Tag Archives: Friends of the MST

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.

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 …


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.

Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Celebrates!

2016 FMST board
2016 FMST board and staff

It was the first week-end in February, time for the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail Annual Meeting. Over 240 members came from near and far (Sylva to the Outer Banks) and out-of-state as well to celebrate the 18th annual meeting.

Just as a comparison, Jeff Brewer, the first president of FMST, said that the first meeting had twenty participants.

A few highlights:

fmstmeeting2016 029AKate Dixon, the Executive Director, gave a progress report, which included:

*The FMST website now has trail guides for all the trail sections. Whoopee! You can now follow the trail from Clingmans Dome to Jockey’s Ridge and know that you’ve got the best turn-by-turn directions and information on what’s on the trail.

* You can paddle the Neuse River, if you want a multi-modal experience. You can! I like my feet firmly on the ground. In certain sections, you can also do the MST on a bike or on a horse.

Sharon "Mama Goose"
Sharon “Mama Goose”

I had the pleasure of introducing our keynote speaker, Sharon “mama goose” Smith, who talked about the importance of Warrior Hikes on transitioning veterans back to civilian life. They need to walk off the war.

One of the points she made that resonated with me was that in the old days, soldiers marched home from war and had the chance to process their experiences. Now veterans can have a traumatic experience on the battlefield on Saturday and be home with their families on Monday.

Sharon will be organizing a group of veterans to walk the MST in the fall. Shorter trails that may just go through one state keep the hiker-veterans close to home and give families a chance to visit with them from time to time.

Another highlight of the meeting

CMC members
CMC members

Three Carolina Mountain Club maintenance members came to present their achievement on the Waterrock Knob piece of the MST. So proud of them. From left to right, they are Skip Sheldon, Tom Weaver and Pete Petersen.

This piece of trail, high in the Blue Ridge Mountains, was such a challenge that it took six years to complete-all with volunteer labor.

Various speakers talked about  the importance of the North Carolina bond issue vote which comes up on March 15. We need to pass this bond issue, because some money  eventually will trickle down to the MST and other NC trails.

fmstmeeting2016KCB 027AKimberly Crest Books (that’s Lenny and me) was a exhibitor at the  meeting, along with much bigger groups such as REI,  Great Outdoor Provision Company and the Elkin Valley Association. They had many people staffing their areas, while it was just me. Still, I was glad of the opportunity to talk to people about the National Park Centennial.

When I donated a couple of books to the raffle, I asked “How many national park units does the MST go through? No one jumped up with the answer, so here it is.

  1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway
  3. Guilford Courthouse National Military Park
  4. Moores Creek National Battlefield
  5. Cape Hatteras National Seashore