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Completed Trail: Trip Report

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  • Completed Trail: Trip Report

    Received email from:

    Alex Hardee


    I completed the trail yesterday, 12/26/17, and if you can add me to the roster of trail completers I'd appreciate it. I ran most of it and hiked in wet or difficult sections, and also the last few miles when I couldn't run anymore. I left a car at Oyster Point and my dad kindly drove me to Pine Cliff, where I started. I initially got lost when the trail cuts into the forest from the beach with the cypress trees. I saw footprints on the beach and just kept going straight rather than turning left into the woods. I made it all the way to the river mouth and realized that I'd lost the trail somewhere. I tried picking it up close to there, where the forest next to the beach turns into a sort of clearing; there's a wooden footbridge near there, which made me think I was on the right track, but eventually what little trail there was tapered off into bushes and briers. So, I decided to make my way back along the narrow beach to the last time I saw a metal blaze; that's how I found the trail again. It was well-marked; I was just being an idiot. The next several miles were pretty easy. I ran hard, as I was trying to make up for lost time. In retrospect, the deciduous and relatively high-elevation forests of the beginning part of the trail were the prettiest part, to me.

    I had drunk my 750 mL of water and gotten a bit footsore by about the 12-mi mark, where the trail runs along the very straight forest road and passes the dilapidated sailboat--so I decided to stop and walk. I'd passed a hunter and two guys day hiking before that. Along the road I passed a guy who looked to be overnight thru-hiking; he had heavy boots and a sizable pack. When the trail dipped into the woods again, I started running again to the extent I could. The iliotibial (IT) band in my left knee was starting to hurt a bit, so I was mixing running with walking past the 16 mile mark. I didn't train for this aside from being in decent shape overall, and I'm not much of a distance runner. Near this section of the trail, there were a lot of big puddles in the middle of the trail without elevated walkways. I scrambled along the sides as best I could, as I was wearing a pair of worn out mesh running shoes, which I was trying to keep dry. By the time I got to the 18 mile mark, my legs were tight and I couldn't run anymore, so I just walked as fast as I could to the car. I snapped a couple of photos at the beginning and end (attached), but I didn't take any in the middle because I turned my phone off to conserve its battery. I got back to the car and ate the snacks I'd packed for myself and drove home.

    I'm glad the trail is there and is encouraging people to connect with the outdoors of this region. I'm originally from New Bern and my family lives in Emerald Isle and Morehead City. I'm visiting them for Christmas. I live in Denver, CO. People in the West are generally a little more into trail hiking and running than people in my home region, so I felt a sense of pride that we have hiking trails in the Croatan. One thing I'd say is I saw people from all walks of life on the trail, and although I oppose bear hunting because I see bears as our brothers, it was in a way a relief not to see a monoculture of city dwellers decked out in brand new REI gear.

    It was a tough trail to do in a few hours, mostly due to my lack of distance training, but I enjoyed the challenge. I wished I'd seen some more wildlife. I didn't see anything aside from some songbirds in the woods. Maybe the deer and bears were hiding from hunters. The last thing I'd add is that I have mad respect for the wildlife club and trail clubs that built the walkways, and the trail in general. You can tell that was a lot of hours out there in wading boots, not to mention hauling a bunch of lumber in from the nearest trailhead. I liked the "water moccasin spa" label on one of the paths. Didn't see any snakes though. They're taking shelter from the cold, I bet.

    All the best,

    Alex Hardee
    Denver, CO / Emerald Isle, NC
    And some photos he sent with the report......

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  • #2
    Thanks for the great report.

    The section along the Neuse River is well blazed as I redid it a few weeks ago. One just has to pay attention as there is a horse trail that crosses paths with the Neusiok Trail in a couple of places along this section.

    Right now, its the Deer hunters that are out in force as there are just a few days left in the hunting season. While I see Deer all the time along the trail, I have yet to see a bear while hiking the trail and I have hiked the trail at night as well as during the day.

    Trail maintenance is constant and ongoing. I have spend a lot of hours just replacing and adding trail blazes along the entire trail this year. Fortunately Gene Huntsman is able to keep a ready supply of blazes ready for me.