The Gathering of the Friends of the North Carolina Mountains-to-Sea Trail March 24-26 is expected to bring more than 300 people to Elkin. One of those will be 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis, who will deliver the keynote address at the 40th anniversary celebration of this meeting of hiking enthusiasts. Davis also will be featured at the Elkin Public Library March 25 from 3:30 ti 4:30 p.m. for a Meet The Author session.
After breaking the overall speed record on the Appalachian Trail, hiking the Mountains-To-Sea Trail is all in a day’s work for Davis, owner and founder of Blue Ridge Hiking Company. On her list of things to do this year is to through-hike the Mountains-To-Sea Trail from August to November. Davis has been busy preparing by scheduling stops to promote the trail in communities along the way. “I’m experiencing the trail in a different way,” explained Davis, who has been so eager to share her experience that she has written several books about hiking as well as started her own company.
Davis’ talks will not be the only thing different about the way she experiences the MST on this hike. Davis and her husband are making this a family experience. Davis will alternate her time speaking with time spent on the trail hiking with her young son while her husband and her 4-year-old daughter explore the fun to be had near the trail. The entire family will hike portions together as well.
The Davis family has always been hikers. When they met, Davis and her husband Brew were both hikers making it natural that they continue the tradition with their children starting their daughter when she was only 10-months old. “We don’t go so fast with a 4-year old,” joked Davis, who explained how much easier it will be to take a child who needs to be carried than a young walker.
Davis was excited about coming to Elkin and talking about her past experience and upcoming expectations for her MST hike, since getting to know the people along the MST is one of the draws to the trail. “This trail goes across a lot of very different terrain, through a lot of different kinds of places,” said Davis. “The culture, food, music and people. There’s no better way to experience all of that than on foot.
“As early as I learned about the Mountains-To-Sea Trail I wanted to hike the whole thing,” enthused Davis. “I’ve spent a lot of time on it, but I’ve never hiked through it. The idea of hiking across one’s home state is appealing.”
For Davis hiking has become a rite of passage. Starting with her first hike while in college, Davis has discovered she has sought out the trail during every major life change she has experienced. “If I’m on a trail, I feel at home,” said Davis. “The trail has helped me gracefully transition through stages in my life.
“I love what [being on the trial] can do in your life,” enthused Davis. “The contemplation. The renewal. The empowerment.”
To follow Davis on her hikes and more, go to www.jenniferpharrdavis.com. For more information on the Gathering, including how to become a member of the Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, go to mountainstoseatrail.org/the-friends.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.