Monday, January 14, 2013

Mountains-to-Sea Trail, the first hike

Surf City Pier viewed from the Kinston Ave public access, Topsail Island, NC

The 'trail' I hiked today is not the current 'official' approved route for the MST (Mountains-to-Sea Trail).  But the powers-that-be are considering these changes.  I'm scouting this route in hopes that it will become the chosen one.  It's a delightful choice.  Pictured above is the point where the east-bound MST thru-hiker would first encounter the 'S' in 'MST' - the Sea!  Pretty spot, eh?

My proposed route gives the hiker nine miles of beach walking before they plunge back inland for more wild walking through wooded wetland and pocosin (shrub bogs).  There's plenty more beach to come for the MST hiker - walking all of Okracoke Island and then a long stretch of the Outer Banks from south of Cape Hatteras up to Kitty Hawk.

Today I hiked a section inland from here and a section along the beach as well.  The weather was beyond glorious.  It was summer-like, with temperatures in the 70's, not a breath of wind during the morning, and, as you can see, wall-to-wall sunshine.

Little Kinston Road where it becomes Spot Lane
Following from west to east, my proposed routing for the trail takes it through the wild and woolly Holly Shelter Game Lands (watch for future posts, because this is where I'm headed in coming days), then takes up a peaceful rural road walk through a quiet sound-side neighborhood, shown at right:

Then it crosses the Intracoastal Waterway on the historic Surf City Swing Bridge and crosses over a quarter mile of wetlands on a boardwalk in the city's Soundside Park before reaching the beach.  Below is a view of the boardwalk in the morning mist:
Soundside Park, Surf City, NC - a quarter mile boardwalk
Pender-Onslow Co park as seen from dune crossing
The beach walk features several potential 'pit stops' with flush-toilet pavilions in public oceanfront parks.  I ended my hike today at one such park at the Pender-Onslow county line.  The flush-toilet rest rooms are in the building at left, and if you're in need of some refreshment at this point (just 2 miles up the beach from the fishing pier), there's a 24/7 Friendly Mart convenience store hidden behind the yellow condos at right.

As I did when I hiked the Appalachian Trail last year, I hiked every inch of today's route in both directions, chalking up just over ten miles of walking, so five miles of proposed trail.  And as I did every day of my AT hike, I'm planning to post the GPS track of the route.

I'm not going to 'thru-hike' the MST as I did the AT last year.  I'm going to do perhaps 50 miles of trail (100 miles of hiking) per month, and devote the remaining weeks of each month to writing - the AT memoir and my novel.  This, at least, is my plan - an attempt at building some 'balance' into my schedule.  We'll see ...


There are a total of fifteen beautiful photos that I've selected to present in the slide show that is linked below.  You can look at each photo individually as well, and the map gives you the perspective of where each photo was taken.  Enjoy.

MST Day 1 - Surf City, NC at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking near Wilmington, North Carolina

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