Mountains-to-Sea Trail – Pastoral Setting In Orange Country

Starting with 621.5 miles, 88,700 ft. ascent


Allie May Rd. to Hunt Rd. in Orange County

14.7 miles, 500 ft. ascent

Another shift change on my Mountains-to-Sea Trail trek.

Lenny left and Janet came last night for three days of hiking. I was on day five but she was fresh.

Hank drops us off where I left off yesterday, so I thought. We walk on Pentecost Rd. and Scot Ward’s instructions says to turn right on Carr Store Rd. So by Gosh, I’m going to turn right.

“No,” Janet says. “We made a right turn to get here so we need to turn left.”

“Scot hasn’t steered me wrong yet,” I say. I want to turn right. But her suggestion nags at me. I pull out my compass and her direction has us going east.

“Oh boy,” I think. “If Scot is wrong this one time, why does it have to be the very first turn? Now she’s going to question every turn.”

And Janet thinks. “Well, Danny came here from Clingmans Dome with Scot’s instructions. I shouldn’t question it.”

MST21E-CharlesWe follow Janet’s instructions but it bothers me. I try to stop a car to find out if they crossed NC-86, the only highway a driver would know. I put my hand out but young and old just zip past me. Finally Charles, a guy driving a furniture delivery truck, stops.

“We are not hitching,” I say right away. “But have you passed NC-86?”

“Yes,” he says. Then he asks what we’re doing.

“The Mountains-to-Sea Trail,” I explain and give him a card. We all leave happy, except for me. Yes, I know we’re going in the correct direction but why did Scot have to mess up now?

MST21E-JanetinWeekinTreasuresWe pass a general store, Week in Treasures, and now I know we’re going the right way.

We come into Cedar Grove, a ghostly town with old, abandoned buildings. We stop on a broken-down porch to have a snack. A little later, I buy an iced tea at Chambers mini mart, a down and out corner store.

Switching Routes

Once we cross NC-57, we switch from Scot Ward’s instructions to Ian’s route. The MST route changes all the time as new sections of trail open up.

When Scot did the trail for the third time in October 2009, some of the trail around Falls River was not yet opened. When I did it with Kate last January 2010, I started at E. Geer St. in Durham to walk the the new route.

Ian, one of the most recent completers, figured out a new route using Google Maps that would take him through Eno River State Park. He passed his route onto Kate Dixon, Executive Director of Friends of the MST and that’s how I got them. My goal this trip is to get to E. Geer St. where I started last January.

Back on the trail

MST21E-BullWe pass several large cattle farms. Is this a bull?

Mike, a UPS driver, stops to find out what we’re doing.

“The A.T. is that way,” Mike says pointing in the distance. And we explain about the MST.

“UPS drivers, letter carriers driving around and of course, the occasional sheriff car keep me safe. I love it when you folks stop,” I tell Mike.

We get to our car on the side of Hunt Road at about 2 P.M. Walking was the easy part. Now we have to find the trails through Eno Park and West on the Eno for tomorrow.

We get back to our Barbershop home late. Still Janet pulls out the North Carolina Gazetteer to find that we were not dropped off exactly where we thought. Pentecost Rd. made an unexpected bend and we started a little north of where I stopped yesterday. That’s why we had to make a left this morning. So Scot was right and so was Janet.

Cumulative after Day 53, 636.2 miles, 89,200 ft. ascent

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