Mountains-to-Sea Trail Celebrates Forty Years!

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail turns forty years old this year. And Friends of the MST (Friends) is celebrating in several ways. Come and join us!

At Pilot Mountain

Friday to Sunday March 24 to 26, 2017
Friends of the MST is planning a weekend of hikes, excursions, talks, and discussions in Elkin, North Carolina. This is a chance for for you to meet folks from all over the state and beyond, laud its accomplishments, and plan for the future. Jennifer Pharr Davis, a Carolina Mountain Club member and a past Appalachian Trail speed record holder, will be the keynote speaker.

Elkin, two hours north east from Asheville, is the quintessential small town with big plans, dreams, and energy. The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail (OVVI) starts its eastern spur in town. Elkin has worked hard to bring the MST through their town.

Stone Mountain SP

Highlights of the MST Gathering of Friends include:
* The keynote by Jennifer. She will also hike and publicize the MST in 2017.
* Hiking in Stone Mountain State Park, Devils Garden and other MST places that I dubbed the mountains away from the mountains, i.e. the Piedmont.
* Paddling on the Yadkin Valley
* Mountain Biking Clinic. REI will supply the bikes
* Hiking Boot Gala on Friday evening with dinner, music and fellowship
* Winery and Brewery Tours, and …

OVVI

The activity I’m most anticipating,
An encampment and portrayal of the NC sixth regiment who participated in the Overmountain Victory during the Revolutionary War. They will also lead a short hike on the OVVI.

The Friends gala and meeting are almost at capacity. So go on the Friends of the MST website and sign up.

Boomers on the Trail

It all started with a routine physical with my internist, a man I’ve been going to for years. He’s a runner, a fit baby boomer only a few years younger than me.

“As you age, your lung capacity decreases, even if you’ve never smoked. You should expect some changes.” He probably said something about heart function but I can’t recall now. I was mad. I plan to die with my hiking boots on.

On Heartbreak Ridge

I again told him about the older folks in Carolina Mountain Club, some much older than me, but I think he’s heard it all before from me.

Last Sunday’s hike on Heartbreak Ridge was in the Appalachian District of Pisgah National Forest near Old Fort, NC.

The trail is 11.5-mile with a 3,000 foot ascent, which is considered strenuous. Eighteen hikers showed up, a larger number than usual. Carroll K. was leading this hike and this was his fan club. Carroll, who’s 87 years old, is the “poster hiker” of the fit, serious, all-day hiker who just keeps on going.

Still thinking about my conversation with my doctor, I took a survey of ages and their genders. I know that 18 data points is a very small sample size but it was a start. No one hesitated to give me their age.

The average age of the hikers was 61.6 years old. The women averaged 59.3 years of age (46 the youngest, 70 the oldest). The average for men was 65.1 years old (51 years was the youngest, 87 the oldest).

Not surprisingly Carroll was the oldest man and I was the oldest woman. That’s been true for a long time on all day-hikes. We seem to accept the disparity in ages between the genders but Bruce questioned it. Why?

I don’t know is the quickest answer. After all, Grandma Gatewood did her first A.T. thru-hike when she was 67 years old and again seven years later. The oldest person, a man, completed a thru-hike when he was 81 years old. Historically only 15% of the completers (2000-milers) were women, though the numbers are rising. See the numbers on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website.

I do know that the professional advice is meant to scare older exercisers.

“See your doctor”.
“Don’t overdo it!”
“Carry a cell phone, a stick, a ….”

After all these dos and don’t, it’s easier to just stay on the couch.

Why do we see fewer women over 70 on the trail or in the gym? Ideas?

Life in Motion Hiking Poles – It’s local

Life in Motion poles

You can start your business with just one product. And if it’s a good product and it’s well marketed and distributed, your business will move on to create the next product and the next …

So it was with more than mild curiosity that I looked at Rodney Bailey’s email from Life in Motion. Was I interested in reviewing his company’s hiking poles? And oh yes, they were local in Simpsonville, SC, south of Greenville. That’s certainly closer than where I’ve been getting my poles from.

Hiking poles are necessary for stability and for crossing streams without bridges. We have plenty of those around the Blue Ridge and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Poles also reduce impact on my knees and encourages me to walk faster with less effort when I go uphill. Most important, when you’re an habitual hiker like me – day after day after day – of any age, it will keep you hiking until the grave.

When I received my poles, meticulously packed in a large box, they seemed like, well, hiking poles. Then I looked more closely. Their handler collar extents so much longer than most hiking poles. I can grab them lower down, if I want shorter poles for some situations. I’m thinking when scrambling uphill on rocks.

At Bent Creek

They’re lighter than most poles and come with mud baskets and snow baskets. Who knew that all these accessories were necessary? Most important, their website shows that so many accessories are available separately. Let’s face it. You’re going to lose your pole tips or snow basket.

Their website has an extremely well-written section on how to get started with poles – and I judge a product partly on their website.

It shows you how to adjust the height of your poles so your arms can form a 90 degree angle.

You can learn how to pack poles and adjust the straps, if needed. But most experienced hikers don’t put their hands through the straps. If you fall, you won’t be able to get your wrists out of the poles fast enough and might break a wrist. We’ve seen this happen in Carolina Mountain Club. Straps are fine for hanging poles but not for wrists.

At this point, the hiking poles are only available online. Look at their very reasonable price.

And I’m sure, like Johnny Cash’s song, you might be able to pick them up at the factory.