Thanks to everyone who made the 41st MST Birthday Hike a big success! 514 hikers and paddlers joined together that hot September 7-9 weekend for cumulative mileage of 3,276 miles, an average of 6.4 miles each.  With Hurricane Florence bearing down on NC, we’re sure others hiked but didn’t record their trip.  We shared some stories on Facebook already, but here are the highlights:

  1. On a hot Friday afternoon in Pender County, 100 hikers covered an average of 4 miles each, for a total of 400 miles. Kudos to Pender County Health Department, Pender Memorial Hospital, Pender County Tourism, Burgaw Parks and Rec, Cape Fear Community College, Cape Fear Early College and Pender County Planning Department for organizing this event, recruiting hikers and providing a birthday cake!
  2. Mary “Angel” Stewart hiked 36.3 miles in the Smokies on Fri, Sat & Sun, to reach Clingmans Dome and complete her section hike of the entire MST – the 96th completer & fourth this year. Three with her were her son Hall and friends Linda and Russ who live near Asheville. On Friday the 7th they hiked from Newton Bald to Nettle Creek campsite #52; on the 8th they hiked to Deep Creek and up to Clingmans Dome Road. Mary said “When we were getting near the road, we met some MST section hikers (see #8) and they made me a victory arch with their trekking poles to hike through. Hall and I went to Dillsboro to spend the night and pick up a cake. On Sunday the 9th we did the last jaunt to Clingman’s Dome. I set the cake up in the back of my car and just announced to people walking by we were having an MST birthday party. Several people joined us and wanted to hear all about the trail and my hike.”  Congratulations “Angel!”
  3. Joe Miller with GetGoingNC organized a 5.8 mile hike with 12 hikers from Red Mill Road in Durham to Tom Clark/Redwood Road.
  4. Brittney Burke & Dan Lindsey paddled 15 miles on the Neuse River from Raleigh’s Anderson Point to Clayton.
  5. Kit Cosper, Gary Brock & Rod Fritz hiked in Cumberland County installing MST signs along the highway route.  Thanks guys!
  6. Rich Bowerman hiked 11.4 miles near Black Mountain.  Along the way he also did macroinvertebrate sampling in Setrock Creek and found the water quality to be good.
  7. Betty & Clark Thomas completed segment 10 (77.4 miles) which they had been day hiking off & on since June 13.
  8. Carter Worthy, Tom Hester and Megg & Robert Rader covered 43.7 miles hiking and biking the weekend near Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and made that victory arch for Mary Stewart.
  9. Paul Croxton started the mountain segment on Sunday, completing 53 miles before Hurricane Florence stopped him.  He also passed Mary Stewart as she finished section hiking the entire MST at Clingmans Dome.
  10. Ian and their 11-month old daughter covered 8.2 and 6.5 mile hikes on the Falls Lake Trail after learning about the hike from #HikeItBaby
  11. Andrea Winter and friend appreciated the Porta John at the edge of Holly Shelter Game Land.
  12. Kevin Frederes, Erik Cox and Mike Dieffenbacher hiked 25.6 miles from the Yadkin River at Rockford to Pilot Mountain State Park (pictured here). “This was our first ‘test’ hike to see if we could handle a longer hike at another time. It was a bit warmer than we anticipated but we had fun and it was quite an adventure.”
  13. Grace Iovine led a group of 14 from Triangle Hiking Outdoors Group on a 10.6 mile hike at Falls Lake.
  14. A Boy Scout troop with 14 boys and members of the JROTC program from Millbrook High School worked Saturday and Sunday on an Eagle Scout Project building a bridge on the Falls Lake MST.
  15. HikeItBaby Durham was represented with 2 moms and 2 kids at Penny’s Bend on the Eno River. A 2.5 year old led most of the 1.5 mile hike.
  16. Jeff & Debra Rezeli biked from Hillsborough to Haw River then hiked to Indian Golf Course via the Haw River Trail, a total of 28 miles on Saturday, then Sunday biked 25 miles Burlington to Greensboro followed by an 11 mile hike from Lake Townsend to Lake Brandt—a total of 64 miles in 2 days.
  17. Boy Scout Troop 318 from North Raleigh had 5 hikers do 3 miles and 5 hikers do 4.2 miles.
  18. As part of the Make-A-Wish Trailblaze Challenge for Eastern NC, 20 hikers covered 20 miles.
  19. Tony Lee (aka, “Hiking T Lee”) hiked 26.2 miles during the 3 day Birthday weekend. He reports that this pushed his total mileage on MST segment 10 past 3000 miles since March 2017, during which time he has lost over 50 pounds.
  20. Shaun Price ran 16 miles Sunday on his 36th birthday.
  21. Rattlesnake Lodge may sound like a scary place, but seven MST friends from the Asheville area know better and enjoyed a birthday hike there.
  22. Three paddlers did 14 miles on the Neuse River from NC 42 to US 70 in Smithfield and saw beautiful birds, kingfishers, herons, an osprey and a curious eagle.
  23. On Saturday, Natalie Smith and 2 friends hiked 20.2 miles along the Eno River.

Can’t wait to get back on the trail to enjoy some cool Fall weather.  Before you go, check on hunting season dates in your area and wear hunter orange for safety.  Thanks for celebrating this year, and we’ll see you back out there for the 42nd!

(Photo: Kevin Frederes, Erik Cox and Mike Dieffenbacher enjoying their 25.6 miles on the MST.)