Hickory Hill Boat Ramp (Falls Lake) to Hwy 50 (Falls Lake)

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 10
Date: Sept 8
Notes: Diverse nature!  We ran across all sorts of interesting animals and creepy crawlies on this hike.  We left later than we intended and found that we could indeed not have to take the detour around a supposed sink-hole.  The first several miles we ran across many many spiders.  A few were at least sizable and got on M’s hat.  He did not appreciate the interest, yet we continued on.

One of the highlights on this hike was coming up on a long boardwalk to cross a large expanse of water and we had opportunities to take in the lake.  I did not take my eyes off the boardwalk as my head gets swimmy.  We crossed a bridge over Little Lick Creek and continued on.

We pushed for most of the morning and met up with our good friend P at Baptist Rd.  It was hot (the high 80s with a feel like temp of mid-90s).  P was so good to us on this trip as he made sandwiches and resupplied our empty water.  We had a great break at his car before all of us getting back on the trail.

There was a lot of clear cut areas, but thankfully the sun was hid for most of the afternoon from the large cloud cover.  We made it back to the car just before dark (K and P needed headlamps).  We came across an Eagle Scout project to build a bridge right at Hwy 50.  Everyone was very friendly and it was encouraging to see some helpful work being done for the hikers in this region.

It was a fun and eventful day and we were all very tired.

Total Miles: 22.84

Graybeard Mountain Overlook (BRP) to Hwy 128 (Mt. Mitchell State Park)

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 3
Date: July 20, 2018
Notes: We decided to take a mid-summer detour away from Falls Lake area and complete a small portion of hiking up and around Mt. Mitchell.  Thankfully a spot came available at Mt. Mitchell so we made our reservation.  We have also been itching to introduce our daughters to hiking more than just a little neighborhood park hike, why not bring them out on the MST?

So R & K joined us for what we thought was going to be a 2-day adventure out in the woods.  We parked our destination car and drove down the parkway to start at the Graybeard Mountain Overlook.  We knew we had some hills to climb on our first day.  But before we made it back down to the parkway we came across some wonderful wild blueberry bushes and could not get away, they were very plentiful and bursting with flavor.

We made it back down to the parkway at Walker Knob Overlook and began our assault of Blackstock knob a 6,320-foot mountain that’s one of the largest in NC.  We were pleased with how well the girls got up and over and managed to traverse the many blowdowns.  We went at a much slower pace than usual, but this was a hike that we were not going to rush and enjoy as it is one of our last mountain hikes on the MST.

Camping was awesome!  But I will save the details for another blog post, and due to a storm, we decided to cancel day 2 and return when we are less soggy.

Total Miles: 8.77

West Point on the Eno (Eno River) to Hickory Hill Boat Ramp (Falls Lake)

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 10
Date: June 30th
Notes: We started our second day on this segment as early as we could.  We knew it would be another scorcher, so we lined up our cars bright and early (just after 6 a.m.).  We made a quick breakfast run at the Bojangles around the corner from the hotel.  Drove the short distance out to Hickory Hill Boat Ramp, well we tried to, the road leading to the parking area was closed.  We were curious if we could still reach it, but alas we could not.  We did see where the MST came out of the woods, but this gave us a short scramble on what to do next.  We back-tracked some and discovered another route to the parking area.  Then we drove back to the amphitheater parking area in Durham.

What a difference a good nights rest means.  We hiked along Eno River for a good long distance, going in and out of woods and a lot of times wading into knee to thigh-high weeds.  Keep moving and the ticks won’t get you (more on that later).  We came across Penny’s Bend Nature Preserve.  Beautiful portion of the trail in the Eno River area.  Whoever maintains this did an absolutely great job and it was a joy to get out of the weeds.  We crossed Old Oxford road (a little bit of confusion in this area about how to get to the trail.  We figured it out and got back on our way, and more high weeds.  Then the heat got us.  We were getting that mid-morning heat, and it was miserable.  We also hit a stretch where we were in the sun a lot while crisscrossing power line areas.  Not at all a problem, just hot.

We found ourselves back at the car by mid-afternoon.  Heat exhaustion was hitting us hard.  I drunk down a Cola and had a small snack then changed into driving home clothes.  I noticed a tick bite with the tick grabbed on pretty good.  Maybe I shouldn’t have done this, but I yanked him off.  He came off cleanly.  I then used an anti-bacterial wipe and cleaned the area (later back home found another tick on the back of my calf, but got this one off pretty easily).

Ended up going to the doctor later in the week with an inflamed tick bite area.  Not the one I yanked off surprisingly.  Be careful!  The ticks are bad.  I’m soaking my clothes in permethrin before getting back out there.  You should too!

Total Miles: 17.47

Eno River State Park Pleasant Green Road to West Point on the Eno

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 10
Date: June 29th
Notes: We departed our homes mid-day and drove directly to Durham.  It was HOT!  94 degrees at the start of the hike.  We took plenty of water and tried to hydrate before the hike.  We started approximately at 2pm and followed the footpath around and along the Eno River.  At some point or another, we found ourselves at a massive popular quarry site full of young folks swimming and getting sun.  We continued on our journey around the quarry thinking if we had time it would be nice to float around and cool it!  At some point, someone resting along the quarry asked us if we needed anything water?  How considerate!  But we were good.  We did miss the trail around the quarry, probably because our attention was divided.  We soon found our error and continued along.  I grabbed a photo (see below) of a young adult carrying their massive pink floater back to their car.  lol

The rest of the day was uneventful.  The bugs were not too bad, maybe the mosquitos, but I feel like the high intense dose of Off I took before leaving helped me fight them off.  We kept moving and made it our destination, a city park in Durham called West Point on the Eno.

We spent the night at the Red Roof Inn, located a local friend for dinner (Peter), and called it a night.  I crashed hard.  Apparently, there were several arrests made at the hotel that evening.  Didn’t hear a thing!

Total Miles: 10.65

Miller’s Campground (BRP) to Devil’s Garden Overlook (BRP)

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 5
Date: May 23rd
Notes: Middle of the week hike, day 2. We had a leisurely morning and had a morning breakfast of eggs and bacon. We broke camp and packed all our gear and set up the cars. We left mine at the overlook which brought back a ton of memories. Way back in 2015 we started this adventure, and I’m surprised that we are continuing. We only have two more hikes after this one in the mountains.

We drove back to Miller’s Campground and set out for a full day. We did not go fast on this hike. We took our time and paid attention to nature and the things that the trail was giving us.

We had some steep climbs, one being Bluff Mountain just outside of Doughton Park. It was worth it and we had beautiful views. We also had wonderful memories of camping at Doughton when we were younger. I also enjoyed looking at the old and forgotten picnic tables throughout the park. Remnants of the past.

We finished our day strong and while it seemed like the last mile or two took forever, we finally came out of the woods descending upon Devil’s Garden Overlook. Segment 5 is in the books!

Total Miles: 13.66

Hirim Bare Rd (BRP) to Miller’s Campground (BRP)

Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 5
Date: May 22nd
Notes: Middle of the week hike.  We drove up to Miller’s Campground and set up at the site.  Let me tell you, this was one of the nicest campsites we’ve been to.  The people who run this place are really friendly, and we had no problems at all checking in and finding our reserved site.  After getting settled, we drove down the road (not far) and departed from Hirim Bare Rd, a few roads down from Hwy 18.

It was dark and gloomy and we knew that it was going to rain.  Before leaving the campground, we packed our rain gear.  About a mile or so in the hike it started sprinkling rain and finally, it was coming down pretty good (not as bad as when we were at Julian Price that one time) but enough for pack covers and rain jackets.  The rain eased up about 15 minutes or so, and in about another mile we took off our rain gear all together.

We did miss the turn not long after getting off South Laurel Fork Rd.  It was minor, but we did get pretty muddy staying on the main trail and not following the MST.  We corrected and found ourselves back on the Parkway again in short order.  We crossed over 18 and passed some restaurants that we were looking forward to try.  Sadly, they were all closed.  We turned up Miller Road and had to deal with a nasty growly dog.  He was scared of us, but it didn’t prevent him from coming up to us and growling and barking.  We kept walking and spoke nice words to him (didn’t help).  We turned into Miller’s Campground and climbed the short hill up to our site.

We ended the day by eating steaks with peppers/onions.  We were prepared to eat.

Total Miles: 3.2 miles