We welcome TELICS, a Right of Way Acquisition and Utility Coordination Consulting Firm, as a new corporate donor at the “Weekend Hike” level. Friends’ member and Coastal Crescent volunteer Taylor Keith made the gift happen.

As a Senior Manager, Taylor oversees the Right of Way Acquisition, Appraisal, and Relocation division, working primarily on easements and property rights.  His expertise and frequent site visits across the state give him a unique opportunity to talk to communities about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and to look for possible solutions to some of our connectivity and trail building challenges.   Taylor is also excited by the economic growth that the trail brings and hopes to help communities secure funding for trail development.

Taylor did not learn of the trail from his days on the job, however.  His father, Norman Keith, had a passion for hiking.  When Norman’s career prevented him from tackling the Appalachian Trail, he instead turned closer to his Sanford home and began section-hiking the MST.  Taylor joined in for some of the miles and began to appreciate the trail on his own.

In 2017 Norman was diagnosed with leukemia.  His devotion for hiking never waned and he continued to chip away at completing the trail before his death.  The extended Keith Family participated in MST in a Day on September 9, 2017, with a multi-generation hike to honor Norman along the Outer Banks.   (The family was featured on the cover of the 2017 annual report.)

Norman left behind three pairs of hiking shoes, his feet the same size as Taylor’s.  Taylor has now donned the footwear, only wishing they were more comfortable, to complete the MST.  He photographs the shoes at each hike to one day create a video of his dad’s shoes as they have crossed the state.

Norman’s hiking shoes completing the MST

Taylor’s wife and three children, aged 9, 12, and 14, join him for treks, even planning family vacations around stretches of the MST.  Hiking the miles has been transformative, instead of completing the MST for his father, Taylor says that he thinks of it now as the celebration of a gift that his father shared with him.

Taylor and wife Shelley with children Terry, Rainey, and Edie on front row

The Keith Family at Mount Mitchell on the MST

Other TELICS’ staff members are feeling the pull of the trail as well, with Vice President Steve Nichols and his wife Leigh Ann completing several hikes in Great Day Hikes on North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail.

Both Taylor and the Friends of the MST appreciate the generosity of TELICS.  By investing in their employees and understanding their passions, corporate donations like this are exceptionally meaningful.

Photos courtesy of the Keith Family.