Fri, Sep 7 2018 - Annual Dahlonega Trailfest Trip, with optional AT Trail Magic Dayhike and optional Camping hosted by REI (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Charlie Cottingham
Participants:Neesie, Charlie Cottingham, Huiling, Mike, Jack D., Jackie C, Beth Ash, SteveR, Paul kim, Tim W, Maithy, Gayle M., Sri, john everly, Sonali Mehta, Christa, Lisa Maldonado, Lee Ann, Bethann J, Tiffani H, Yan, EricG, Doug R, Bob D., Eric H, Greg Walling

Write Up:
We had a blast all weekend at our 4th annual participation in TrailFest!  It worked out well again this year for about a dozen AOCers to drive up at their leisure on Saturday morning and join our slightly larger group of campers for numerous fun-filled festival options on the historic Dahlonega "Town Square" and in nearby parklands, trails, etc.  A big pat on the back to a 3rd "subgroup" of hard-working AOC volunteers who pitched in with REI on a worthy Saturday trail maintenance project at 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 and hiked together (initially southbound this year for a changefrom the Woody Gap parking lot to the gorgeous "Ramrock Mtn" overlook and back - about 3 miles round-trip.  Along the way we encountered a beautiful 3-foot long timber rattlesnake right in the middle of the trail, and considered it a rare treat to photograph the dangerous but fairly docile critter as it took its time slithering into the undergrowth.  During our hike we enjoyed perpetuating our Trailfest tradition of sharing "Trail Magic" snacks and useful lightweight backpacking hardware items, etc. with other hikers whom we chatted with along the way.  One of the few backpackers we encountered was an amazing and friendly old guy who was on the verge of completing his thru-hike of the entire 2000+ -mile AT, which he had begun in Virginia in March or so, hiking northbound to Katahdin in Maine -  then "flip-flop-hiking" from his original Virginia origin southbound to Springer Mtn, GA.

When we got back to Woody Gap from Ramrock Mtn we took a
 20-minute "cold-watermelon" refreshment break at a picnic table by the cars - then most of the group continued hiking another couple of hours northbound on the AT to the lovely "Preachers Rock" overlook and back. 
Thanks to our friendly hard-working Trailfest hosts in Dahlonega who made us feel so welcome as they did in 2015, '16, and '17.  Our REI friends took on their usual huge role in sponsoring and managing the festival.   Their staffers who supervised our group campsite (including Walt, Clay, Chad and others) were nice to share delicious Mountain House food entrees, "s'more stuff," stoves, cooking gear, - plus a nice free "REI Camping" T-Shirt this year - and the very reasonable $20-per-person camping fee goes to support Trailfest.  On Fri and Sat nights we enjoyed blazing campfires with our REI friends and about 30 other Trailfest attendees.  Special thanks to our friend Ben LaChance at Appalachian Outfitters who again this year let us camp all weekend at the lovely shaded campsite where Yahoola Creek flows into the Chestatee River.
I personally enjoyed taking the time on Saturday morning this year to do some stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking on beautiful Lake Zwerner - just 2 miles east of the Dahlonega Town Square (compliments of REI who provided the free half-hour boat demos).
I'll appreciate our members who took photos or videos sharing the their Trailfest shots & clips, and 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, Sunday evening Sep 9, 2018