Pictures from ATKO 2014

The Gateway to the Appalachian Trail at Georgia's Amicalola Falls State Park ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The Gateway to the Appalachian Trail at Georgia's Amicalola Falls State Park ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

The Appalachian Trail Kickoff -- ATKO 2014 -- is the kind of gathering that comes to an end, but lingers. Memories of the people we meet, the encouragement we receive and new insights into hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT) mellow over time ... and we look forward to the next ATKO.

ATKO 2014 took place at Amicalola Falls State Park in Georgia -- where the Approach Trail to the AT begins -- the weekend of March 7th.

David "Awol" Miller ( with five extra hands in the background) holds his indispensable "Handbook for Hiking the AT" at ATKO 2014 ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

David "Awol" Miller ( with five extra hands in the background) holds his indispensable "Handbook for Hiking the AT" at ATKO 2014. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Veteran hikers met with this year's crop of folks heading north to Katahdin. Vendors were there to make sure you had the right gear and that you were headed in the right direction.

Our pal Awol, (aka David Miller), shared his Trail wisdom, signed his guidebook and imparted memories of his thru-hike to a packed room at one of the many sessions open to the public.

Gene Espy displaying the 55-pounds of gear he toted on his thru-hike at ATKO 2014. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Gene Espy displaying the 55-pounds of gear he toted on his thru-hike at ATKO 2014. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

My favorite portion of ATKO was when Gene Espy gently spoke about the original equipment he used to thru-hike in 1951.

All 55 pounds of it.

Gene hiked too early to be told he couldn't possibly succeed with all that weight on his back.

A canvas knapsack? A metal canteen for gas/fuel? Metal plates? Impossible, but true.

Hike your own dang hike, but we don't recommend wearing Keds.

Bob Gabrielsen -- Sir Packs A Lot -- offered tips on thru-hiking at ATKO 2014. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Bob Gabrielsen -- Sir Packs A Lot -- offered tips on thru-hiking at ATKO 2014. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Sir Packs A Lot offered his Ten Secret Tips on thru-hiking the AT. Here are a few:

  1. Be Mentally Prepared
  2. Be Gear Ready
  3. Hike Your Own Hike -- With an Open Mind
  4. Don't Quit on a Bad Day
  5. Have Your "Real Life" Affairs in Order
  6. Prepare for the Harsh Physical Realities

Stop by his new hostel's website, The Top of Georgia, for the complete list.

Ranger Kimberly holding the treasured AT Thru-Hiker Log at Georgia's Amicalola Falls State Park. ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

Ranger Kimberly holding the treasured AT Thru-Hiker Log at Georgia's Amicalola Falls State Park. ~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

If you begin your thru-hike at Amicalola, stop by and ask Ranger Kimberly to let you sign the log at the park's office and gift shop before you hit the Approach Trail.

Then, slip your pack over your shoulders, buckle up and climb the 604 stairs adjacent to the 729-foot Amicalola Falls -- the tallest cascading waterfalls east of the Mississippi River.

You can do it.

Bookmark the ATKO link to be sure you don't miss ATKO 2015.

Click Here for ATKO 2014

A few more memories from ATKO 2014 ...


Tags: Events, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, Hiking Gear, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Appalachian Trail Conference, Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association, 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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We hope to see you at one of the 2014 Appalachian Trail events that take place all along the AT -- from Maine to Georgia.