Appalachian Trail Kick Off Weekend


Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia is where the trail to the Trail begins. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

If you're a lover of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Amicalola Falls State Park near Dawsonville, Georgia, is the place to be the weekend of March 8-10, 2013.

The approach trail to Springer Mountain, the famed portal to the AT for northbounders, begins at Amicalola.

In celebration of those who will take the trek, the Friends of Amicalola Falls State Park will host the 2013 Appalachian Trail Kick Off (ATKO) weekend.

Learn about the AT from the cream of the crop, including authors, AT hikers, gear vendors and folks who have been there and done that.

The weekend gets off to a rousing beginning at 7 PM, Friday night, March 8th at the Lodge when Joel Zachry -- 2005 AT Thru-Hiker and author of Bears We Have Met -- tells us about what to do if/when we meet bears on the trail. Laugh, but there's more to it than run or climb a tree, especially because bears can probably outrun you and they're WAY faster at climbing trees.

When 8 o'clock rolls around, you'll meet the entertaining Pack Rat Pros. Be brave! Let them rummage through your knapsack and grope your undies. (It might be the last chance you get for awhile.) They'll scrutinize and "tuckerize" your pack to lighten your load! It's a learning experience for everyone!

Saturday morning at 9 it's author Bill (Skywalker) Walker's turn. He's hiked the AT and the Pacific Crest, tackled the Camino de Santiago and hit the dizzying heights of the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. His topic will be Trekking Abroad -- The Sky's the Limit!

Judy Gross "Heartfire" of LightHeart Gear takes a crack at the crowd with DIY (Dehydrate It Yourself) Backpacking Food at 10 AM. You'll get a taste for the in's and out's of dehydrating food for the trail and offer comparison tastes of home vs. commercially dried foods.

The fun continues at 11 with Sir-Packs-A Lot's 10 Golden Rules (of thru-hiking the AT). Skilled Appalachian Wilderness Guides thwart common mistakes made by hikers in this happy presentation.

After lunch, meet The Legend: Gene Espy, the second man in the world to thru-hike the AT. Gene -- who wrote The Trail of My Life -- will share memories of his 1951 journey, while showing the original equipment that accompanied him.

Our friend, author and nice guy, Winton Porter, will tell a few tales from the trail and his life at Mountain Crossings/Neel's Gap/Walasi-Yi at four in the afternoon.

Hang out with old and new friends at 7 PM at the Virtual Campfire. Appalachian Wilderness Guides promise to delight us with a question and answer session in the most unique setting. The answers come from all of our guest speakers, while the questions are supplied by the audience.

That's just the beginning! The fun continues throughout the day on Sunday too. You find answers to such curious questions as:

  • Can I make my own hiking gear?
  • How do I choose the right sized pack?
  • How much volume do I really need?
  • What's that weird loop on the sternum strap for?
  • What's a sternum strap?
  • Are trekking poles hard to use?
  • Can my bandanna double as a filter, sling, bandage or terribly poor parachute?

You'll meet so many authors, you'll think even YOU could write a book! For a complete schedule, click on the link below.

Special camping will be available for only $10/night. Please call Amicalola Falls State Park for details: 706-265-4703.

Click Here to Download ATOK Schedule pdf

Click Here for ATKO 2013 Info

Click Here for Amicalola Falls State Park Info

Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, Camping Gear, Appalachian Trail Community, and Festivals

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