Fri, Sep 8 2017 - Dahlonega TrailFest! A weekend of Pioneer Camping, Hiking & Appalachian Trail Magic (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Charlie Cottingham, Stacey Johnson
Participants:Charlie Cottingham, Stacey Johnson, Vicky G, Gayle M., greg, Huiling, Jordan, Brian, Marlo N, Bobby Marie, April, james brewer, Anne Rhodes, Jackie C, Bill Wey, Grace, Glenn A, Wendy M, Tom Russo, Caroline King, Greg Walling, Allison B., Mike, Silvia, Teri, Kellie, Kimmy, Gary Babiarz, Judy, Jim Gardner, Tim W, David

Write Up:

We had a blast all weekend at TrailFest! Thanks to our more than thirty AOC volunteers who pitched in at our "Outreach Tent" on the historic Dahlonega town square and brought dozens of delicious "Trail Magic" treats, refreshments, useful small gear items etc. to share with other outdoor enthusiasts. I think we all agreed what a rewarding experience this was to warm the hearts of potential new members and to interact with key partner organizations of our fine Club.

It worked out well again this year for about a dozen AOC Day-Trip volunteers to drive up at their leisure on Saturday morning and join our larger group of campers for our Club outreach on the square and numerous other fun festival options.  A big pat on the back to a 3rd "subgroup" of hard-working AOCers who pitched in this year on a difficult trail maintenance project with REI and other volunteers at nearby Jake Mountain near Amicalola Falls.

Most of us AOC "TrailFest-ites" took advantage of our advertised optional Sat afternoon carpool excursion to the nearby Appalachian Trail at "Woody Gap" and hiking together up the AT to the gorgeous "Preacher's Rock" overlook.  We enjoyed taking lots of colorful panoramic group photos and sharing our Trail Magic donations with hikers whom we met along the way.  Six of us (Kim, Gary, Caroline, Judy, Tim and I) had a good time extending the hike another 4 or 5 miles to beautiful Dockery Lake where we had left Kim's SUV for shuttling back up to the AT parking lot.  Special thanks to Judy for treating us to some of her culinary delights there at Woody Gap and to the several AOC volunteers who "minded the store" at our Outreach Tent on the square all afternoon while we others were hiking.

Thanks to our friendly hard-working Trailfest hosts in Dahlonega who made us feel so welcome as they did in 2015 & 2016.  REI took on a bigger role than ever this year and their staffers who managing the group campsite were nice to share delicious Mountain House food entrees, "s'more stuff," stoves, cooking gear, etc. with us.  On Fri and Sat nights we enjoyed blazing campfires with our REI friends and about 30 other Trailfest attendees. Thanks also to our friends at Appalachian Outfitters who provided their lovely shaded campsite where Yahoola Creek flows into the Chestatee River.
It's remarkable that our participation in this wonderful annual festival is FREE - including 150 square feet of booth space (for not-for-profit exhibitors such as AOC) + camping, parking, films, lectures and wonderful live music!

Unfortunately this time we had to take down our AOC Outreach Tent on the town square before the festival was quite over.  On Sunday morning strong gusty winds on the "front end" of Hurricane Irma were funneling around the old courthouse and our tent and tables were on the verge of blowing down the street, so esp. for safety's sake, etc. we and other adjoining exhibitors reluctantly closed our booths and continued our outreach while walking around the square and park.  We greatly enjoyed what remained of Trailfest despite the fast-approaching tropical storm.

I'll appreciate our members who took photos or videos sharing the their Trailfest shots & clips.  Stacey and I will be glad to insert here the links to our various photo albums and a few of our best shots, etc. so all can enjoy them via this permanent AOC online archive.   -Submitted by Charlie, Mon Sep 11th