The unGathering opens Friday evening with a “members-only” Celebration and Happy Hour. We’ll thank volunteers, honor recent trail completers and hear from 40 Hike Challenge completer Nashua Hussein. A short concert by musician and MST section-hiker Shay Martin Lovette follows. Clink glasses while toasting the MST with a special pint glass that, for now, is available only to unGathering attendees (snag it with a special link to our online store that you’ll get with registration receipt.)
Saturday March 27th, the meeting is open to the public and kicks off with a State of the Trail update from Kate Dixon, Friends of MST’s executive director, and other MST leaders. They’ll share about work to build new trail, develop programs and improve the hiker experience on the MST. We’ll also hear from Dwayne Patterson, the director of North Carolina State Parks.
Our keynote speaker is Jeremy Markovich, who produced a series of podcasts for Our State’s Away Message that told a vivid story of the hikers, trail volunteers, founders and dreamers that make up the MST community. He’ll share behind-the-scenes stories from the making of the podcast, plus find out what happened once Jeremy put the microphone down and reflected on the experience.
We’ll continue with a panel to discuss the experiences of people of color on the MST, featuring MST 2020 completer Cedric Kopa and others. This roundtable, moderated by Dwayne Patterson, director of State Parks, will explore how we can ensure the MST feels inclusive to all trail users.
Saturday afternoon is full of interesting workshops. Full session summaries are online here (look for the tabs), and include:
Planning your MST hike is half the adventure: Here’s how our resources can help (with Joe Miller and Jim Grode)
Off the beaten trail: Exploring MST communities in Ashe, Bladen, Guilford and McDowell Counties
Day hiking and backpacking with kids (of all ages) on the MST: A “Fireside Chat” with the El-Genk and Wilson families, two families who have done it right!
For those who like to go FAST: Fastest Known Times on the MST (with Tara Dower, Tory Grieves and Paul Curtin)
Sustainable Trails as habitats: Leave No Trace and ecological repair along the MST (with Trevor Flannery and Ben Jones)
For those who like to go SLOW: Natural history and ecosystems on the MST (with Julie Moore and Ken Bridle)
Want to hike the whole thing?: Learn from MST Completers – Classes of 2019 & 2020 (moderated by Julie “Jester” Gayheart)
After sitting in front of your screen, get out and find joy on the MST! Hike on Friday afternoon, Saturday prior to or after the sessions and Sunday. Then share photos on Facebook and Instagram with hashtag #MSTunGathering and #mountainstoseatrail.
Registration is open now! The annual meeting and workshops on Saturday are open to all for an early bird registration fee of $30 through March 7 and $35 after.