Entries For: September 2011
How did I get into this?
It’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month, and this is your chance to test your knowledge of North Carolina’s State Trail.
Every day from Saturday, October 1st to Tuesday, November 7th, Friends of the MST will post a question about the MST on Great Outdoor Provision Co.’s Facebook page.
- The first person to post the correct answer each day will win a $5 MST raffle ticket and the chance to win one of 18 great prizes of gift cards and gear. Contestants are eligible to win up to two daily prizes.
- Every person who submits the correct answer to all 39 questions by November 8th will win five raffle tickets and the glory of being recognized as an “MST Trivia Wizard – 2011” on this webpage and on Facebook.
Go to this page for all the rules and regs.
I am writing the trivia questions because I somehow said that right now I am a fountain of trivia. So I'm sending GOPC a question and most times a picture until Nov. 7.
Check it out and enter the photo contest as well.
Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads by Carolyn Sakowski is the book to consult for Thanksgiving.
No, it doesn't have recipes but it has more important help. It will help you entertain your out-of-town guests.
They've heard about the beauty, history and culture of the area but they don't hike and don't really know where to go. This is where you'll be able to shine as you take them on backroads.
The book documents 21 driving tours all over Western North Carolina. When I got the book, I went directly to the Overmountain Victory Trail Tour. This trail is mostly a driving trail but it pops up all over the place. It follows somewhat the route that the Patriots took to Kings Mountain to defeat the British Forces. The author took a part of the trail and created a 87-mile driving tour. Along the way, the author explains the history and culture of the area.
For each tour, there's a map, a driving distance and lots of black and white pictures. At the front, a map of the area shows where each tour lies, so you can quickly decide if you want to go to the starting point.
Carol Sakowski is the publisher of John F. Blair and this is the third edition of her book, so obviously it's been well-received. The author is doing book tours throughout the whole region, including Malaprops in Asheville on Thursday Sept. 29 at 5:30 P.M.
To see her whole event schedule, see the website.
The hike is easy, peasy - 6.5 miles, 1,500 feet. For that effort, you'll see two cemeteries, cabins, a chapel and some beautiful fall scenery.
You'll also see some of the awesome work on the trail by the Trails Forever crew. We'll have several distinguished personalities as well.
Though I think the hike is easy, you still need all your serious hiking gear. It will take all day since we plan to enjoy all the artifacts.
Space is limited. To register for the Little Cataloochee Trail hike, contact Friends of the Smokies at firstname.lastname@example.org or 28-452-0720.
A donation of $25 is requested, and includes a complimentary membership to Friends of the Smokies. Donations will benefit Trails Forever, a program dedicated to trail improvement projects in the Smokies. There is no cost to current Friends of the Smokies members.
Active Aging Week starts on Sunday September 25. In Buncombe County, they are offering walks, talks, pep rallies and chair exercises.
But seniors won't be offered hiking, biking or rafting. In the heaven which is Western North Carolina, no one will be taking seniors on the Blue Ridge Parkway or to the Smokies. Everything will happen in the various communities and much of it indoors.
Carolina Mountain Club has not been invited to participate even though almost all our active hikers are over 50 and many are over 65. It's like we're living in a parallel universe.
No one is telling seniors that their peers are hiking 8 to 12 miles a day every Sunday and Wednesday. They have to discover us (the hiking club) online or by bumping into an existing member.
So if you're reading this and wonder if Active Aging Week is talking to you, come out and hike with CMC instead.
I took my granddaughter camping this weekend at Jordan Lake State Recreation Area. It was the easiest, tamest type of car camping there can be but it was quite an adventure for both of us. It was her first camping trip and it was the first time I camped just for the sake of camping since her father was her age - eight years old.
It didn't matter where we went but I chose Jordan Lake just outside of Chapel Hill when it was still 90 degree and sweltering. I pictured lots of swimming and I requested a campsite by the lake.
By the time we got there on Saturday, it was 60 degrees and drizzling. We had lunch and put up the tent. She was a great help in holding the tent because I couldn't put it up by myself. When children are given real work to do, they shine and she realized that this was real.
"Let's get the tent up before it really starts pouring.
But it didn't really pour. We hiked on a trail in the Poplar Point campground. A group of kids were in the water and I couldn't really say that she couldn't go. So she put on shorts, a T-shirt over her bathing suit and her water shoes and she played in the water. She lasted 15 minutes and her stuff was still wet the next day.
But camping to her was all about making S'mores and I wasn't going to disappoint her. I'm not good at making a real fire but I bought fire started and charcoal impregnated with lighter fluid. I brought lots of newspapers and of course, the S'mores fixings. This turned out to be a $30 marshmallow roast.
I didn't buy bundles of wood because a bundle was just too heavy. We scavenged around the campsite but the place was well picked over. The fire lasted long enough to toast several marshmallows and make the S'mores. [If her parents are reading this, yes, we did have a real dinner before that - backpacking pasta primavera.]
It drizzled on and off all night but it was dry by the time we got up. The tent was soaked but it had stopped raining.
As we broke camp, a female ranger drove past and waved. I asked her to stop and have Hannah meet her. I didn't catch her name but the ranger made a great impression on her. The ranger explained that she carried a gun but that they send you for all types of training. She was a good, attractive role model.
We bundled up and went on a longer hike at another campground at Lake Jordan.
As with most state parks, the trail was well marked. She's a motivated walker but everything interests her. She counted rings on a tree stump. She marveled at every mushroom - and with this rain there were lots of mushrooms. She was upset (and so was I) about the garbage left by boaters on the beach.
Like most newbies, she overdressed first thing in the morning. By midmorning, she was in a T-shirt and had partially unzipped her pant legs. I excused her from carrying a pack and I was carrying her entire wardrobe, it seemed.
But she liked it all, even with the rain and the anemic fire. Next time, we'll try another North Carolina State Park.
North Carolina’s annual October celebration of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will include a photo contest open to professionals and amateurs. A committee put together by Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail will be the judges.
There are two categories for those of us older than 17 - views from the trail and people on the trail. You can see all the rules and regs at http://www.ncmst.org/get-involved/photo-contest/
I plan to enter but the problem is that I have too many pictures. I have pictures of almost every mile of the 1,000- mile trail. Though I've deleted more than I've kept, I still have hundreds of pictures that I think show the spirit of the MST.
So what are they looking for?
I can give them Clingmans Dome, Mt. Mitchell, Wilson Creek, Cape Hatteras. The Neusiok Trail can be confused with the South Pacific. And of course, Cape Hatteras is one fantastic views after another.
Quirky and interesting. I have many pictures of roadside cemeteries, bubbly mailboxes, tobacco barns and cotton fields.
Unusual. Now that's where I have an advantage. By having walked the whole MST, I have pictures that others may not have - bugle boy (hah, do you know where that is?), old men at the the chatterbox cafe on the trail, the old ski lodge, which has never seen a skier. Yep, I could excel at MST trivia.
So help me out here. What kind of picture would win the first Mountains-to-Sea Trail photo contest?
Most people regard fall in the Blue Ridge as the premier time to hike. But for me, fall is yellow jacket season. I'm highly allergic and I carry an epi pen but still I'm on high alert during fall.
Yesterday, I went on a Carolina Mountain Club hike in Pisgah National Forest.
We started at Douglas Falls outside of Barnardsville. It's not a well-traveled trail. We climbed up about 2,000 ft. to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Several of us got stung, including me.
Though I lathered myself with insect repellant and moved at a good click, I got stung on the elbow and on the ear. I stopped to take a Benedryl tablet, which is supposed to bring down the swelling. But it still burned.
Yellow jackets make their nests in the ground. So obscure trails are more likely to harbor yellow jackets than well-pounded trails. Horse trails or old roads are the safest from yellow jackets because they can't dig in or the nests get pounded out of existence before the fall.
Still, it was a beautiful hike.
The gentians were in full bloom - see below.
Mountain ash were at their peak and the group was great.
And in my humble, amateur estimation, yellow jackets last a lot longer now.
The population may not be getting wiped out in the winter because our winters are not as cold.
So I do everything I can to mitigate yellow jackets but not hiking in the fall is not an option.
We're back in Western North Carolina!
Wherever we went in England, we heard about Hurricane Irene. As soon as we said that we were from North Carolina, people talked about the damage that Irene did. We quickly said that we were "from the mountains, 400 miles away", but all they heard was North Carolina.
Now I'm catching up on the news and looking at pictures of NC 12, the only road that goes through Cape Hatteras. I know that it's old news for most of you but I look at these pictures of the road, all broken up, with horror.
Sharon and I was there in May walking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail through Cape Hatteras National Seashore. We walked on the beach most of the time, but we never missed going through a town. Now these towns such as Avon and Rodanthe are trying to recover from the storm. At this point, NC 12 is closed from Hatteras north to Oregon Inlet.
I am so glad we finished the trail in the spring. I feel sorry for hikers who are now on the MST near that region. It must be so discouraging to walk so far and not finish what you started.
All good things must come to an end.
Yesterday we finished the Norfolk Coast Path in Cromer, a seaside town with amusements, fruit machines (slot machines), ice cream shops and of course, fish and chips.
This last day may have been the best day. The trail climbed up several times to fantastic views of the East Anglia coastline. We have been so lucky with the weather. I don't know what good things we may have done in our previous lives but the weather was dry and sunny all three days.
While on the flat, we saw fishermen casting lines. It reminded me of Cape Hatteras on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, except for one big difference. On Cape Hatteras, each fishing family had an SUV on the beach. Here, everyone walked to the beach from a parking area.
Would I recommend the Norfolk Coast Path to Americans? Yes, even though it is flat - after all it is a coast path. But it is such a different part of England, a part where working class folks go to vacation. There are great pubs for dinner, friendly folks and funky seaside towns. Obviously, hikers would not come to Britain for just a three-day walk, so this would be an add-on, a real fun add-on.
I don't think that people walk more here but I think more people walk. Most of the time, they use their dogs as an excuse to do a couple of miles on a trail. If they do that every day, even at a slow pace, they're moving more than most Americans. Almost every walker seemed to have a dog - a large well-behaved dog.
Back in the Smokies real soon.
We just finished Day 2 on the Norfolk Coast Path in southeast England. We walked 16 miles yesterday and 15 today. It's flat, flat, flat but not boring. The picture above is of us at the beginning of the path.
This is not the same experience as Cape Hatteras on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. There, we walked on the beach the whole time, moving to the road when we found a town. Here, the coast is lined with marshland. The trail follows the marsh and the coast, much of it on a sea bank.
Every once in a while, the path takes us on the beach itself. There's plenty of jetsam and flotsam, fancy words for garbage on the beach. We also passed a naturist beach, i.e. a nude beach, but we got there too early to see any nudists.
The villages are right on the beach. So we walk through town and sometimes get tempted by ice creams or a pot of tea. Today was a two-dessert day, not good for the waistline.
Village names seem to be in inverse proportion to the size of the village. Last night, we stayed in Burnham Overy Staithe. A staithe is a place for boats to dock. Burnham only had a Bed and Breakfast and a pub/restaurant. Not even a church, now that's a small place.
We walked through Wells-next-the-Sea, a Coney Island type town. Now, it's not Wells by the Sea or Wells on the Sea; it seems like there's a word missing but there isn't.
Tomorrow will be our third and last day on the trail. It's going to be tough to climb in the mountains again.