Tabling for Friends of the MST

20160501FMSTtabling 003AToday I literally changed hats.

I took off my National Park Service Centennial hat and shirt and put on Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail clothing to table at the Diamond Brand Paddling Day.

Now what was a hiking trail doing at a Paddle demonstration? The quick answer is that FMST was invited.

I went down to Lake Julian in South Asheville, a Buncombe County park and set up my booth with pictures, pamphlets and a donation jar. Lake Julian, the cooling lake for the Carolina Power and Light  (now Progress Energy) steam generating plant, was a hot bed of activities. People were fishing, picnicking, boating, birding and playing in the playground. They had found their park.

The ones who came to the Paddling Day were anxious to try out paddling in a safe calm environment. And did I mention that all the boat rentals were free? They signed their liability release, got their PDF and paddle, and walked to the lake completely ignoring my table. Most were Generation X  parents with children in town – and dogs. There are even PFD for dogs in several sizes. Plenty of baby boomers and older as well.

Check from Astral
Check from Astral

What was I doing here?

I talked to all the staff and boating vendors that Diamond Brand invited. I took a walk around the parking area, just to break up the monotony. When I came back to my booth, I found a large check facsimile for a contribution to Friends of the MST from Astral.

OK, now I know what I’m doing here.

I did talk to several folks about the trail. Their first question is always

Is the trail finished?

Lake Julian
Lake Julian

Yes, it’s finished. It’s just not all on footpath and will probably never will be.

It’s more like a European Camino de Santiago and not the Appalachian Trail. It’s much more of a cultural trail, once you get out of the mountains. Very interesting.

Think of going through small towns, past farms and walking the beach.

I think they understood. The A.T. should not be the standard by which all other trails are judged.

Back to talking about national parks, starting tomorrow when I head to South Carolina.

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