Maintaining the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and your Marriage

MST maintenance - Blood root

Psychiatrists will tell you that old married couples argue about the same issues over and over throughout their marriage. That is so true when Lenny and I go to maintain our section of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

We maintain a section from Beaver Dam Gap Milepost 401.7 to Big Ridge Overlook Milepost 403.6. It’s a small piece of trail which doesn’t have any specific features. We’re part of a chain of trail maintainers. In general, most two-mile sections don’t have any wow features. But when you put them all together, that’s when you feel the power of the MST.

MST maintenance - 2013 LennyWe went out on Friday armed with clippers, loppers, a hand saw and several garbage bags. When we started walking, we started clipping.

At this time of the year, the trail growth is minimal but this is the time to get all those vines and plants that will potentially cover the trail by June. So the conversation goes like this”

Me: If you’re going to cut a plant, cut it at its base. This way, there will be less to do when we come back.

Lenny: No. You are cutting back too much. You’re cleaning up the trail too much.

Me: We’re not going to come back until June. Any growth we cut now saves us work. We’re not maintaining Biltmore Estate where full-time maintainers probably go back to the same piece of garden every week.

And then there’s garbage pick-up. The MST is very clean, which is a sign that it’s not being used all that much. But when the trail crosses a road, should we ignore the trash on the road?

Lenny: No need to pick up the trash on the road or overlook. That’s not the trail. There’s just so much garbage.

Me: The road is on the MST. When you walk the MST, you have to cross the road and it should be clean.

And so it goes. And has been going for years. We both think we’re right.

The trail was full of bloodroots, the white flower that is the first sign of spring. See above. Get out there while they’re still blooming and enjoy the perfect maintenance.    

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