If you are feeling glum after the final episode of the Away Message MST podcast series, Julie “Jester” Gayheart has picked up the proverbial podcast hiking stick.  Jester, an AT completer, had been mildly curious about the MST for years, though admittedly only hiking parts of the trail in the western part of the state. In the late winter, she met MST completers Kimberly Brookshire and Jennifer Pharr Davis who stoked her interest a wee bit more. And then Covid happened.

Julie said she appreciated Friends’ immediate communication about trail usage during the early stay-at-home orders.  She appreciated our clear guidance and messages of hope.  She knew then that the MST was something that she wanted to do. In her words, “How could I not be involved?”

While she doesn’t have time to complete the entire MST right now (she is an educator in Huntersville just outside of Charlotte), the 40 Hike Challenge was immediately appealing.

She started her MST podcast series with three interviews of staffers Kate Dixon and Jim Grode and trail angel and completer Mary Stewart.

Now she’s making podcasts about all the day hikes in the new MST guide. Calling it the “MST Highlights Tour,” Julie is sharing about her adventures and interviewing folks she meets along the way.

She’s already excited to learn much more about North Carolina. She even said that the MST has better “stuff than the AT. We are so unique, have Mt. Mitchell, we have Linville Gorge.  [Editor’s note – she’s hiking west to east, so she’ll be swooning over more eastern areas soon.]  Initially, I didn’t want to hike the MST because of the connecting road sections, but I’ve really changed my thinking on that.  Now it’s so interesting to me to learn the history and meet the people along the way.”

The podcasts are a part of the Hiking Radio Network, and you can find them here. Jester posts about other topics, too, though this link will take you to all her MST themed hikes.  You can find her on Facebook to see images from her hikes.  We have so enjoyed her podcasts already and love hearing the delight and joy in her voice as she learns about the MST.  You are welcome to reach out to her on social media. We’re certain she’d love to hear from you.