Today, I had the pleasure and honor to lead a celebrity hike on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail for MST-in-a-Day. We walked from the Folk Art Center to the Visitor Center and back – an easy, popular stretch. We were one of many groups walking the trail from Clingmans Dome to Jockey’s Ridge State Park. Kate Dixon, Executive Director of Friends of the MST, said that she helped kick off MST-in-a-Day at midnight on a hike at Falls Lake State Recreation Area in the Raleigh area.
If you want to know about the features of this section of trail, read my scouting trip report.
We were so lucky to have wonderful weather – sunny, cool and dry. And all the celebrities who said they were coming showed up on time, in the right place, and ready to go. So who were the celebrities? In no particular order,
Dan Brown, retired superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway (in the yellow shorts)
Phil Francis, retired superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway (somehow missing from the group picture)
John Slaughter, current acting superintendent of the Blue Ridge Parkway (in NPS uniform)
Jennifer Pharr Davis, writer, long-distance hiking record holder, currently hiking the whole MST for Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, holding Gus, her second child
Karen Chavez, Outdoor editor of the Asheville Citizen-Times with a pink jacket
Carolyn Ward, Executive Director of Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, in a dark blue shirt, next to Karen
Esther Manheimer, lawyer and mayor of Asheville, in the middle row with a dark blue long sleeve and sun visor. The boy in back of Esther is her son. Jamie, the woman with the dog, works for the city of Asheville. All three and the dog took off in a run, right after the photos.
Those are celebrities!!
Robert G., a new but strong hiker, came along. He wanted to know all about Carolina Mountain Club. I gave him a CMC bookmark and said,”
“I’d love to talk to you but we are in such famous company. Talk to the superintendents. You’ll learn a lot.
Here I am with the three men.
I, too, learned a lot, including that John S. is leaving to go back to his home in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution parks on September 30. JD Lee, of Big Cypress National Preserve, will become the acting superintendent of the Parkway. Hopefully, by the beginning of the year, the most visited park unit in the country will get a permanent superintendent.
In case you’re wondering if my hike was just a rerun of the scouting hike, I can report that that we had a little excitement of the non-natural kind.
John and I were deep in conversation, when an alarm started screeching in the woods. It seems that I missed a turn and headed for a fenced-off area of a Christian retreat. We were so stunned that it took us a a moment to figure out what we did.
Everyone but Robert and I (the non-celebrities) stopped at the Visitor Center and found other ways of getting back to their cars. The two of us walked back to our cars at the Folk Art Center. On the way, we made a point of setting the alarm off again. It was fun!
Thank you, all, for coming out… And keep on hiking!