Thanks from

Published Nov 22, 2012

Happy Thru-Hikers in Cheshire, MA ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'll spare you the standard "we should be thankful every day" message, but not because it isn't valid. There are too many other people, groups and places that I'd like to thank.

This past year has been one of the best of my 60 or so. One big reason is I am blessed to write for The couple who own this site have been fantastic to me. I have the world's greatest gig. I serve and meet wonderful people all the time. I am thankful.

My life in Georgia for more than two decades has made me aware of the Appalachian Trail (AT). I've hiked Blood Mountain with loved ones ... and searched there for Meredith Emerson with her loved ones. Now, however, I have unearthed the AT subculture -- and I love it.

The Appalachian Trail is a portal to another world. To thru-hikers, the AT is a rite of passage and a pathway to a life forever blazed by the knowledge that I/you/we can do anything ... if we prepare and have enough perseverance and provision.

Ron -- Keeper of The Book -- Amicalola Falls State Park in GA. (Photograph by Robert Sutherland)

I've seen The Book that would-be thru-hikers sign (at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia) before they take the trail to Springer Mountain and set foot on the AT northbound.

Bonds have been built with new friends at the

  • Walasi-Yi's Mountain Crossing Outfitter at Blood Mountain
  • Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) -- especially Julie Judkins
  • AT festival in Dahlonega, GA
  • ATC group in Blairsville, GA
  • Franklin, NC
  • Nantahala Outdoor Center, near Bryson City, NC
  • Stecoah Gap, near Robbinsville, NC
  • Fontana Dam
  • Damascus, VA
  • ATC headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV
  • AT Museum in PA's Pine Grove Furnace Park
  • Pine Grove General Store in PA
  • Cheshire, Massachusetts
  • Norwich, VT
  • Hanover, NH
  • and the ATC Dedication in Rangeley, Maine.

If you cannot get to these places yourself, I'd be happy to share my thoughts and photographs. Click Here for Appalachian Trail Places.

My travels have taken me to a number of Appalachian Trail Communities -- staunch supporters of even the most stenchy thru-hikers.

A child's "Trail Magic" sign on Elm Street in Norwich, VT. (Photograph by Robert Sutherland)

I have been to the home of Trail Magic.

And I have met the heroes of the Appalachian Trail -- thru-hikers. In my humble opinion, our links to Thru-Hikers' Tales exemplify our mission to inform, inspire and enable regular folks to make the transformation from dreamers to victors.

Thanks to one and all.

Thanks to all those at the ATC, local clubs and individuals who maintain and protect the AT.

Thanks to all the emergency rescuers who aid those in need.

Thanks to all the day-hikers, section-hikers and thru-hikers who have forsaken TVs and PlayStations and hit the trail.

Thru-hiking heroes in Rangeley, Maine. (Photograph by Robert Sutherland)

Thanks to the army of volunteers who helped celebrate the AT's 75th birthday in 2012.

Thanks to Benton MacKaye for publishing the first article on the AT in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects in October 1921.

And thanks to all those who have followed in Benton MacKaye's footsteps.

America would not be as great without the Appalachian Trail and those whose lives have been changed along its path.

Tags: Attractions, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Appalachian Trail Community, Right to Hike, and Appalachian Trail Museum

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.