5/17 Mohawks and Reunions

May 17, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Damascus Trail Days is the biggest event on the trail. It is a time for hikers to relax, celebrate reaching the landmark of Virginia and completing almost a quarter of the trail, and, mainly, to party. Hopefully this helps to explain our complete lack of social outreach. That, and we immediately went out of service and stayed out for a week after Damascus. Of the things you can count on on the trail – good people, ‘great value’ oatmeal in every hiker box, and inevitable rain – phone service is not one of them.  Neither is forgiving terrain, predictable bowels, or innocent, dry white clouds (never trust a cloud).  But that’s for another blog post.  Right now we’re talking about the pandemonium of the multi-day hiker fest that simultaneously benefits and abuses the small town of Damascus, VA for about a week every year.

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A small slice of Tent City

We woke up today cautiously at 7AM.  We were expecting to pay for our choices yesterday.  Experience in the real world had taught us that we couldn’t expect to hike 22 miles while drinking beer and then rehydrate with rum without paying for it. But, despite all of our misgivings, we were absolutely not hung over.  We felt like we were in college, ready to spring out of bed and go for a run after a night of debauchery.  We had virtually no physical repercussions for fully embracing Damascus the night before, and, in fact, we couldn’t sleep past 7 even though we had been sitting by the fire less than 8 hours ago.  We decided we were now invincible, possibly bitten by a super-powered tick, and we eagerly embraced the goal of feeding our superhuman bodies immediately.

We grabbed what we needed and headed downtown in our usual town attire of shorts over our longjohns or bathing suit bottoms, respectively.  It was nice for a change though to feel as though we had dressed appropriately.  We were surrounded by a sea of frumpy, disheveled, dirty hikers wearing everything from rain gear to bandanas for clothing, and smelling anywhere from moderately ripe to completely spoiled.  In fact, a pungent hiker funk had infiltrated the entire town, slipping its earthy fingers into each poor business as it passed.  Several of the men were actually quite well dressed after raiding the local thrift store, and we found ourselves passed by blazers, ties, and the occasional large bearded man in a formal gown. In the midst of the chaos, we located a lot of our old hiker bubble, including Sprouts, Honey, and Mooner! Genie and Arrow were and about as well, and Shanks, Drop Bear, and Yellowshirt waved from a passing car as they sped down the street.  It was like the entirety of the trail society, which we had previously been apart of in small groups at shelters or one-on-one conversations as we hiked, and which we had followed eagerly by log book scrawls and word of mouth, had suddenly been condensed into one square mile.  And everyone was hungry.

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Lots of good looking people at trail days. We finally found Genie and Sprouts among them.

We ate breakfast at the firehouse but weren’t sated for long, and spent most of the day eating everything we could find.  The town was full of not only hikers but also trail angels, church groups, and entrepreneurs that all scrambled to feed and help the wild unwashed masses.  We heard a talk by Gene Espy, the second person to hike the AT, found some amazing care packages that had been mailed to us at the post office (Thanks Dulce and Mrs. Chapman!) and wandered aimlessly through the gear booths and food booths, coveting everything we saw.  The mission was giving away free haircuts and I got a mohawk from a very nice Southern lady who was a little nervous about shaving my head.  You could win a baby chick (which Coon did win and named Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  It will be raised on the trail and put to work as either an egg source or alarm clock) and several hikers got free gear at the booths.  We headed back to the campground eventually for free food (the great unifier), went back to town for more food (which the restaurant we went to actually ran out of before we could order second meals), and then returned to the campground to hear some bluegrass music and dance around a bonfire.    We were very overstimulated, and welcomed sleep when we finally escaped to our tent early in the morning.

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Ready for the summer weather, whenever it shows up.