Dear MST Family:

MST friend Jeff Gresko captured this photo of a wind-blown ovenbird warbler near the Mills River Overlook on the MST last May.

This little bird reminded me of a famous Emily Dickinson poem:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

What are the hopes that are “keeping me warm” at this time when people throughout our country and the world are beset by a mighty storm?

I HOPE that the curve of the virus is flatter than projected, and we see fewer deaths and our health care workers stay safe.

I HOPE that the economic impact is much less than feared, particularly for the most vulnerable among us.

I HOPE that we can focus on the people we love and retain that care and attention when the pandemic ends.

I HOPE that the partisan fury in our nation subsides, and we are able to rebuild together with respect and ingenuity.

Emily Dickinson ends her poem by saying that Hope never asks “a crumb of me” even in a time of “extremity.” In the last month, people have flocked to trails and parks for respite during this time of extremity. We have found solace in the sights, sounds and smells of spring. The birds and other living things have provided solace without demanding a thing in return.

So my final, fervent HOPE is that the comfort we are receiving from the natural world inspires the individual commitment and global vision and resolve to protect it fully in the future – even though it is rarely the loudest, most insistent voice in normal times.

It is comforting to be part of a community that cares so deeply for our beautiful Earth. Last week, Betsy Brown invited MST friends like you to send photos and quotes that inspire you for us to share on our website, Facebook and Instagram. Please feel free to keep submitting by e-mailing me back, as we love to hear from you. If you don’t follow social media, we will be putting up a weekly post on our website with all the photos and quotes from the previous week.

And Jim Grode, our Trail Resource Manager, continues to post trail closings and other news on our Trail Updates page. Some of the longer MST sections along the Blue Ridge Parkway and Falls Lake are open subject to social-distancing rules. Please let us know if you hear news that should be posted.

Thank you again for your love of the MST. I look forward to our continued work together to protect this extraordinary world that sustains us.

Kate Dixon, Executive Director
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

P.S. Our mission to build, maintain, protect and promote the MST goes on. Please give if you are able.