Monthly Archives: April 2014

MST Month

May is MST Month!  Thats a whole month dedicated to the trail we’re so excited about hiking this fall.  There are plenty of ways you can celebrate MST Month.  My hiking group will be hosting 4 hikes on the trail this month – Basin Cove to Devil’s Garden, Jumpinoff Rock to Sheets Gap, Harper Creek Wilderness, and the Tanawha Trail.  Great Outdoor Provision Co is raising money for FMST by selling raffle tickets all month long.  If you’ve been thinking about volunteering for FMST, what better time to start than now!  The trail is built and maintained primarily by volunteers.  For more information, see their website.

Some fun facts about the Mountains-to-Sea Trail:

  • The MST was named “Best Thru-Hike You’ve Never Heard Of” by Outside Magazine in 2011
  • The trail is 1000 miles long and traverses both the highest peak east of the Rockies (Mount Mitchell) and the highest sand dune on the east coast (Jockey’s Ridge)
  • The MST travels along the AT for several miles at the beginning of the trail
  • The MST passes through 3 national parks, 3 national forests, and 7 state parks
  • In the coastal section, the trail utilizes 3 ferry rides and passes 3 lighthouses

No matter how you choose to get involved – volunteering, hiking, donating – make May the time you finally check out the Mountains-to-Sea Trail!

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Triathlon Day!

Yea, I know this is a little late, this should have been posted on Sunday.

Sunday was Triathlon Day!

Andrew raced at the Huntersville Sprint Tri.  His swim needs some work, but overall he did really well.  He registered as a novice, this being his first triathlon.  He finished 2nd out of the novice category, and 60th overall out of 275 racers.  He had the 9th fastest run time of the day, ~50th fastest bike time, and ~230th fastest swim time.  And, as I expected, he is looking for the next triathlon to run.

Sunday was also the day of the Tri It For Lift Mock Tri.  We ran the race course at almost race pace, with the 100 TIFL athletes.  They still wanted mentors with every cycling group, so our swim was grouped by cycling speed.  I was in the fastest cycling group.  I was 4th in the pool and 5th out.  We rode the bike course with our bike group of 4 athletes (and 2 mentors) – I was 2nd out on the bike and 2nd back.  The run we were allowed to complete at our own pace – I was 3rd out of transition into the run, and 1st back.  I was really glad to have this practice round to see what I need to work on.  I know I need to really work on my transitions – they felt really slow.

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MST Itinerary, part 2

We’re planning and posting the itinerary for our hike in stages.  If you’re looking for Part 1 (Sections 1-7), look here.  Just like the first part we posted, these sections will all be on foot.  We’ll switch to out bikes just after this section!

Here’s the itinerary for the next 11 sections of the trail (Folk Art Center in Asheville to Stone Mountain State Park, 214 miles):

September 29, 2014 – Day 11 (16.83 miles)

Get off trail at Potato Field Gap on BRP, find someone to stay with for the night (Asheville)

September 30, 2014 – Day 12 (10 miles)

Leave Asheville, hike out along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Camp in Pisgah National Forest campsite

October 1, 2014 – Day 13 (11.22 miles)

Enter Mount Mitchell State Park

Camp at Mount Mitchell SP backcountry site

October 2, 2014 – Day 14 (16.14 miles)

Enter Pisgah National Forest, resupply #3 in Marion

Camp in Pisgah National Forest campsite

October 3, 2014 – Day 15 (15.95 miles)

Enter Linville Gorge Wilderness Area

Camp at Linville campsite

October 4, 2014 – Day 16 (8.86 miles)

Camp at Linville campsite

October 5, 2014 – Day 17 (13.36 miles)

Enter Pisgah National Forest

Camp at Pisgah National Forest campsite

October 6, 2014 – Day 18 (15.01 miles)

Camp at Pisgah National Forest campsite

October 7, 2014 – Day 19 (13.93 miles)

Pass Grandfather Mountain, hike along Tanawha Trail

Camp at private property available for MST thru-hikers to use

October 9, 2014 – Day 20 (13.73 miles)

Resupply #4 in Linville

Camp along Tanawha Trail

October 10, 2014 – Day 21 (10.18 miles)

Resupply #5 in Boone/Blowing Rock

Leave trail at 221/321 intersection, find someone to stay with (Boone, Blowing Rock)

October 11, 2014 – Day 22 (22.53 miles)

Camp at private property available for MST thru-hikers to use

October 12, 2014 – Day 23 (8.61 miles)

Camp at private property available for MST thru-hikers to use

October 13, 2014 – Day 24 (11.56 miles)

Camp at private property available for MST thru-hikers to use

October 14, 2014 – Day 25 (13.04 miles)

Camp at Doughton Park RV Campground

October 15, 2014 – Day 26 (9.7 miles)

Enter Stone Mountain State Park

Camp at Stone Mountain SP Campground

Screen shot 2014-04-20 at 8.30.18 PM


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1 Week Until Triathlon Day!

Andrew’s first triathlon (Huntersville Sprint) will be next Sunday, April 27.  His training is going well, tapering off this week to get ready for the race.  His last long run was today, and he’ll have 1 tempo run this week.  He’s planning to use the tempo run this week to test out his new race shoes – Pearl Izumi EM Road N1 (thanks Sean!).  We’ll go on a long ride on Tuesday, and probably do lots of yoga this week!

My mock-tri is April 27.  I’ve been fighting a cold since Wednesday, so my training is slacking a bit right now.  Luckily for me I still have several weeks until the real race.  I did get my tri-suit this week, so thats something at least!

My transition clinic was supposed to be yesterday, but it got rained out.  We’re supposed to be having a mini-clinic this week, during which I will be at job #1.  So I’m turning to YouTube and the internet to learn how to set up my transition area.  I know all the stuff I should have in my transition area and (in theory) how I should set it all up, but I am glad I will have a practice session to put it all together before race day.  I think I am going to use a yoga mat (mine is bright green and should be easy to find) to lay everything on instead of a towel.  I’ve also decided to use stretchy laces on my running shoes to cut down on time.

Wish us luck for next weekend!

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Triathlon Training Update

Andrew and I are both training for a triathlon this summer.  Andrew is running the Huntersville Sprint Triathlon in Huntersville, NC on April 27.  Thats just 2 weeks away!  This sprint tri is a 500yd pool swim, 20K road bike, and 5K road run.  I am running the South Charlotte Ramblin Rose on June 1.  The Ramblin Rose is a beginners tri, so its a 200yd swim, 8 mile road bike, and 2 mile road run.

For both of us, this will be our first triathlon.  For both of us, the swim is our weakest discipline.  We’ve been swimming every chance we get – but that’s usually only once or twice a week!  We’re cycling and riding 2 or 3 times a week as well.  Andrew has been lucky enough to have access to a computrainer, so his bike training hasn’t been affected by the weather.  A computrainer is an awesome contraption – you hook your bike up to it, then it adjusts resistance so you can ride any course in the world you want.  I’ve been riding on the booty loop mostly, and bike routes around Charlotte.  Andrew has been good at keeping up with his track workouts, so his speed is definitely improving.  I’m lucky to get 30 minutes in after work, but at least I’m running!

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to cheer for his triathlon, because my mock tri is the same day.  Give us a cheer Sunday April 27 and Sunday June 1 to help us through those big races!

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Want to try partner yoga?

Interested in trying that partner yoga thing?  Don’t know where to start?  If you’re in the Charlotte area, you’re in luck!

One of our favorite local studios, Moga, has a partner yoga workshop coming up April 17.  This clinic is a “Date Night,” so there’s yoga 5:30 – 7, and a social with food and drinks 7-7:30.  And its a steal at $40 per couple!

If you have any questions, email the studio at  Hope to see you there?

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MST Itinerary, part 1

For those of you who aren’t familiar with how long trails like this are laid out, the distance is divided into sections (38 on the MST).  Sections can signify terrain or park changes, state lines, etc.  Describing a trail by sections can make talking about the trail easier – I can ask someone a question about section 5 instead of having to try to describe that section.  The 38 sections of the MST were devised by the trail planners and were described in the first book to be written about the MST.  They just stuck after that.

These sections aren’t all the same distance (~27 miles).  They are divided by landmarks of some sort.  These can be park boundaries, ferries, crossroads, anything that seemed to Allen de Hart like a significant change.

In creating this itinerary, we’re thinking of the trail in these sections.  The places we’ve chosen to change media (switching from hiking to biking, for example) are at section boundaries.  We’re relying on information on the Friends of the Mountains to Sea Trail Website and on “The ‘Thru-Hiker’s Manual’ for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail across North Carolina” by Scot TABA Ward.  Ward has hiked the MST 5 times, and his book basically lays out turn-by-turn directions for thru hiking.  We’ve chosen to vary from his path in a few places, opting for alternate routes with more camping opportunities.  Many of the campsites don’t have names or numbers, so they’re identified by mile marker or by outstanding feature.  You’ll see a lot of businesses and private residences listed as places we’re camping.  There in Ward’s book there is a directory of people and businesses who are generous enough to let thru-hikers camp on their property.  A thru-hike at this stage in the trail’s development wouldn’t be possible without these Trail Angels, so THANKS!

This is our ideal itinerary.  We can prepare from now until judgement day, and we’ll still have things happen along the trail we haven’t accounted for here.  We will, of course, post changes as they happen along the trail!


So, here is the itinerary for the first 7 sections (Clingmans Dome to Folk Art Center in Asheville, 134 miles):

September 19, 2014 – Day 1 (8.34 miles)

Begin hike at Clingmans Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP)

Camp at GSMNP Camp #53

September 20, 2014 – Day 2 (8.06 miles)

Camp at GSMNP Camp #60

September 21, 2014 – Day 3 (17.6 miles)


Camp at Tuckaseegee Outfitters, Whittier, NC

September 22, 2014 – Day 4 (10.1 miles)

Pass through Dillsboro and Sylva, Resupply #1

Camp at Pinnacle Park, Sylva, NC

September 23, 2014 – Day 5 (20.36 miles)

Enter Nantahala National Forest

Camp at National Forest campsite (1st site in Nantahala National Forest)

September 24, 2014 – Day 6 (16.48 miles)

Enter Pisgah National Forest and Middle Prong Wilderness

Camp at National Forest campsite (1st site in Middle Prong Wilderness)

September 25, 2014 – Day 7 (10.79 miles)

Camp at Graveyard Fields (NFS site)

September 26, 2014 – Day 8 (12.27 miles)

Trail begins to parallel Blue Ridge Parkway (BRP)

Camp at Mount Pisgah Campground

September 27, 2014 – Day 9 (12.95 miles)

Camp at Lake Powhatan Campground

September 28, 2014 – Day 10 (14.8 miles)

Resupply #2 in Arden, NC, Mail Drop #1 in Asheville (28803)

Get off trail at US-74A, find a friend to stay with for the night

MST Sections 1-7

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Mt Pisgah

This morning we set out to get in a short (~5 mile) day hike at Graveyard Fields. We finally both had the same day off work, it was finally done raining, and (bonus!) it was a Monday. It’s the perfect combination of factors! We prefer hiking during the week for the peace and quiet – no families around when the kids are in school.

We decided to turn it into a full day – hike in the morning, get a quote on one of the bikes we’ve been looking at, and spend the rest of the afternoon in Asheville. Two and a half hours into the drive, we came across a road closure on the parkway. Turns out, there’s still snow on some parts of the parkway, so the last 5 miles of road leading up to Graveyard Fields were closed. But we wouldn’t let that stop us!  We backtracked a few miles to the Pisgah Inn and hiked the Mt Pisgah and Buck Spring Trails.  The first mile and a half of the trails were exactly what we wanted, then we hit the crowds.  We didn’t know that Buncombe County has spring break this week, so the trail was full of families with school aged kids.  Although short, the hike was challenging.  The Mt Pisgah Trail gained 715 feet in 1.5 miles, so much of the hike was working our way up rocky slopes.  The view from the top was worth the work – a full 360 view of the surrounding mountains!

Not exactly the hike we set out for this morning, but a good day outside nonetheless.

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