Trail Days. where thousands of sore, dirty, tired some current, most past hikers converge on a small town at the bottom of Virginia and the town goes into party mode.
Tents spawn wherever the grass will accommodate them, especially in a lawless, apart from the sniffer dogs and cops in hummers, region called ‘tent city’. Infrastructure is stretched to the limit with the churches and portable facilities filling the void, whilst emergency services such as the fire brigade become large mess halls to fill the hungry masses.
Sheila and I rode into town on the Friday slightly apprehensive about camping in tent city as we were looking for something a little quieter. Luckily as we drove through I spotted Lady Slipper, now renamed Thirsty. He and Bush Goggles had found a perfect camp spot by the river behind the Lazy Fox which was close to town, fairly secluded and the running water provided a nice background accompaniment which drowned out the snorers.
Virginia Trail Days Photo Gallery
The rest of the day was spent checking out the retailers of which there were plenty. A theory of one of the hikers was that the retailers see the THRU-hikers as an opportunity market as walkers put the equipment through extended wear and tear and then act as good advertising, both on the trail and when they get back home. In that regard they tend to treat A.T. hikers as VIP customers and are more than happy to fix or replace gear for them I’ve heard stories of people getting worn shoes and hiking poles replaced multiple times which makes me a bit sad that the makers of my Australian gear were unlikely to ship replacements to the US.
We also went to a medical station where I found out that my heart rate and blood pressure had risen to much higher levels, probably due to being stuck in town with thousands of other hikers, and that I’m down to 85 kgs which means I’ve lost 10 kilos so far. That was pretty much it for the day apart from catching up with people and going for a few drinks later that night.
Saturday began with ‘Mountain Mocha Bourbon’ which was a hair of the dog starter created by ‘Pops’ with fairly obvious ingredients.
Sheila and I then went to a talk by Jennifer Pharr Davis, the current holder of the speed record of the A.T. at 46.5 days. http://blueridgehikingco.com/
She spoke very eloquently for an hour and didn’t seem that crazy despite walking 47 miles a day on her last hike.
After that, the ‘Lion King’s’ 2003 movie – ‘Walking with Freedom’ which was great as a snapshot of the trail, so I could reminisce over the ground that I recognized and quake in terror when I saw what was up ahead. At 2 pm the major event ‘Hiker Parade’ began, where all the hikers walk down the main street and get bombarded with water balloons, pistols and cannons by the waiting public. I managed to catch a couple of balloons coming my way but sadly I didn’t get to nail the kids who threw them at me instead my aim was off and I watered some concrete.
After some food, we watched the Hiker Talent Show where most contestants were hikers from previous years, as I didn’t recognize too many current hikers out there. Finally to cap off a big day we saw the premiere of the Lion King’s new movie ‘An Ocean to Ocean’ which was his hike along the American Discovery Trail. We timed our arrival well as the filmmaker turned up in a limo to a makeshift red carpet entrance which I caught on camera. The movie itself didn’t rate as well as his first because although more polished it was much more of a solo endurance hike so it didn’t really
That unfortunately is the way of America, if you don’t have your own laptop, tablet, blogreader, smart phone or other miscellaneous device that uses wifi, you are off the interweb grid.
Still I can use this computer in 15 minute doses until I get chucked off so I’ll try to update now.
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