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