Thursday, May 21, 2015

Damascus Trail Days 2015

We didn't make it to Damascus Trail Days last year, because we were trying to make miles, but this year we decided we needed to experience the festival in all its craziness and what an awesome time we had.  We got off trail on Wednesday 13 May at Front Royal and spent the night at our Trail Angel Deb's house in Harrisonburg, VA.  Thursday we headed south to Damascus, picking up RHOTRA and Tortuga, who we met in the Shenandoah, in Buena Vista and giving them a ride to and from Trail Days. We partied hardy, slept too little, ran into fellow thru-hikers from 2014 and met AT celebrities, it was a great time!!

We ran into Atlas during the Hiker Parade on Saturday.  We met Atlas, a French Canadian, in Maine after we flip-flopped. He stopped and joined us for lunch and ended up spending the afternoon  hearing of his adventures of being interrogated by the US Border Patrol because they thought he was a possible terrorist and discussing how we would fix the world.

We met Chewy last year just north of Hot Springs on Lover's Leap when he joined us for the night at our campsite.  Chewy previously thru-hiked the AT but was section hiking part of the trail when we met him last year.  This year Chewy is thru-hiking with Warrior Hike and we ran into him at the Big Agnes tent.  I ended up hanging out with the Warrior Hike crew for the evening and had a great time at the bonfire and drum circle.

We met Travis/Yukon at Sassafrass Gap in Georgia last year.  He is a former Airborne Ranger and fellow paratrooper and made my day when he came hiking into the campsite rocking his Ranger Panties (short black silky shorts).  We hit it off and enjoyed a great evening of swapping stories, etc.  Hiking the trail has done Travis good and it was great to see him again and in a much better place.

All the former and current AT hikers lining up for the Hiker Parade on Saturday.

The Hiker Parade winding its way thru Damascus.

Hendo, Bill Irwin's wife and Hendo's Mom
Bill Irwin was the first blind person to thru-hike the AT in 1990 with the aid of his Dog Guide, Orient.  Bill passes away in 2014, but his wife was at Trail Days selling Bill's book "Blind Courage" and promoting the making of it into a movie.

Bob Peoples, Hendo, Warren Doyle and Hendo's Mom
Bob Peoples is an amazing maintainer of the AT, having organized the Hardcore Trail Maintenance Crews for the last 16 years.  Warren Doyle is is currently completing his 17th thru-hike of the AT this year, and is well know all along the trail.

Another picture with the wonderful Bob Peoples.  Hikers often give Bob a hard time for the switchbacks he has put in along the trail and the joke is that "Everytime Bob Peoples puts in a switchback, an angel gets its wings".  Well I am a huge fan of Bob Peoples and his switchbacks and was happy to be a part of this year's Hardcore Trail Maintenance Crew.

Dan and Mike St. Pierre founders and owners of Hyperlite Mountain Gear, the maker of Mom's backpack.  Mom was in need of a new lightweight backpack when we flipped up to Maine.  We couldn't find anything in any gear store and were referred to Hyperlite in Biddeford, ME.  Dan graciously met us at their store/factory after hours on a Friday to sell us a pack for Mom.  I am squeezing every bit of life out of my crappy GoLite backpack and can't wait to buy myself a new Hyperlite Mountain Gear backpack as well.

David "AWOL" Miller the author of The AT Guide.  The bible of the Appalachian Trail.  AWOL's guide has everything you need to have an amazing hike along the AT.

Zach Davis, author of Appalachian Trials my favorite book about how to hike the Appalachian Trail and such a great guy in person!!

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