MST5 - SharonandmeonPMcouch

The last consumer business we passed was a second hand furniture store, Sellitnowfurniture. We popped in and asked the owner to take our picture on her couch in front of her store.

We walked out of the town on Old US 52 and followed small roads with lots of fancy houses, all with a view of Pilot Mountain. Here, dogs didn’t run after us; it was a classier section with little garbage on the ground.

An old man with an orange vest was picking up trash and putting it in a barrel on wheels. He was probably doing community service.

Finally we entered the woods on the Sauratown Trail. The ST is broken up into small sections and the MST joins it at  Section 12.

MST5 - SMDannystreamcrossingWe needed to cross the Little Yadkin River almost as soon as we got on the trail.

I had brought my Keen watershoes so I wouldn’t have to walk in wet boots all day and the next day. This was a first for me; usually I just plow through the water. The soil on the other side of the stream was very sandy and I carried the shoes and wet socks the whole way. I’m not sure it was worth it.

At first glance the Sauratown Trail looked like nondescript scrub but a little looking revealed a great deal of vegetation including pitch pine, trout lilies, bluets, creeping flox, holly,
running cedar or club moss, white pine and lots of mountain laurel. We also went through a small stand of Carolina rhododendrons.

The trail took us out of the woods on Old Mill Road and Mazie’s Lane where we passed a couple of houses.

MST5 - SMHeididog A dog bolted off the porch as we went past. The owner yelled for her, “Heidi”, but never bothered to get off the porch. Heidi followed us all the way until we reached our end point at the Sauratown Trail parking.

Heidi bound through the woods, got in front of us, went off trail and then waited for us to catch up. She never touched us, just ran back and forth. Now there’s a dog I could love. She played in the streams, rolled in the dirt but kept her distance from us. She just needed the exercise!

Sharon and I spent the rest of the hike discussing what to do because it was obvious that Heidi was not going to return home. I wanted to just forget about her. As far as I was concerned, Heidi was on her own. She had probably done this before.

Sharon wanted to find the owner, call the owner or turn the dog to the police in Pilot Mountain but we couldn’t get close to Heidi to read her collar and get a phone number. I saved my Nutri-grain bar so we could coax her into the car when we got to the parking lot. Finally we reached the end and took off our boots. In the time it took us to get organized, Heidi disappeared. Gone.

Sharon wanted to drive back to the house and tell the owners where we last saw the dog. I was fine with that – as teenagers say “Whatever”.

No one was home so we talked to the neighbor, Rachel, who was the dog owner’s niece. I don’t think Rachel understood where we had last seen the dog but she said that Heidi followed hikers a lot. She was so impressed with the fact that we walked from Pilot Mountain. I gave her one of my book cards with the added information about the MST.

The next day, we walked to:

Sauratown Trail Section 4 to Hanging Rock State Park Visitor Center
10.5 miles, ,2800 ft. ascent, 5:40 hrs 

Sunday started gray and the weather deteriorated from there.

MST5 - SharoninTory'sDen We walked into Hanging Rock State Park and took a diversion to Tory’s Den – a cave where Tories, British sympathizers, hid out. The trail took us down on very elaborate steps, first to a waterfall and then to the cave itself.

Back on the MST, we followed the white circles on Moore’s Wall Loop Trail to the tower on Moore’s Knob. By now, it was raining.

The first two people we saw the whole way turned out to be Steve and Cooper, two fellows from Greensboro who were training to thru-hike the whole MST. I had corresponded with Steve only last week. We wished them luck and continued our climb.

Down from Moore’s Knob, the rain fell harder and we just wanted to get back to our cars and head home. On the way home, I heard that we had tornado warnings in Central North Carolina. That’s where I was!

P.S. The next day, I heard from Rachel that Heidi, the dog, came back home two hours after we had talked to her.

Cumulative after Day 15 196.6 miles, 25,850 ft. ascent   

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