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May 2010                                                                                 
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During their April vacation in Asheville, the President and First Lady hiked a mile of the MST along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Ox Creek Road. The story of their hike was picked up by the Asheville Citizen Times and newspapers all over the country.
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza
Obamas on Trail - official White House Photo by Pete Souza - April 23, 2010
We were lucky that FMST friends David and Sandy Creech were two of only five hikers who met the President and First Lady on the trail that day. David sent the following account of their adventure:
"My wife and I did our first MST hike on 4-23-2010. We started at Bee Tree Gap south of Craggy Gardens and hiked to the Folk Art Center near Asheville ... Now for the wow factor! My wife and I just happened to be on that section when the President and First Lady hiked the trail.  
It was somewhere between 3-4pm. We came off the hilltop north of the intersection of Ox Creek Rd and the BRP when we saw several park ranger vehicles and other unmarked vehicles. We then saw two men dressed in black walk up the hill on the opposite side of the road and onto the trail. 
We were stopped at the road and asked if we were hiking the trail. After telling them that we were, they explained that the President was coming thru, and they needed to search us. They ran the metal detector wand over us and looked through our backpacks. They then held us at the road for another 15 minutes or so. Several other agents went down the trail, and then the agents told us we could proceed. 
We started down the trail thinking that the President might just be driving along the BRP. We saw his motorcade below us on the parkway and were then told that he was actually hiking the trail we were on.  They said it would be okay so we stopped and waited. There were probably 15 agents, both plain clothes and tactically-dressed (M-14's and all), up and down the trail.  
Our wait paid off as the President and First Lady walked up the trail and stopped to shake our hands and ask us where we were from and about our hike. They then proceeded on the trail followed by several agents. 
We followed behind the last group of tactically-dressed agents (who were very nice guys). I asked them how much gear they were carrying, and they said precisely 57lbs. They were in real good shape, humping that weight with what looked like ease The Obamas walked for about a mile, and then turned around back toward the road intersection. They stopped again and talked with us about 2-3 minutes.  It was really cool to meet the President and First Lady. Who would have ever thought that such a chance meeting would take place?

The agents would not allow photos of the President. I asked the President if we could get a photo and after some reluctance and assurance it would not end up on the web, he had his photo guy Pete take a few photos of us together. I was promised that we could get a copy. 
I saw two other photos published: one of an older lady from Ohio and one of a couple with a dog who were just down the trail from us. Since we had already been hiking since 8 am and had bandannas on our heads, we may not have fit the profile they were looking for! 

It was a unique experience indeed, so I'm not sure what to expect on our next hike to the MST!"
We need your help during a week-long push from May 21-27 to remove timber debris blocking a critical link of the MST in northwestern North Carolina. Volunteers are welcome during all or part of the week.
A 25-mile section of the trail that was under construction from Horse Gap near Glendale Springs to Bamboo Gap near Blowing Rock was hit by an ice storm on Christmas Day 2009 followed by winter snows. Trees and branches are blocking the trail and in many places trail construction that had taken months to complete was wiped out. Much of the trail parallels the Blue Ridge Parkway, which has been closed until recently.  

Fog creeps into Bamboo Gap along the MST in Watauga County. Photo by Shelton Wilder.
Bamboo Valley Fog - Shelton Wilder - 2009
FMST is aiming to have the section cleared and reconstructed in time for its official state designation and opening in October as part of North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail Month.  

Volunteers are being sought to support the certified chainsawyers by pulling cut debris away from the trail and using hand loppers and pruning saws to cut smaller branches.Participants should bring safety glasses or goggles and appropriate work clothes and shoes.
Some camping will be available for volunteers at the Blue Ridge Parkway's Julian Price Campground. For information about camping reservations contact Allen de Hart of the FMST by Friday, May 14. Volunteers should bring their own camping equipment and provisions.    

Please register by contacting Jim Hallsey or John Lanman. In addition to the Spring Clearance, the Big Push will include work days on Thursday, June 17 and Saturday, June 19 for the Watauga Task Force. The South Ashe Task Force is having work days on the following Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays: June 10, 11, 12; June 17, 18, 19; July 8, 9, 10; July 22, 23, and 24.
Land for Tomorrow, a coalition of conservation, agriculture, wildlife, business and local government
Sunset on the Outer Banks. Photo by Glenn Strouhal.
Sunset on the Outer Banks - photo by Glenn Strouhal
organizations including FMST, is holding an election to select North Carolina's "ten greatest natural wonders."  FMST's founding President Jeff Brewer served on a panel of 14 prominent North Carolinians to narrow the list of nominees. Now it's your turn to vote. We're sure the list will include lots of places along the MST - since the trail route was created to highlight some of the most special places in our beautiful state.
Thanks to Congressman Miller for coming out to see all the great work being done to
The MST on the Haw River. Photo by Brian Baker.
MST on the Haw River - photo by Brian Baker
build the MST along the
Haw River in Alamance County. Folks from the Haw River Partnership led the tour at Red Slide Park in the Town of Haw River and at the Great Bend Park at Glencoe Mill Village north of Burlington. Haw River Mayor Buddy Boggs and Town Council Member Lee Lovette and Barbara Massey and Dale Page, members of the Alamance Recreation & Parks Advisory Board, joined us on the tour.
More than 4.8 miles of MST have already been built on the Haw River, and FMST  has organized a volunteer task force to help build more trail in the area.
We told the Congressman about the importance of two federal grant programs, the
Recreational Trails Program and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, are to our efforts to build the trail statewide.
MST at Falls Lake. Photo by Glenn Strouhal.
MST @ Falls Lake by Glenn Strouhall
That was one of  the comments we heard from the 151 runners in the first annual MST 12-Mile Challenge Race @ Falls Lake. The weather was spectacular, and the trail was gorgeous in early spring. Thanks to Bull City Running in Durham for their leadership in organizing it and to all our sponsors and volunteers.  We hope you'll put on your running shoes and start training for next year.
There's still time to register for the Southeastern Foot Trails Coalition's biennial conference at the DuBose Conference Center in Monteagle Tennessee on Thursday through Sunday, May 20-23. It's a great time to join other trail and hiking enthusiasts for a weekend of hiking, education, fun and celebration.
We're delighted that Learn NC, a program of the UNC School of Education, has
Pilot Mountain. Photo by Glenn Stroughal.
Pilot Mountain by Glenn Strouhal
included a module on the MST in its new digital text book about North Carolina's history that will be read by 8th graders all over the state. We hope it inspires the students to get out and explore the trail.
Financial donations make this trail possible. You can join MST online or print and mail your membership form.
Your donation will leave a legacy for future generations. 
Thanks for your support of the trail!
Contact Info
Kate Dixon
Executive Director
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail