Darkness may come earlier in the day, but Elkin still shines a light on local trails with continued activity throughout the winter and beyond.
“It was my pleasure to have Randy (Mayes) and Dr. (Bill) Blackley here this evening to share their passion for the trails,” said librarian Kasey Guinther, who is passionate about the trails as well.
“One thing I like to tell people is one of the biggest reasons I actually moved to Elkin itself was because of the trails,” said Guinther, who started looking in the region because her family moved to Traphill.
“[The trails were] the first thing I saw. They’re beautiful. I thought if a town does something like this, it’s a good town.”
Mayes invited those present for the Trails Talk at the library Monday night to help him and other members of the Elkin Valley Trails Association in keeping the trails beautiful.
“I called it Work Off Your Post Turkey Feast,” said Mayes as he guided guests through the www.meetup.com/MSTSegment6 page where many EVTA events are posted. “I think on that date there’s something for everybody.”
“It goes from picking up twigs and sticks and little pieces of paper to hauling some rocks around,” said Blackley, as he invited everyone to Elkin Municipal Park from 9 to 11 a.m. on Dec. 2.
Some of those expected to be present will be young people from the East Wilkes High School Beta Club.
“That’s kind of what prompted this,” said Blackley. “They wanted to have a work day. We worked with high school classes and middle school classes who have built a lot [on the trail.]”
This work day also gives local residents an opportunity to leave their mark on the trail.
“If you have a rock the size of a basketball or smaller, we’d love for you to bring it there and add it to the trail,” said Blackley, explaining, “We’re working on a really cool little drainage area. We need some rocks to fill that in. If anybody has a yard rock basketball size, any size rock really, if you bring that [during the Dec. 2 work day] we will make some use of it.”
The work day is only one event about which the EVTA was excited.
“We’re going to try to do a first day hike with the state park,” said Mayes, explaining this initiative with the North Carolina State Parks will highlight the Mountains-To-Sea Trail, which is just one of several significant trails in Elkin.
“They’re wanting to do a first day hike on each segment,” he said. Organizers are still in the early stages of planning. “We may do a separate segment as well. This year they’re doing 3 1/2 mile hike and we may tag into that.”
There is certain to be more hikes as the library helps the EVTA organize locals for a variety of activities on the trails.
“We’re trying to start getting people together to participate in a walking club,” said Guinther. “If you just want to walk the trail in town with a few people, just sign up here and let me know if you’re interested in meeting with other people that way.”
Running and hiking clubs also are being explored.
“The paddle club we’ll do when the weather improves up on the Yadkin River.”
Guinther said she would collect names and contact information from interested individuals as well as collate what days and times work best for people.
“I’m going to find a leader for the groups and we’re going to survey what times are best, what days of the week are best and then we’re going to group people together,” she said.
“As many people as want to participate can. If you’ve got three people that just want to walk on Tuesday morning at 8 o’clock, great. We’ll make it work. We just need to know how many people are actually interested in the idea.
“Randy’s organizing a few hikes already which you can participate in that’s really fun,” said Guinther.
The one event which has caused the most excitement is the return of the Gathering of the Friends of the Mountains-To-Sea Trail in March.
According Blackley, last year was the first time the gathering was held in a community.
“They said they liked it so much they’re going to come back a second year,” said Blackley. “We really created something by giving them a good show when they came here. Other towns now want them to come to their town.”
The plan is for the gathering to take place in the same town for two years before moving on to another community.
“We’ll probably have 300 people from out of town,” said Blackley, who anticipates a nice event at the Reeves Theater during the three-day event. “The whole reason for the trails initially was to boost our economy and this is part of it.“
“There’s all kinds of stuff [planned]. They’re going to have a little reception at the Yadkin Valley Heritage Arts [Center]. The British come every year. We’re going to have a trail day work session. New hikes with moonshine stills guided hikes as well. Carter Falls is on [the agenda], too,” said Mayes. “That’s a great meeting.”
“We had Jennifer Pharr Davis at the library and she spoke at the conference. It was a lot of fun so we’re looking forward to seeing what happens this year,” said Guinther, who hopes the community involvement with the local trail system will continue to increase.
“We want to help spread the word [about the trails],” said Guinther. “We want to get people that aren’t aware of the trails more involved, whether it’s just enjoying the trails or becoming volunteers.”
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” said Mayes.
To find out more about opportunities for volunteering with the Elkin Valley Trails Association, go to elkinvalleytrails.org.
To sign up for a trail club, call Kasey Guinther at 336-835-5586 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.