Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 9
Date: January 13th, 2018
Notes: Attempted to drop off the car at Eno River State Park but there was a gate and it didn’t open until 8:30a.m. We didn’t feel like waiting around another hour, so we back tracked to Hillsborough and parked in the parking deck there. We then drove back to Food Lion in Mebane (EB 41.0) and aimed to get this hike in and shuffle the cars again and finish the day.
We started the day by pushing through some more road walk and as a note N. Efland-Cedar Grove Rd is some of the most traffic we’ve encountered on these road walks. We keep thinking that surely there is another route that will take you on roads where the speed limit is 45 max. Even though it was 2 miles, it seemed much longer.
We crossed back and forward under I-85 several times. Finally we came across a highlight of the hike and that would be the Eno riverwalk. Very beautiful walkways and greenways here in and around Hillsborough. We stopped and had lunch at Hillsborough BBQ and will go back when we are back in the area for Segment 10. We moved cars after we returned to the parking deck (near Weaver Street Market) and parked just outside Eno River State park on a little side road (more on that in a bit).
We met our friend P and the three of us continued on the path Ayr Mount Plantation and passed the Vietri outlet store (our friend P made note that the owner was a customer of his). We came close to the historic Occoneechee (love to say that) Speedway via the Occoneechee trail and winded our way through the beautiful James M. Johnson Nature Preserve. We climbed a steep embankment up to Hwy 70 where we once again had to endure a slog of a road walk on a very busy highway. K separated himself from us and made a push for the last 4.5 miles to the car.
There he found a park ranger locking the gate and after a quick exchange found that the ranger told him not to park on this side road as it was not part of park property. I find this out later and thought it was amusing that the park ranger was telling him where not to park outside of park boundaries. Oh well, at least we didn’t get locked in for a night.
We finished the day having a meal at El Restaurante Ixtapa and recommend the fish tacos.
Lowlights: Busy roads. Pure and simple. It is only a matter of time before someone who is determined to hike this portion of the MST will find themselves in a bad situation on the side of the road. Do any thru hikers find themselves faced with this? Its very discouraging to say the least.
Highlights: Hillsborough. Weaver Street Market, Hillsborough BBQ, Ixtapa, the riverwalk and of course James M. Johnson Nature Preserve
Total Miles: 20.16 miles
Hike: Mountains to Sea Trail – Segment 9
Date: November 10-11, 2017
Notes: Dropped off car at Shallow Ford Natural Area around 6:45am, drove to Greensboro Bryan Park and departed at or around 7:30am. Finished day 1 around 4:30 a.m. Day 2 started later, after 8 a.m. and finished around 5:30 a.m.
Lowlights: Mostly road walk. There were some very busy sections of the highway, particularly around Elon. Many vehicles were gracious and gave us room on a very tight shoulder. A few cars gave us no room, honked the horn and not at all courteous. The shin splint injury resurfaced. Thankfully received some Aleve and pushed through both days.
Highlights: The small town of Glencoe. A hidden gem of a town that I would have no idea existed if it wasn’t for the trail. Meeting up with a childhood friend in Mebane, and having him join us for the walk on day 2. Meeting Friends of the MST trail maintainers on day 2. Thankful for their work as the trail in Alamance county was awesome!
Total Miles: 41.69 miles
This was mostly road walk, but with some great hiking along the Haw River Trail. The Haw River is beautiful, and the trail is great way to see the areas along it. The little mill village of Glencoe was the highlight of this area. They have taken exceptional care with this little town, and I envy the folks that live there. The homes are gorgeous.
We left Bryan Park, and it looked totally different from where we left off hiking there in Feb. 2016. We had to drive around a little bit, because the parking lot where we left the destination car was GONE now! There are soccer fields that weren’t there before, and a new parking lot for them. I didn’t recognize the area, but we found good parking at the soccer fields parking lot. Hiking on the road through Elon was an adventure with a ton of traffic. Hiking on these roads really makes me miss the trails we’ve done along the Blue Ridge Parkway! The worst of the road walk was near the destination car at Shallow Ford Natural Area. We passed a school, and what had to be a factory at quitting time. We were passed by a plethora of vehicles, with barely any shoulder to speak of to walk on. We had to “ditch walk”! Reminded me of Summerfield on an earlier hike.
The next day had more trail, with the Haw River Trail incorporated into the MST. This was a pleasant change, but this hiking on and off trail and road takes much longer than just road walk. It made day 2 a much longer day, and K, M, & P all got back to the destination car at Mebane Food Lion right at dark. Luckily, the Town of Mebane had good street lighting.
There weren’t many places to stop on this route between Shallow Ford and Mebane. We presumed there would be some convenience stores, but we found there really weren’t any to speak of…not without having to walk off the route out of the way.
After two days of mostly road walk, I sum this hike up as…”The agony of de feet”!!! I need to invest in some more “cushiony” shoes for pounding the pavement, so to speak. We have about 18 more miles to go to finish this segment and get to Eno River State Park. Hopefully we can knock it out around the early part of 2018.