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Outdoors

March 14-April 11
Free Hiker Breakfast sponsored by First Baptist Church. All you can eat pancakes from 7:30 to 8:30 am. For more information call (828)369-9559.

March 27-28
11th Annual Hiker Bash at the Sapphire Inn. For more information go to www.hikerfoolbash.com or call Ronnie Haven at (828)524-4431.

March 28
Anniversary Celebration/A.T. Appreciation at Three Eagles Outfitters. For more information, call (828)524-9061.

March 28
A.T. a Local Treasure, learn about the different trail systems in Macon County and plan your next hike with your friends / family. At Outdoor 76, 12-2 p.m., for more information call (828)349-7676.

March 28
Thru hiker Chow Down sponsored by the Nantahala Hiking Club and the Lazy Hiker Brewing Company (LHBC). 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LHBC for more information call (828)369-1983 www.lazyhikerbrewing.com.

April 4
Thru hiker Appreciation at Outdoor 76.Come rub shoulders with hikers as they prepare to hit the trail and journey over 2000 miles to Maine. For more information, call (828)349-7676.

Easter on the Trail sponsored by the Nantahala Hiking Club. For more information call (828)369-8915.

April 11
Trunk Sale sponsored by the Friends of the Greenway to support the Franklin Greenway and the Appalachian Trail. 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Big Bear Park. For more information, call (828)369-8488.

April 25
Gear Swap & Community Cookout at Outdoor 76. Bring your new gear, used gear or forgotten gear and swap it out for your next adventure, starts at 10 a.m. Live music from 12-4 p.m. with breweries on hand for beer tastings. For more information, call (828)349-7676 or visit www.outdoor76.com.

Rebounding from one of the most vexing years in the organization’s history, Great Smoky Mountains Association officials announced details of its contributions to Great Smoky Mountains National Park for 2014 and previewed plans for 2015 funding.

“What a difference a year can make,” GSMA Executive Director Terry Maddox said about the organization’s effort in 2014, which resulted in a $2.6 million contribution to the national park. “As bad as 2013 proved to be, 2014 was a year filled with superlatives.”

The trend toward a better year began early in the season, Maddox said. “As soon as the weather broke in early spring, it was clear the mood of the visitor was upbeat. Both visitation and sales confirmed this to be the case for the remainder of 2014.”

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The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) celebrates 90 years of protecting the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) this month. A long-standing partnership with the federal government, trail maintaining clubs and thousands of volunteers have enabled the organization to preserve and manage the longest hiking-only footpath in the world.

The ATC was founded in 1925 by volunteers and federal officials working to build a continuous footpath along the Appalachian Mountains. A unit of the National Park Service, the A.T. ranges from Maine to Georgia and is approximately 2,185 miles in length. The trail goes through 14 states along the crests and valleys of the Appalachian mountain range from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Ga., to the trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Me.

More than two million people visit the trail every year and about 2,500 people attempt to “thru-hike” the Trail. People from across the globe are drawn to the A.T. for a variety of reasons: To reconnect with nature, to escape the stress of city life, to meet new people or deepen old friendships, or to experience a simpler life.

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The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), along with the Smoky Mountains Hiking Club (SMHC), invite the public to attend the official designation of Fontana Dam, North Carolina, as the newest Appalachian Trail Community™. The ceremony will be held on Thursday, March 26, and is free and open to the public.

The event will kick off at 11 a.m. with music from the Larry Barnett Duo, allowing attendees to meet and greet each other before the designation ceremony at noon. Following the ceremony, guests are welcome to visit the Mountview Restaurant on the property of the Fontana Village Resort for lunch. A short guided hike beginning at 2:30 p.m. will conclude the day’s festivities.

“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is proud to celebrate Fontana Dam as an A.T. Community partner in North Carolina that is helping to protect and promote the Appalachian Trail,” said Julie Judkins, community program manager for the ATC. “These new partnerships increase local stewardship of public lands, support community initiatives for sustainable economic development and conservation planning and support healthy lifestyles for community citizens.”

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