Long distance hiker tackles the new Coastal Crescent Trail
BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Starting in the Great Smokey Mountains and ending at Jockey's Ridge State Park, North Carolina's nearly 20-year-old Mountain to Sea trail gives residents the chance to see and experience the state's natural beauty and diversity, one step at a time.
A new section of the route that opened last month offers hikers a unique way to see parts of southeastern North Carolina.
Yvonne Entingh is one of the first hikers, crossing the state and has just completed the new Crescent segment.
"I am a long distance hiker," Entingh said. "I do enjoy just hiking. The Coastal Crescent trail is a lot of road walk, but I enjoy just meeting the people out here."
Entingh set out in western North Carolina in April and is now facing the final leg of her cross state hike.
The new section enters Bladen County, near Harmony Hall, and continues on some of the state's busiest roads and some of those not so busy. It takes the hikers by trees, where you can hear the wind blowing thru them; by ponds where a duck takes a morning swim; by countless graveyards, where family roots still run deep; by the Carolina Bay lakes of Jones Lake State Park, White Lake, and Singletary Lake on into Pender County.
When hikers approach the Kelly community in Bladen County, they know a place to rest is waiting for them, in the Kelly Museum.
"We were interested in getting people along the trail to help them, provide water for them, camping facilities, and any assistance they may need, this has worked out, we have had four and we offer them a place to stay at the museum in Kelly, we have a kitchen, we have a place for them to sleep on the floor or whatever, but they have a nice place to say at night, if they need to" said Richard Smith, of the Kelly Museum.
Entingh says she likes the solitude she finds along the trail, but has also enjoyed meeting the people who live along it.
"You know a guy came up to me yesterday, bless his heart, and offered me $5," Entingh recalled. "He just wanted to bless me. And another person gave me a liter of water. You know, I really have enjoyed walking and seeing and learning the history of the area that I am hiking thru, so far, so good."
Entingh is pushing on every day and hopes to reach her destination of Jockey's Ridge by the end of June.
When she reaches her Outer Banks destination late next month, Entingh will have walked over 1,150 miles since starting April 14.
Next month, she heads to Alaska for a hike in the Denali National Park and Preserve and plans to take part in another hike in California before the end of the year.
Kate Dixon, Director of the Mountain to Sea Trail, says she expects signs to be erected next year, detailing the route of the Coastal Crescent Trail. Right now, trail guide books are available at locations along the route.
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