It’s been a busy April here as 2023’s spring season gets into full swing. Continue reading for our Bartram Trail report for April 2023, including recaps from special events, work days, hikes, and boating season!
April 2: Sound Bowl Meditation Hike
This was a special event hosted by our own Erin Hadjidakis, BRBTC Board Member and Talulah Gorge State Park Ranger. Erin led a small group of folks down the Puc Puggy Trail from Osage Overlook to a really nice spot near a babbling creek for a calming meditation session.
We’re looking forward to more special hiking events like this one. If you have any ideas for a special event you’d like to attend, please let us know and we’ll see what we can do.
8 10th: Second Saturday Workday
This one was no light effort for our experienced crew of volunteers. Following our Walking With Bartram section hike from Jones Gap to Hickory Knoll Road at the end of March, this crew hiked this section again with all the tools needed to clear the trail of a few large blowdowns that we encountered.
With the help of shuttling and pure grit, our volunteers spent a much longer day hiking and clearing the entire section. Special thanks to our trail bosses, Jim Chance and Phillip Rogers, for going above and beyond to scout, organize, and lead this workday. Absolute rock stars!
April 13: Scout the Little Tennessee River for Boating with Bartram
Following the great day on the Little Tennessee River that we had last year, substituting a lazy float for the unpopular “road-walk,” we once again hopped into the river to scout the section. This time, we’re looking to add even more Bartram Trail to the journey, so we met at the Hickory Knoll trailhead and carried our kayaks through the wildlife meadow to the river’s edge rather than putting in at the newly improved Riverside Drive put in. This added just under a mile to our river trip, and its worth it.
Fortunately for us, the river was lazy, the sky was clear, the air was cool, and we only encountered a single blockage. We readily made our way through the downed tree tangle with a Silky Katana Boy saw and removed the limbs to clear a path through on the right side of the river. No one makes hand-saws, ideal for this type of work, like Silky.
We’re looking forward to the upcoming trip with the full group and appreciate Alarka Expeditions for supplying the kayaks, gear, and shuttling logistics.
April 14: Flix, Food, and Brews at Outdoor 76
What a great turnout for this annual hiker appreciation event! Even though the weather was less than ideal, the crew at Outdoor 76 set up a couple of tents for the grills and got to cooking. “Flix” was optional as the gathering in the Rock House Lodge formed right on time and everyone enjoyed meeting and chatting with hikers, locals, and the staff.
Thanks to our partners Cory and Rob for their hospitality and support through this fundraiser, with beer sales benefitting the Blue Ridge Bartram Trail Conservancy.
April 19: Bartram Writers Series with Kami Ahrens
You absolutely have to dig into The Foxfire Book of Appalachian Women: Stories of Landscape and Community in the Mountain South, written by our friend and BRBTC board member, Kami Ahrens. In another addition to our Bartram Writers Series, Brent Martin sits down with Kami at the Macon County Library for a discussion about her book, the process, and a few special stories from the women who shared their tales of life in Western North Carolina and North Georgia.
We’re working on getting an audio recording of the evening’s discussion made available as soon as possible.
April 20: William Bartram’s Birthday Celebration at Jack Johnston’s Garden in Otto
April 21: Third Friday Workday
The crew of 8 volunteers could not have asked for a nicer day out on the Bartram Trail for our Third Friday Workday. After meeting at Warwoman Dell, just outside of Clayton, GA in Rabun County, we split into 2 groups to work up from opposite ends of the trail and meet up again at the end of the day.
A crew of 3 worked in from the Pinnacle Trailhead towards Martins Creek Falls and continued on to Finney Creek. On this section, which provides access to the mid-point along the section between Warwoman Dell and Wilson Gap, we encountered a huge red oak that had also taken out some smaller trees and diverted hikers around the remaining stump. We made short order of this obstacle, enough to allow hikers to easily pass by on the established tread, safely.
The other crew spent the day mostly digging in the dirt to repair and widen tread that has worn over time, creating a narrow path for hikers and pushing them down-slope.
We greatly appreciate the efforts and time of our volunteers and the work they do to keep the Bartram Trail enjoyable for everyone. If you would like to give a little back to the trail, head over to our Events page for all our upcoming scheduled outings and RSVP for a day on the trail. Don’t be shy, we will provide everything you need.
If you would like to learn more, you can also hop over to our Trail Maintenance Basics page for some informative videos.
April 22: Earth Day Hike in Español at Wayah Bald
Brent led a special outing in partnership with one of our Youth Conservation Corps stars, Estela Ruiz, who helped us bridge our love of the outdoors with a group of Spanish-speaking hikers in Macon County.
The group met at Wayah Bald for a short presentation, interpreted for the group by Estela and Brent, sharing the cultural significance of Wayah Bald, Bartram’s travels in the area, and inspiring folks to get out and explore our gorgeous region.
Estela’s family provided home-made tamales and snacks for the group to enjoy before stepping onto the trail for a short walk and talk. Special thanks to everyone who came out and helped organize this event.
April 22: Kinship Awe Walk and Contemplative Photography at Wayah Bald
Another amazing photography workshop on the Bartram Trail led by Susan Patrice from Kinship Photography Collective. Photographers of all skill and experience levels have been invited out on these Awe Walks, to learn techniques for being more aware of your surroundings and present in the moment, and to find inspiration from that moment. Susan teaches and leads these mindfulness practices, which can be used anywhere and at any time.
We’re now about two-thirds through the year-long With Rapture and Astonishment program and still have plenty of ways to get involved in the works. Head over to their website or Facebook page to learn more.
April 25: Trailhead Tuesday
We’re really starting to see the results from these regular visits to popular trailheads along the Bartram Trail! We’re also very grateful for the folks that have been joining us to help with light clean-up, restocking our information cards, and replacing maps as needed, to ensure that hikers are safe and enjoy the natural beauty that the Bartram Trail offsers.
This month, we had enough folks to visit Appletree Group Camp, Sawmill Gap, Wallace Branch, and Wayah Bald. We also had a couple of our regular trail maintainers, Phillip and David, out to the new section of the Bartram Trail to mow again and make sure the path is clear.
We’ve begun posting new placards made by Franklin Signs and Graphics at our kiosks. We will continue adding them along the Little Tennessee Greenway and new section of the trail, connecting the Macon County Rec Park with the Greenway. You may even see them along Main Street and in storefront windows. If you would like to help support the Bartram Trail by posting a placard in your window, please reach out to discuss.
Related, we have begun discussions with our local partner organizations to further promote and mark the trail through the Town of Franklin. These are exciting developments!
April 28: Boating with Bartram – Postponed to May 5, due to weather
We’ll send more information out to the group and may have some newly opened spots to join us for this trip, due to the reschedule.