Trailfest in Hot Springs!

Festival organizers Debbie DeLisle and Jack Dalton pose for a picture on Saturday afternoon.

Attendance records were set this past weekend during Hot Springs Community Trailfest, held Friday through Sunday, April 19-21. More than 100 thru-hikers were in town for the festival, which catered to both hikers and non-hikers alike. All proceeds from the event went to the Hot Springs Community Learning Center, a non-profit organization that serves children ages three to 12 with preschool, transitional kindergarten, an after-school program, out-of-school care, and holiday and summer camps.

The weekend kicked off on Friday with a spaghetti dinner (that sold out!) and storytelling by North Carolina resident Amy Allen, author of Summoning the Mountains. (Amy hiked the A.T. in 2006; definitely check out her book, which chronicles her completion of the Trail right before turning 40.)

Kids participate in the hula hoop workshop on Saturday afternoon during Trailfest.
Festival goers enjoy the beautiful weather on Saturday.

Events on Saturday included plenty of activities especially for thru-hikers, such as hiker games, an ice-cream eating competition, and a talent show, which featured lots of great singer/songwriter acts. Hot Springs was also excited to welcome A.T. hikers participating in the Walk Off the War Program, designed to support veterans transitioning from military service. These Warrior Hikers were honored during a town parade on Saturday afternoon.

Trailfest concluded on Sunday with a pancake breakfast and an afternoon soccer game, which continued to engage both hikers and community members. 

Warrior Hikers were honored during the parade downtown Hot Springs on Saturday.

A.T. hiker Moose summed up the weekend perfectly. While talking to Randy Anderson (aka “Chuck Norris”) of the Hostel at Laughing Heart Lodge, she commented that the weekend was perfect – not only because of the weather, but because of the fun yet relaxing atmosphere that Trailfest allowed.

Even the dogs had fun at Trailfest!



Kids + Creek = Science Fun

035The A.T. Community Ambassador volunteers help get school children outside and learning about the environment through education of plants, invasive species, and water and soil science.  Franklin Ambassador, Mary Bennett  participated in the Kids In the Creek program sponsererd by Coweeta Hydrological Lab Long Term Ecological Research project which got kids donning waders, using scientific equipment and collecting samples to explore stream chemistry, velocity, macro-invertebrates insects, and fish!

Maine Collaboration!

I’m so excited about the A.T. Community workshop in Maine on Friday! Residents from Millinocket (newly approved to be designated!), Rangeley and Monson will all be there to talk about ways to network and work together to highlight the A.T. in their communities.

April 19 Agenda

While I am a bit disappointed that I won’t have an opportunity to do any hiking this time, it will be fun to have a meeting with 3 A.T. Communities all together. Here are a couple of pictures from my last trip to Maine (last summer)…ahhh, the memories:)



Oh Clare, making everything fun wherever she goes!


Old Man Winter

“Old Man Winter” certainly reminded everyone that Spring has not sprung in the North Georgia or Western North Carolina mountains.  Yet in spite of night temperatures in the 20’s and snowfall, folks were still determined to hike on the Appalachian Trail.  As the A.T. Ambassador in Franklin, NC, I felt it my honor and duty to escort my brother-in-law, Bob Uhar to Dick’s Creek Gap in Ga for a short section hike to NC.  My sister, Margaret, snapped these pictures in the morning- a chilling 27 degrees!  Bob hiked for several days through wind, freezing temps and 2 foot drifts of snow.  Coming off Trail at Standing Indian campground he was in good spirits and commented how he was buoyed by the commradery of the hiking community.
Photo of Mary Bennett and Bob Uhar
and Photo of Mary Bennett with ‘Bamboo” and “Shaman”
Post by Ambassador Mary Bennett