Celebrating 75 Years of the AT ...

The weekend of May 18-20 (yes, I realize that was 2 weeks ago), Deal & I traveled down to Damascus, VA for Trail Days, an annual celebration of long-distance hiking.

This could not have happened without 3 things:
1) Scott/Redwing & Marie/Hopeful, the former caretakers, coming in for the weekend to cover the incredibly busy hostel. They told us from day 1 we should go away for Trail Days and put it on their calendar for coverage.

2) Our summer intern. Because we have more people here on a consistent basis, it's nice to have an extra set of hands for the workload!

3) Soyjoy. They paid for us to go to Trail Days (not that it is very expensive) just so we can hand out more and more Soyjoy bars!! And that we did! We handed out probably 500 bars to hungry and grateful hikers!

It was fun to be back in Damascus. For those who don't know, the trail walks right through the town, so we walked through in September. And we each ate one of these on our own. This time around, we split it and had some leftover!!

Trail Days was awesome. We really didn't know what to expect, but it exceeded our expectations. There were some really good presentations about long-distance hiking, including one from Jennifer Pharr Davis, who holds the supported hiking record for the AT ... she did it in 45 days. We did it in 141 days. Oy.
 Besides the presentations, we got to see some of our fellow Class of 2011 Thru Hikers, including 2 SOBO guys we hiked with in Maine (they ended up getting behind us and finished in November and December). We also met a bunch of other SOBOs who were behind us and said, "I know exactly who you are! I read all your shelter register entries!"

 Trail Days includes a hiker parade in which the townspeople soak the hikers. Which is why we opted out of the parade. It was really fun to watch though!

 We bonded with the vendors and all the hostel owners, exchanging stories and getting a very important lesson on the proper way to fold sheets. This has made our life so much easier.

All in all, a very awesome experience and we hope to go back sometime. It is great to be part of the trail community and not just as a hiker. There was a place for current hikers to sign in where they are on the trail ... it made us see that there is a very large bubble of people headed our way!!!!

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