Starting with 765.2 miles, 93,400 ft. ascent
1. Norwood to Elijah Loftin Crossing
2. Into New Bern
15.3 miles, 150 ft. ascent
Today we broke up the day in two on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
It’s cold – colder than it’s been so far. I’m wearing long pants, a thermal top and a rain jacket. But the dogwood is in bloom and it’s definitely spring. The trail takes us south of Kinston. The farms seem smaller and less prosperous.
One field still has stalks of cotton which has not been plowed under.
We pass a couple of home based businesses like firearm service but there are no gas stations or shops. We arrive at our first destination before lunch time.
In New Bern
I am eager to get to New Bern.
We drive to New Bern on Old 70 and set up cars so we’ll walk much of NC 55 in New Bern and end up at the take off point for the US 17 bridge over the Neuse River.
I’ve been looking forward to New Bern for a long time. It is the largest city that the MST goes through.
New Bern was founded in 1710 and they just celebrated their 300 anniversary. The city was settled by Baron Christopher de Graffenried from Bern, Switzerland. Bern, in German, means bear. Painted bear sculptures stand all over the city.
The big attraction in New Bern is Tryon Palace. See the picture above.
The palace was the residence of the Royal Governor William Tryon. It was the capitol of the Colony of North Carolina. After the Revolutionary War, the Palace became the first capitol of the state of North Carolina.
The MST comes into New Bern via NC 55, a four-lane commercial road with fast food restaurants, a laundromat, auto repair shops and the Craven County medical complex.
We walk on the wide grassy sides and it’s not dangerous at all. Once we get into the downtown proper, the sidewalk starts. We’re in a poor, African-American neighborhood with run-down housing.
Soon we’re in the historic area with mega churches, lovely homes and a few bed and breakfasts. The MST itself doesn’t go past Tryon Palace but we turn right to see it and get our picture taken in front of the gate.
I understand that several FMST members from New Bern have proposed a new route through the city, one that would take you off NC 55. They’re concerned that the current route is too busy.
I disagree; I think that walkers should see more of the city than just lovely homes and the Palace. The current route is busy but not dangerous.
We wander around the tourist area with our packs on. The riverfront is well-done. There are several streets of restaurants, galleries and gift shops. We go into a store called The four C’s.
The woman behind the counter asks “Are you walking the MST?” Wow! That’s the first time anyone has asked me that. Then I notice that she’s carrying a pile of Scot’s MST trail guides, so she knows the trail.
There’s a Pepsi Cola store. Pepsi, first known as Brad’s Drink, was created in 1898 at Bradham’s Pharmacy at Middle and Pollock Streets, the tourist streets we’re been exploring.
Tomorrow is the big day when we cross the Neuse River on a huge and busy bridge.
Cumulative after 62 days, 780.5 miles, 93,550 ft. ascent