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Outdoors

Focus was on ideas for promoting AT communities.

To continue building Franklin as a destination for outdoor adventure, co-chairs of Franklin's Appalachian Trail Community Committee (ATCC) Rob Gasbarro and Matt Bateman spent the first week of November at the first annual AT Community Summit in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

Bateman and Gasbarro spent three days networking with more than 20 Appalachian Trail Communities that span from Georgia to Maine to better strengthen Franklin's stance as an Appalachian Trail Community.

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To increase public transportation for Appalachian Trail hikers, the Franklin Tourism Development Authority voted to enter into an interlocal agreement with Macon County to provide a $3,375 grant to expand the Macon County Transit's shuttle service to and from the Appalachian Trail.

Over the last few years, Macon County Transit, on a request basis, has shuttled hikers from trail heads in Macon County into Franklin. Because the cost of the on-demand service was not something Kim Angel, Macon County Transit Director thought could be sustainable alone, last year the transit worked with the Appalachian Trail Community Council to develop a six-week pilot program that provides two trips a day to and from the Appalachian Trail.

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Community’s request could take until spring to complete.

After years of trying to establish a safe recreation spot at Nantahala Lake, Macon County Commissioners voted to approve an application Tuesday night that would begin the process to work with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission to establish a "no wake zone" within the Lakes End Cove area of Nantahala Lake.

Daniel Lopp, a member of the Nantahala community, has been petitioning commissioners to make a request to the state for months and with the help of North Carolina Wildlife Resource Officer Mark Ray, gained the approval of commissioners Tuesday night.

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From Franklin's Main Street to the top of Wayah Bald is just a little more than a 15-mile trek on foot along the Bartram Trail. The trail has just under 11,000 feet in elevation gain and winds up a remote mountain that stands as one of the oldest trails in the Smokies. A day hike of the trail is a feat accomplished by few outdoor adventurers, but last Saturday more than 50 thrill seekers raced in a 25k to the top of the mountain, with nearly half turning around at Wayah Bald and racing back down to complete The Naturalist 25/50k, Franklin's first ever 50k ultra marathon hosted by Outdoor 76.

"Overall the event was a huge victory. Considering the caliber of difficulty, the weather and the fact that this was a first year event competing with some very well-known races in the fall," said Rob Gasbarro, co-owner of Outdoor 76. "I don't think there was a single runner we spoke to that didn't say this was the hardest race they've ever run and one of the best, if not the best, organized race they've ever participated in. We lost count of how many said this was #1 on their list now."

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