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Trail News from the Mountains to the Sea April 2022
Reflections on the Gathering from Friends' Executive Director, Brent Laurenz
It’s been a little over two weeks since I returned from my first Gathering of Friends as Executive Director, and I’m still energized and excited by those few days we spent in the mountains at Lake Junaluska.
The dedication and passion of the folks in the room was amazing, and it was great to meet so many of our supporters and learn more about why we all love the MST. Coming out of that weekend, I now fully appreciate how special the MST community is and that it’s people like you that really make our organization and the trail possible.
At the Gathering, we also celebrated the 45th anniversary of the speech by Howard Lee that launched the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. It was wonderful to learn more about that history, especially at the same place where Lee gave that speech in 1977, and connect with some of the dedicated leaders that took his initial vision and began the hard work to make it a reality.
We also heard from leaders at NC State Parks, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and US Forest Service about the challenges and opportunities ahead, and how we can all work together to lift up and promote the MST.
After the Gathering of Friends, I’m more excited than ever to be in this new role and I can’t wait to work with you to build on the tremendous success of the past 45 years.


Thanks to Bill Boyarsky for taking amazing photos of the Gathering - check them out here. Below is a shot from the roundtable led by Julie "Jester" Gayheart, with Lisa McInnis (acting Superintendent of Great Smoky Mountains National Park), Tracy Swartout (Superintendent of Blue Ridge Parkway), Dwayne Patterson (Director of NC State Parks and Recreation) and James Melonas (Supervisor of National Forests in NC).
First time attendee and GirlTrek leader Seletha Pherribo shared that one of the highlights of the Gathering was the guided hike from Craven's Gap to Lunch Rock. Read Seletha's account here. Nearly half of attendees were first-timers!
Roseboro/Sampson County Trail Update
Friends of the MST is leading the effort to build two trails that will double the trail miles in Sampson County. The longest trail – totaling 3.6 miles – will be a nature trail in the 2,100-acre Pondberry Bay Preserve between Roseboro and Salemburg. The other is the first two blocks of what is to become a greenway trail through the heart of downtown Roseboro. Both trails are then planned to become part of the MST.

With diligent and committed volunteers, our work in downtown Roseboro (segment 12) on the brick pathway is underway! We made great progress during our workdays on 4/14, 4/21 and 4/24 and are excited to get closer to the finish line of phase one. We will have one more workday, Thursday 4/28, and then look forward to celebrating with the community during Bloomfest on Saturday April 30th. We are so impressed with the commitment of everyone who has pitched in to make this ambitious project possible and can't wait to see the impact that this new section of trail will have.

The next stretch of brick pathway will have a space for engraved, personalized bricks. If you'd like to dedicate a few square inches of the MST to a trail buddy or trail supporter, or you want to support the work being done in Roseboro and the Coastal Crescent, we encourage you to make a special donation to that effort today. Donations of $150 or more can receive an engraved brick, but all donations are welcome.
Volunteer Opportunities
URGENT NEED: Ben Jones will be in Roseboro at Bloomfest this Saturday, April 30th, to share about plans for the MST in Sampson County. He could use two volunteers to help him staff the MST table. Reach out if you are interested to help all or some of the day between 10 to 4. To help, email No special skills needed, just an eagerness to share about the MST and meet the awesome Roseboro community.
BECOME AN MST JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) ALLY: Would you like to join Friends' statewide network as we work to make the trail accessible to everyone? As part of this network, you'll get guidance on how to respectfully connect with people who have been excluded from outdoor recreation and receive updates with ideas about how to make meaningful connections in your community. Fill out this very short form to get more information from our JEDI Committee, led by Beverly Scarlett and Susan Hester.

PHOTO GALLERY EDITOR: We are looking for a photo-savvy volunteer who can help the Friends' staff edit and populate a photo library. There are an abundance of great images from the MST, and yet we oftentimes struggle to find high resolution images that showcase the landscape, people on trails, type of volunteer work including trail building and maintenance, ecology, seasons changing, trail communities...the list is endless! Help us wrangle all the amazing images that volunteers share and that pop up on social media. Email Betsy if you'd like to help. This opportunity does not need to be based in Raleigh.
New in the MST Store
We've added a few new items to the MST store.
The Courage to Lead
In The Courage to Lead, Howard Lee’s autobiography, learn about his early life growing up on a sharecropper's farm in Georgia during segregation. He tells about the hurdles he faced, as well as the triumphs and the people who helped him during his college and Army days and his long and respected career in North Carolina. Written in 2008, The Courage to Lead is an insightful look into Lee’s far-reaching impact on the state, reaching far beyond the MST.
MST Hiker Medal
Commemorate your time on the MST with the MST Hiker Medals. We overheard folks saying that they planned to use them as Christmas tree ornaments! Created by hiker Wim Schalken, these medals are substantial, representing the trail from the mountains to the sea. Wim is also donating a portion of proceeds from MST medals he sells on his own website. Measures 3.5" in diameter and weighs 5 oz. Matching ribbon included.
Ribbons of Color Along the Eno River: The History of African Americans and People of Color Living on the Eno
Volumes 1 & 2 contain first- and second-hand stories of those who have long lived in the Eno watershed, segment 9 of the MST. “We are grateful to the descendants, record keepers, and historians in the Eno River community who preserved these memories and photographs” says Dave Cook, volunteer on the project. Friends’ board member Beverly Scarlett is the editor and primary author of many of the accounts.
Other Ways to Support the MST
ONE: Become a member. Join online or print and mail your membership form today.

TWO: Buy an MST license plate. For $30 per year, you can show the world your love of the trail and help financially too. $20 of your annual fee will come back to Friends of MST to build, protect, and promote the trail. Order your plate directly from NC DMV.

THREE: If your employer hosts a workplace-giving campaign, look for Friends of MST as a giving option. We are a member of EarthShare NC which promotes workplace giving for conservation and environmental groups. We are a giving option in the North Carolina state employee campaign and in many local government and corporate campaigns too. Friends code numbers are: State employee campaign - 1102; United Way of the Triangle - 60001159.

FOUR: Link your AmazonSmile account. Simply shop at and Amazon will donate half a percent back to us at no cost to you.
See you on the MST. 

Betsy Brown            
Outreach Manager, Friends of the MST
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Volunteers are the heart of Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail.
We need people with a wide variety of skills and interests to build and care for this beautiful trail.
Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail
3509 Haworth Drive, Suite 210, Raleigh, NC 27609
919.825.0297 •