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Trail a fine tribute to Emerson

It was a spot she enjoyed very much, so the Gwinnett Environmental and Heritage Center was the perfect place to celebrate the life of Meredith Emerson on Saturday. And a trail dedicated in her honor was the perfect tribute.

The trail dedication was just part of the day of remembrance for Emerson, the young Buford woman who was murdered in January after being abducted while hiking. For a week, the story of her disappearance dominated the news as police and volunteers searched for her and her dog, Ella.

Her story became national news, and through those reports and in the aftermath of Emerson's death, friends shared stories of her love of hiking, her determined nature and her love of her dog. Some of those friends have since created Right to Hike Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting hiking safety.

That group sponsored Saturday's event, which also included a 5K run and a fun run, with some proceeds going toward the purchase of GPS location devices that will be placed at trail heads for rental. It was a way to continue Emerson's memory.

"It's a prominent spot and a place where people can remember her and the things she enjoyed," said Julia Karrenbauer, a close friend of Emerson's, of the dedicated trail.

Emerson's friends speak of keeping her spirit alive, and Saturday's events were the perfect way to do that and to encourage people to hike and be safe in doing so.

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