MST Gathering -of Friends 2019

Surf City and Pender County will host the Gathering of Friends
March 22-24, 2019

Join us in Surf City, right on the Topsail Island shore, which is nestled amongst our trail communities in Pender and Onslow Counties. While these areas suffered significantly from Hurricanes Florence and Matthew – many residents have lost their homes, Surf City lost its Town Hall (but not the treasured MST hiking stick), schools and basic services were disrupted for weeks, and much of the trail itself was under water across the entire Coastal Crescent portion – we’ve been assured that our presence in Surf City and Pender County will not hinder the recovery process, and that we are indeed very welcome.

Surf City is an MST trail town, nested amongst our trail communities in Pender and Onslow Counties, and while everything may look a little different right now, the heart of these trail towns is still strong. With clouds from Florence literally on the horizon, the town of Burgaw in Pender County gathered over 100 students and citizens to sing Happy Birthday to the MST and hike their in-town bit of trail to kick off the Birthday Hike weekend. One of our task force leaders in Onslow County shared that his sawyer training with the Friends was incredibly helpful as he cleared limbs from his own property and that of his neighbors after Florence. This MST spirit is still here as these communities are transforming.

The timing of this Gathering also presents us with a very special opportunity – one of being purposeful partners in the rebuilding of our trail communities. While this Gathering will include plenty of fun, fellowship and catching up on the latest trail happenings, we’re also going to expand our focus to include time for service.

The central events of the weekend include a reception at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, with dinner at the Surf City Community Center Friday night and the Annual Membership Meeting on Saturday followed by a group sunset hike of the new Surf City Bridge. For the rest of the weekend, we are confirming a full-schedule of excursions and service opportunities to help you enjoy the outdoors, learn more about this special part of North Carolina and help the community as it continues to recover.