- Thursday and Friday, before 5 pm – Excursions and service projects – see below for more details. Please note: the events that we are working on for Thursday are not confirmed yet, and one of those may be on the Neusiok portion of the MST which is just under 2 hours from Surf City.
- Friday, March 22 – 5:00 to 6:30 pm– Reception at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center – Meet director and Oceana’s Ocean Hero, Jean Beasley, and learn about the center’s work to protect turtles in the water and on the beach, to rescue and rehab sick and injured sea turtles, to educate the public about the plight of sea turtles, and to meet some of their current turtle residents.
- Friday, March 22 – 6:30 to 8:00pm – Surf City and Pender County Tourism will be hosting a casual welcome dinner at the Surf City Community Center immediately after the reception. Menu is being finalized, but word on the streets is that seafood is top contender (along with vegetarian options, of course.) There will be a short welcome from Friends and our hosts.
- Friday, March 22 – 8:00 pm to … Salty Turtle Beer Company If you’ve got the stamina, join us at the Salty Turtle at 8:00, a brewery just around the corner, for a nightcap before retiring for the evening.
- Saturday, March 23 – 10 am to 3 pm – The Annual Meeting – will include reports on progress to build, maintain and promote the MST; keynote address by Walker Golder, the Director of the National Audubon Society’s Atlantic Flyway Coast Initiative; several workshops; and awards for hikers who have completed the trail and for outstanding volunteers. Doors open at 9, with coffee, light breakfast snacks and time to chat. The meeting starts at 10.
- Saturday, March 23 – 6:30 – Hike as a group over the new bridge to Surf City at sunset. We’re the first group being given permission to do this – the views should be amazing.
- Sunday, March 24 – 9:00 am – Guided hike in Holly Shelter with Andy Wood from the Coastal Plain Conservation Group. We’ll see the transformation after a devastating peat fire in 2006 and explore the longleaf pine savannah. Andy has spent decades working to protect rare and imperiled plants and is a fascinating guide. (Photo by Pete Wetzel.)
A bit more about the excursions and service opportunities: Many are still evolving, as we’re revamping the focus to include more service opportunities. Confirmed events include: guided hikes in Stone’s Creek with lead volunteers that work in that area; a hike on the beach section of the MST with the 2018 class of completers; learn to build a bow-string bridge with lead volunteers from Onslow County; hear from Friends’ Ben Jones about trail plans along the Coastal Crescent; learn how to do GIS mapping with Surf City’s GIS technician Mike Dickson; journey along Topsail Island with Surf City Mayor, Doug Medlin as he shares the history of the island; paddle the Intracoastal Waterway with East Coast Sports and guide George Howard; work with Surf City Parks to build a kiosk and trail head for a trail at the Community Center; and walk the beach to sweep it clear of trash and any debris. We are working on projects along the Neusiok (tentatively Thursday prior to Gathering), Moores Creek National Battlefield (tentatively Thursday and Friday), and in Burgaw and Pender County (tentatively Sunday.)