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Artist creates a treasure hunt for stars to lure Triangle families to the outdoors

Courtney Pernell is creating stars in her pottery studio. She'll hang those stars along the 62 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail around Falls Lake. It's a game of 'finders-keepers, a way to encourage families to get out and enjoy nature.

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Richard Adkins
, WRAL Photojournalist

With every step, Courtney Pernell gets a little closer to happiness.

“I'm usually running on these trails,” she said as she walked a narrow trail near Possum Track Road, part of North Carolina's Mountains-to-Sea Trail as it rims Falls Lake.

“It's my home, it's where I'm comfortable, relaxed and calm,” she said.

Sixty-two miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail skirt the edge of Falls Lake in Durham and Wake counties. Many people don't know about the hiking trail. Pernell is an artist who is trying to change that. She is encouraging families to get out of the house and enjoy nature by hanging 100 pottery stars along the trail. It's a game of "finders keepers."

“It was an idea that found me,” Pernell said, “It kept coming back to me. So I had to do it.”

The artist finds this is a way to make life a little more pleasurable.

“I feel like, life is really, really hard, it's really not always very fun, and it's not very magical,” she said.

So she uses her artistic talent to ease that burden.

“If I can do one thing to put some magic and light in people's life, then this is my thing,” she said.

Beyond her stars, Pernell is also placing three ceramic hearts along the trail. Finders of those can receive prizes from the Mountains-to-Sea Trail organization.

Pernell believes just hiking the trail is a prize all it's own. “It just feels good, right? It just feels natural, easy, and you can just be you,” she said.


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