Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Welcome to Damascus

You know you have crossed the Mason Dixon line when signs like these start popping up.

To the stomachs of the thousands of hungry hikers, cyclists, and outdoorsy people that assembled in the small town of Damascus, VA a week ago, this was heaven.

For the past 24 years the annual Trail Days Festival has served to celebrate getting outdoors (specifically hiking the Appalachian Trail), reunite thru-hikers from years past, show off the area's crafts and culture, and generally turn this sleepy town into a week long circus - bouncy castles and bungee trampolines included.

Connie and I traveled down with giant suitcases full of new gear to show off to current hikers and visitors from afar. We made the most of the trip by spending the night of our booth setup a day out on the Grayson Highlands section of the AT. We were able to fit in a 10 mile hike with only one glimpse of a feral pony.

We met a lot of characters hiking the AT this year (and years past) who all knew the value of great equipment. It was a pleasure to meet so many people genuinely interested in all of the designs we've put so much work into perfecting. I even felt like a bit of a celebrity at moments, having my mug recognized by several people from the recent ads in Backpacker and Outside.

It was great to see and catch up with so many of my classmates (GA-ME '03) who showed up for the festivities. Awol, who I never actually crossed paths with while thru-hiking, sent me away with his newly published AT thru-hiking guide. Though I haven't had a chance to try it out, I am incredibly impressed with how much truly useful information he was able to pack into one book.

Between beautiful weather this year and a slowed economy, it sounds like there are more hikers out there than ever. From thru-hiker accounts, the shelters are all full. I hope that means more people are taking advantage of the shelters they've been carrying on their backs.


1 comment:

ianm said...

I was bummed I didn't get a chance to come down and hang out with you guys -- couldn't get off work!