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2013 Trail Days

21 May 2013 10:48 am0 commentsViews: 30

2013 Trail Days was phenomenal.

While an article cannot do justice to the awesomeness in Damascus, I am sharing with you highlights in hopes that you will be excited into attending next year.

The major components of 2013 Trail Days were as follows:

1. Tent City

Camping out in tent city is an experience all it’s own. Never before had I been awakened at 3AM to hundreds of people singing the national anthem and actually been happy about it. After falling asleep to the chorus of bucket drummers at the edge of the woods, the mid-night (early morning) signing seemed a fitting culmination to the evening’s bonfire and whooping excitement. Tent city provided a good opportunity to mingle with other hikers and was a celebration ground for all current thru-hikers who had made the pilgrimage to camp out together here. During daylight hours, Tent City boasted the mobile workshops of gear manufacturers providing free repairs to thru-hikers, even when the gear was not from their own company. To name a few, Leki was there repairing trekking poles, Princeton Tec was there for headlamps, and a number of manufactures such as Gregory, Osprey, and Etowah were there with sewing machines and all to help make pack repairs. These companies gained serious respect for their generous contributions to the trail community.

2. Vendor booths at Damascus Town Park

The AT runs both through the heart of Damscus and through its town park. During Trail Days, the park becomes a bustle of hikers and non-hikers alike. The gazebo stage boasted a number of live music performances for people to enjoy while they enjoyed food vendors and the atmosphere of festivity. The North side of the park was filled with craft vendors selling everything from local honey to wooden puzzles to outdoor photography to Spam-can-guitars. The South end of the park was a celebration of all things outdoors. There a number of trail and conservation organizations with booths as well as a mouth watering array of pitched tents, tarps, and hammocks; cutting edge packs; and miscellaneous backpacking gear on display at the booths of corporate vendors. As an outdoor enthusiast, you can’t help but be happier than a kid in a candy shop walking through this area at Trail Days.

3. Backpacking Speakers

You have a chance to be exposed to profoundly powerful outdoor knowledge by attending the speakers at Trail Days. There were two main speaking venues, Damascus Methodist Church and the Old Rock School Auditorium. At Damascus Methodist, I saw several talks introduced by Warren Doyle. In each introduction, Warren shared that the educational programming was in stark contrast to the bustling vendor booths focused on tangible things. He was right. The ideas covered at these talks by Jennifer Pharr Davis and by Warren impacted me on a much deeper level than the playground of awesome gear I was exposed to across town. The talks at the Rock School were also of very high quality. I had the privilege of hearing from Gene Espy who completed the second ever thru-hike of the AT in 1951, Bill “Skywalker” Walker on his recent trek of the Annapurna Circuit, and Paul Stutzman who wrote Hiking Through and Biking Across America. I am immensely grateful to have attended these talks and that such great care was taken to find incredible speakers to deliver their message.

Any single one of the three components above would justify the trip to Damascus for Trail Days.

Knowing that you get all three really makes the decision a simple one: Make it a point to be at Trail Days in 2014.

In the mean time check out the 3 Coolest Gear Items I saw at 2013 Trail Days.

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