Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who Let The Dogs Out?

MST – Day 12 – 3/26/10 – Blackwater Presbyterian Church to Mountain View Restaurant, Pilot Mountain – 12.2 Miles

We started out on a cool, clear morning back at the Blackwater Methodist Church on Ararat Road. Now we knew that the walking would be easy and fast-paced, with the major challenges being the ever-present dogs and finding discreet bathroom breaks.
Scot Ward’s book lists many landmark buildings along the road route. Our first snack break was on the steps of the Eldora Ruritan Club steps. Soon after, we paused to check out the Mount Zion Baptist Church, built in 1880 as a schoolhouse.

 Next we crossed the bridge over the Ararat River and the town of Ararat came into view – a few houses and a post office. The dog alarm sounded as we approached. Are “town” dogs better behaved than country dogs? They certainly are just as vocal! We could not have been more noticeable with a high school marching band preceding us, dogs in nearly every yard on both sides of the road – but none of them set foot on the pavement. We went inside the teensy Ararat post office (room for only two patrons at a time) and chatted with the postmistress, then took a photo and went on our way.

Passing the New Hope Methodist Church, we met an elderly couple visiting the adjoining cemetery. They said they had noticed us on the road the day before and we explained that we are walking across the state. Meeting the locals is a big part of the fun of walking through these communities.

More animals

Old homes

and barns

The countryside was peaceful and quiet – for a while. Then a black lab, a basset hound and a little mutt like a Chihuahua spied us and took to our heels, barking, baying and yipping. Of course the noise reached the golden retriever across the road and he joined the parade. They followed behind us in full chorus, close enough to make me worry, and way beyond their property boundaries. How far would they go? Danny walked at a quick pace in front of me, holding her hiking stick horizontally with the business end ready. I kept looking behind to see how close the dogs were and it was rather comical – it felt like a Disney movie (remember Napoleon and Lafayette, the sheriff and deputy dogs in “The Aristocats”?) I wanted to take a photo but was afraid to stop to do it. The posse finally grew bored, conferred amongst themselves, and turned homeward. But now the apprehension was ratcheted up another notch.

The remainder of Community Building Road and Tom’s Creek Road went by quickly with glimpses of Pilot Mountain around every bend. Unfortunately, the MST route passes north of the great landmark and does not enter Pilot Mountain State Park. I encourage readers to visit it and enjoy the trails there.

Our last road of the day was the busiest one – two miles of NC Highway 268 into the town of Pilot Mountain. The road shoulders were a little bit wider but the traffic was much faster. We had one last scare from an unchained dog, and here we could not run across the road because of the traffic so we hustled away as quickly as we could. We waved at every car to make ourselves visible and finally walked on the very narrow, non-pedestrian-friendly concrete strip of bridge spanning Highway 52 and into the Mountain View Restaurant parking lot where Danny’s car was waiting. At the McDonald’s next door I bought the largest cup of iced tea I’ve ever consumed in my life – wonderful!

Our walking was done early – now it was time for car shuttling. With the help of some local residents, we scouted out the parking area we needed for the end of the next day’s section, and then we headed to Hanging Rock State Park and our home-away-from-home, Cabin #4. As the rain began to fall, we cranked up the heat, cooked a hot meal and settled in for the night.

Read Danny's version of today's hike here.

Lafayette: Okay, let's charge!
Napoleon: Wait a minute. I'm the leader! I'm the one that says when we go.
Napoleon: Here we go. Charge!

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