Trail News: From the Mountains to the Sea      
                                                        December 2015

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Photo Contest Winners Announced!

Check out the winning photos and take a few minutes to look at all the submitted photos too. We've also included the first place photos in the body of this newsletter, so scroll down to see them all.

Thanks to the photographers for sharing their experience on the trail, and a special thanks to our distinguished judges: Ted Richardson, Simon Griffiths and Jaala Freeman of Great Outdoor Provision Co. Thanks also to Great Outdoor Provision Co. for donating the prizes.

We hope you'll enter your best MST photos in next year's contest.  We'll start accepting submissions in August 2016.

William Casstevens - 1st Place, Youth

MST will be Part of March Bond Vote

Put Tuesday, March 15th on your calendar as the date to vote Yes for the Connect NC bond package that includes $75 million for State Parks including $4.5 million for the  MST.

Want to Volunteer?

There are many ways to get involved. Check out our list of volunteer jobs and calendar to find scheduled workdays and other events. If you have ideas about other ways to help, please contact Betsy Brown, Outreach Coordinator, at [email protected] or 919-518-1713.

Annual Meeting
Sat, Feb 6 - Join other MST enthusiasts at FMST's Annual Meeting at Elon University. It's a great way to hear what's new with the trail and learn how you can hike, build trail and get involved in other ways.

This year's keynote speaker will be Sharon "Mama Goose" Smith, a retired Air Force combat medic who will lead the first Warrior Hike of veterans on the MST next September. Mama Goose is an inspiring speaker who thru-hiked the MST in 2014 to prepare for this expedition. 

Give thru
Amazon Smile
Amazon has created a very easy way to give to FMST through That website works the same way works, has the same products and uses your same passwords. The only difference is that Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice. When you first use, it will ask you to select a charity to receive your gifts. It's easy to find Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail on the list. After that, every time you purchase through, your purchases will help build, protect and promote the MST!

Mitzi Gellman - Waiting for sunset at the Thunder Hill trailhead - 1st Place, People on the Trail
New Trail Guides Released
FMST is making great progress in completing trail guides for the entire MST.  Since our last e-newsletter, we've posted trail guides for the following trail segments: 
  • The Balsams (Segment 2)
  • Croatan National Forest (Segment 16B of the Coastal Crescent route)
  • The Neusiok Trail and Cedar Island (Segment 17)
  • The High Country (Segment 5)
By our annual meeting in February, we expect to have published all the remaining guides including ones for:
  • Pisgah Inn to Beacon Heights (Segments 3 to 4)
  • Stone Mt. State Park to the Greensboro watershed lakes (Segments 6 to 8)
Please continue to watch the website for new releases and send comments and suggestions to Kate Dixon at [email protected] or 919-698-9024.  We will be continually updating and improving the guides.
New Campsites Planned for Blue Ridge Parkway and Falls Lake
Thanks to the Blue Ridge Parkway and to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for agreeing to establish new campsites for MST hikers. Five of the sites will be along the parkway between Beacon Heights and Devil's Garden Overlook, and one, provided by the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, will be along the eastern half of the Falls Lake trail. 

The campsites will be built and maintained by FMST volunteers.  When they are open, you will be able to find information about the locations and how to get a permit to use them in our trail guides for those segments of the trail (5 and 10).

To learn more about these campsites and others we are working with land managing agencies to create, attend Benjamin Trotter's session during the trail builders workshop at the FMST Annual Meeting on Saturday, February 6th at Elon University.

Emma Hileman - Firelight - 1st Place, View from the Trail
MST News Briefs - Mountains
  • Thanks to Carolina Mountain Club (CMC) volunteers for their skillful, steady work to complete the trail over Waterrock Knob west of Waynesville. This section of trail includes some of the most challenging trail ever built for the MST. CMC crew leaders will talk about the work entailed at the trail building workshop at the FMST Annual Meeting on February 6. To hike this portion of the trail, follow FMST's new Segment 2 trail guide. A grand opening celebration is planned on National Trails Day, June 4, 2016. 
  • Interested in expert work with a chainsaw? Check out this video of MST/High Peaks Trail Association (NCHPTA) volunteers Bob McLean and Jake Blood masterfully handling a "spring tree."
  • CMC/NCHPTA also built a gorgeous bridge of 27-foot hand-hewn logs over Neal's Creek in Pisgah National Forest. Watch Rocko Smucker's video to learn more about how they did it.
  • FMST volunteers have also been hard at work restoring the MST/Greenwood Trail and the Wolf Pit trail head in the Pisgah National Forest. The Greenwood Trail work was done in partnership with Northwest NC Mountain Bike Alliance with funding and help from Table Rock Ultras. Thanks to Table Rock Ultras for also donating $5000 to FMST from the proceeds of its 50K and 50M ultras race in 2015.
  • Last summer, a fire raged up and down the MST at Bald Knob in the Pisgah National Forest. For weeks, the trail was closed, but FMST Task Force Leader Phil Piaski and his trail crew have already reblazed the trail. Phil will speak at the FMST Annual Meeting  about the impact of the fire and restoration plans for the trail.
  • Thanks to FMST's Grandfather Task Force for building a brand new, beautiful staircase where the MST crosses Shullls Mill Road near Blowing Rock.
  • Congratulations to Jim Hallsey, original architect of the MST and now FMST Task Force Leader in South Ashe County, for being recognized by the Blue Ridge Parkway as the Highlands District Volunteer of the Year. Jim has not only done outstanding work to build and maintain his section of the trail. He also led FMST's team to craft a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Blue Ridge Parkway that has made the new campsites possible (see article above) and will strengthen our future work together.
  • Dave Bauer, Highlands District Ranger of the Blue Ridge Parkway, has been an extraordinary advocate for the MST - supporting our efforts to complete the trail in his area and then working to attain permission for the campsites and the MOU. Now, with all of that in place, he has retired from the National Park Service and returned to Up State New York where he grew up.  In recognition of all that he has done for the trail, the FMST Board wrote him a letter of appreciation and presented him with a framed photograph of the trail at his retirement luncheon.
New book about Grandfather Mountain and Tanawha Trail
In May UNC-Press will publish Grandfather Mountain: The History and Guide to an Appalachian Icon by Randy Johnson, trail guide author and FMST Task Force Leader.
The book includes the story of how the Tanawha Trail, one of the most special parts of the MST, was conceived and designed including the roles of MST leaders Allen DeHart, Howard Lee, and Jim Hallsey. The book will ship in April 2016, and you can save 40% on the price if you pre-order by December 31st.  To get your discount, enter the code 01HOLIDAY at checkout.
MST News Briefs - Piedmont
Elkin trail sign - Photo by Joe Mickey
  • The Elkin Valley Trails Association continues to make great progress in building the MST from Stone Mountain State Park to downtown Elkin. This year, they opened a 1.75 mile section of trail over Wells Knob, and they are close to opening several more miles in the next few months. In addition, the Town of Elkin is hard at work to create a downtown Trail Center. And - EVTA volunteers continue to have fun - including installation of this great directional trail sign in downtown!
  • The Sauratown Trails Association, with help from FMST volunteers from Ashe and Watauga counties, held a big workday in October to reroute a portion of the trail.
  • Volunteers are hard at work outside Burlington to complete a four-mile section of new trail along the Haw River. This new trail, which is expected to open in early 2016, will create a continuous eight miles of trail in that area. Thanks to Alamance County, all the towns along the river, and very generous landowners for their commitment to the MST!
  • Now that Alamance County and the Town of Hillsborough are doing such impressive work to build their sections of the MST, volunteers in Orange County have petitioned their County Commissioners to focus on building trail to connect Saxapahaw to Hillsborough. We're excited that Orange County staff are now working on a plan to move forward with the trail.
  • Congratulations to Will and Donna Farmer who were recognized as Volunteers of the Year by the Corps of Engineers at Falls Lake. Will and Donna do extraordinary work for the MST - maintaining a section of trail, cooking for trail crew events and the race at Falls Lake, and speaking about the trail at festivals and other events.  On top of all these activities, Will also handles the FMST site - helping almost 1000 people know about events on the MST. 
MST News Briefs - Coastal Plain & Outer Banks
Wilbur Gurganus with a new sign post at Stones Creek Game Land- Photo by Tim Supple
  • Eliza Vistica became the first MST completer to use our new Neuse River paddle guide (MST Segment 11A) to paddle 184 miles from Clayton to the start of the Neusiok Trail where the river is 2.5 miles wide.  FMST's Board President, Jerry Barker, joined her for the first three days of the trip. A New Bern Sun Journal article chronicled her great adventure.
  • Through the heat of the summer, Task Force Leaders Wilbur Gurganus and Tim Supple, with help from Wilbur's wife Jane, blazed all 22 miles through Holly Shelter and Stones Creek Game Lands on the Coastal Crescent route of the trail outside Jacksonville.
  • Goldsboro and Kinston are both working to complete new sections of greenway that will open in 2016.
  • FMST volunteer Allen Poole is working with staff of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore to reblaze and resign the Open Ponds Trail on the Outer Banks.
3 Great Ways to Support the MST
ONE: Become an FMST member. Financial donations make this trail possible. You can join online or print and mail your membership form. Your donation will leave a legacy for future generations.

MST license plate with HK TWO: Buy an MST license plate. For $30 per year, you can show the world your love of the trail and help the trail financially too. $20 of your annual fee will come back to FMST to build, protect and promote the trail. You can now order your plate directly from NC DMV.

THREE: If your employer hosts a workplace-giving campaign, look for FMST as a giving option. We are a proud member of Earth Share which promotes workplace giving for conservation and environmental groups. We are a giving option in all North Carolina state and federal employee campaigns and in many local government and corporate campaigns too. FMST code numbers are: State employee campaign - 1102; Federal employee campaign - 30392; United Way of the Triangle - 60001159.
Happy Trails to You!

Kate Dixon
(919) 698 9024
[email protected]

Volunteers are the heart of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  We need people with a wide variety of skills and interests to build and care for this beautiful trail.

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