Diane Van Deren had lots of company on Day 13 of her thru-trek of North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Starting with a 5 a.m. visit with the local police.

“Out for your morning stroll?” the officer inquired.

“Yes,” answered Van Deren, “for about a thousand miles.”

A little latter she and trail guide for the day Bill Vann, a dentist and professor thereof at UNC’s School of Dentistry, were greeted by four State Troopers. Van Deren said it was the first time she’d encountered that many police officers and didn’t get a ticket. Do tell, Diane.

The day began around 4:30 a.m. at the post office in Danbury and followed country roads to the Watershed Lakes trails north of Greensboro. At the trailhead to Peninsula trail they were greeted by Mountains-to-Sea Trail celeb Scot Ward. Ward is probably as familiar with the Mountains-to-Sea Trail in its entirety as anyone: He’s hiked the entire trail three times, including twice in 2009. The guidebook he recently published is being used by Van Deren’s MST Endurance Run expedition, especially for guidance on the country roads that make up the MST’s temporary route. (About 530 miles of the MST is complete; the remainder is temporary, alternative route largely along paved roads.)
Like Van Deren, Ward also has trouble staying put. In addition to three crossings of the MST, he hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003, the Long Trail in 2004 and the Colorado Trail in 2007. He’d been at Trail Days, an annual celebration of the AT in Damascus, Va., before heading down to meet Van Deren, whom he greeted in a white stretch limo (when he’s not hiking, Ward drives for a limosine service in Lexington, Ken.).
Stalkers are often a problem for celebrities, but, fortunately, not for Van Deren.

Justin Stagner, a 5th grade teacher in Greensboro, was out after school running the Watershed trails in hopes of meeting Van Deren. His wish came true.

Van Deren and Vann called it a day at North Church Street near Lake Townsend after 45 miles.

Expedition coordinator Chuck Millsaps says Van Deren waited until a “torrential downpour passed” to start hiking this morning, at 5:30. The plan for today is to cover 50+ miles, which would get Van Deren “close to the Eno area.”