Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Hike Begins!

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 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.
Eastern Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
These tiny 6-petaled flowers with long yellow pistils at their centers seem to lay scattered like confetti among the road and trail sides. Their common name is appropriate in that their stems are truly so slender, they look someone has simply placed a little flower perfectly atop a blade of grass. If grass and flower were to mate, this I do believe would be their blue-eyed offspring.

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.
White Clover (Trifolium repens) I am assuming that White Clover simply reaches its full potential here on the Outer Banks. Perhaps this is some other clover with which I am not familiar. These clustered beneath trail head signs and informational kiosks. I am not used to seeing all the florets fully flowered at once and so rounded. By far the must beautiful White Clovers I have ever seen.

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!


  1. hooray! all our best to you on your journey my dear friend. I very fondly remember the last time you were there myself~ with little wee Claire strapped in for that walk up the dunes, followed by the (rather crazy) ride around in the ranger's ATV..... the mosquitos, the grocery store trip, the camping.... much fun! xoxo

    1. I remember it so well! My dad and I even tried to eat at Tortuga's Lie because I remembered how yummy it was, but alas it was Friday night and packed! When I saw the beach of thought of playing with Claire by the water...and then the sweet postcard you sent me after the hike was done with MST scrolled in the sand:) Thank you woman and we'll jus have to do it again sometime!

  2. Very glad you are back to hiking girl. I love the pun about the two houses atop that big, ol' sand dune! Silly House! <3 Love ya girl, and I will be playing spades in your honor until your glorious return! Can't wait to see what awesome magical treasures you come across!

    1. So many magical treasures out here! The sky, the sand, the birds, the wind, the wildflowers I didn't get to see last time! And this House is now carrying a house atop her back lol. I love ya too lady...enjoy that river!

  3. I love the way you describe all the details, you are painting a wonderful trip. It makes me feel like I am taking it with you. So happy and proud of you!

    1. Thank you Al:) You've love it down here - there's miles and miles of protected shoreline which means no beach houses or any of that hub-bub, just water, sand, shells, stones, and birds! It reminds me of the beauty of northern California beaches:)

  4. Its Ky... I'm so proud of u! Check ur FB