In my attempt to walk all the bits of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that have been approved since I completed the trail, I walked about 8 miles (1,100 feet of ascent) from north of Blowing Rock to Bamboo Gap. Two years ago, when I did this section, we walked the Blue Ridge Parkway. This year, there’s a new trail, thanks to the Watauga Task Force.
“B”, former Friends of the MST board member, was supposed to walk with me but he injured his foot but he was so nice to drop me off at the beginning of the stretch, or else I would have had to walk 16 miles. Friends of the MST is a real family. Sharon and I stayed with him a couple of years and we’re still in touch.
I started a little north of MP 291.8. Almost immediately I hit a gate which I had to scale, a short piece of trail and another gate. What is this? An obstacle course? And Robert Frost’s poem came to mind:
‘Why do they make good neighbors?
Isn’t it where there are cows?
But here there are no cows.
I assumed that the gates were meant to discourage mountain bikes. But soon, I saw that “Oh, yes, there were cows here.” Lots of cow patties on the ground. The trail crosses the Parkway several times. In the woods, I saw plenty of mid-summer flowers: jewel weed, Bowman’s root, white bee balm, and yellow cone flowers. The trail was fresh and clear beneath my feet. It felt like I was the first person here, but of course, I know better.
An elderly couple was walking the road and we waved at each other. The trail worked its way i
nto a pasture. It felt like I was walking in England, maybe too much like England. It was a real pasture with grazing cows. The couple saw me and shouted “They won’t bother you.” Easy for them to say; they were on the road. The trail took a side trip to George Hayes Road and back in the woods on this great staircase.
But how to cross Goshen Creek? When I drove up, I was held up by construction on the bridge. The road was one-lane here with a traffic light controlling vehicles.
The MST goes under the bridge but the construction workers were turning hikers back. They felt that construction debris could fall off the bridge.
I was not about to argue with them. I bushwhacked to the Parkway and waited until the light on my side was red. Cars were lined up waiting for the light to turn green. I asked one of the drivers if he could give me a lift across the bridge so I could continue my hike.
And the driver turned out to be the guy who was walking the Parkway with his wife a while back.
It’s not difficult to make friends on the MST.