Day 65 – Friday, May 13: Damascus, VA, Trail Days, 806.1 total AT miles.

Note: I’m writing this post from a Pizza Hut near Lexington, VA. We just returned the rental and are about to hitch to the trail head near Buena Vista.

I woke up wet – not just a little wet, but absolutely drenched. My phone was laying face down in a puddle. Apparently, I accidentally left a vent open on my rainfly and the rain water ran down my tent walls and started pooling on the floor.

I grabbed my phone. Despite the fact that it was in a Lifeproof case, it was obviously wet and wouldn’t turn on. I plugged it in to charge and threw it in a bag of couscous to help it dry out. Not a good start to my day.

After a good half hour of cleaning up the puddle and drying off my gear, I finally stepped out of my tent. I was surrounded by tents – it kind of reminded my of some of the campsites I made early on in this hike. Aside from the trail that wanders through the woods, there wasn’t a single space left to pitch a tent.

Savage was already up and jogging. Shaggy grabbed my wet clothes (he still needed to do laundry) and Black Santa and I set off to explore Trail Days.

I walked past Mellow Camp and made my way to the toilets next to Tent City. After a quick bathroom break, Black Santa and I walked over to the gear vendor tents. It was so cool – nearly every major manufacturer was present. I chatted with the rep from Gregory (we actually met on the trail just shy of Max Patch). Shaggy met up with us and the three of us started entering contests – it seemed like everybody was trying to win free gear.

I started chatting with a rep from Mammut, a clothing manufacturer, and Klymate, a sleeping pad company. I told him about my website and who I was hiking with. He gave me a brand new hiking shirt and sleeping pad after promising to send him some photos of us hiking in his gear once we get back on the AT. Awesome!

I returned to my tent to change and check on my phone. No dice – it still didn’t turn on. We met Savage back at camp – she had exciting news. Push, who was originally 99% sure she wasn’t going to Trail Days, had just gotten a hitch and was heading to meet us.

I left camp and walked over to the food vendors – I was getting really hungry. After lunch, I made my way over to another section of gear vendors and entered more contests.

Throughout the day, I kept running into hikers I knew. I hung out with Moon Boots and Canuck for a while – they’re still hiking together and are doing pretty good.

As afternoon drug into evening, the parties really started ramping up. I walked from campfire to campfire meeting people and hanging out. It was starting to get late when I realized I was lost. Trail Days is that big. I wandered around in the woods looking for Mellow Camp for about an hour.

I finally found a police officer and asked if he knew where I was. He pointed me in the right direction and I soon found my tent. I instantly checked my phone – it still wasn’t turning on.

After chatting with Black Santa about our plans for tomorrow, I fell asleep.

Breakfast: 20 gram Powerbar protein bar (peanut butter flavored)

Lunch: gigantic grilled chicken burrito

Dinner: the rest of my grilled chicken burrito

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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