We’ve waited a long time to yell at the the Stella Post Office. Today, we made it happen.

But, man was it messy! The rain started early, but I looked at it as a bit of a welcome distraction from my legs. They were still screaming. maybe the cold weather and cold water would calm them down. Also, this was really the first day of of the run where I was not on a road for an entire run.

I started out on the NC State Game Lands, where Dave and I finished the day before. The gate was open for hunters to drive through. The Mountains to Sea Trail followed the road through the game land to the next set of roads. The good news is that most of the road seemed to go WEST!

I’m not a hunter, and I gave up much fishing years ago, after the last of my surf rods disappeared, so I was really amazed when I learned about North Carolina’s Game Lands Program.

There are about 2 million acres of public and private land that are managed and maintained by the State Wildlife Commission, for hunting, trapping and fishing by the public. All that is required to use the lands like this is to get a license and follow the rules. Honestly – 2,000,000 acres that are set aside for the public to use? And this is even more fantastic than it sounds. Some massive corporations like Aluminum Company of America and Duke Energy Progress, actually lease their lands to the Commission to be used for something other than building, making, disposing, or otherwise polluting. Yeah – I didn’t know it either.

To give you some perspective, in the greater Asheville area, where I live, a normal lot size for a 2,000 square foot house is usually about 15,000 square feet, or 1/4 of an acre. So, that means that the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission has purposefully set aside the equivalent of 8 million houses so that you and I can enjoy some green space, grow more trees, and allow different animals and vegetation to thrive in our state.

Social Media:

We are in an age of instant information, social media and opportunity to make fun of anyone over the age of 30. My goals for this run, and for Throwing Bones as an organization are to help, inspire and educate – not always in that order. In order to do any of those things, I have a moral imperative to reach everyone I can. I have an obligation to put myself out there as awkwardly and uncomfortably as possible. What better way to do that, than VIDEO!

Honestly, this is my first foray into video sharing. I’m not sure if this counts as video blogging, or “vlogging,” or “vidogging,” “blideo,” or “blodo,” since I’m only limited to 60 seconds when posting on Instagram. I’m excited to see if my ramblings bring more interest – hopefully, not less.

I had planned the days of this run in anticipation of how much I felt I needed and could physically accomplish at each stage. I didn’t allow for injuries or stupidity, but now I was paying for that lack of foresight. That and my pigheaded desire to move quicker than I needed to. I had to get back on track, though. After a couple of unplanned short days, I had every intention of making it all the way to Stella. STELLLAAAA!!

After a couple of lower mileage days, I felt like I was moving well. The road through the game land didn’t have any trail markers, but following along with my REI Hiking Project App on my phone, I could somewhat follow where I was supposed to be. As the rain came down harder, that got to be a little more challenging.

The trail was a little chewed up as well. The road was almost entirely made up of white sand, peppered with bark, ocean grass, and the occasional pine tree branch just to give me something to trip over. As I got deeper into the woods, I found the trail was mushier and harder to find. At one point, I lost it entirely and wound up on a farm, staring at deer that seemed as confused to my presence as I was. They weren’t good at giving directions, either.

As I ran deeper into the woods, the tail became more obvious, but only because it was one giant mud puddle. I splashed and keened. I sank to my knees several times. And it was fun. I hurt, but this was FUN!

You might have to remind me of how much fun I was having when I kvetch about how much I hurt after this video was taken. It’s a love hate relationship.

I made it out of the swamp and a firmer, but unpaved road. If it weren’t for everything else, this road would be PERFECT! I’m definitely coming back here to run again. This would be a fantastic place to have a trail race.

About the time that I made it to the paved road, I saw Dean, waving me to the right. I stopped long enough for a swig of coffee and some ramen noodles. Staying wet for a couple of hours in 50 degree weather was exhausting, and the combination of warmth and salty soup, boosted me for another few miles.

The rain picked up, and I was beginning to think, I should have brought my snorkel. It was wet. Everything was wet. When I ran/waddled, it felt as if I had beach balls strapped to the bottom of my feet. Squishy.

At about mile 18, I had my head down, and my hood pulled forward as far as I could. It wasn’t to keep me dry – just warm. The shivering must have been visible from miles away, because 2 different cars stopped to ask me if I needed a ride. I smiled, waved and yelled, “I’m doing this on purpose!” It’s reaffirming to know that nice people exist though. At least I assume they were nice. Now that I think of it, most of the cars looked like they could belong to that creepy guy out of “Silence of the Lambs.” It rubs the lotion on its skin.

As excited as I was to get to the bustling metropolis of Stella, it was pretty underwhelming. They had a Post Office, but the attendant didn’t seem to enthused to be there. They had a boat ramp, but it didn’t look often used.

Stella is an unincorporated town in Carteret County. As far as I can tell, everything in Carteret County happens in every place that is not named Stella. Carteret County includes Beaufort (the third oldest towns in North Carolina), Morehead City, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle,  and Pine Knoll Shores, just to name a few of their cool places to be, and for different reasons.

I made it to Stella, soaked, sore, and filled with another day of squish. I yelled like Elaine.

I think that Dean was stoked to be able to finally use the camp stove. He cooked some noodles and I tried to front flip into the tiny cup of ramen like a county fair high diver. It might have been salty cedar chips in a styrofoam cup, but it worked for me and I was nearly asleep before we made it back to the campsite.

Keep Moving Forward.

Kenny