Mountains-to-Sea Trail – In the fog

Starting with 469.1 miles, 77,350 ft. ascent


MST17-In the fog

Bamboo Gap to Jeffress Park

12 miles, 2,400 ft. ascent

Section hiking requires a lot of planning. For a few days of hiking on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, I have to clear my calendar, coordinate with Sharon, my hiking partner, pack, decide where to stay and then actually go. There’s no legal camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so we either car camp, stay with friends or a motel.

MST17-B and SharonThe bottom line is that we can’t worry about the weather.

On this stretch, we were lucky to be able to stay with “B” Townes, a Friends of the MST board member. He wanted to hike with us this past Tuesday. So the three of us met on  the US 321/221 entrance of the Parkway.

We were going to walk about 6.5 miles on the road but the fog was so thick that it was dangerous. Walking on the road is not that safe to start with but with the fog and rain, it would have been fool hardy.

So we started from Bamboo Gap at the western end of the 25-mile section that was just dedicated. It was wet and windy but not that cold in the woods. We hoped that the blazes were good because we didn’t have Scot Ward‘s instructions. He wrote his book before this section was dedicated.

Someone had written an informal narrative of the Watauga County section of trail and I got a copy at the MST dedication. but it was difficult to follow. With the rain, the sheets of paper were turning to mush.

The trail kept returning to the Parkway and crossing it numerous times. At one point, the instructions has us passing Grandview Overlook. It sounded grand, but with the fog, we barely saw the pull-off to the Overlook, never mind the view. We only saw one group, two brothers on recumbent bikes.

MST17-meeting bikersIn the woods, we didn’t stop much because we were uncomfortable.

We noticed the spittlebug foam. It looks just like it sounds – spit on tree bark. “B” is a hunter so he showed us the deer scraping. I guess we didn’t see the section at its best.

We had the luxury of three cars. “B” had left his car at US 421 just in case we needed to bail out but we ended up at the entrance of Jeffress Park – two miles into the South Ashe County section – cold, wet but feeling good.

Cumulative after Day 41, 481.1 miles, 79,750 ft. ascent



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