The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail annual is always fun. This year, I was asked to join the board and it’s become even more relevant to me.
On Friday evening, the FMST board met at Haw River State Park, north of Greensboro, for an orientation session for new members (that’s me) and a regularly scheduled meeting. It turns out that I know most of the board members because little by little I’ve been volunteering for more and more assignments.
Kate Dixon, the Executive Director, knows how to do this very well. “Would you be interested in doing this little task? How about being on a committee? Not much work.” And the next thing I know, I’m on the board.
The next morning, we all drove to Elon University, just west of Burlington where we had the annual meeting. The campus is beautiful but we came to hear about the MST.
First up was Brad Ives, the NC Assistant Secretary for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR). After all, the MST is a state park. He praised FMST and even hinted that a superintendent for the MST might not be out of the question. He reminded us that 2016 was the 100th anniversary of the NC state park system, as well as the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
Plaques were presented to hikers who completed the MST in 2013. Out of the three people who finished last year, only Trevor Thomas came, along with his dog. Trevor, whose trail name is Zero/Zero, is the celebrated blind hiker, who has made a professional career out of hiking. He’s sponsored by many national outdoor outfitters. His trusted dog, Tennille, also received a plaque. From left to right, Allan de Hart, founder of FMST, Trevor, and Howard Lee, also a new board member along with Tennille, the dog.
I had two five-minute presentations: one on the MST through the Smokies route and one on my book “The Mountains-to-Sea Trail Across North Carolina”, the only memoir about the MST. I always enjoy talking about my book, though the audience was more interested in the guidebook that will be created on the whole trail. Fair enough-That’s more important.
I learned two new words:sectioneer and stage hiker. This describes a hiker who does a whole trail in sections. I haven’t found it on the web yet, but I’ll start using it.
The MST Task Forces were recognized for their efforts in 2013. As usual, Carolina Mountain Club had the most hours-6,375. Second was the Elkin Valley Trails Association with 5,087 hours. They’re a small group but the whole town is involved with their trail project.
I can’t finish this blog post without mentioning the terrific lunch that FMST offered in conjunction with Elon University.
Instead of the deep fried, cheap food that I usually associate with feeding over 100 people, two types of salads, two types of wraps, cookies and iced tea were on the buffet table.
I don’t know how FMST was able to afford this, but they now have a high barrier to meet next year.