ATKO: Appalachian Trail Kick Off Weekend

“You become like the people you spend the most time with”  Jim Rohn

That is just fine with me.  I spent the first weekend in March at the Amicalola Falls State Park.  The park is the location of the Southern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail – on Springer Mountain.  The ATKO (aka The Appalachian Trail Kick Off) was being held this first weekend in March at the lodge within the park.  My hubby and I drove 6 hrs to be there along with vendors, speakers, hikers & the hiking community.

I booked us a spot at the campground within the park.  There was also a “tent village” area close to basecamp where some hikers were staying at a very reasonable price, but with my reluctant camping hubby, I “treated” us to a private site with water and electric.  I brought my thru hiking gear, never missing an opportunity to practice using it all.  My lightweight Nemo 2-person tent (is NOT really a 2-person comfortable tent) so my hubby brought the family “Taj Mahal” tent which looked massive next to mine.  Didn’t matter that he had an electric blow-up mattress with a lamp inside on top of a table. I was so happy to have him there supporting my hobby. More like a passion at this point. I know he would have preferred to stay at the warm and cozy lodge where all the activity took place.

Listening to the presentations, seeing the recommended gear, meeting the people – gave me all the feels!  I asked questions, bought merchandise and became like the 5 people I surrounded myself with that weekend. I obtained  social media info as well as pictures of these impressive folks.  I felt at home and supported already.  This community is so supportive that there were 2 hikers there that both thru hiked the trail in 1973, Yes 50 yrs ago!  Warren Doyle & Mic Lowther

1973 Thru Hikers

Before heading back home, I stopped by Basecamp.  This is where hikers starting their Northbound Journey (NOBO) sign in, get their tag, listen to the Leave No Trace speech before literally starting their walk.  I watched 2 male hikers get their bags weighed: 29 and 42 lbs.  they also had their pictures taken.  It was great to see it all before my actual launch date – a bit reassuring. There was a hiker box there (discarded items that hikers decided they didn’t need in their packs) and I was able to snag something I could use. Thanks Hiking Community!

One last thing was to climb the stairs leading up to and parallel with the beautiful Amicalola Falls.  It was a beautiful sunny day for it.  Just a couple of more weeks before we are back for the official launch.  We DID book the lodge this time – it’s a big milestone!  This is really happening.


At The Lodge

At the Top of The Falls



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Comments 4

  • John Reed : Mar 17th

    It was a great weekend and I was glad I could be there to support your passion. I know you are ready for this and can do it. As a hiker supporter it was also reassuring for me to see all of the other good people of the hiker community that will be doing this with you.

  • John Nummerdor : Mar 17th

    Wife, dog, and myself retired here in Virginia last summer from Wisconsin.The AT is like in our backyard. We thought that we would like to be ? ? of some sort. When you cross into Virginia,(Troutdale, Sugar Grove, Marion, Highland State Park, Mnt. Rodgers, Whitetop Mntn.), let me know if I could help. Supplies, lunch, bottle of wine. Want to hear of your adventures. Good luck on your trek! Remember, 1 foot in front of the other.

    • Jenny : Mar 18th

      Thank you so very much John for the offer. Can’t wait until “crossing into VA” becomes my reality!

  • rick : May 26th

    any further news?


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