Friday at Hot Springs' Trailfest 2013


The windy road into Hot Springs, NC. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Hot Springs my foot.

Freeze warnings, rain and too dang cold for this Georgia boy.

But nothing could dampen the spirits of the mini-multitude of folks in Hot Springs, NC, to take a zero day filled with fun, friends and plenty of food.

The Appalachian Trail is a subculture replete with characters and more characters. Fun people sharing a common struggle and sharing the ups and downs of hiking 2,181 miles between Maine's Mount Katahdin and Georgia's Springer Mountain.


Happy folks manned the Trailfest Registration tent in Hot Springs, NC. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Yup. The AT starts and ends on mountains. There's a clue there, bucko.

The drive into town wiggled and wobbled along paths best created for motorcycles. Alas, thunderstorms dampened those plans.

Once in town, we were greeted by friendlies at the registration booth.

Locals and thru-hikers blended in well.


Mikey the raft guy. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The big difference is quickly realized by what experts refer to as "the sniff test." The ripest townies cannot compare with folks who've been on the trail for a few weeks.

Hot Springs, an Appalachian Trail Community, continues to earn its good name.

The spaghetti supper was perfect. All you could eat for $8. Such a deal.


All we could eat spag dinner at Trailfest 2013. My new friends (left to right): Bass, Mountain Man, Nomad, unknown nice person, Doobie and Borders. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The food was great but the people made dinner special.

I met Bass, from Frankfort, KY. He made a profound impression on me.

Not one man in 20, it seems to me, is responsible enough to not blame others for his mistakes ... who fixes his own mistakes ... who grows ... and doesn't whine about having to be responsible for himself.


Bass at Trailfest 2013. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Bass told about the time he left his water filter at a trail shelter, during a day's hike of 23 miles. When he realized his mistake, he walked back 7.7 miles to get his filter ... then 7.7 miles (in the dark) to the shelter where he was spending the night.

We all know that "Yogi's" -- less than cute moochers - are a part of the trail.

Bass knew no one would refuse to share a water filter on the trail until he could replace his, but Bass wanted to accept responsibility for his mistake.


Mountain Man & Nomad at Trailfest 2013. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

He looked me in the eye and said, "That's the last time I'll make that mistake."

I believed him. A lesson learned - and earned - on the AT.

Mountain Man & Nomad impressed me too.

Nomad's trail name came from both not getting mad (she cries instead) and for her penchant to wander.


Mountain Man & Duster at Trailfest 2013. ~~ Photograph by Nomad

Mountain Man changed my life.

At dinner I learned my table mate's names and mentioned how I'd like one some day. But I didn't want to select my own. That, in my humble opinion, takes a village.


"Duster!" Your name should be Duster!"

One and all agreed. So did I.

I got a trail name!

Doobie (no, it's from Scooby-Doo) and Pink Panther, her daughter ate with us. They're from Sarasota. Pink Panther is being home schooled on the AT.


Doobie & Pink Panther, Doobie's daughter ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

What a great idea! If only to keep kids from wasting their lives on video games.

Next time your kids don't do their homework, you might keep in mind the idea of hiking the AT with them.

Trailfest in Hot Springs continues on Saturday.

C'mon down, y'hear?!

You might even get your own trail name.


I want to thank Rhiannon at Good Stuff in Marshall, NC, for giving me a fun spot to compose and post this story.


Tags: Events, Tourism, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Appalachian Trail Community, Festivals, 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.
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