Has the MST reached a tipping point?


Has the Mountains-to-Sea Trail reached a tipping point? Have enough hikers heard of it that they’re planning to hike it, even with 500 miles of road walking through North Carolina? I hope so.

Consider the following. Last year, three people completed the MST. The year before, five people completed the trail – the most that ever finished in one year.

But the tipping point theory says that there’s a point at which an idea spreads like a virus. At that point, it becomes a trend – and that might be what is happening with the MST.

This year, Scot Ward and I have already finished and Friends of the MST has put us on their website. Thank you, Kate Dixon, Executive Director of Friends of the MST. But it’s only the beginning of June.

I’m not privy to everyone that’s on the trail. But I know that Matt Kirk is running the trail. Matt is an amazing trail runner, who has already broken a record for running all the South Beyond 6000 mountains. You can follow him on his website, when he has the time to update it.

Now I’ve heard that the Marines at Camp Lejeune are going to walk the MST as a relay. Here are their plans:

The idea is to start at Clingmans Dome on Sunday October 2nd, and finish at Jockey’s Ridge on Sunday November 15th. We plan to break the trail up into legs with two Marines hiking as far as they can for seven days, then rotating out with another team of two. They will then continue where the others left off. This will give us a timeline of (43) days to collectively complete the trail.

That’s over 20 miles a day – do they realize that? But they’re marines, and  they will be well-supported. No shuttling cars for them so I’m sure they’ll do it.

Sharon McCarthy in the SmokiesAnd they have a PR machine that Sharon and I never had. I sent out informal press releases to about twenty people and got some blog entries from newspapers but not much print publicity.

Speaking of Sharon, she’ll finish soon and so will Heidi, a nurse from Asheville. This is not just a virus, a tipping point; this is an epidemic.

I’m so glad I finished the MST before it got too crowded.


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