The second Round Hill A.T. Festival is in the books. What a weekend we had between the beautiful weather, the great bands, the wonderful speakers, vendors and partner organizations—and all the happy "campers" who joined us.
We celebrated the Trail and all the Great Outdoors with displays and talks about native plants, safe hiking, planting trees, camping light, thru-hiking and day hiking, nature printing, trail cooking and so much more. We're a small group of volunteers who put on the festival, and we thank everyone who made it possible.
Thanks to all who sponsored us, joined us at the festival and supported us along the way. Let's do it again!
(Photos by @craigolsen)
We have amazing speakers and activity leaders joining us on Sunday. We're so excited about them, we're going to give something away at every event.
You'll go home with knowledge...and you could go home with a tree or native plant. A festival T-shirt or nature print. A trail journal or water bottle. And more. Get a raffle ticket at the start of the event and keep your fingers crossed. We'll announce at least one winner at the end of each Sunday event.
Here's the Sunday lineup:
11:00 "Bringing Back the Experience," Cindy Ross
11:00 "DIY (Dehydrate It Yourself) Food," Judy Gross, Light Heart Gear
11:15 "Let's Plant a Tree," James McGlone, Virginia Department of Forestry
11:30 "Trail Cooking: Beyond Ramen," Jeff Ryan
12:00 "Women on the Trail," Susan Tschirhart
12:00 "Going the Distance: A Thru-Hiker Panel"
12:30 "Nature Printing," Jill Jensen
12:30 "Why Native Plants?" Dr. Iara Lacher, Seven Bends Nursery
1:00 "Trail First Aid," Saleena DeVore, Emergency Response Training
1:15 "Grandma Gatewood Hikes the A.T.," a performance by Anne Van Curen
1:30 "Forest Bathing," Kristine Villatoro
1:30 "Camping Light in Comfort," Don Gravett, JacksRBetter
1:45 "Yoga for Hikers," Dr. Alina Dawson, Full Distance
See you at the fest!
And now a bit about one of our generous sponsors...
REI Co-op has been around for more than 80 years, long enough for most hikers to know about the stores. We know REI as a place to buy boots or a tent. But even some of us long-time members might not know about the other sides of the co-op. A recent discovery for this long-time member: REI videos and podcasts.
You'll find everything online from gear reviews to recipes to tales from the trail and mini- to full-length features. And the Appalachian Trail gets its share of attention. One example: An A.T. favorite filmed five years ago, Paul's Boots is the moving story of a dream fulfilled despite all odds.
Uncommon Path is the co-op's online, interactive news and features hub that aims high: "Uncommon Path will connect REI Members to one another and inform our community of all that we can accomplish together. Through our stories, we’ll empower members of our millions-strong co-op to make impactful choices in their own lives and join us in advocating for change."
So, thanks, REI Co-op for sponsoring the Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival and thanks, too, for all the online inspiration.
There's a new sock in town. Meet Warm Peet, a sock company with heart. As the company's tagline reads, these are: "Socks that don't let you down. Socks that lift others up."
We are honored that Warm Peet will debut its product line at our festival. Stop by their tent to check out their merino wool hiking socks and other products.
But Warm Peet is more than a festival vendor. They've become our latest major sponsor, and their sponsorship helps keep this A.T. celebration a free event. Thanks, Warm Peet. We couldn't ask for a sponsor more aligned with our own mission: To promote and protect the Great Outdoors.
Here's more about this new kid on the block and their heart-warming mission:
Who is Warm Peet©?
A young boy would always say, "My peet are told," and I would laugh and laugh. To this day, 25+ years later, I still use that saying and I still laugh.
We believe "Warm Peet©" are essential to enjoying time outdoors. We are avid hikers, campers, and lovers of the outdoors. We understand the importance of a sock that won't let you down.
We also love quality. The high-Merino wool content provides maximum itch-free comfort. It keeps your feet warm, is anti-microbial, and moisture-wicking to keep your feet dry.
We believe in giving back. It's a fundamental part of who we are. Each pair of Warm Peet© socks you buy, supports suicide awareness & prevention, mental health, and nature preservation & outdoor recreation non-profits.
Our Socks, Your Peet, EVERYONE'S health!
Made Local. Made in the USA.
Our socks are manufactured here in the United States - North Carolina to be exact - we can proudly say our "Warm Peets©" are Made in the USA.
Our Commitment to Reducing Waste
We take every effort possible to be socially and environmentally conscious in the products we provide. You will not find anything in our packaging you cannot reuse, including the Warm Peet© container that we hope you will reuse again and again in your every day adventures.
No more single-use plastics!
Today's thru-hikers, more often than not, equip themselves with technical backpacks, along with light-weight tents, sleeping bags and stoves. But one of the first A.T. thru-hikers didn't have any of that equipment. She just started walking with a knapsack, a blanket and a shower curtain.
Emma Rowena Gatewood, known as "Grandma Gatewood," was an American ultra-light hiking pioneer. After a difficult life as a farm wife, mother of eleven children, and victim of domestic violence, she became famous as the first solo female thru-hiker of the 2,168-mile Appalachian Trail in 1955 at the age of 67. The media coverage surrounding her feat was credited for generating interest in maintaining the A.T. and in hiking generally.
To quote a Washington Post article: "Gatewood hiked the trail carrying a homemade knapsack and wearing ordinary sneakers—she wore out six pairs of them in 146 days from May to September. She brought a blanket and a plastic shower curtain to protect her from the elements, but she didn’t bother with a sleeping bag, a tent, a compass or even a map, instead relying on the hospitality of strangers along the way and her own independent resourcefulness. She’d sleep in a front porch swing, under a picnic table or on a bed of leaves when necessary, and she ate canned Vienna sausages, raisins and peanuts plus greens she found on the trail and meals offered by strangers."
Actress Anne Van Curen will be joining us at the festival to bring Emma Gatewood to life in a performance for all ages. Van Curen transforms into "Grandma" Gatewood to describe what it was like to be the first woman to solo hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955. The dramatization is based on the book Grandma Gatewood's Walk, written based on accounts of Gatewood's surviving family members, newspaper magazine articles and her own diaries and trail journals.
We are so lucky to have three great hikers/speakers joining us at the festival. I just wrote about one of them, Jeff Ryan, but had to add this post after discovering his Voices of the Wilderness series.
Jeff's recent piece on Ernest Oberhotlzer was both fascinating and heartwarming. I love the theme of the piece: "The path we’re meant to take may be different than we’d imagined." That was certainly true of Oberhotlzer who thought he would be remembered for the tale of his extraordinary 1912 canoe trip. Instead, Oberhotlzer's legacy is one of conservation—of keeping the land he loved in a natural state for future adventurers to discover for themselves.
Jeff has posted a whole series of these tales—articles and video documentaries— about people who spent their lives advocating for the wild places we all enjoy. Voices of the Wilderness is produced through the support of the National Conservation Training Center, home of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and many of the archival materials shown in the series.
Some hiking stories are about speed. (Like A.T. record holder Karl Meltzer's 45-day, 22-hour sprint from Georgia to Maine.)
Jeff Ryan's hiking story isn't one of these. Jeff took his time to get to know every inch of the Appalachian Trail from 1985 to 2013, when he and a friend section-hiked all 2,100 miles of the Trail. Jeff documented their decades-long adventure in his first book, Appalachian Odyssey: A 28-Year Hike on America's Trail. Including 75 color photos, the book is part memoir, part natural history and lore, and part practical advice. (See highlights from this journey here.)
Jeff will join us at the festival on Saturday, September 11th, to talk about his own "Appalachian Odyssey" and the stories he gathered along the way. Some of those tales are collected in his other books, including Blazing Ahead: Benton MacKaye, Myron Avery and the Rivalry that Built the Appalachian Trail (2017) and Hermit: The Mysterious Life of Jim Whyte (2019). Jeff's books will be available for sale and signing.
On Sunday, September 12th, join Jeff for "Beyond Ramen," a talk and demonstration on trail cooking. He says he'll offer "some quick tips for making your backcountry menu more exciting and nutritious than, say, eating ramen or instant stuffing mix again and again."
What kind of music can you expect at our A.T. fest? Expect some hand-clapping, foot-stomping Americana tunes!
The Americana Music Association defines the genre as: "Contemporary music that incorporates elements of various, mostly acoustic American music styles—including country, roots rock, folk, gospel and bluegrass—resulting in a distinctive roots-oriented sound that lives in a world apart from the pure forms of the genres upon which it may draw."
Here's who's serving up "distinctive roots-oriented" sounds at the festival:
The Short Hill Mountain Boys. This five-piece Appalachian string band creates their own blend of bluegrass, old-time, cajun, classic country, and folk with tight harmonic vocals, fiddling and guitar picking.
Fiddlin' Dave and Morgan. The duo have been blending the sounds of the fiddle and octave-mandolin for almost 30 years, touring China, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the Baltics as they play and sing their unique mixture of originals, old-time fiddle tunes and world music.
Justin Trawick & the Common Good. Performing their own twist on Americana in the DC area and along the East Coast since 2006, the band's music is an upbeat, foot-tapping experience with sounds that range from bluegrass to acoustic hip hop.
Author/speaker/hiker extraordinaire Cindy Ross will join us at the 2021 Round Hill Appalachian Trail Festival. On Saturday, Ross will talk about "Life-long Learning on the Trail," sharing her experiences hiking, cycling and paddling long-distance trails over the past four decades. On Sunday, she will lead a workshop, "Bringing Back the Experience," where participants can join her for "a little journal writing, photography and sketching in the field."
First published in 1982, Cindy Ross’s A Woman’s Journey recounts her A.T. trek in words and 125 illustrations, and it's been inspiring hikers for forty years. Since penning that first book, Cindy Ross has gone on to write about her journeys on the Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail (with children!) and other wild spots around the world. Hiking, cycling, riding and paddling have brought Ross to Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and all across North America.
Ross's seventh book, The World Is Our Classroom: How One Family Used Nature and Travel to Shape an Extraordinary Education, came out in 2018. She released two more books in 2021: The Log Cabin Years—One Couple Builds a Home from Scratch and Creates a Life and Walking Towards Peace: Veterans Healing on America’s Trails. The latter tells the stories of 25 veterans who hike both long and short distance to heal from their war wounds, as well Ross's stories based on work with her nonprofit, River House PA—Helping Veterans in Nature. Ross will be available both days to sign books at our festival.
Besides her books, Ross has written over 500 magazine articles for national publications including Outside, Backpacker, Paddler, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Outdoor Life, Canoe & Kayak, Adventure Cyclist, Sailing, Wooden Boat, Scouting and Native Peoples. Her travel stories have appeared in newspapers including The LA Times, The San Francisco Examiner, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Toronto Star, The Christian Science Monitor, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Chicago Tribune and The Baltimore Sun.
There’s a new designation in town. In 2019, Round Hill was named an A.T. Community—and, this year, the town has been recognized as a Tree City USA.
The Arbor Day Foundation program recognizes communities committed to “greening up” their hometowns. Communities achieve Tree City USA status by meeting four core standards of sound urban forestry management: maintaining a tree board or department, having a community tree ordinance, spending at least $2 per capita on urban forestry and celebrating Arbor Day.
The A.T. in Virginia is often called a "green tunnel." Trees line the Trail, shelter hikers and host wildlife. We're used to seeing trees along trails and in parks. But trees are just as important in suburban and urban settings. More important, many would argue.
Trees are a great investment for a community like Round Hill. They clean our air and water, reduce storm runoff and improve property values. They offer cooling shade in summer and wind breaks in winter—helping to reduce energy consumption. Plus, their branches provide wildlife with food and shelter year round.
Round Hill celebrated its new Tree City U.S.A. designation at an Arbor Day celebration in April that brought another river birch to Niels Poulson Park. We're continuing our focus on trees by working to create a Round Hill Tree Map.
Residents can nominate "notable" trees in town. Notable can mean "native," "big" or "unique." It can mean a "witness tree," a tree that's been around long enough to witness some town history. If you have a favorite tree, please let us know.
We'll be celebrating Round Hill's Tree City USA status at the festival, including a Sunday tree planting demo by the VA Department of Forestry and a tree give-away.
Round Hill Outdoors: Join us in bringing together local friends and family to unplug and get outside. Let’s discover our amazing backyards — from national treasures like the Appalachian Trail to new local and regional parks.