Friday, May 20, 2011
Mr. Black and Capt Planet at the Hiker Parade
I recently backtracked to attend Trail Days, the biggest hiker event along the AT, located in Damascus, VA.
The event has a reputation of being a big reunion celebration, which proved true. I'd also heard horror stories about Tent City (a large field where most hikers pitch their tents). I didn't want my tent peed on, or my gear stolen, so I opted to tent outside a B&B.
Pace, Porter, Toto and I rented cars to return for the event on May 13. After a night of "carbing up" (drinking beer), and singing karaoke (Eddie Money), Pace and Porter drove to DC to meet up with other friends and family. Friday, I hit up the vendor booths for some free loot. I scored an OR hat (pink of course), a few tee shirts, a new penny alcohol stove (Thanks Ray at http://www.firelightstove.com/), a harmonica (which I'm trying to learn to play) and a Granite Gear pint glass. There was lots of free food all weekend, free showers, a talent show, but my favorite part was the Hiker Parade. All the current hikers, and past hikers lined up and marched down Main St. Instead of throwing candy to the locals lining the street, we threw water ballons. The locals were prepared with hoses, water guns and water ballons. The weather was hot, so it was a great event. The Gregory backpack people gave me new shoulder straps for my backpack, and showed me how to wear the pack more comfortably. Then it started pouring, so I ducked under their tent and where they provided me with beer and dinner! I also met some reps from an ultralight company based in Biddeford, ME. Mike and Trey showed me their awesome, ultralight backpacks, tents, stuff sacks, and pillow! Check them out at www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/ 2011 Backpacker Magazine named the HMG Windrider the Best Ultralight Pack, and their tent is the lightest!
Saturday, Nature Boy hiked into town (he's attempting to break the record for the fastest unsupported thru hike- 60 days). I met him at Hiker Hostel and mentioned him in an earlier blog. He's catching up to me quickly!
Overall, it was great to make new friends, and see all my friends that I had left behind. Also nice to take two full days off hiking!
I'm in Waynesboro, VA now, mile 854. Today is my 2 month mark! Yesterday was also my longest day ever- 35 miles! I'm almost halfway, and going to visit my brother Martin in DC soon. A few days ago, we were pounded by rain and hail, but hiked 21 miles to Buena Vista and took a hotel for the night. Porter and Pace (though they are REALLY old) have proved to be great company. Lately, they've been packing out liters of wine, jiffy pop, and a wide assortment of candy bars. They always share, so every night is a great time. We had a blind taste test of Oats N Honey bars- Nature Valley brand vs. Kroger vs. Family Dollar. Nature Valley took 1st, then Family Dollar's version, then Kroger's. After two months without sushi, I finally got my sushi fix here tonight.