Hiking Season Begins
Yes, just like spring training has already begun, hiking season is upon us. The unofficial kickoff was at the Appalachian Trail Backpacking and Trail Celebration Clinic this past weekend at Amicalola Falls State Park. Several authors were on hand to give presentations, including:
AWOL–author of AWOL on the Appalachian Trail and the AT Guide, by David Miller.
Model T–author of Ghost Whisperers, by J.R. Tate
Gene Espy–author of The Trail of My Life
Skywalker–author of Skywalker–Close Encounters on the Appalachian Trail, and Skywalker–Highs and Lows on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Bill Walker.
Winton Porter–author of Just Passin’ Thru, and owner of Mountain Crossings Outdoor Store at Neil’s Gap.
The event was organized by Lauretta Dean, in the wake of Jim Burson’s death soon after last year’s event. Many had feared that this event would suffer in the wake of Mr. Burson’s death. How wrong we were! Lauretta Dean proceeded to double down on everything and there were more backpacking shops and guests at Amicalola Falls Lodge than the previous years. We heard that more than 100 thru-hikers have already begun; wow did they take a punch this weekend, with some diabolical weather. I highly recommend this event in the future for “dreamers”–those contemplating long-distance hikes, but lacking in basic knowledge of the AT or the equipment required. It reminded me a little of the Kickoff Party for the PCT.
Better yet, the ambience at Amicalola Falls State Park is such that it embodies the spirit of the AT more than any other place, with the possible exception of Damascus, Virginia. In fact, I strongly feel like the AT should begin at the Amicalola Falls on what is now “the approach trail” of the AT, instead of at Springer Mountain on USFS 42.