Friday, May 16, 2014

Where's PJ?

Short answer: "Chillin' at the beach."

"Wait a minute, Dude.  You said you were thru-hiking the Mountains-to-Sea trail."

Well, I am, dear dude or dudette.  But - frankly - I keep losing the plot.

Flashback to February 15th.  After announcing my intentions to thru-hike North Carolina's official cross-state trail via the newly minted 'Cape Fear Arch' route, I topped the high dune at Jockey's Ridge State Park at the eastern terminus of the 1150 mile trail and started west toward Clingman's Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park - the western end.

But I live along the eastern part of the route.  So while I was close to home I treated the trail as a series of day-hikes and returned home ever night.  I was a part-time hiker and part-time slacker.  I wasn't as serious as I might have been.  Every time the weather looked a little questionable I took a 'zero day' - translation: I didn't hike.

Then when I progressed far enough westward that I couldn't commute from home any more, and had to get serious again, Easter break rolled around, and my family held a gathering in Maryland that I couldn't miss.  More 'zero days'.

After Easter I returned to the trail and got a good deal of hiking accomplished - made it westward past Raleigh and Durham and all the way to Hillsborough, NC - an historic town with significant roles in the Revolution, in the Civil War, and in the founding of NASCAR auto-racing.

But there in Hillsborough, like a race car with a mechanical breakdown, I took an extended pit stop - more than two weeks.

Why?  The answer centers on family ties once again.  My extended family was gathering at my home beach Island for a two week vacation, and there was no way I was going to miss it.  (The last time they held this gathering, in 2012, I was doing my double thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail and I did choose to skip the gathering.)

But with my parents now age 91, there was no way I was going to pass up this chance to connect with them and with the rest of the gang for two weeks of bonding and relaxation.

Dad set up the wind sock on the first full day of the gathering, and that formally kicked off the activities.

The agenda included fishing, hiking, beach-combing, shopping, reading, sun bathing, swimming, and taking turns cooking sumptuous meals for the gathered throng.

We celebrated Mother's Day:

And I had a chance to do plenty of hiking.  I hiked the entire 26-mile Topsail Island end-to-end twice during the family visit.  And I even had a chance to start a connecting hike from the Mountains-to-Sea trail to Emerald Isle on Bogue Banks where I intend to connect my 'Personal Continuous Footpath' to two properties that I used to own.  The GPS track and slide show from that hike is documented in my EveryTrail report below.  Click on the title line to be taken to the slide show.

Connecting the MST to Emerald Isle at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in North Carolina

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