Nestled in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Virginia/North Carolina border sits the small mountain town of Damascus. Every year, this quirky town plays host to Appalachian Trail Days. The festival, now in its 32nd year, draws current and former thru hikers from all over the world. As is often the case, we had no idea what to expect out of the festival but we left with memories of a weekend we’ll never forget.On Thursday, we arrived in Damascus to kick off the weekend and grab a little breakfast. We stopped in Mojo’s Trailside Cafe and Coffee House to get our morning fuel. It was immediately evident that the stoke was high for the weekend. By this time of the year, most AT thru hikers are well north of Damascus. All over town, shuttles and trucks full of hitchhikers were dropping people off for the party.
By Thursday afternoon, we were headed out of town to set up for what would be our first taste of trail magic. We took the van and the Blue Ridge Outdoors booth to the parking area where the AT crosses State Route 421. The rest of the day was spent handing out cold drinks and sandwiches to hungry hikers. We underestimated how rewarding it would be to do something so simple. It was a pleasure to see the smiling faces and hear the stories of all the people who passed by. It was even more rewarding when the same individuals who stopped by to eat a sandwich or two came by our booth throughout the weekend to thank us for a second, or even third, time.
Weekends like Trail Days have a funny way of restoring our faith in humanity. The entire community is about spreading love and helping one another out. Throughout the weekend we were floored by how nice the community was. All weekend people stopped by our booth to tell us how much they appreciate the magazine. We even had hikers stop by who had been featured in BRO articles in the past.
Trail Days is a funky and unique festival. There is a hiker parade where many of the hikers dress in drag, a hiker prom, and a talent show. The parade, which we were lucky enough to attend with some locals, was an absolute blast. While it is slated as a parade, it’s more of a giant water gun fight between hikers and spectators. This year, as soon as we opened fire, the sky opened up on us—an absolute downpour with hail and all. It didn’t matter much. We all needed a shower anyway.
At night you can grab ice cream and listen to the live music or head out to tent city where there’s plenty of weird to go around. Roxy took the opportunity to join the drum circle and play a little didgeridoo.
We’d like to extend our most sincere thank you to everyone who showed us love and hospitality this past weekend. We’ll definitely see you next year!
If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.