Trails, Triumphs, and Teaching: The Journey of Benjy “Doc” Brown on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail

Hailing from the trails and paths of North Carolina, Benjy “Doc” Brown is not just a lifelong resident but also an ardent adventurer. The Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST) caught Benjy’s attention in 2018. Driven by passion and determination, he decided to section hike the entire 1,175-mile trail (hiking it piece by piece as time allows), and by May 2020, Brown had achieved his ambitious goal on the section near Kinston, NC. We had the opportunity to catch up with Benjy – read along to learn more about his inspiring journey below.

Section 8 of the Mountains to Sea Trail near Greensboro, NC – @coffee_beans_737

Even after covering the whole 1,175 mile long journey section by section, the allure of the trail remained irresistible. “The experience was so fulfilling that I returned to the trail after taking a four-month break,” Benjy recalls, reminiscing about completing the MST for the second time, finishing up in Greensboro in April of this year.

Benjy’s second adventure on the MST wasn’t just a repetition of his first journey. This time, he incorporated a combination of hiking, biking, and paddling, illustrating the multifaceted nature of trail adventures in The Great Trails State and the dynamic nature of the MST itself. His endeavor to paddle the Neuse River section and his decision to hike the eastern crescent twice brought diversity to his experiences.

The importance of goals shines brightly in Benjy’s narrative. “Setting a goal to complete the MST was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” For Benjy, it wasn’t just about ticking off a challenge; the journey became a path of introspection, connecting with North Carolina’s diverse terrains, and creating a mosaic of memories.

Section 18 of the Mountains to Sea Trail – @coffee_beans_737

Navigating through the MST required not just physical endurance but also a balance between aspirations and life’s other commitments. Benjy highlights how crucial it was to interweave trail efforts with other facets of life like family, work, and unexpected life events. His two journeys spanned 18 and 30 months respectively, and each posed its unique challenges, just like life’s unpredictable nature.

He candidly shares, “Research has shown that sharing a goal with others often increases the odds of one not reaching the targeted destination.” Yet, for Benjy, the opposite proved true. Sharing his trail adventures with family and friends amplified the joy of the journey, and their support became an integral part of his trail stories. They cheered him on, joined him at times, offered invaluable assistance, and became co-authors of his MST narrative.

Blending personal and professional life, Benjy also introduced the wonders of the MST to his 8th-grade students. Through photos captured during his hike, he provided them with a unique lens to view and understand the geography and history of North Carolina. These visual tales enabled students to appreciate the state’s beauty and gain a vivid understanding of their curriculum.

To Benjy “Doc” Brown, every section of the MST became a testament to human perseverance, adaptability, and the boundless beauty of North Carolina. Through challenges and celebrations, Brown’s journey on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail emerges as an inspiration, a reminder of the incredible adventures awaiting in our backyards and the rich lessons they can bring along.

Section 5 of the Mountains to Sea Trail – @coffee_beans_737

You can follow along and see more of Benjy “Doc” Brown’s photos by following his Instagram account @coffee_beans_737