AT Founder’s Bridge Festival coming to NOC

A storied Appalachian Trail event is on tap April 6 and 7 at Nantahala Outdoor Center with the AT Founder’s Bridge Festival.

Day hikers, long distance warriors and outdoor enthusiasts alike are welcome to share their passion with like-minded folks, enjoying trail-steeped speakers sharing their experiences, a vendor village staffed by outdoor industry representatives, skills clinics, guided hikes and trail work sessions.

The festival is timed to coincide with the peak thru-hiker season, when dozens of Appalachian Trail hikers

At the Bridge Festival hikers will get the down and dirty on new gear, enjoy demos, and register for raffle prizes. Groups attending the event are the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Nantahala Hiking Club, Friends of the Smokies and the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club.

Keep in shape on Saturday morning by giving the AT a hand with some trail maintenance work trip hosted by the Smoky Mountain Hiking Club. Long pants, closed-toe shoes and work gloves are recommended. Bring water and snacks. Participants will be entered to win a Silky arborists’ saw.

The Bridge Festival welcomes back Jennifer Pharr Davis as she shares a presentation about a lifetime on the trail, including her most recent AT speed record hike and signed copies of her book Becoming Odyssa.

Here’s a rundown:

• Friday, 6-7 p.m. at the event tent: Jennifer Pharr Davis: “Adventures on the Appalachian Trail.”

• Friday, 7 p.m. until:  Charlotte Crittenden and “Swinging on a Gate” host contra dancing at the Pourover & Bonfire by the river.     

• Saturday, 8 a.m.: trail maintenance workday.

• Saturday, 11 a.m. until noon, Lightweight Backpacking Clinic at the event tent.

• Saturday, noon until 1 p.m.: survival skills demo at the event tent.

• Saturday, noon until 3 p.m.: Alpacka Raft Demo on the Nantahala River.

• Saturday, 2-3 p.m.: Edible plants hike with Stephan Hart.    

• Saturday, 3-4 p.m.: Alpacka Raft Race on the Nantahala River.

• Saturday, 4-5 p.m.: Lightweight cooking demo and stove expo, event tent.

• Saturday, 6-7 p.m.: Backcountry presentation and slideshow with Yosemite guide Patrick Warren, event tent.

• Saturday, 7:30 p.m. until …: Live Music with Sam Cooper, The Pourover Pub.

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