Once a year, members of Friends of the MST get together to learn about the new developments on the trail, to see old friends and make new ones. For the second year, the meeting was in Saxapahaw, south of Burlington–about halfway across the state.
Here are some highlights:
Big accomplishment–We sold our 300th license plate at the beginning of the meeting. Bells rang and whistles blew as Don Bergey, chair of the license plate committee, announced this major milestone.
And though we want and need to keep selling license plates, now the DMV can start fabricating the license plates. Soon we’ll see them on the road.
Kate Dixon gave the State of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
This is always the best part for me. Even though I know most of the facts before hand from various discussions and announcements, it’s nice to see it put all together.
2012 was the 35th anniversary of the trail. Last year, 63 new miles were moved off the road. Several major recommendations were made including the two routes from the Smokies to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a change in the Coastal Plains.
The keynote speaker was Diane Van Deren, a North Face Athlete who set the record for the fastest person on the MST.
She gave a set presentation, starting from her childhood and her challenge with epilepsy. Her talk was very personal and motivational: We all have trials and obstacles but they can be overcome with perseverance and discipline and believing in yourself.
Her run, managed and supported by Great Outdoor Provision Company, brought in over $40,000–and you can’t argue with that kind of success.
Back to our volunteers–Jeff Brewer, first president of Friends of the MST and a dedicated volunteer for years, was recognized. So was Allen de Hart, the granddaddy of the trail. The Carolina Mountain Club task force put in 5,765 hours on working on the trail, the most hours of any task force. A few of those hours were mine.
I rekindled friendships with folks I only see once a year and generally had a great time.