15 November 2010

I Just Walked Across North Carolina

I made it to Jockey's Ridge State Park and climbed to the summit of the highest sand dune on the east coast of the U.S. Wow! What a great feeling to have completed something that fewer than 20 people have done before! It was a different moment from when I reached the summit of Baxter Peak on Katahdin at the end of the A.T. I felt a greater connection to this trail, this state, the wildlife, the woods, the ocean, the people. I fell in love with North Carolina in a way I never felt about my home state of Texas. I've always been proud to be a Texan, born and raised there until I was 9 and then I returned for 3 years in high school and college. But now, I cannot help but call North Carolina my home. I have a deep emotional and spiritual connection to this land, and to have trekked across it is a spectacular way to experience what The Old North State has to offer!

Check out my photos from the entire journey at this link:

14 November 2010

Atop Jockeys Ridge! Mountains to Sea Trail...Check! Next: get a job and/or go back to school. Anyone hiring?

13 November 2010

Made it through the ocean spill-over. Saw lots of waterfowl at Pea Island NWR. Will make it to Jockeys Ridge tomorrow, exactly 8 weeks from my start date!
I just forded the Atlantic! The road in Rodanthe is covered in calf high water from the high surf.

12 November 2010

This north wind is a real pain! I'm headed north so I'm walking into constant 20 mph winds! And its causing super high tides, making me miss some beach walk.

11 November 2010

Did some night hiking to get to my campground. Great beaches, cool maritime forest, but lots of wind and clouds from a nor'easter off shore.

10 November 2010

Made it to the Cedar Island Ferry, heading to the OBX! Received great trail magic at Davis Shore Provisions! Thanks so much to Mack and Kim for taking me in!

08 November 2010

Back on the road again. I'm headed Down East. Hitting the Cedar Island ferry to the OBX on Wednesday!

07 November 2010

The Neusiok Trail has been great! 3 shelters! And it's well maintained by the CCWC. Thanks to them for keeping up with this section of the MST! One week left!

05 November 2010

New Bern has lots of historical sites, and I enjoyed walking thru downtown. I stayed in Bridgeton across the Neuse River, and I'm only hiking 7 miles today.

04 November 2010

Roy and Geoff in Cove City are truly excellent people! I am so glad I met them! I hiked into New Bern in the rain. I may spoil myself with a motel tonight.

03 November 2010

Deep Thoughts from the Mountains to Sea Trail

Well, I have 200 miles left to go from here in Cove City. It's been a rainy day, and it looks like more rain is on the way tonight and through tomorrow. Yuck!

But here are some Deep Thoughts I've had while hiking over 750 miles to this point:
(note: some of these may be repeats from the Appalachian Trail)

1. The slower you go, the more you'll see, and the more you'll learn.

2. It's better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

3. The rain always stops eventually.

4. Find the beauty in ordinary, everday things and you'll see extraordinary things.

5. The good die young, and the bitter live forever. Is this because the "good" embrace life, and make their own happiness? And the "bitter" keep searching for happiness, but don't realize they have to make their own rather than hope it finds them?

02 November 2010

31-plus miles by sunset! And what a great sunset it was. Making great time across the Coastal Plain.

31 October 2010

Under 300 miles to go! Nearly had a sweet beagle adopt me today. He followed me for half a mile before he ran off. Hope he has a good home or finds one.

30 October 2010

Staying in Pine Ridge with Dwight and Irene, some excellent trail angels!

29 October 2010

Back on the road. I had an awesome time in Raleigh! Got to go to a football game at NC State, and we beat Florida St! It felt good to be back at my alma mater!

26 October 2010

"And if I die in Raleigh, at least I will die freeeee!" -O.C.M.S.

25 October 2010

The rain can't keep me down. It always stops eventually. Been on the Falls Lake Trail for past 2 days. One more day to Raleigh.

23 October 2010

I had a great stay at Little River Presbyterian Church last night. Thanks to Guy Miller for helping me out there! Made it to Eno River State Park.

22 October 2010

If you can't find a Snickers bar, just eat a Milky Way and a Payday at the same time! I'll have to try a Snickers with a Payday. Super Snickers!

21 October 2010

The miles have flown by today. After beginning about 10am, I made it 17-plus miles by 3:45pm. I can foresee a 30 plus mile day in my future.

19 October 2010

A Slack-tastic Week!

After taking the weekend off to rest my legs and catch up on football season, I spent Monday and Tuesday of this week slack-packing around Greensboro. My Granny was kind enough to drop me off and pick me up from my hikes. I walked from Stokesdale to Lake Brandt Marina through Summerfield and Bur-Mill Park in Greensboro on Monday. It was 17.5 miles, and I finished by 3:00 pm.

Today, I started from the eastern side of Guilford County, at the intersection of Hicone Road and Huffine Mill Road. I slack-packed 20 miles westbound back to Lake Brandt Marina through Bryan Park and around Lake Townsend. It felt just a bit odd to be hiking the opposite direction from the past month. On the Appalachian Trail I hiked northbound (NoBo) the entire way except for a 23 mile southbound (SoBo) slack-pack over Mount Greylock in Massachusetts.

On the MST, I'm hiking eastbound (EaBo), but today I slack-packed westbound (WeBo). I spent much of the day thinking about these funny sounding names, and whether they would ever catch on like NoBo and SoBo have on the AT, PCT and CDT (which are all trails that run north and south).

I've enjoyed spending time at home with my family, and I plan to take one more zero day before hiking on from Hicone Road. I want to do early voting while I'm in town, since I'll still be on the trail on election day. I will also resupply, and make sure that my car still runs, and that I still know how to drive!

15 October 2010

Halfway, Home

I'm about to fall asleep. I've pushed my body pretty hard the past 4 weeks. But today I made it into Guilford County and Stokesdale. My mom came to pick me up and take me home to Greensboro; about a 20 minute drive.

So I've hiked over 450 miles, and am nearly halfway across the state, all in just under four weeks! I haven't had a full day off yet, and I plan to take some time here in Greensboro to relax and let my body recover. I also plan to slack-pack the section around Greensboro, so as to maximize my number of nights slept in a bed!

I'll post pictures and more updates of my adventure while I'm here at home with my laptop!

14 October 2010

Stayed dry out of the rain in the barn at Mtn Trail Stables last night! Hiked a long day over the Sauratown Trail to Hanging Rock St Pk and down thru Danbury.

13 October 2010

I've hiked over 400 miles to this point! Great hospitality here at Mtn Trail Stables! Thank you Tammy and Phil! Nearly halfway, and almost home to Greensboro!

12 October 2010

Zeke in Dobson was an excellent host! Thanks again man! Back to trails in Pilot Mtn State Park after 45 miles of road walking the past few days.

10 October 2010

East bound and down! Hiked around Stone Mtn today with my AT friend, Hardcore! Beginning the road walk. Two days until Pilot Mtn state park and trails again!

09 October 2010

I'm pretty much done with the mtns section after 3 weeks! I'd say I'm in the foothills now from Stone Mtn to Hanging Rock. No more BRP, but lots of roadwalks!
Trail Magic!!! A trail angel named Elaine treated me to lunch at the Bluffs Restaurant in Doughton Park! I'm so thankful for good people!

08 October 2010

At the Northwest Trading Post in Glendale Springs. Home-made brownie and a Nehi grape soda. Yummy!
Jeffress Park and 300 miles last night! Good times with Matt in Boone. Nearly done following the parkway. Piedmont is coming up soon!

06 October 2010

Made it to Boone!

After the really chilly weather the past few nights I woke up this morning only 9 trail miles away from crossing Highway 321 just outside of Boone! I hiked through Moses H. Cone Park, by the Cone Manor, and along very slightly graded carriage roads. I imagined this is what the PCT is like, descending half-mile long switchbacks at perhaps a 6% grade.

Mount Mitchell was cold, windy and rainy when Sideshow and I got up there, and it poured on us all the way down to Black Mountain Campground. It was a miserable afternoon, and I was so distraught that we ended up paying for camping there instead of hiking on in the rain to some free campsites 1/2 a mile down the road/trail.

After Mitchell, though, the trail doesn't go above 5,000 feet in elevation again. The closest I got was about 4,300 feet on the Tanawha Trail around Grandfather Mountain, which is where it sleeted! The winds have been biting the past few days, and I have kept hiking with my long johns on under my pants to keep my legs warm. Usually I would have to stop to take off the long johns after 20 minutes of brisk hiking.

It seems the most strenuous parts of the trail are behind me. At least that's according to Bob Benner, who was painting blazes with the trail maintenance crew I met the other day before Harper Creek. He's been working on the trail for about as long as it has been around. I enjoyed talking with him, and I thanked him and the rest of the crew for keeping the trail passable.

When I got into Price Park, though, the trail was a recently dug ditch with a long pipe beside it. The construction workers told me the trail was closed and directed me to the park campground. I saw three deer as I walked through the picnic area next to the campground, the first deer I'd seen all trip! The campground attendant told me that not the entire Boone Fork Trail was closed, but since I had come this far in the wrong direction, I could take the other side of the BFT loop to where the MST breaks off near the backcountry campsite, where I spent the night.

Now I'm in Boone. I met up with an old friend, Matt, from Scouts. He picked me up at the trail crossing on the Parkway, and then I filled up at Golden Corral. I had eaten all of my food from my previous resupply in Marion. I ate the last of my oatmeal and cereal bars this morning to get me to town! I literally only had one mustard and three ketchup packets left in my food bag, so I timed that resupply just right!

I met two other thru-hikers just as I left Black Mountain near the Folk Art Center. They started September 1, and had been taking it very slow. They said they had taken more zero days (days where one hikes zero miles) than days they had actually hiked. I expect they are a few days behind me now.

Also, don't ever skimp on your shoes when long-distance hiking. My $39 pair of trail runners from REI-Outlet.com are falling apart, and I only hope they make it close enough to Greensboro that I can have my mom bring me my trusty Salomons from the Appalachian Trail. At least my blisters have callused over now!

05 October 2010

Nasty weather. Wind, rain, sleet. Occasional sun. Hiding under a restroom overhang to stay dry at Price Park at the moment. Trail construction means reroute.

04 October 2010

Sideshow went home yesterday. Hiking solo again. Met some trail maintainers today, thanked them for their work. Lots of creek crossings, only one true ford.

02 October 2010

Short day. 5 miles. Camped by Linville River before the gorge. Taking it easy so Sideshow can catch a ride at the next road crossing. Boone next week!

01 October 2010

Sideshow and I just got a ride back to the trail with a cop! Thank you JR of Marion PD!

30 September 2010

Made it to Mount Mitchell yesterday! It's all downhill from here! Got rained on all last night. It cleared up today, though. Camping out by a creek tonight. Town in the morning. (Marion, NC)

28 September 2010

Rough day. Great weather. Left Black Mountain, feet sore all day. Got stung by a yellow jacket too. But making progress. Mount Mitchell tomorrow!

27 September 2010


The rain just does not want to stop. After breakfast, resupplying at the grocery store and laundry, Limbo took Sideshow and me back to the trail, near where we had left off yesterday evening. We hiked around the south-east side of Asheville, criss-crossing with the Blue Ridge Parkway all afternoon. It was 10 miles from where we started to Highway 70, which runs right into the town of Black Mountain.

The trail around Asheville is on pretty level terrain. We didn't have to climb even 100 feet all day. We didn't even carry backpacks, instead we brought enough water and snacks for the hike. And Limbo picked us up at the end of the hike. This is what thru-hikers call "slack-packing," in that we didn't carry our full packs, and we got to stay another night in a town, out of the elements (which I was very happy to do!). Luckily, we timed our hike just right, so that we didn't even hike in the rain, and then the rain started again when we got back to town this evening!

Sideshow is going to hike on with me until the weekend, so we should be able to reach Linville Gorge by that time. I'm excited for Mount Mitchell, the highest peak east of the Mississippi, and the rest of the mountains section of this hike!

26 September 2010

Rain, rain, rain

Sorry about the last few posts that didn't come through. Apparently when I go over a certain number of characters in a text message it doesn't post properly, so I'll keep that in mind for future reference.

I'm 8 days in, and I've traveled 124 miles on the trail. Today I woke up and got soaked on my way up to the Pisgah Inn, but when I sat down to my western omelette, I spotted an old friend from the Appalachian Trail, Sideshow. He was out for a weekend of camping with some friends. He had most of his gear with him, so he decided to join me to hike for a few days.

It rained nearly all day, and I got soaked. I didn't want to stop because I knew I would get cold as soon as I stopped moving. So I called up some more A.T. friends, Bird and Limbo, who live in Black Mountain. They agreed to come pick Sideshow and me up from south Asheville. I hiked about 24 miles today, and it was 21 for Sideshow. It was a long, long day, but we made good progress, and got to see some good friends.

After we got a ride up to Black Mountain, we went to Pisgah Brewing Company for some tasty brews, then on to My Father's Pizza, where I ate a delicious stromboli, and laughed hysterically about memories from the Appalachian Trail.

I've had a good trip, so far, and today was my longest day. I haven't seen a deer or bear yet. I have not seen many other hikers until this past weekend. And I'll keep my text message posts short and sweet from now on!
Soaking wet at the Pisgah Inn. Good breakfast! And I randomly ran into Sideshow, my buddy from the AT! Crazy coincidence!

21 September 2010

27 miles down!

Left camp at six, in the dark, made it down to Oconaluftee visitor center at the edge of the park. I have a long road walk ahead of me on the BRP. But I am lucky so far today. I paid 75 cents for a coke and got two cans from the vending machine!

20 September 2010

19 miles in two days, got to Newton Bald Camp real early. Hanging out above 5000 feet.

19 September 2010

17 September 2010

I took a training hike for my Mountains to Sea journey in Uwharrie National Forest. I hiked with on old school friend, and we did about 18 miles yesterday and today, including our failed shortcut attempt. I felt good, like I could do 20 miles over that terrain in a full day. Heading up to Clingmans Dome on Sunday!

12 September 2010


Checked out some MST sections this weekend in Orange and Durham counties along the Eno river and Falls Lake. Excited to get started!

07 September 2010

Mountains to Sea Trail

I've been thinking about hiking the Mountains to Sea Trail (MST) since last year, when I was still thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. I've not been motivated about much since I returned home from Maine last September, but all summer I've been looking forward to thru-hiking the MST.

The MST reaches 900+ miles from Clingmans Dome on the Tennessee/North Carolina border in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Jockey's Ridge State Park near Nags Head on the Outer Banks. It climbs two state high-points, (Clingmans Dome in TN and Mount Mitchell in NC) and ends on Jockey's Ridge, the highest sand dune on the east coast.

While the Appalachian Trail is very much a social trail with a large community of hikers and trail-angels supporting the yearly parade of thru-hikers, the MST is still in its infancy. It was first proposed in the 1970s and the first thru-hike was in 1997. Today, fewer than 20 people have hiked the entire trail. This lack in popularity is mostly due to the fact that the actual footpath is still only 50% complete. Much of the current official route through the Piedmont and Coastal Plain is on state bicycle routes and back roads.

But it won't be like that forever. Trail construction is progressing steadily to link established footpaths together. On my journey, I plan to veer from the official route on back roads to use trails that have already been built but are not yet officially designated as part of the MST system.

I hope to raise awareness of the trail in the communities near it, so that they may help to protect the trail and help it to grow.

To learn more about the MST, visit the Friends of the MST website at: http://www.ncmst.org