Pix from 2013 Founder's Bridge AT Festival

DSC_0994

The engaging & engaged Zuzana Vanha, events manager for NOC. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

DSC_0025

2013 thru-hiker Kathy "Little Sas" Saunders at Founder's Bridge. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

(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.

DSC_0003

English Tony's real name is Tony O'Donnell. His 2013 thru-hiker trail name is ET. You'd love his accent. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

DSC_1001

Megan & Mike Withee enjoyed the festival almost as much as Suzannah & I enjoyed them. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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?"

DSC_0992

Todd Trivett certainly could thru-hike the AT with his bass, but he's too smart. Todd plays with the Freight Hoppers. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

Great stuff.

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.

DSC_0031

Torry Newark's solar power plant. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

DSC_0006

Author Jeff Morgan ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

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.

DSC_0034

John "Volt" Grizzley, 2013 thru-hiker and nice guy. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

DSC_0018

A few of the stellar vendors at the NOC's Founder's Bridge AT Festival near Wesser, NC. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

DSC_0021

Yes, you can buy antigravity gear from AT Festival vendors but you cannot use it to float over the Nantahala River. Trust me. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

DSC_0999

2013 thru-hiker & teacher Robby Jones ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

DSC_0012

Thanks again to Zuzana Vanha, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy & everyone who worked so hard to bring us the Founder's Bridge AT Festival at NOC. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland


Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, Camping Gear, Appalachian Trail Community, Festivals, Music, and Robert Sutherland Travel Writer

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

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.