MST – Heintooga Road to Big Fork Overlook – 10/16/16 – 9 Miles
It had been too long since I’d hiked with my good friend Danny Bernstein, so when the invitation came last October to join a Carolina Mountain Club hike that she was leading on a new section of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail, I canceled everything else in life so I could be up front and center. The crisp clear fall day made it even more spectacular and there’s no place I’d rather be.
Back in 2010 this section of the MST was all pavement. Thanks to years of work by CMC trail builders, today we walked 9 miles on footpath. You can’t put a price on the amount of hours, sweat equity and trail love that went into those miles.
The group shuttled cars for our one-way hike starting from Heintooga Road, a spur of the Blue Ridge Parkway. A few hundred feet from the intersection of Heintooga and the BRP, a dirt road leads to the trail and the westernmost white MST blaze to get us started.
Instead of crossing the BRP, we passed under it. Someone has been here ahead of us
At about 2.5 miles we reached Highway 19 at its intersection with the BRP
Crossing the Blue Ridge Parkway
After crossing both, we melted back into the woods. The next four miles passed through a tunnel of glorious fall colors featuring trail builders’ handiwork of bridges, stone steps and resting benches
Howard (McDonald’s) Bridge
The MST intersects with the paved trail to Waterrock Knob Overlook. We skipped the summit and stayed to the right to descend to the parking area to take advantage of the vault toilets and enjoy lunch with a long range view.
The last 2.2 miles of this new section of the MST descends to Big Fork Overlook on the Parkway. The color show continued, one of the best fall days I have ever experienced, reds and oranges and yellows overhead, underfoot and across the waves of mountains.
After the hike, Danny and I returned to Asheville. Over a delicious sushi meal we talked about her husband, Lenny, who had recently passed away. Life is forever altered for Danny; she cherishes her memories, her family and her friends, and she continues on as her husband would approve. I slept the sleep of contented tiredness in “my room” in Danny’s home, and early the next morning I returned to Charlotte. I am grateful for this friendship, experiences past and those to come.
“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” ~Mae West