Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Stella by dawn-light

Quiet morning on the White Oak River at Stella, NC

The second of two near-perfect hiking days (weather-wise) began before sunrise in the sleepy little town of Stella, NC -- little more than a quaint little post office at an intersection of roads beside the White Oak River.

For those of the younger generation who may have missed the reference: "Stella by Starlight" is a Jazz classic from the 1940's.

It was calm.  It was serene.  The temperature rapidly soared from the upper 40's into the 70's.  Spring birds were cheeping, spring frogs were peeping, the bad dog was sleeping, and the white rooster was keeping us all informed that it was a morning to crow about.

When the bright yellow sun came out to shine, the land seemed to bathe in the new season and the trees seemed to lift their arms to rejoice!

Morning with tree and bird near Stella, NC.  Can you find the bird?

And the spring jonquils came out to shine right back at the sun

I was hiking a new route for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.  Having left the sea behind, my next destination was the city of Jacksonville, so it was a shock to learn that I was on the Jacksonville City-to-the-Sea bike route--something I'd not known about until I saw this sign.

This bike route goes from the Jacksonville Mall to the free ferry to Hammock's Beach State Park - an undeveloped island with about 8 miles of pristine beach.  This is another North Carolina Bucket List item - not to be missed.

Today's walk was on paved roads, mostly wonderfully quiet except for a bit of a morning 'rush'.  Yesterday, by contrast, I had hiked most of the day on a series of virtually unused Forest Service roads through the far western end of Croatan National Forest.  I encountered no more than two or three vehicles all day.  There wasn't much to photograph - just peaceful woods:

It's not easy for a photo to capture the serenity of such a natural and unspoiled place on such a perfect day.  You just have to go.  Come out there and absorb the magic.

This is why I hike.  This is why so many dedicated trail volunteers like me are willing to scout, to build, to promote, and to lovingly maintain trails like the MST.

Why? Because we want to share this inexhaustible joy with as many of you as will hear our call.  We want you to come out and discover it!


Below is the map of the route taken on these two hiking days, with a link to a full slide show with more detailed highlights of the hiking experience.  Enjoy.

MST days 18 and 19 - Stella, NC at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in North Carolina

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