And a good time was had by all ... at Dahlonega Trail Fest 2015, a mountain or eleven away from the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail at Springer Mountain.
The fun began on Thursday night with a rousing round of trivia at a local pub. Friday had music and a movie in the park.
Saturday was a bit chilly for flatlanders and other folks who think hiking the entire Appalachian Trail all the way to Mt. Katahdin would be more like torture than joy.
Thankfully, everyone survived the blue skies, friendly smiles, great food, vivacious music and the delights that are offered all around the square in Dahlonega.
There was a "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" moment when a paltry few folks absorbed the wisdom, amazing Trail tales and folk lore from none other than Gene Espy, the second man to thru-hike the AT, back in 1951.
I love hearing Gene speak of his canvas Boy Scout tent -- with no floor and zero waterproofing. He toted a hatchet and accomplished other feats that noobs think cannot be done. He had a good time along the way.
This time I was surprised to hear that Gene carried two canteens with him on his trek from Oglethorpe Mountain -- originally the beginning of the AT for northbounders -- to Baxter State Park in Maine. One canteen was for water. Gene never had to purify the already pure water on the Trail, although many of us feel it's folly not to filter it today.
The other? Filled with gasoline, to fuel his stove and (probably) to light a campfire or two on a damp evening.
Our friend Tom Slavicek from Black Eagle Leather in Dahlonega was there too. Tom had his beautiful leather and gem treasures on display.
His enthusiasm and support for Dahlonega Trail Fest 2015 were obvious as well.
The young were there.
Boy Scouts from Troop 36 set up a "how did they do that" stand and handed out alcohol stoves made from soda cans.
They gave us the option of making our own or accepting one they made as a gift.
You can laugh, but those little stoves heat hundreds of meals every day along the Appalachian Trail.
The old were there too.
Dreamers and old men posed by a sign similar to the one atop Mt. Katahdin, the northern end of the AT.
If the child's sized pack wasn't a big enough clue, the hat that a child sat on proved that this guy only dreams of hiking the AT.
Kudos go to a friendly young man from nearby Habersham County, Elliot Sperin and his left-handed banjo.
It's easier to sit on a sofa in somebody's basement playing Zombie Asteroids on a cold morning than it is to go out and share your banjo licks with strangers.
Only people like Elliot can improve Dahlonega.
Or the adventurers who attended the Dahlonega Trail Fest 2015 to support the Trail and assorted Trailers, many of whom are well on their way to achieving their dreams, up yonder on the AT.
We hope you'll be fortunate enough to run into our pal, Richard Judy, if you didn't hear him at Dahlonega Trail Fest 2015.
The Dahlonega Trail Fest website wrote, "Richard enjoys telling how fifty years of leading a 'hiker's life' provided him with material for his recently published novel, THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story. Richard will talk about the heritage of the AT -- how it came to be and how thru-hiking has become one of the last great American adventures. He will also read a brief excerpt from THRU."
If you missed this gathering, don't worry. There will be more.
We'll let you know where and when.
Tags: Attractions, Events, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Community, News, Appalachian Trail Clubs, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, Appalachian Trail Festival, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Festivals, and Hikers
If Scarlett O'Hara were alive, she'd dwell near Dahlonega, GA, with its iconic town square & annual Dahlonega Trail Festival honoring the Appalachian Trail.
Dahlonega, GA's Trail Fest is the first celebration of the new year's crop of would-be Appalachian Trail thru-hikers marching to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.
If you spend enough time around the iconic town square in Dahlonega, Georgia, during their Appalachian Trail Fest 2014, you'll want to hike the Trail too.
Dahlonega, Georgia, is an Appalachian Trail Community that hosts the annual Spring on Springer to send thru-hikers on their way in style.
Published Aug 7, 2013.