While Christmas angels may be on the minds of most people this time of year, another kind of angel is being sought out by trail advocates in the Yadkin Valley region.
This new project of the Elkin Valley Trails Association has a mission to collect a list of people willing to be Elkin Trail Angels for those who are thru-hiking the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, explained Bob Hillyer, a member of the EVTA governing group.
“On long distance trails, a thru-hiker might be hiking and come out on a road and need a ride to town for supplies,” said Hillyer of just one opportunity for potential trail angels.
Other needs might be someone willing to cook them a meal, or provide a night’s stay at a local hotel or even their home, he told the Elkin Board of Commissioners during a recent meeting.
“This organization means so much to through-hikers,” Hillyer said. “It’s also a very important program for Elkin. They spend three months hiking, and go back home and will be asked a lot of questions about what it’s like, and they will mention Elkin as one of the friendliest towns is what we’re going for.”
Those interested in becoming trail angels can sign up through the volunteer efforts at elkinvalleytrails.org, by calling 704-502-2541 or by emailing [email protected]
“The program will give Elkin a really great name,” Hillyer said.
He said one of the appeals to being a trail angel is being able to hear the stories the hikers share about their journeys while with them. “They have a lot of fascinating stories.”
Another addition to the Mountains-to-Sea Trail is a new paddle route along the Yadkin River from Elkin to Pilot Mountain.
“If they don’t want to walk, [the paddle route] will be certified as part of the thru-hike,” Hillyer explained. “Two recent thru-hikers used that opportunity.”
In other updates, Hillyer said the EVTA is working to build a group of Friends of the EVTA who are willing to help provide funding on an ongoing basis for long-term maintenance of the trails being developed.
Also, work continues on a 550-foot connector between Main and Elk Spur streets, which will be gravel dust like the rest of the trail and include benches, signage and two kiosks.
This week, Hillyer said the state has started releasing funds and he is hopeful by the spring of 2016 work can begin on the second footbridge to be installed on the E&A Rail Trail. EVTA continues to get easements on properties outside of town so that the trail can reach Stone Mountain.
Several work days are planned in the next few weeks to construct a new mountain biking trail. The work will be done Dec. 5 and Dec. 21 beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the entrance on N.C. 268 Bypass just west of Sheetz and North Bridge Street. Parking is available about a quarter mile past Bridge Street on the left.
“We had a work day with half-mile added, and we hope by spring to open that trail,” Hillyer said.
Those wishing to help on the work days should bring shovel, rake, pruner, handsaw, gloves and appropriate clothing for the weather.
Also, a wildflower meadow has been planted just north of the first footbridge on the right, Hillyer said. Signs will be erected soon marking the loop trail through the meadow, and the trees will be labeled.
For more information on the EVTA and its ongoing efforts, visit elkinvalleytrails.org.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.