Thursday, June 5, 2014

Greenway to Footpath - this trail is for the hiker!

Crossing one of the many bridges over the Neuse River on the Neuse River Greenway
Along the city of Raleigh and its suburbs, I had the pleasure of walking 32 miles of paved greenway, designated for walkers, bikers, and runners cars allowed. Assisted by trail angel and fellow MST and AT hiker, Johnny Massey with slack-packing, road-crossing treats, and good company, it was quite literally, a walk in the park!

Johnny Massey leading the way down a Neuse River Greenway Trail
I was shaded and for the exception of just a few small hills, the trail was entirely level as it ran along the river, winding in and out of woods and alongside expansive fields. Early in the morning and late in the afternoon I passed many folks, several of which I had the pleasure of walking with for a bit. One was an older man who knew all the history of the area, even telling me of where a murder had occurred under a bridge many decades ago before the Greenway existed. That same man, who mind you was in his seventies, walked 13 miles a day. Others that I met were a father and son out for their evening walk that they have been doing every day for over 1 year - the son dreams of doing the AT and is trying to get Dad to come along for the trek- go for it!!!

The winding Neuse River Greenway
The Greenway wasn't just green, but at times rather full of color, both plant and man-made...

A garden variety of Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) - this beauty amongst others was found in the Anderson Point Garden just off the Greenway
Thistle (Cirsium) - these sat in tall clumps just outside the garden, in an area that looked like garden-gone-wild, a place that had long been left to go back to nature.
The butterfly benches of the greenway...these were followed by a bridge adorned with large colorful fish made by the local elementary, middle school, and high school students. Every town needs a space as lovely as this.
Thank you Johnny and Carlene Massey for you help and good company through here! It was surely a treat. And sure can cook! One night this woman made homemade mac n cheese, broccoli cornbread, veggie stew, cole slaw, and cucumber tomato salad...deelish! Oh yes, and followed by strawberry short cake with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. I was told of the infamous red hot dogs by both she and Johnny and their friends...but I am oh, so sorry, I'll take  this food anyday!

Carlene, Johnny, and Zooey
On my last day of the hiking the Greenway, I was led to Falls Lake Dam and the lovely Falls Lake...

The 26-mile Falls Lake
Here at Falls Lake...drumroll please...I hit trail! Real true, shaded, woodsy, mixed wood and evergreen footpath!

One of the older signs for the MST on the Falls Lake Trail. All along the trail, were white circular blazes painted prominently on trees. At road crossings, I saw kiosks and waist-high announcing that the MST is this way! 

And not only did I hit trail, but as you can see...blazes and signage for the MST. This should help in my getting lost! I felt like a true hiker again as I hiked the small ascents and descents and wound my way along the lake. No need for sunglasses, plenty of leafy places to take a break, mica-rich muddy soil, and lots of woodland plants to photograph...I have hit the Piedmont, folks!

The Falls Lake Trail
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) - the plant will produce a white flower with 8-10 petals and a yellow center. It earns it's name from its stem which produces a bright red juice. This plant does have a history of being used medicinally both by native people and commercially in toothpastes for anti-bacterial purposes, however because of it's inherent toxicity, it's safety is questionable.
Golden Star (Chrysogonum virginianum) - a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae). This flower grows low to the ground with a downy stem and opposite toothed leaves.
Violet leaves (Viola spp.) - There were no flowers so I am uncertain of what species I am seeing here, but I also spotted Early Blue Violet (Viola Palmata) which is easy to identify by its heart-shaped leaves with many lobes along their outer edges (margins). The leaves and flowers are edible and delicious.

Then I stumbled upon these and I was a little confused....

These flowers were sadly not for the nibbling! Notice the sign at the base of the vase reads: "DO NOT EAT".
I found some lovely Yarrow and Sage in the bathroom at John French and his wife, Robin's home, however Robin being wise, had taken some precautions around the house! Ah well, I soon forgot about the flowers in the bathroom, after just some hours with them enjoying good food and drink and laughter. Later in the evening, John told me all about the section that would be coming up the following day as he has done a lot of work on the trail with the FMST through here and led many a group of school children as well. He told me of the native Holly forest I'd pass through and then the Azalea...John you had it spot on! I felt like I had you as a tour guide as I hiked along.

Thank you John and Robin! Not only for the lovely place to stay and company but the slack-pack today and bagels and cream cheese for the morning!

John French - it is a shame Robin is not in the photo, but being the incredible photographer that she is, I imagine she was off taking her own pictures somewhere amongst the flowers!
And so I with just 23 miles completed on the Falls Lake Trail, I have still have almost 40 left on this beautiful stretch. Good stuff.

This weekend is also the beginning of the, A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Mountains to Sea Trail, events. See post: for details on when and where. I'm looking forward to seeing y'all out there!

1 comment:

  1. Heather, you asked me to email you for the MST directions, but I can't see how to do that from here. I pm'd you on your facebook page and gave your my email address. I'm also sending a friend request, if that's ok.

    Thanks a lot!

    Tom Sisk