Monday, April 28, 2014

MST Thru-hike 2014!

I am quite thrilled to announce...I'm hittin' the trail!!

I have waited until now to write this post as I wanted to make sure that the trip was indeed "a go". Life has thrown me some curveballs in the last few months, which threw into question whether this trip would actually be possible. The biggest being a car accident back in January- as I laid in the hospital bed with a fractured rib, shoulder, and herniated disk, all I could think was, this cannot possibly be happening...soooo not part of my plan. But alas...that is life...always the unknown just  around the bend...and thus the very reason not to waste too much time indoors pining away for the next adventure...

Simply go. Do it. Climb the next mountain, admire every flower along the way, and most certainly eat the next pint of Ben & Jerrys.

This time, my journey brings me back down to the Mountains to Sea Trail of North Carolina. However in actuality my route should more aptly be called the Sea to Mountains Trail, as I will be hiking it from the Outer Banks to the Smokey Mountains. Start date is this Friday, May 2nd!

I am making this trek primarily to promote my recently published guide, A Guide to the Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Mountains to Sea Trail. I received the first printed copies just last week! It's a guide crafted specifically for the backpacker with a water-resistant cover, spiral binding, and lightweight. Complete with color photos, taken mostly on the MST during my last trek, it provides detailed botanical descriptions of wild edible and medicinal plants along the trail, explanations of their uses, methods by which to harvest them, and backcountry recipes to create delicious and convenient meals without ever leaving the trail. To read more about the guide, check out my post:

I'll be doing book events as I make my way down the trail. Stay tuned to the blog to see when and where I'll be if you'd like to drop in and get a signed copy! Some of these events will be in coordination with the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail, so there will also be info on how you can involved or simply learn more about the trail. Or just meet me on the trail!I won't be carrying all those books with me, but I'll have a copy to page through and we can arrange an order online at my blog or by email.

If you have any suggestions on bookstores or outfitters that may be interested in carrying the guide, or have a group that would like to join me for a day of plant-walking on the trail, send me a message!

A bonus to hiking the trail again is that there's miles and miles of new trail! When I last hiked the trail, the total mileage came out to just under 1000 miles. Now it stretches well over a 1000 miles. The exact mileage has not yet been configured, but by my itinerary (and perhaps questionable mathematical calculations), it is almost 1200 miles total.

The new route breaks off part-way down the Neusiok Trail and follows the Cape Fear Arch through southernmost NC. IT then travels up through Howell Woods, rejoining the old trail around Raleigh. Thanks to P.J.Wetzel whose out there hiking the trail right now, I have directions heading westward. Thank you P.J.- you're a pioneer! Check out his blog at: I also have westward directions for the new trail from Pilot Mountain to Stone Mountain. However, the other new sections which are luckily less lengthy, such as a trek through Eno River State Park, and a rugged reroute off the Blue Ridge Parkway and into the Smokies, will be challenging considering I have only easterly going directions. I have painstakingly typed up these directions headed westward by reversing them and studying maps, but how well this will work for me, I shall see!

Last time on the hike I used only Scot TABA Ward's book you see to the left and a few maps, now it's all these pages of various updates and reroutes in addition to the guide and more maps! Yowza, this is gonna be some weight in the pack!

The upside is that although I may be wandering around lost, I have a host of trail angels I can call upon along the way. Thank you to Kate Dixon, executive director of the FMST, for your excellent networking skills in this department! I also have my friends that I made along the way the last time I hiked the trail. If I haven't contacted you yet, I will be shortly! Don't hesitate to contact me here either! Last time when I became lost and exhausted I was a blubbering mess, now I have a network of support. Quite awesome.

Please drop in, become a follower, or sign up through the email button to receive new postings directly to your email as I will again be regularly posting about my journey as well as the plants along the trail!

Next post...the eastern terminus of the MST at Nag's Head!