Category Archives: Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Friends of the MST Celebrates 40 years!

This past weekend, Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail celebrated its 40th anniversary in Elkin, North Carolina with a gala, meeting and lots of activities. The evening gala attracted about 260 members, the meeting about 290. Here are a few highlights.

Howard Lee and Doris Hammett

Friday evening went back to the past. In 1977, Howard Lee, then Secretary of the NC Department of Natural Resources and Community Development, announced that there would be a hiking trail through North Carolina. Howard, now on the board of Friends of the MST, was at the meeting. So was Dr. Doris Hammett who had chaired the Fourth National Trails Conference where Howard spoke. Doris was also a leader in the trail building Task Force in Haywood County.

Saturday was all about the future. What would the trail look like in the next 40 years, in 2057? Each table brainstormed the future of the MST. Our table came up with:

  1.  One million hikers have completed the trail.
  2. The MST is all on footpath
  3. Hostels and campsites will enable hikers to hike the whole trail smoothly.

Even I won’t be around in 40 years to see this happen but these are important goals.

Kate Dixon and her award

Kate Dixon, Executive Director of Friends of the MST since 2008, received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, a major, major award in North Carolina. Pretty impressive.

Here’s a little information about this award.

The Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society
Among the most prestigious awards conferred by the Governor of North Carolina is The Order of the Long Leaf Pine. It is awarded to persons for exemplary service to the State of North Carolina and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.

Jennifer Pharr Davis, who we all know as the past record holder of the fastest person on the Appalachian Trail, was the keynote speaker.

Jennifer Pharr Davis

She will walk the MST starting in August to publicize the trail and encourage everyone to get out there. Her husband, Brew, will handle the logistics for Jennifer’s hike. It takes support of all kinds to walk the MST.

Jennifer will hold events in the communities around the MST and will invite hikers to walk with her. She emphasized the healing and uplifting power of nature.

No, Jennifer won’t be running. This is a different kind of project. I managed to take a picture of her with Gus, her younger child.

To my amazement, I received recognition for my involvement on the MST.  I received a beautifully framed print of the certificate now given out to MST completers.

Kate and me with a plaque

In my thank you remarks, I emphasized that in our efforts to get the MST off the road, we don’t forget that the MST is more than a walk between two sets of trees.

I hope we don’t lose the history of our state that we can now see on the road – the mills, cabins, tobacco barns, historic plaques, hamlets, old advertising – and major reminders of the American Revolution and even a little of the Civil War. 

Speaking of history, the photo at the top of the blog post is of an American Revolution encampment in Elkin set up for the weekend. The town is the eastern end of the Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail and very proud of its part in the Revolutionary War.

It’s going to be difficult to top this meeting. So let’s just get on the trail.

Friends of the MST meeting – before and after

The Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail 40th anniversary meeting and gala promises to be one to remember. It’s next weekend – Friday March 24 to Sunday March 26 in Elkin, NC. Besides the gala  and Saturday meeting,  there will be art stroll, music, and wine and beer, of course.

And we’ll be refighting the Revolutionary War in the South. OK, not fighting, just learning about the various battles.  On Friday March 24: 8:00-5:00 and Saturday March 25: 8:00-3:00, members of the North Carolina Historical Reenactment Society Revolutionary War Unit 6th NC Regiment of the Continental Line (the Sixth), the Yadkin Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Surry-Wilkes Chapter of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association will present Overmountain Victory Trail Revolutionary War Days. Yes, there was plenty of revolutionary war action in the South.

Guilford Courthouse

There will be talks on the Battle of Kings Mountains and Guilford Courthouse – subjects of two national park units that I visited several times. I do hope that the speakers will go beyond “the red stood here and the blue stood there.”

Maybe they might explain one the most fascinating monuments at Guilford Courthouse, the “No North, No South” monument. This monument, erected in 1903, was an attempt to unify the country still raw from the Civil War by pointing out that we were all unified during the American Revolution.

But have no fear. These talks will only be 15 minutes each and be repeated throughout the day.

Muskets and rifles will be fired. Members of the company will be camping in authentic Revolutionary style. I wonder if anyone will be reenacting the redcoats, you know, the British Army soldiers.

OVVI

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVVI) unifies several battlefields. Its eastern end starts in Elkin. The western end is in Virginia. There’s a rumor that the Superintendent of the Historic Trail will also be there, talking about OVVI and stamping your national park passport.

But the most fascinating part of all of this for me is talking to the men who are the descendants of the OVVI soldiers. Imagine knowing about your grandfather (N times removed) who lived in the 1780s.

I could give you the schedule but there are so many activities. Just come to Elkin on Friday and enjoy. And though technically, you don’t have to register for the Friends of the MST meeting to participate in the reenactment, just remember who made this possible.

So sign up – I don’t think it’s too late.

 

Mountains-to-Sea Trail Celebrates Forty Years!

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail turns forty years old this year. And Friends of the MST (Friends) is celebrating in several ways. Come and join us!

At Pilot Mountain

Friday to Sunday March 24 to 26, 2017
Friends of the MST is planning a weekend of hikes, excursions, talks, and discussions in Elkin, North Carolina. This is a chance for for you to meet folks from all over the state and beyond, laud its accomplishments, and plan for the future. Jennifer Pharr Davis, a Carolina Mountain Club member and a past Appalachian Trail speed record holder, will be the keynote speaker.

Elkin, two hours north east from Asheville, is the quintessential small town with big plans, dreams, and energy. The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVVI) starts its eastern spur in town. Elkin has worked hard to bring the MST through their town.

Stone Mountain SP

Highlights of the MST Gathering of Friends include:
* The keynote by Jennifer. She will also hike and publicize the MST in 2017.
* Hiking in Stone Mountain State Park, Devils Garden and other MST places that I dubbed the mountains away from the mountains, i.e. the Piedmont.
* Paddling on the Yadkin Valley
* Mountain Biking Clinic. REI will supply the bikes
* Hiking Boot Gala on Friday evening with dinner, music and fellowship
* Winery and Brewery Tours, and …

OVVI

The activity I’m most anticipating,
An encampment and portrayal of the NC sixth regiment who participated in the Overmountain Victory during the Revolutionary War. They will also lead a short hike on the OVVI.

The Friends gala and meeting are almost at capacity. So go on the Friends of the MST website and sign up.