|Atop the tallest dune at Jockey's Ridge - the eastern terminus of the MST|
14 miles down, just 1186 to go!
Yesterday, my father and I made the long drive down to the Outer Banks. I watched as the landscape changed from modest mountains to flat-land farm fields, and eventually, towering pines and roads that stretched on for miles connecting tiny town to tiny town, that is after driving a 23 mile bridge over the sparkling Chesapeake Bridge. That was a journey in and of itself!
Reaching the Outer Banks, it was dark and we were tired. We checked into the Colonial Inn Hotel where the couch was covered in plastic and the shower still had sand in it. The waves could be heard crashing on the beach just on the other side of the hotel. I personally found the couch and the sand endearing...it was proof that the sound of the waves were not simply in my imagination. I indeed had returned to this little beach town of Nag's Head. A beer from a local brewery called the Weeping Radish was in order.
Morning came soon but without the usual daunting feat of making sure all is in order and you are physically and mentally ready for you 1200 mile trek. My dad is being so helpful as to keep a room down here for a few days and slackpack me as I get warmed up. He has accompanied me in one way or another on every one of my long distance hikes. He even make the ankle-deep sandy hike to the top of Jockey's Ridge this morning! Thank you, House the Cat!
|2 Houses atop the largest sand dune on the eastern coast (notice the FMST shirt)!|
After climbing this dune, it was short walk past towering beach houses to the sandy shore of the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, the tide was in so the sand was deep...making for hard walking. But without the weight of a large pack I was able to ditch the shoes for about 5 miles...fabulous way to start the journey. Just me and the gulls and salt spray and sun.
After reaching Jeanette's Pier, there was no denying it was time to put the shoes on before I sloughed off every bit of callous I had worked to acquire before leaving for the hike. Lucklily, by this point the tide was out so the sand was nice and firm. Another 5 miles on the beach and then off to Bodie Island lighthouse and the Bodie Dike Trail - this is where the colorful plants were hiding!
|Bodie Island Lighthouse|
Last time I hiked this trail the swarms of blood thirsty critters- gnats, mosquitoes, and tiny brown ticks, oh my! - were so terrible I literally ran my way through, stopping only to swat them off. But this time, I saw just one single mosquito upon which I was surprised to see, I honestly didn't mind when the little guy stung me considering he seemed just as startled by me as I did by him. The breeze was steady and with every step through the tall marshy grasses, I heard them rustle with the leaping of frogs, the chirping of a birds, or the scattered steps of some fearful four-legged thing.
|Blue Toadflax (Linaria Canadensis) These stood on long stems along the damp sandy roadsides. There alternate leaves are so fine that they were barely noticeable.|
And so tomorrow it will be another 15 miles finishing in the town of Rodanthe. I am sunburned and oh so sore. But alas, it's all park of the break-in period. Mountains here I come!