Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Damascus, VA Trail Days...

So, what do thru hikers do when they want to take vacation from the trail? We go camping of course! Since camping doesn't involve moving your tent for a couple of days (and might also include ice chests with beverages in bottles) it's vastly different than backpacking! Ahhh... the joy of ice!

This past weekend was the annual A.T. Trail Days celebration in Damascus, VA. Each year, this town of 3,000 residents swells to over 20,000 hiking enthusiasts.

Originally I'd planned to skip Trail Days, intending rather to stay on the A.T. to make forward progress, but everyone's enthusiasm about how I shouldn't miss it swayed my opinion .. so I decided to see what all of the hub bub was about.

I had to "yellow blaze" (AKA: drive) a chunk of trail in order to get here ... so that means I'll have to return to that section and finish it before my thru hike will be deemed complete. That said, I'm more than happy with my decision, since this past weekend was something I'll remember forever.

I've been to plenty of fairs and festivals in my day but I've never been to one that catered to and focused on nothing but backpackers! It was so cool!

All of the major gear manufacturers were present. The best thing was the event's organizers set those booths up near Tent City which was where all of the thru hikers were camped. Since "Tent City" was about a mile from the Main Street activities the reps could focus exclusively on hikers while the rest of the event's attendees enjoyed the booths set up in the more public area.

I visited the manufacturer reps and to my surprise received some outstanding customer service. My Lekki trekking poles were cleaned, free of charge, and received new baskets and tips. My Gregory backpack was repaired (sewn) where the stitching had come undone, also free of charge. I was able to trade my Petzel headlamp for a better and brighter Princeton Tec headlamp, just because they want their brand to be carried, used and "advertised" by thru hikers. The best interaction I had was with the Thermarest rep. My new Neo Air mattress has been leaking air for the past few weeks. It was a slow leak but pretty annoying regardless. They tested it and determined that the issue was a manufacturing defect and replaced it, free of charge!

I also got a great deal on a 30 degree "summer" bag and a lighter, smaller backpack so I'm pretty sure my days of schlepping a 50 pound pack days are over. The tradeoff was having to send a lot of cold weather gear home ... But summer is coming so hopefully I won't be too cold between now and then.

Trail Days was a great opportunity to make new friends as well as catch up with others I've met on the trail. There were updates regarding those who have left the trail due to injury, illness, life circumstances or simply due to the fact that they got sick of hiking for one reason or another. The "Three Musketeers" also known as Boston Dan, Hemi and Zenon broke up this weekend. Dan headed back to Hot Springs, NC to pick up the trail where he left off, Zenon is headed back to Texas and Hemi continued up the trail, from here. I wish them all continued success.

Well it's getting late and I want to get an early start tomorrow. It's time to walk through the 460+ miles of Virginia AT. It's such a long section hikers sometimes get the "Virginia Blues." As of right now ... I'm really looking forward to it.

Happy Trails everyone!


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone


  1. I'm glad you got some early birthday presents, enjoyed yourself and created priceless memories. I hope things get more enjoyable from here on out! :-)

  2. Girlfriend, AKA "Yahtzee"... that was the BEST POST ! OMG... I can feel the enthusiasm all the way from Cali ! Glad you opted to partake in AT Trail Days... seems wayyy too cool to miss !!!! I'm a huge summer fest bumpkin too. Take it ALL IN.. and keep enjoying the sweetness of your progress !
    ICE< ICE< baby !! :)

  3. glad you're having a great time, & happy early birthday :)

  4. My favorite flavor is FREE, so it looks like you got a lot of nice stuff. Hope it works for you. Glad you are in the Commonwealth and hope to catch up with you soon. Mel

  5. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU... HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU !! Today IS your special day, and I hope it's filled w/ sunshine, laughter, good food, and plenty of serendipitious moments that you'll treasure forever !

    Can't wait to read what lies ahead for you !! Keep on keepin' on... and have a SPLENDID Day !
    * POSTED ON MAY 19th * I'll raise my glass to you this evening my dear ! :)

  6. Hello from Uncle Johnny's. Boston Dan was here and told me to say Hello. Very nice guy we took him took him to Carver's Gap to head northbound. I hope that you really enjoy the highlands with the wild horses. Bear came back and met up with his group and headed northbound. They left late yesterday from Erwin. They all want to say hello and they will see you on the trail. Tell Itchy Balls, Warrior and Pappi hi. Take care post more photo's of your trip. Glenn

  7. Happy Birthday, Trail Vixen! Maybe just Vix for short? My wish for you is smooth, meadow-y fields, blue skies, cool breezes, friendly faces, no bears, and some chocolate along the way. Thinking of you today! All the best for the new year ahead! Blaze on! We love you, Bonnie

  8. Okay, wait, if your new birthday name were to be, say,...Appalachian Trail Vixen, then your initials would be ATV...get it? :) B

  9. Honey, I hope you had a wonderful weekend and a Very Happy Birthday. Iam enjoying your trip. Aunt Dolores

  10. Hey Cuz Happy Birthday to you. Enjoy all the pic's you post. Still keeping my photo journal of your adventure. This is as much fun for us as it is for you. But I'm sitting here with a nice hot cup of coffee and slippers . Again Happy Birthday.Hugs Connie

  11. Happy Birthday, Lori! I hope you had a fabulous birthday. I'll have a drink on your behalf!

  12. Happy Birthday! and what a way to spend it! I'm catching up on your blog, (been a little behind) and am amazed and in awe of your journey.
    I've been reading your posts to my husband - we are both enjoying it.
    Keep safe and Get Your Hike On!
    Miss ya!

  13. ROCKSTAR!!!
    BRIAN W.


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