Appalachian Trail Stories

There have been some great trail stories lately that Mountain Crossings would like to highlight this week. We have pulled the stories from other blogs and given brief summaries about them below. The links for the original blogs are included so check them out!

AT Story Contest
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) is holding a contest related to your stories on the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail has changed many lives and people who venture along the trail will likely have a wonderful story. There are several categories for the contest that include; audio, video, written, and physical works. They are accepting submissions from October 4, 2016 – January 31, 2017. You can find more information regarding the contest and where to submit your story here.

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myATstory contest through the Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Trail Brothers
The most recent trail story from the ATC’s contest is called “Trail Brothers.” It is a short video about two brothers from New York City who hiked from the City to the Appalachian Trail. One brother thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012 and wanted to share a little of his experience with his brother. They talk about wanting to get out of the busy city and into the woods. They highlight some of the difficulties of hiking, I think all of us can relate to and they share some encouraging words. Check out the video below and thanks to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for hosting this awesome contest. Keep your eyes out for the stories in the upcoming months!

Paul’s Boots
This past year, a woman named M’Lynn contacted the Dirtbag Diaries, which is a podcast dedicated to stories out in the wild. M’Lynn’s husband, Paul, had a dream to hike the Appalachian Trail. He passed away before he could make his dream come true but his wife thought maybe his boots could make the whole journey instead. The Dirtbag Diaries started this adventure to get hikers to carry his boots and it quickly gained ground with other bloggers and companies. The goal was to encourage others to make their dreams come true while they can. It also highlights the hiking community and inspiring hikers that were excited to carry the boots and make Paul’s dream come true. We had “Daddy Long Legs” come by Mountain Crossings back in early April of this thru hiker season carrying the boots. They made it the whole way and a fantastic documentary about the experience was released last week. Check it out here to see more of the adventures of Paul’s boots.

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“Daddy Long Legs” at Mountain Crossings with Paul’s boots

Mountain Crossings Stories
We get great stories here at Mountain Crossings as well! Every day we get day hikers, section hikers, and thru hikers. Each person has a unique experience out on the trail and we love to hear each one. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your story with us!

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Fun hikers out for the day

 

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12th Annual Hemlock Festival

We are well into Autumn now and that means one of our favorite local festivals is right around the corner! The Hemlock Festival, held in Dahlonega, GA, always comes about during the first full weekend of November. The dates for 2016 are the 4th, 5th an 6th. Mark your calendars!

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There are two reasons you should pencil this event into your busy life! The first is that it is an excellent excuse to have a fun filled weekend in the beautiful north Georgia mountains during the best time of year. The Hemlock Fest is designed as a music festival, with bands playing way into the night. But the entertainment doesn’t stop at music. There is food, vendors, artisans, and educational workshops throughout the weekend. Not to mention camping, canoeing and hiking along the walking trails of Starbridge Sanctuary, the privately owned land the festival is held on.

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The second reason to attend this event is to benefit the efforts of the Lumpkin Coalition to Save the Hemlocks! On the east coast, our Hemlock trees are fighting a battle with an invasive species from Asia called the woolly adelgid. These parasites suck the sap from the tree, killing it within years. Hemlocks in Asia and on the west coast have predators that keep the adelgid population in check but they are running rampant on the east coast with out a natural predator. The Lumpkin Coalition, who hosts the Hemlock Festival each year, has been working with many other local groups to help save the hemlocks.

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Woolly Adelgids affecting a Hemlock tree.

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Close up of Woolly Adelgids on a Hemlock tree.

 

 

 

 

 

Each year the Hemlock Festival is a super fun weekend! Look into ticket information for a full weekend of camping or day passes to the festival here. If you are looking for a family event, there is a lot for every one at the Hemlock Festival! Help us Save our Hemlocks while having a great time!

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A grove of health Hemlocks!

 

Fall Foliage

Cooler weather and changing leaf colors mark the beginning of fall. We welcome it with open arms because we are tired of this Georgia heat. There will be numerous amounts of people coming to the mountains for “leaf peeping” and hiking. We hope everyone will stop on by the store for a visit!

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Blue Ridge Parkway in the Fall

Why do leaves change?
In the spring and summer, plants are able to gather more sunlight for photosynthesis, which is the food making process. The chlorophyll in the leaves gives them their green color during this time. The other colors are present as well but the green takes over. In the fall, the days become shorter and it becomes cooler. This slows down and eventually stops the food making process. The chlorophyll breaks down and reveals the other colors such as yellow, red, and orange. There are many different kinds of trees and each one may show some colors more prominently than others. That is what makes the Appalachians so beautiful in the fall because the mountain range is very old and has many different types of trees and plants growing here.

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Changing Leaves

“Leaf Peeping” and fall tourism
Many mountain towns rely on fall tourists to keep their businesses alive. Fall festivals occur every weekend in small North Georgia towns. They bring people together and have fun activities, music, and gifts for sale. The weather is perfect and of course, the leaves are changing. Jay Markwalter, the tourism director for the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce says, “Fall is our peak season, not only for colorful foliage, but for an influx of visitors. Visitors center numbers double, while retail merchants, accommodations and restaurants report that business triples in October.” Towns are catering to these “leaf peepers” with special deals, and even weekly updates on the changing leaf colors.

There are other activities associated with the fall season such as apple or pumpkin picking. These types of businesses are sometimes only open in the fall because this is when their produce is in season and no one wants to pick out a pumpkin in the middle of the summer. Driving has become a popular activity because you can see the changing leaves right from your window. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a great example. It has stunning views throughout the Southern Appalachians and there are several towns along the way. Highway 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains is another good road with great views. If you want to get out and stretch your legs, there are endless hiking trails throughout these regions.

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Burts Pumpkin Farm

Want to know more?

If the science of changing leaves interests you, or you would like to know more about identifying trees, we have this book, “Fall Color and Woodland Harvests” which has great pictures of trees in the fall and helps you identify them. If you’re looking for some good hiking, driving, or other activities this fall, check out http://www.georgiastateparks.org/leafwatch. There is a wealth of information for locals and tourists to come check out Georgia this fall. If you are looking for more to do in the Southeast, http://www.blueridgeparkway.org/v.php?pg=286 has several other links to popular areas in the Southern Appalachian Mountains such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Asheville, North Carolina. Stop by Mountain Crossings and the staff will be more than happy to help you with your questions!

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“Fall Color and Woodland Harvests”