AT 2017: Day 40, Trail Days in Damascus, Va.

Hey, hey, come right away, come and join the party every day

Trail Days parade

Today was a time to relax, rejuvenate, reconnect and resupply.

In other words, it was time to revive a worn-out hiker.

The location for this recovery to take place was Trail Days.

DateSaturday, May 20, 2017
WeatherWarm and humid, and a large thunderstorm with heavy rain in the afternoon
Today's Miles0.0
Trip Miles532.6

This was my first zero day (zero hiking miles) since I left Davenport Gap nearly three weeks ago. It was also the first chance since then to spend time with my wife Kim.

The day started with a trip to Walmart. We didn't do a complete resupply at this time, but bought a few things we would need during the day.

Then we went on to Damascus. If I were hiking there, it would have taken me nearly all day. Driving, it took 20 minutes.

Shortly after we arrived, we ran into Miss Bobbie. She said Yard Dart was nearby, but we didn't see him.

We also said hello to Tentpole. I hadn't seen him in a couple weeks, and had been wondering if he was still on the trail.

Trail Days

Much of the activity at Trail Days takes place in the city park, where I had walked through last Tuesday. We wandered the festival area where booths were set up by gear manufacturers and hiking organizations.

We had nice chats with some of the vendors, including the marketing manager of Farm to Feet socks.

When we stopped by the ZPacks booth I decided to purchase a lumbar pad, with hopes that it would improve the way my pack rode on my shoulders. Whenever I have stretched the time between resupplies by carrying more than three days worth of food, the pack has become less comfortable.

We also ran into more people I knew, including a guy I worked with before I left for the trail.

And I made good on a promise. We had a nice visit in the ALDHA tent with Pothole, Tweety and Trapper Lee.

As it was getting closer to lunch time, we decided to make our way to Mojos Trailside Cafe, which was on the opposite end of town, but at the start of the parade.

Foot washing

Before we got there, we discovered a large, white tent in the parking lot of a Baptist church. Volunteers were offering to wash the feet of hikers. This act has religious symbolism, but was also very soothing for tired feet.

Signing Class of 2017 banner

After lunch we hung out in the parking lot of the restaurant, because that was the staging area for the parade. A large banner was provided for Class of 2017 hikers to sign.

Class of 2017 banner

I thought it was interesting to see many names I didn't recognize, as well as many names of hikers I recognized but had not seen in a long time.

But such is the trail. There are many more people hiking it than I will ever meet because we started at different times, are going in different directions, and are hiking at different paces.

Many of the hikers here today were far ahead of me on the trail and came back for Trail Days, or have not yet reached here hiking, but jumped ahead to be here for the event.

Preparing to start the parade

The Class of 2017 was the last entry in the parade, so it took a while for us to begin walking. Still, no one seemed to mind. It was a festive time.

Everyone was enjoying the moment. Some hikers were wearing odd clothes purchased at a local thrift shop.

As we milled around and waited, the sky began to get cloudier. A couple rumbles of thunder were heard off in the distance.

Once we started walking I saw a few more friends I had not seen in several weeks, including Mountain Squid, who was volunteering at Springer Mountain the day I started, and Quiet Man, whom I last saw at Fontana Dam.

Trail Days parade

One of the traditions of Trail Days happens during the parade, when the locals shoot water from squirt guns and hoses at the hikers, giving them a shower they need.

Unfortunately, we were all about to get a shower we didn't need. The sky quickly became dark and rain began to fall, first lightly, then heavier and heavier.

It rained so hard that by the time we reached the other end of the parade route, the street was filling with water.

Kim and I were able to find each other without much delay and we quickly headed to our truck. We didn't leave town right away, though. We first made a stop at Damascus Brewery, where we met a few more hikers.

Returning to Abingdon, we went back to Walmart so I could resupply for the next part of my hike. While we were in the store, a young couple looked at the items in my shopping cart and said to me, "Are you a thru-hiker?"

They were also thru-hikers, Real Estate and Mumbles McGee, who were recently married. We had a good laugh about how you can tell a thru-hiker by what he or she has in a shopping cart.

See that girl, barefootin' along,
Whistlin' and singin', she's a carryin' on.
There's laughing in her eyes, dancing in her feet,
She's a neon-light diamond and she can live on the street.

Hey hey, hey, come right away
Come and join the party every day.

Well everybody's dancin' in a ring around the sun
Nobody's finished, we ain't even begun.
So take off your shoes, child, and take off your hat.
Try on your wings and find out where it's at.

Hey hey, hey, come right away
Come and join the party every day.


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.