Mountains-to-Sea Trail - to the Minnesott Ferry
Starting with 790.5 miles, 93,550 ft. ascent
12 miles to the Minnesott ferry
1.5 extra from the blueberry farm to Handy Mart
Today's goal on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is clear; walking to the Minnesott Ferry which goes across the Neuse River.
It’s 12 miles from where we left off yesterday. It’s cold and wet. The rain was supposed to hold off until the afternoon but it starts raining almost as soon as we leave the church parking lot.
If you missed the sign on the photo yesterday, the New Bethlehem Original Freewill Baptist Church had a sign on its marquee:
Honk if you love Jesus
Text while driving if you want to meet him
The area is poor, rural and isolated. A hawk is perched in the trees and a bald eagle flies overhead. I can’t believe it; a bald eagle in eastern North Carolina.
Most of the fields we pass were planted in cotton and now only the stumps are left.
It turns out that the U.S. is the third largest grower of cotton after China and India. Most of the southern states grow cotton and we export almost half of the cotton we grow. These fields look small, barely worth bothering with. But they do.
The trail takes us through the town of Arapahoe, population 434; the name sounds Maori to me but Lenny says it’s really an Indian name.
Arapahoe was founded a few years after New Bern by settlers leaving the New Bern colony.
This area was settled on the old Indian trail from the big bend in the river heading west to Core Point. The community was called “Bethany Crossroads”. That Indian trail is still in use today in the form of NC 306.
In 1886 Bob Hardison and his friend Bob Bowden decided to apply to the U.S. Postal Department for a Post office to be located at “Bethany Crossroads” in Pamlico County. They filled out an application and both signed it.
When it was returned to them it was addressed to “Bob’s Town”, since there was already a “Bethany Crossroads” near Fayetteville. Neither of the Bobs liked “Bob’s Town” so they came up with a different name - Arapahoe, named after one of the Bob's horse.
Arapahoe in Pamlico County has a supermarket, a new Charter school and, of course, several churches.
It looks like they closed their conventional school and replaced it with a charter school. The picture is of their closed school building.
NC 306, the main road, is one lane today because the community's water pipes are being upgraded. These utility guys look bored so I can’t resist telling them about the MST.
Arapahoe flows right into Minnesott Beach, the last town before the ferry.
Minnesott Beach is located at the site of an old Indian settlement which was thought to be one of the largest Indian trading centers in the South Atlantic states.
The city fathers recognize that their time is past. Here's what they say on their website:
Back in the 1930s through 1950s, in our heyday, we were a thriving vacation destination. Today we have settled into a quiet golfing, sailing, and retirement community which offers an 18-hole golf course, marina, and world class boys' camp.
We pass the entrance to the subdivision. It looks quite upmarket. I wonder what kind of people it attracts. It is so far from any services or entertainment.
We reach the ferry landing and have our picnic lunch there. There are a few picnic tables under cover, which is good since it is cold and wet. Several cars are waiting in line. A ferry comes in and quickly goes back out. Right now the ferry is free, though it is supposed to start charging next month.
We go in the ferry building and talk to the guy in the office. He hasn’t heard of the MST and I give him a Friends of the MTS pamphlet.
We now need to go back toward the US 17 bridge so I can walk the extra 1.5 miles east of the bridge that we checked out yesterday.
The route essentially takes us from US 17, which takes traffic off the bridge to NC 55. It doesn’t take us long to walk the back roads. We pass a blueberry farm, very dormant now.
This is Lenny’s last MST hiking day. Time for a shift change tomorrow.
Cumulative after 64 days, 804 miles, 93,550 ft. ascent