Here, in Blue Ridge country, we have so much to be grateful for today—and every day. So, our thanks go out to:
A deep thanks to you all.
So, it's only fitting that that we've renamed the fest. The Loudoun A.T. Festival will feature all the things you've come back for, year after year: music, trail talks, nature displays, food trucks, kids' crafts, artisans, pony rides and all the rest. Hope you can join us June 8, 2024 in Hillsboro.
The smoke lifted. The sun shone. The people came. The music played on.
Thanks to everyone who made the Round Hill / Hillsboro A.T. Festival in The Gap the wonderful day it was. Between trails talks, an art show, nature crafts, a climbing wall, eco/hiking displays and more, there was truly something for everyone. We celebrated the Appalachian Trail with current thru hikers and we encouraged everyone to get outside responsibly. What a day!
More to follow, but here are some scenes from the day:
We are honored to have the Round Hill Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department join us once again at our festival. The department responds to all emergencies along our stretch of the Appalachian Trail. We asked RHVFRD's Richard Ganey about the connection between the fire department and the Trail.
What section of the A.T. does RHVFRD cover?
At Station 604 in Round Hill, our primary area of responsibility on the A.T. is from Snickers Gap/VA 7 trailhead up to David Lesser Shelter. However, we would likely be called to any emergency response from Ashby Gap/VA 50 all the way up to North of Keys Gap/VA 9.
What are the most common injuries you've needed to respond to on the A.T.?
Hypothermia and hyperthermia are the two most common emergencies, with trauma from falls coming next in frequency.
What specialized equipment does RHVFRD have on hand to respond to these situations?
Along with members' familiarity with the A.T. corridor, we have Stokes basket set-ups for challenging carry-out evacuations and UTVs that provide faster mobility in some situations. We have some specialized medical equipment to address environmental injuries and can coordinate with Technical Rescue teams if we need additional support.
How are you personally involved with the A.T.?
My wife and I are PATC members and maintain a section of the A.T. south of Bears Den, from Spout Run down to Sam Moore Shelter. We also maintain the shelter itself.
We're both avid hikers, on the A.T. and its side trails, and we passed on our passion to our children. Our daughter solo-hiked from the southern end of Shenandoah National Park up to Great Barrington MA over a three-month period. I've also done many long trail runs on the A.T., in preparation for ultra events such as the JFK 50 miler (which runs partially along the AT treadway up in MD).
I am a PATC-trained, US Forest Service-certified chain sawyer and participate in A.T. sawyer operations in the NoVA area. As a Wilderness EMT, I also periodically provide on-site medical support for PATC training and maintenance activities on the A.T.
What do you think the A.T. brings to our greater community?
The A.T. is a wonderful natural resource available to us to enjoy nature and outdoor exercise for our physical and mental health. The A.T. community of PATC, ATC, hikers, trail runners, etc. is a community of great people with a common passion for the Appalachian Trail. I would encourage all to join Potomac Appalachian Trail Club and look into how you can further enjoy the Trail and help preserve the A.T. for future generations.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
Congratulations to Hillsboro on becoming an A.T. Community!
Our guest blog comes from Wendy Dorsey of Yellow House Native Plants, a vendor at this year's festival. Here's how Wendy got started in the native plant nursery business:
I had always loved to garden and grow things and had learned enough about native plants to understand how much sense they make. Gardening with plants that have evolved in a certain place require less work and feed more wildlife,
It was the spring of 2020 and I was dividing some of the plants in my yard to share with friends. My husband, a third-generation farmer, and I were talking when it just came to me, there in my garden with plants in hand. I looked at him and said, "I should be growing native perennials," and he said, "You should." It felt good to say; I knew this was a moment.
I'd been teaching part-time for ten years. Our oldest was in college and the youngest would be there soon. The time was ripe for a new challenge. I picked the brains of friends who are growers and landscapers, and my husband and I decided to locate the nursery in the middle of our wholesale tree farm.
While it can be hard work physically, it is very easy on the soul. I love the continuous learning that comes with native plants—and the continuous beauty! An added bonus is that I meet such interesting and cool people.
10 ways to have fun at the A.T. Festival in the Gap:
"Trail angels" ease the way for thru hikers all along the A.T., from Georgia to Maine. You can become one of these angels by sharing some "trail magic" with hikers finishing up the long Virginia stretch of the trail. What is “trail magic”? It’s any act of generosity that helps an A.T. thru hiker keep going.
By the time they reach our neck of the woods (Keys Gap, where we’ll offer them a shuttle to the festival), hikers who started at Springer Mountain in Georgia, will have walked 1012 miles. We’d like to “make some magic” for them.
If you'd like to donate something (see the list below for suggestions) to this year's thru hikers, we have collection boxes at the Round Hill Town Office and the Old Stone School in Hillsboro. You can also bring donations for thru hikers on June 10th to the Festival Welcome Tent.
Here's a list of things hikers have told us they'd appreciate:
We’ll be sharing some of this trail magic with hikers who join us at the festival (for a free lunch and great music); the rest will go to the Bears Den and Blackburn trail centers for other thru hikers as they make their way north.
Today's guest post comes from Carol Lenhart of Birch Hollow Yoga in Hillsboro. Carol will be leading sessions of Yoga for Hikers at 11:45 and 4:15 during the festival.
Six Reasons Hikers Should Do Yoga
We love hiking and being in the woods. Especially the challenge of a long and arduous trek through tough terrain. Or maybe a gentle stroll along a nice, flat scenic trail. Whatever style of hiking you do, yoga can be a great addition to your fitness habits.
Here are some reasons why:
Carol Lenhart is a yoga teacher in Hillsboro, Virginia. She has been practicing yoga for over 35 years, and has been sharing the practice with others for 10 years. She loves all styles of yoga, and her favorite pose is “feet on the wall.” Carol lives on a farm with her husband Ben, their children, and an assortment of animals. She enjoys hiking, cycling and paddling around the beautiful Virginia countryside and waterways. She can be found on Facebook and Instagram through @birchhollowyoga.
We have Virginia's newest state park, Sweet Run State Park, set to open May 26th. You may have already been there, if you've ever traveled down Harpers Ferry Road to visit the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship, which will become the new state park.
How does beautiful rural land like this, much of it a former farm, get protected in perpetuity? That's where our festival's newest sponsor, Old Dominion Land Conservancy (ODLC), plays a part. ODLC assisted arranging the donation of the land to the state, helping protect Potomac River tributaries and the Chesapeake Bay watershed, preserving Appalachian Trail views and conserving the natural habitat for hundreds of animal species in the process.
Under the leadership and guidance of ODLC, more than 18,000 acres of land have been successfully designated and preserved in conservancy. Here's why the ODLC folks do what they do:
"For us at ODLC, it’s more than just preserving open countryside, habitats and waterways we all love; it’s providing options for landowners and purchasers to maintain family legacies for generations to come."
It takes a village (actually two towns this year) to put on our free, fun-for-all celebration of the A.T. and all the Great Outdoors. If you can give us a couple hours on June 10th, you'll be a most welcome member of our team.
Click here to find our day-of volunteer sign up.
Have a couple hours to help us out? We are stilllooking for day-of volunteers! https://www.signupgenius.com/go/30e0848a4a728a1fa7-appalachian#/
Round Hill AT: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.