Zuzana Vanha manages events for Nantahala Outdoor Center on the Nantahala River, kinda-sorta near Wesser, North Carolina -- or maybe it's in Ocoee. Nobody's sure. (Hit the site for directions.)
Wonder how she got such a cool job? Did she Google "fabulous job openings planning parties in heavenly locations"?
No matter how she landed the gig, she deserves it -- especially considering the success of the Founder's Bridge Appalachian Trail (AT) Festival the weekend of April 6th, 2013.
Founder's Bridge carries hikers the entire length of the Appalachian Trail ... over the Nantahala River.
(Sounds better that way than merely saying it connects the two nearby shores of a creek that locals call a river.)
Kathy Saunders (left) is one of the amazing people thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail this year. She's from Columbus, Ohio, and is fulfilling our mutual dream. Pardon the pun, but she's simply taking it in stride.
One step at a time, one day at a time. Her trail name is Little Sas. We believe she'll make it all the way to Mt. Katahdin.
Not far behind her, we met English Tony (right) -- Tony O'Donnell, currently from Southern California.
Suzannah and I were delighted by English Tony's brogue. Too bad we couldn't record a wee bit of it for you. He's taken the trail name "ET."
With the sun in his face and the wind at his back, ET will make it too.
There were lots of regular, non-thru-hiker type folks enjoying the Founder's Bridge AT Festival.
Megan and Mike Withee (left) obviously enjoyed the surroundings, the activities and one another.
You meet the nicest people on the AT.
There was one person who looked a bit out of place.
I wanted to say, "Ummm, are you sure you want to carry that all the way to Maine? You know there are real mountains along the way, right?"
That's when Todd Trivett said he's the bass player for the Freight Hoppers. Not that he wouldn't have been popular on the Trail.
No, I couldn't capture ET's accent, but click here for a Freight Hopper tune.
You'll see a bunch of odd things dangling from thru-hiker packs.
Torry Newark -- author of StupidHikes.blogspot.com -- totes his very own solar power plant on his back.
Newfangled (or old-fangled) goodies won't carry you across creeks or up rocks, but they certainly come in handy, at times.
You've probably heard the AT Mantra: "Hike your own hike."
Go at your own pace. Bring a book, a skillet, your dog or best friend, or not. Your call.
If you don't know which book to take along, try Lost then Found by Jeff Morgan.
Jeff's tale is set on the AT in North Carolina, where "Piece Maker" meets a sage.
A story worthy of your time.
Neither a thousand words nor a hundred pictures can instill the joy and inspiration that abound at Appalachian Trail festivals.
Thanks to our friends like Zuzana, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and AT Communities along the Trail.
Visit AppalachianTrail.com often to see which festival you'd like to experience.
We'll see you there.
Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, Camping Gear, Appalachian Trail Community, Festivals, Music, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer
Do you remember attending any of these 2013 Appalachian Trail events? Many of made lifelong friends at them.
Dahlonega, GA, has the first Appalachian Trail festival annually. The Trails End Festival in Millinocket, Maine, honors the thru-hikers who never gave up.