MST – Day Nine – 1/15/10 – Santee Road to NC 150 - 14.9 Miles
Danny, Kate and I had an early morning start, hitting the trail by 8:15 a.m. with temperatures in the mid-30’s. I was well bundled up, expecting no significant climbs to warm me up. And while we are definitely not in the mountains, today’s section had more rolling hills and ups-downs than yesterday. The three of us made a wager on the total elevation gain for the day and Danny’s GPS kept score. (Postscript: it felt like more than it was. I guessed something like 3,000 feet but it was 1,200.)
Our trail picked up across the inlet that we ended at the day before, where a bridge will soon be constructed. Fortunately we did not have to swim…but I think I will come back here to walk that bridge before my MST trek is completed.
Although our start was a little shaky looking for those white circles, today’s trail is about two years old and much easier to follow than yesterday’s. Blazes are more frequent and the path is more worn. The “carpet” varies from soft loblolly and longleaf pine needles to crunchy beech leaves. Several times we descended to small sandy-bottom creeks that were sometimes spanned by bridges, sometimes not, and others had left their prints ahead of us. We had a bit of a thrill early on when we passed within 75 yards of a home “owned” by protective dogs. They rushed out barking, but stopped within 100 feet of us and stood their ground. I will not reprint the colorful language that Danny used. It drove home to me that we would be passing a lot of country homes with unleashed animals when we do our road sections of the MST.
Today was all about Falls Lake and its inhabitants, humans and wildlife. An enormous blue heron gracefully took off and soared away from the lake’s edge. White birds gathered in large groups – at first I imagined they were egrets, but putting on my glasses I realized that they were seagulls. Although seagulls are not as romantic as the graceful egrets, they were lovely floating en masse on the lake’s gentle waters.
Human impressions upon the land included new homes, very nice ones, and a bit more confusion about where the trail was. At one point we went nearly half a mile without markers, walking between a home and the lake edge. Were we supposed to be going behind the house or in front of it? Was this a private path created by the homeowner or was it truly the MST? Trash had been collected in buckets waiting for pickup. This curiosity looked like a huge piece of granite, but the edges looked too even…well, it’s a chunk of Styrofoam, about the size of a coffin. Nice, huh?
Again we passed between a home and the waterfront, this time on a clearly marked trail, passing right by their fire pit complete with a bench and their canoe by the lake, a very nice secluded spot.
This creek cascades over a large rock face to make this small frozen waterfall - it is probably nondescript during warmer weather.
Like the day before, several times the trail intersected with pavement. We had the opportunity for an up-close inspection of this roadside memorial as we crossed a causeway.
More interesting remnants of human life, some more recent than others. Some of these were off trail and I believe could go undetected in the summer vegetation, especially car parts. I was over my dismay at the “junk” and now considered the trail an archeological site.
More car parts
An old hunting cabin?
Green barn at a home site - but no house to be found
Red barn at the same homesite - the trail goes in between the buildings
A cairn of quartz rocks
Near the end of our day we passed a significant landmark, the Rolling View Marina. The temperature climbed up to about 60 and we peeled clothing down to short sleeves – yay! Along this section we also met our first hiker, a young man who had recently discovered the Falls Lake section. We finished at a very reasonable time, around 3:30 p.m. – not bad for just shy of 15 miles. We moved cars again to prepare for the next day’s section and headed for Kate’s home for a well-deserved rest.)
Read Danny's tale of today's hike here.)
You will find something more in woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters. ~St. Bernard