Although there are several events and activities during the Gathering of Friends of the Mountains-to Sea Trail March 24-26 which are open to the public, many including the meetings require registration.
Although the Friends have an annual meeting, this year’s is a special event recognizing 40 years of the trail. It is hoped that this gala event will become an annual celebration with the expectation it will be held in Elkin again next year.
“They kind of move around because [the MST] is all across the state,” explained Joe Hicks of the Elkin Valley Trails Association (EVTA).
“The first night we are going to have a gala,” described Dolores Neil, also a member of the EVTA. “Then after the meeting, we are going to have all kinds of activities; paddling and an in-town stroll. Thanks to Joe, we will have the Overmountain Victory Trail people coming,” who are expected to set up an encampment overnight.
The gala Friday evening will include dinner and music as well as such speakers as Howard Lee, who, with Jim Hallsey, was instrumental in bringing the MST to fruition, and Jeff Brewer, who started the Friends with Allen de Hart.
The annual meeting is expected to last all morning on Saturday where the future of the MST will be discussed and National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis will deliver the keynote address. Awards also will be presented during the meeting recognizing volunteers for their service as well as to hikers who have completed the trail.
These events are available to members only with advanced registration required. The cost for both events is $50, though the fee is less for those who are able to attend only one. Anyone who is not already a member of FMST and would like to attend can join for a minimum $35 donation to the 501(c )(3) by going to https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1439213.
Reservations for the meetings must be completed by March 17 and can be done through https://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/eventReg?oeidk=a07ede1pfs683b38a90&oseq=&c=&ch= or by contacting Betsy Brown at 919-825-0297×702 or [email protected]
“We are requiring people to register,” stated Neil. “They can’t just show up and attend.”
More than 100 individuals already have registered for the maximum 300-people event. “We want to give priority to members,” agreed Hicks, describing the problems of over-booking a location.
Before and after the meeting, activities will include a number of adventures such as several “Moonshine and Still Search” hikes of various lengths which require registration, Yoga, special wine tours, a beer tour (registration required), a guided Downtown Stroll, and a mountain biking clinic hosted by REI for those who register for it.
Many self-guided excursions also will be available. Nearby Stone Mountain State Park features waterfalls and the Hutchinson Homestead and plenty of photographic opportunities. The historic Overmountain Victory Trail introduces hikers to the expansive Elkin Municipal Park. The Yadkin River boasts of three different paddles. Bicyclists can enjoy road or mountain biking. Opportunities for shoppers and foodies also will be available to those who attend the Gathering.
“We’re setting up a concierge table at The Liberty at 10 o’clock as people come in, they’ll register there for the meeting,” explained Neil. “We’ll give them information about what to do, the excursions and maps.”
To find out more about the Gathering, including what activities require registration and how to do so, go to mountainstoseatrail.org/mst40th/.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.