Trail Days 2008 – Damascus, Hiker Parade, Hiker Talent Show

May 18, 2008 at 10:02 pm 5 comments

Yesterday, I headed down to Damascus, Virginia for Trail Days! Thanks to the Roanoke Outdoors Club, I found a carpool buddy for my journey. We spent about eight hours in beautiful Damascus, saw of a lot of interesting events (not to mention warddrobes) and I took a great deal of pictures.

Trail Town, USA

Not only has Damascus been deemed the “Friendliest Town on the Trail”, but I have often heard it simply referred to as “the Trail Town.” Having never been there, I didn’t understand what differentiated Damascus from other communities the trail passed through. How was it different from Pearisburg or Catawba? Now, I know the answer.

When the Appalachian Trail comes to Damascus, it doesn’t just have an incidental road crossing. The trail physically travels through the small town! Blazes occupy telephone poles, are embedded into brick walkways and even made a cameo on the sign for a local business.

A switchback blaze on a telephone pole

Blank white vertical bricks in the sidewalk are reminiscent of blazes

Mount Rogers Outfitters has a blaze on their sign

The community and town really embrace their relationship with the trail. A number of the business had names related to the trail. Blue Blaze Bike Rental. Trails Ice Cream and Coffee. Hikers Inn. Churches advertised their affection for hikers and local residents offered up their yards as campgrounds.

One of the many accomodations in Damascus

First Baptist Loves Hikers

Tent Space Available

Rounding out Damascus’ thoughtfulness and hospitality toward hikers, I saw a sign I had never seen before:

Free Showers

Hiker Parade

When I saw “Hiker Parade” on the event schedule, I didn’t expect all that much. Hikers walking down the street. Even when I saw onlookers with water guns, I still did not fully anticipate what was to come.

The parade started off innocently enough with police cars, Santa Claus and a collection of beauty queens of varying ages. Then it came time for the hikers. They grouped themselves according to the year they completed their thru hike. That’s when the real excitement began. Kids and adults hurled water balloons or unleashed the fury of their Super Soakers. Some hikers ducked, some hikers ran, some hikers just stood and waved the attack on and some hikers fought back with water pistols of their own.

When the parade started, the street was completely dry. When the parade ended, the pavement was wet with scattered snippets of colored latex.

Kids are ready

Onlookers reload. They brought an entire wagon full of water balloons

Hiker fights back with a water… guitar

Hiker Talent Show

In the afternoon, there was a Hiker Talent Show. There were about thirteen acts in the competition. Most of them were singers and I especially enjoyed the people sharing original songs written about or written on the trail. My favorite act, however, was a stand-up comedian with the trail name Punchline (He’s also known as Johnny Millwater and has the website The highlight of his act was The Animal Balloon of Death! He blew up a really long balloon and then he swallowed it. And for his efforts, he was crowned the co-winner of the competition.

Punchline holds up the Animal Balloon of Death

Punchline eating the Animal Balloon of Death

Still eating the Animal Balloon of Death

The Colonel sings A Northbound Hike is Painless

Two members of the Andrew Johnson Mountain Trio sing

The only female soloist performs

This was my first visit to Trail Days and most definitely not my last. The whole event was warm and welcoming and extremely entertaining.

More pictures of Appalachian Trail Days can be found on my Flickr site, including more pictures of the Hiker Parade and the Hiker Talent Show.

Entry filed under: Appalachian Trail, Damascus, Hiking, Trail Days, Virginia.

The Final Virginia Appalachian Trail License Plate Design! Trail Days 2008 – Fashion

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron  |  May 19, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    I hate your blog; It’s only served to worsen my desire to quit work and hike the whole damn trail.

  • 2. Trail Days 2008 - Meadowview Farms « TGAW  |  May 21, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    […] 21, 2008 How could Trail Days possibly top the outrageous fashion, the wet crossfire of the Hiker Parade, the inspiration of Gitty Up Clogger Evan Ritchie, the excitement of the new Virginia Appalachian […]

  • 3. Glen 'the Colonel' Davis  |  July 16, 2008 at 9:20 pm

    Great pictures of Trail Days! You even left proof on the Web that I was there… Thanks for the link to my Trail Journal too. I’ll see you up the trail…

  • 4. Christine "opy99"  |  August 22, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    I was looking to find the date for trail days this year 2008 or 2009. Thank you so much….

  • 5. Appalachian Trail Stomp « TGAW  |  May 11, 2009 at 6:04 am

    […] 11, 2009 Last year at the Hiker Talent Show at Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, I discovered that Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are a musical […]


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