Dahlonega, Georgia
Southern Gateway to the Appalachian Trail


Authors will be signing their books from
9:00-5:00 on Saturday and 9:00-4:00 Sunday

Richard Judy

Saturday 4:00 pm

"AT Thru-hiking: Generationally Speaking"

I will talk about how the AT came into existence and how I have been inspired by people who have hiked the trail from the WWII generation, baby boomers, Gen Xers and millenials. After hiking the trail as a
Richard Judy
Michelle Pugh
Michelle "Brownie" Pugh

Sunday 1:00 pm

"One Couples' Journey from the Foothills Trail in SC to the Wonderland Trail in WA"

Join Michelle "Brownie" Pugh and Greg "Percy" Ballard as they talk about the good, the challenging, and the romance of planning and hiking as a couple.
21-year-old and later as a man approaching retirement, I have enjoyed the trail from two perspectives.

Richard Judy (Trail name, Peregrine) is a two time hiker of the AT -- a thru-hike in 1973 and a 15-year section hike wrapped up July 2014. A Georgia native and UGA grad, Richard currently serves as board member of the nonprofit group overseeing the Len Foote Hike Inn, a backcountry lodge near Dahlonega. Both of Richard's children have also thru-hiked the AT. Richard enjoys telling how fifty years of leading a "hiker's life" provided him with material for his recently-published novel, THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story. Richard will talk about the heritage of the AT -- how it came to be and how thru-hiking has become one of the last great American adventures. He will also read a brief excerpt from THRU. Richard lives in Roswell, GA with his wife who has hiked the entire width of the Appalachian Trail.

Richard Judy book
Author of:
THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story, is available at www.Amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com

Follow my blog at www.thru-novel.com and enjoy www.facebook.com/THRUstory
Their presentation will be complimented with a slideshow of pictures from the Foothills Trail in South Carolina and the Wonderland Trail in Washington.

Michelle "Brownie" Pugh fell in love with the outdoors as a child when she first attended a primitive Girl Scout resident camp at age seven. When she was twelve she learned about the Appalachian Trail through a camp program, and she has been hiking ever since. Michelle has hiked the Appalachian Trail, the John Muir Trail, and the Foothills Trail, and is looking forward to two more long-distance hikes in 2016. Her first memoir, Love at First Hike, describes her adventures-and misadventures-on the Appalachian Trail. The stories of the characters she met and the lessons she learned are woven amongst details about wind-swept mountains, tranquil valleys, and peaceful trail towns. She is excited to debut her second book, about the John Muir Trail, for the first time at Trail Fest!

Michelle Pugh book
Author of:
Love at First Hike: A Story of Love &
Triumph on the Appalachian Trail

is available at Amazon.com

Gene Espy

Saturday 2:00 pm

"My 1951 Appalachian Trail

The highlight of all Gene's adventures was his 1951 Georgia to Maine solo hike of the entire Appalachian Trail which made him the second thru-hiker. Gene is a pioneer among the currently 10,000 hikers of the
photo of Gene Espy
Mike Stephens
Mike Stephens

Sunday 3:00 pm

"How I Thru-Hiked the Appalachian Trail and Rarely Slept in the Woods"

Mike Stephens is a retired high school English teacher and cross-country coach who resides in Columbus, GA.  He has hiked over 3000 miles on the Appalachian Trail, including a 2,185.9 mile thru-hike from
entiretrail, encountering much more solitude, wilderness, and difficulties in his hike than today's hikers. Gene Espy is a well-known speaker who enjoys telling about his AT hike and many other experiences. His now vintage hiking equipment is on display in the visitors center at Amicalola Falls State Park, Georgia near the Approach Trail to Springer Mountain.

2nd person to thru hike the AT
Trail of my Life book
Author of:
The Trail of My Life: The Gene Espy Story
March 23 to September 2, 2013.  Also an avid runner for over thirty years, Mike has completed forty-two marathons including the Boston Marathon eight times.

Mike's first book, Don's Brother: A Hike of Hope on the Appalachian Trail, chronicles his 2013 thru-hike and also includes stories about his brother, Don Stephens, who died of ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) in 2012. Admittedly, "not really much of an outdoorsman," Mike was able to hike the entire trail while often eating town food and sleeping in motels, hostels, and a variety of other lodgings.

In his second book, The Don's Brother Method: How I Thru-Hiked the Appalachian Trail and Rarely Slept in the Woods, Mike provides day-to-day logistics of how he accomplished his goal.  The information should be helpful for anyone wanting to hike the A.T. in a similar manner.

Over the past two years Mike has spoken in five states about his hike and about his brother.  His topics have ranged from "Dealing with Grief While Connecting with Nature" to "Approaching our Latter Years with a Sense of Adventure" to "Keeping One's Faith When Faced with Terminal Illness."  Both of his books are available at amazon.com.

Dons Brother book
Author of:
The Don's Brother Method: How I Thru-Hiked the Appalachian Trail and Rarely Slept in the Woods
is available at www.Amazon.com.

Gary Sizer

Saturday 12:00 pm

"The Trail is Full of Surprises"

Gary's talk will include the transformation long distance hikers undergo, both inside and out; inspiration and kindness at the most unexpected times; what's that smell?; strange habits and traditions, old and new; funny stories. In 2014, Gary Sizer completed a life changing journey when he hiked the Appalachian Trail, over 2000 miles from Georgia to

Gary Sizer
Byron Kerns
Byron Kerns
Byron Kerns Survival

Saturday 1:00 pm

"Wilderness Survival: Packing Your Brain"

A former U.S. Air Force Survival (SERE) Instructor will pack your brain with a tad of "S***, never thought about that!" What needs said I'll be saying, come listen.

Check out the website at www.byronkernssurvival.com
Maine. Join us, as we welcome Gary for an evening of stories, photos, laughs and inspiration, drawnfrom his experiences living among nature. Gary hails from Asheville, leads workshops on respecting the wilderness, tells stories for NPR's "The Moth" and his book, "Where's the Next Shelter?" is a best seller in Travel and Adventure. 

WHere's the next shelter
Author of:
Where's the Next Shelter

Jay Dement
Georgia Appalachian Trail Club

Saturday 3:00 pm

"What's Going on on the AT?"

Learn about the impact of the movie "A Walk in the Woods" on the Appalachian Trail, trail maintenance handled by thousands of volunteers, and the Leave No Trace method of low impact camping.

Angela Delconte
University of North Georgia Predator Beetle Lab

Sunday 2:00 pm

"How Outdoor Enthusiasts Aid in Stopping the Spread of Invasive Species and Preserving Our Native Environment"

The Hemlock Wooly Adelgid is decimating the population of the Eastern Hemlocks throughout the forests traversed by the Appalachian Trail and other trails. Learn about this problem and what you can do to help.
Thru Hikers

Saturday 11:00 am
Sunday 12:00 pm

"Thru Hiker Panel"

Come hear our panel of hikers who have thru hiked the Appalachian Trail and some that have done other long distance trails. Bring your questions, as this session is audience question driven. Get several perspectives, as there is no one way to long distance hike.

Mike Borsodi
Two Time Thru Hiker

Saturday 1:00-3:00
Sunday 11:00-1:00-3:00

"Planning Your Long Distance Hike"

"Mountain Mike" Borsodi has completed two thru hikes of the AT. If you would like to learn how to plan for a long distance trip yourself, Mike will conduct three sessions to help you prepare. At 11:00 am, will be Equipment and Logistics Planning, at 1:00 pm Financial Planning, and at 3:00 pm will be Physical Conditioning Planning. This session will be held in the Hancock Park pavilion. Due to the run in the Park on Saturday, the second two sessions will be consolidated and will run longer than one hour.

Mountain Mike
Donna Shearer
Save Georgia's Hemlocks

Saturday 10:00 am

"The Hemlocks Are Crying for Your Help"

Learn about the insect that is decimating the Hemlocks, including identification of the pest threatening our hemlocks, what's at stake if we lose these iconic trees, 3 integrated ways to save them, and opportunities for volunteers of all ages.

Dr. Robert Fuller
UNG professor and accomplished boater

Friday 5:00 pm

"Boots Not Required for This Trail"

On September 22, 2012, Dr. Robert Fuller set out on a 1500-mile solo canoe journey.  At the time, he estimated his odds at completing the trip at around 50:50.  The last half of the trip was upriver from Mobile, Alabama to Dahlonega, Georgia.  There were times during that last half when he thought his odds of success were significantly less than even.  Friday night, September 9, Robert will talk about the trip, what caused him to attempt it, and what motivated him to persevere.

Robert Fuller
National Park Service
Joshua Moore
National Park Service

Saturday 5:00 pm

"NPS- More Than a Park"

The NPS Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program works with community groups, nonprofit organizations, tribes or tribal governments, and local, state, and federal government agencies to achieve locally-defined goals for natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation. The RTCA Program also connects local citizens with local agencies and organizations in an effort to create new parks and greenspace as well as trails and to protect important water resources. The Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance Program of the National Park Service provides technical assistance to communities working to conserve rivers and open space, and to establish trails and greenways.

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Contact us at: info@dahlonegatrailfest.org  
Updated on September 7, 2016