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April 2011                                                                                 
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Ian Fraher of Greensboro became the 20th hiker to complete the MST when he summitted Jockey's Ridge in November 2010 after a thru-hike lasting a little more than two months. Several more people are now following in his footsteps with a goal of completing the trail this spring. 


Ian Fraher on the Outer BanksAfter seeking input from FMST, Ian shifted his route slightly from the "official" route so that he could more closely follow the planned future route of the trail between Stone Mountain and Pilot Mountain state parks and through the Eno River State Park and the western end of Falls Lake. His experience is helping the FMST board as it prepares to make the first major adjustments to the trail route since Allen de Hart published his book "Hiking North Carolina's Mountains-to-Sea Trail" in 2000.


Ian said his favorite trail sections were "in Middle Prong Wilderness, where I was able to witness the Monarch butterflies migrating among the goldenrod and other wildflowers; the Linville Gorge; and the Outer Banks where the trail follows the beach, the road, and explores sand dunes, maritime forests and passes three historic lighthouses."


To learn more about Ian's experiences on the trail, read his blog and Joe Liles' interview. Joe had met Ian while they were both hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2009, and Joe shared some "trail magic" with Ian as he traveled the MST near Joe's home near the Eno River.




A record 130 people attended FMST's annual meeting February 5 at Haw River State Park to learn about progress on the trail and how they can help, to recognize outstanding hikers and volunteers, and to meet other trail enthusiasts. 

Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail  2011 Annual Meeting

FMST 2011 Annual Meeting. Video by editor/author Randy Johnson 


Trail progress reports at the meeting included mention of the completion of 25 new miles in Ashe and Watauga counties and the Mountains-to-Sea Trail being named one of North Carolina's top ten natural wonders. Another highlight in 2010 was the national attention the MST received when President Barack Obama and the First Lady Michelle hiked the trail near Asheville.


Cooper Brantley, Steve Hassenfelt and Ian Fraher, all of Greensboro, were recognized for thru-hiking the nearly 1,000-mile trail in 2010. Twenty people have completed the entire trail, with 40% of those coming in the last two years. 


More than 1000 volunteers contributed 18,295 hours building and maintaining the MST in 2010. Nearly fifty volunteers were recognized for donating more than 75 hours, including eight who volunteered 200 or more hours. Les Love, President of Foliage Concepts, was also recognized with the 1st annual "Put Another Log on the Fire" award for his work on FMST's successful campaign to raise $40,000.


Former NC Secretary of Natural Resources and Community Development Howard Lee was the keynote speaker. In 1977 then-Secretary Lee first proposed a trail across the state at a National Trails Conference in North Carolina.


Lee said the work being done by the volunteers has been one of the most extraordinary achievements in the history of North Carolina. He said the trail has been a catalyst for trails in other parts of the state and bringing people together. His inspirational speech encouraged those attending to enlist others. He said, "The North Carolinians I know take great pride in helping others. We just need to keep tapping into that strength and sense of purpose." The speech finished on an upbeat note as Lee sang the old Roy and Dale Roger's tune, "Happy Trails to You." 





"Building a trail that is beautiful and sustainable is a combination of art, science and hard work," said FMST executive director Kate Dixon.  "Experience is a great teacher, but a bit of classroom instruction can save time and wear and tear later on."


Dixon was referring to the FMST's first trail building workshops held in Guilford and Alamance counties earlier this year in conjunction with the Greensboro Parks & Recreation Department and Haw River Trail Partnership in Alamance County. Funding for the program was provided by the federal Recreational Trails Program administered by the NC Division of Parks & Recreation.


Fieldwork in Guilford County

Randy Johnson (in blue) discusses trail project with volunteer Mark Gatehouse. Photo by Rick Morris.


Randy Johnson, who developed Grandfather Mountain's back country trail system and helped design the Tanawha Trail on the Blue Ridge Parkway, was the instructor. There were introductory and advanced workshops. Forty-four people participated, including 19 who attended both classes.


The Alamance fieldwork was on a new trail section at Stoney Creek Marina in Burlington.  Guilford fieldwork was on newly acquired county land for the MST north of the Greensboro watershed lakes.



A critical gap in the route of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail along the Eno River has been closed thanks to a donation by the LinkBros, LLC of Durham to the Eno River Association. The land will be transferred to the Eno River State Park for management.


"What a breakthrough for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail!" said Kate Dixon, FMST executive director. "FMST volunteers have been building trail steadily in Eno River State Park. This is the key property that will allow completion of the trail from Pleasant Green Road to Guess Road. Thanks to the Link family and the hard work of the Eno River Association for making the trail possible."


The donation of the one-acre tract between the Cabe Lands area and Pleasant Green Road was made by John M. Link Jr., Thomas E. Link and Robert E. Link, in memory of their great-grandfather Emmett Green Link, and their mother and father, Peggy Sykes Link and John M. Link Sr. The Link family has deep roots along the Eno River and in 2009 donated 17 acres to Eno River State Park.


The newly donated land has approximately 200 feet of frontage on the Eno.




FMST's successful $40,000 "Put Another Log on the Fire" fundraising campaign has opened important doors for FMST by allowing us to strengthen our operations, establish a permanent endowment, and begin participating in employee workplace giving campaigns in Fall 2011.


Relaxing after a long climb near Mt. Mitchell

Relaxing after a long climb near Mt. Mitchell. Photo by Matt Mutel. 

FMST will be a giving option in 100 public and private workplace giving campaigns as a member of EarthShare North Carolina. EarthShare's member charities represent a wide array of environmental issues. The organization has raised more than $7 million to support the work of those organizations. FMST is using $10,000 from the fund raising campaign to pay a one-time joining fee. For additional information about how your company can support FMST through workplace giving, visit www.earthsharenc.org or contact Kate Dixon, FMST's Executive Director, at 919-698-9024 or [email protected]


FMST also used funds from the campaign to establish a permanent endowment at the NC Community Foundation with an initial investment of $10,000.  The principal of the endowment will not be touched, but the income from it will be a steady source of support for the trail. FMST's goal is to build the endowment over time.


The endowment is established as a statewide fund to help garner support throughout North Carolina, said Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, the Foundation's CEO and president. "Several of our affiliate foundations and communities we serve throughout the state have supported the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, so this fund will have wide appeal," she said. "We're honored to help them establish a permanent source of income."


NC Community Foundation assists businesses, individuals and non-profits with their giving strategies. If you would like to make a contribution to help build the endowment, please contact Kate Dixon, FMST's Executive Director, at [email protected] or 919-698-9024 or contact Jeanne Lawson at the Foundation at jlawso[email protected] or 919-256-691.


Members of the Put Another Log on the Fire campaign committee were Jim Anderson, Chair, Jerry Barker, Cooper Brantley, Crawford Crenshaw, Steve Hassenfelt, John Lanman, Howard Lee, Les Love, Will Roberson and David Ruffin. All committee members did great work that has helped FMST move to a new level. 




Hiking on the Neusiok Trail

Hiking the Neusiok. Photo by Becka Walling.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the 22-mile Neusiok Trail in the Croatan National Forest near New Bern and Havelock.


The trail was designed and built by the Carteret County Wildlife Club and is the longest continuous trail in North Carolina's coastal plain. It was designated as part of the MST in 1990, and it is one of the highlights of the entire 1000-mile journey. Hikers experience the beauty and diversity of this special part of North Carolina: sand ridges, bottomlands, pine savannas, pocosins and sandy beaches. The trail also features two camping shelters.


Thanking the "Grandfathers" of the Neusiok

Photo by Sue Huntsman.

Members of the Carteret County Wildlife Club celebrated the birthday with a hike and party in February. FMST Executive Director Kate Dixon and Board Member Terry Smith attended to let the members know how much we admire and appreciate their vision and work. The photo at right shows FMST Executive Director Kate Dixon presenting a letter of recognition from the FMST Board to former Croatan District Ranger Ed Gruhinski and Gene Huntsman and Bob Simpson, leaders of Carteret County Wildlife Club, who laid out the trail in 1971.




There are lots of ways to get involved with the MST.  One great way is to get out and hike. Explore our website to plan your hike.


Keep informed about what the media is saying about the MST and check out our favorite blogs, videos and articles.


Check out the calendar to find a workday or event. Here's a list of a few of highlights: 


Trail Workdays -

                Watauga (near Boone) - April 7, 9 and 16

                Eno River (near Durham) - April 23

                Soco Gap (near Asheville) - April 30

                Haw River (near Burlington) - May 21


"Thru-hiking the MST" - Presentation by Ian Fraher who completed the MST in 2010 - REI Greensboro - Tuesday, April 12


Spring Walks of the South Ashe section of the MST - Thursday, May 12 and Saturday, May 14

MST 12-Mile Challenge @ Falls Lake - Saturday, April 9th,, Raleigh


Your gift will help FMST build, protect and promote the MST now and for the future.  Please join us 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