You can tell spring has sprung in the Blue Ridge by the telltale signs. The wildflowers begin their epic journey from sprout to bloom. The rivers run swollen and dirty with snow runoff from high in the mountains. The songbirds trumpet the changing season with songs of love, blah, blah, blah. What really marks the transition from cold dreary winter to warm vibrant spring in this part of the country is all the enthusiastic thru-hikers beginning their 2,000 mile trek on the Appalachian Trail. Most won’t make it of course, but these first few weeks of the hiking season will set the tone for what could be a three to four month endeavor.
Whether you admire A.T. thru-hikers or think them foolhardy, you have to respect the desire to accomplish something so vast that takes such a commitment. Thru-hiking the A.T. remains one of the more attainable ‘extreme’ accomplishments of the common man; even if you are not strong enough to climb Denali or Everest, you can still hike the A.T. This is part of the reason there are so many festivals and events in trail towns celebrating the hikers. Virtually all thru-hikers are not pro athletes, but regular Joes who want to test their mettle against the most famous trail in the U.S., if not the world. The bottom line is, they need a little boost from time to time and the trail towns are more than happy to oblige, and you should be too.
Given the religious significance of this Sunday (Easter) giving a little back would probably help your Karma – not to mix East and West, but America is a melting pot right? Head for historic Franklin, N.C. this weekend for their annual April Fool’s Trail Days. Franklin will be hopping with entertainment, workshops, exhibits and more. Take some time to hang with some hikers, hear some stories, and lend a hand if you can. Also, swing by the Blue Ridge Outdoors tent, pick up the new issue and say hi to Dusty. He’ll sign you up to win some cool stuff in our raffle.