View Full Version : Trail Days 2006 copywrite 5-26-06

05-26-2006, 15:25
Appalachian Trail Days 2006, what a smashing success this hiker gathering came to be. The few hikers I spoke with after wards were well pleased as well as the merchants and town folk.

I haven't been to Trail Days gathering since 2001. I had hiked into Damascus, Virginia in and around March of that year and had landed a job with Quincy's aiding their right hand handyman paint the inside of the restaurant. After being there a short period and doing some other jobs around town I went to work on the Old Grist Mill, which is now called "The Old Mill," aiding in remodeling the place into what it is today.

I'll never forget the 2001 gathering until the day I pass into eternity. Then again with the present gathering at hand I may carry both of those memories right on across to the other side where undoubtedly I will meet a few old hiking buddy's from the trail as I pass through the tunnel and into the light. I bet there is some awesome trails there. If I get there I'll probably hike on some of them.......

I had began my trek to Trail Days from Hot Springs, NC hiking to Erwin, Tn. I don't recall, but I think I only hiked 50 or so miles of the 68 or so miles between the two points. The reason for this was because I was running low on food and being the "Super Duper Hiker" I am in need of me calories to keep me motivated. Looking back though, and I hope I can remember this in my future hikes, I could have surely made it the rest of the way to Erwin with the energy I already have stored on my 5' 11" frame of a body. But the main reason I lit off the trail early was because I wanted to get to Miss Janet's Hostel so that I could arrange a ride to Appalachian Trail Days.

I arrived into Damascus on the 18Th of May, via a ride with Bonzo and his dog Rio. Riding along with us were three young gents who only had five bucks to pitch in for gas because they were trying to be as economical as they could so that they could hike all the way Kathadin. I observed they weren't very economical at the gathering though with all the food, beer and happy tobaccy that they were indulging in.

Upon our arrival we stopped into Dot's Cafe and Tavern to kick start ourselves into the mood of the whole thing....

Let me tell you hikers out there that if you ever come to a Trail Days Gathering one of the first things on your itinerary is that you must stop at Dot's. It's just the place to get you in the mood of the whole purpose of this gathering and that is to let your hair get shaggy and get tribal!.

Have you ever been to a biker run say? Maybe a mud truck run? There's not much difference only that this here is a hikers run.

The gathering is mainly for Appalachian Trail Enthusiasts, but truthfully hikers from all over converge on this one spot of ground for 4-5 days each May to have a good time, maybe even buy or sell some hiking gear and even trade a few long windy tales of the trail.

One thing to note here is the fact that some of the hikers of the AT, past or present, may one day hike some of the other major trail systems of the great U S of A!. For instance, like the Pacific Crest or the Continental Divide Trails. The Appalachian Trail to some is just the start of a bigger dream.

Anyhow after we partook of some of Dot's delicacies off to the campground we go. Now back to the 2001 gathering, the city use to allow us hikers to camp just about anyplace there was an open piece of turf. However we are now gathered about a half mile out of town, well out of earshot of the town, which is probably a good thing because of the tribal instincts that seems to take over most of our minds when we all come together at one of these events.

As I am setting up my brand new Black Diamond Mega-Lite Tee-Pee tent in pouring down rain I spot one of the "local law enjoyment officers" a riding around in our area on his little go cart. He looks me in the eye and nods like he wants to have a road side chat so to speak. So I jaunts right over there and we do the formals of greetings.

I says "How ya doin?" He says "We's are doin just fine." That told me that there were going to be more than just a few of them "law enjoyment officers" around as long as all of us hikers were around.

But really the guy seemed like a pretty cool cat. I asked him why the need for all the law? He informed me that it was mainly to keep the locals from the surrounding towns from intervening onto a good thing and causing some very unwanted problems. He said for us to just party down and have a good time but respect the fact that they have a job to do and that they were going to do the best job they could. Unfortunately, from here say more or less, there were a couple of hikers who got busted for indulging in the groovy tobaccy a little too much. The story I got is that they were near the creek smoking the stuff and one didn't look behind himself to see who he was passing the joint to, an uniformed "law enjoyment officer." Yep, that will get your hind end in slinger real fast!

So I passed the word along to a few to be merry, get tribal, have a good time but keep your eye out for the local "law enjoyment officers" because they were definitely keeping an eye on YOU!

My first night there was mostly uneventful. However I did get confronted by one of the local "Billville" clan that I had said something on Whiteblaze that had upset the whole Billville clan. Since I did not know anything about the Billville clan I could not recall saying anything but I informed the man in his drunken demeanor that if I did say something then I was prepared to accept the results or back it up! We got the case settled the next day after this gent sobered a bit and decided that it probably was not me after all.

That incident reminds me so much that there are so many people who sit at home on their 'puters who are more than willing to cuss someone, maybe even make fun of them in a destructive way over some mundane subject, but they would never show their face in a gathering such as this to back it up, never. Or if they do show up they will hide themselves behind another name and then go back home and do some more tongue lashing. These kind of people are pure sissies.......

It started raining around 7 pm so I decided to turn in and proceeded to eat all of my sweets because I have to keep my calorie intake up there so I can have me "Super Duper Hiker Instincts" available in case I ever meet me one of them "sissies." At about 7:30 I hear a swooshing of winds. In about one minute that brand new tent of mine got a good windy thrashing along with rain, lightning, and thunder! It rocked! And from the sounds of things outside someone was getting the worst end of the deal. I decided since I had come in here to relax I would do just that and went to sleep, if the tent blew away I would deal with it later. I awoke about 11:30 with the tent still intact. It sounded like the party had come just about to my front door so I decided to get out there and join them.

The next morning found me up early and heading to "Cowboys" for coffee.As soon as I get me a cup of free java I go to sit down and immediately I see about 4-5 people I knew from 2001. It was great to see them and we had a good visit. I couldn't remember their trail names, but faces I never forget.

Having gotten a ride to Cowboys and him ready to go we decide to drop by the park and see who has all set up. I run into Ron and Laura form "Harpers Ferry Outfitters" and their dog Sparkles. That dog never has forgotten me. You see I gave Sparkles to Laura in September 2001 after I had hiked into Harpers Ferry and landed a job at Ridgefield Farm and Orchards over by Shepardstown, WV. Lee and Gretchen already had two dogs and didn't want another on the scene.

I returned to the campground around noon and "Trail Angel Mary" had cooked up some vittles for all of us starving souls. Now let me tell you a bit about this fine sister. This sweetness is from Duncannon, Pa and she loves us hikers. She is probably one of the most giving persons you thru-hikers will ever encounter in and around Duncannon. She remembers a time when she too was in the wilderness and the kindness that others bestowed upon her and now she is just passing it along. Remember that, receive what these "Angels" like Mary do for you because there will come a time when it is your turn to give and don't just turn the other cheek and hope someone else will step up, just reach in that pocket of yours and do it.

I asked Mary why does she do all this giving? Her eyes sparkled and misted over and she replied "This makes me feel so good." Instantly I loved her.

Some of you users and abusers of the trail count your steps lightly around Mary.......

After getting my fill of that good cooking it was off to see "Southbounders." A fictional movie of three hikers hiking from Kathadin to Springer that was produced by Ben Wagner. Man I tell you that movie brought back memories. I cried a bit and laughed a bit. I thought it was a splendid job of film making. You know what the trip about the whole movie is? As I was sitting there I began to notice how familiar the actors seemed to me. Then it dawned on me that I was in Hot Springs in early November 2003 when they were filming the post office scene there. Yeah, one of the locals and I were standing across the street wondering what they were making a movie about? He said "I hear tell that they were shooting a scene down at the hot tubs, I betcha it's porno flick!" I replied "Probably is......." Excellent job Ben!

If your a hiker of the AT and haven't seen it, then go........

I done a bit of socializing for awhile and then around 9 pm I decided to turn in.I just couldn't seem to get in the mood of the gathering. I'm just not the party hog I use to be so I just kinda reclused myself.

At about 11 pm I began having this dream of a black bear that was holding down this guitar by the neck with one paw and he is plucking the strings with the other. I start talking to myself in the dream. I says "Wanderer this is weird, very weird. This must be a dream. It is time to wake up buddy! Wake up right now because this can't be real! real bears just don't play guitars, they are more than likely to smash them to smithereens! Wake up now!!!"

As soon as I come to I hear a banjo and a mandolin plucking out a beautiful ballad! that jump started me and out of the tent I came to full attention! These three folk are a playin right there in front of my tent with all the other tents surrounding us!

I get out there clapping my hands and start stomping my size 14's to the beat! All at once I hear a fiddle and very young fine looking hiker babe that is hiking the trail this year comes upon the scene a playin' that get fiddle and man could that lass rock!

I mean this is some of the most awesome sounds I had heard in a long time! They're really getting down and clicking with each other and the crowd starts gathering! People are coming out of their tents and out of the woods!

Then here came a young man that is traveling the United States in his car and he has a Dobro, a guitar that you play with a steel bar. He joins right in and man let me tell you that really livened things up!

I turn and look and right beside me is my friend "ATTROLL" and his friend "Fishin' Fred." Fred seemed to bring the the whole thing to life with his good natured southern way of talking to everyone in the crowd. It was just an awesome scene!

As they are a playin' along I start hearing the drums from the drum circle and they seem to be in tempo with the music at hand. After standing there and letting all these different sounds waft through my brain I decide to head off to the drum circle.

What an experience! i still got the tribal bluegrass a playin' in my head as I near the circle. When I come upon the circle Miss Janet's ship is all lit up in the background with Kon-tiki torches blazing the way to the entrance.

"Maybe I'll just mosey on over there. I bet there is some fine young hiker babes on the other side of them beads? Yeah, I think I will......"

As I enter the curtain of beads I spy me a nice young tall hiker lass, she has her back to me. I'm looking her back side over pretty good and fantasizing about what she must really look like when all at once she turns and I notice she has the fullest beard I have ever seen on any hiker babe! My thinking just didn't seem to click at the moment. This young lass is wearing a dress is she not? No, no I guess not. I guess that is not a young lady in a dress after all. Nope, it's got to be one of them there nice young good looking from behind but ugly as wombat up front hiker dudes in a durn "hiking kilt!" I don't care what you call it, a dress is a dress! Man what in the world is this hiking world coming to? Heck fire! The girls are wearing pants on the trail more than the guys are these days! Am I next?

I return to the drum circle.

Man, I'm telling you those drummers had to be pros. "BOMBBA, BOMBBA, BOOMA, BOOMA, CLICKITY CLACK, CLICKITY CLACK, BOMBBA, BOOM, BOOM.... and so on." Hikers are in a big circle surrounding hikers that are a dancin' around a big ole bon fire. Everyone's in sync too with the beat of the drums! I mean this group has gone beyond tribal, they are now in the twilight zone. The whole scene reminds me of a clip from the movie "Apocalypse Now." The outer circle are just swaying their bodies towards the dancers. Everyone's just got the same movements. Even the law enjoyment officers on the outer edge of the circle were a swaying to the music, in fact I think I noticed one of them passing a hooter to his partner even. I didn't think they could smoke while on duty? Oh well, that seems to be the way things are heading these days?

We start feeling rain drops. I yell to the dancers that they had better start doing a "no rain dance!" They must have not understood because all at once it begins to pour! Everybody begins yelling "reverse, reverse, dance backwards!" they stop on a dime and begin doing the whole scene backwards! They were tripping up on each other with a few almost landing in the fire where they would have been cooked like a wienie dog! That would have been a site! It was too late, it just came down all the harder....I think God had had enough and decided to put us all to sleep with a little rain. the drums died down and we all went to our separate abodes.......

Man did it pour. Straight down with a little wind.

I arrive at my tent, unzip it and climb inside. Kicked my boots off and climb into my sleeping bag. I look around with my Wal-Mart LED headlight and notice that there is water coming in under the tent at a high rate of speed, (there's no bottom in this thing.) I manage to get everything out of harms way and then I pass out. Too much fun.......

Saturday morning I slosh out of the tent and head to Cowboys for breakfast. In fact there are a whole herd of hikers headed that way. A guy passes me and then another. They're looking at me out of the corner of their eyes and I know what they are saying to me in their minds, "We're going to get there before you do, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah....." My "Super Duper Hiker Instincts" kick in and I leave them standing in the mud!

I learned this trick observing the way that Dirt Knap hiker dude walks. They say that dude can cover 8 1/2 miles an hour on a flat surface in the way he walks, at least Miss Janet says so. I mean it is an awesome thing to witness. His upper body torso including arms and hands don't move at all. Only below his waist is everything in motion. You have to have one eye on his upper portion and one planted firmly on his lower portion. I mean it will send your mind on a trip all by itself. It's weird man......

So I get to Cowboys and here comes these gents panting in right behind me, I ain't even out of breath. They're looking at me real weird like and I look right back at them and relay in ESP "You didn't think ole fat boy wanderer ("my new trail name") could leave your rears standing in the mud, did ya? I'll teach ya! You just watch the way I walk and learn it and you'll get to Maine before the end of May!"

Ah Cowboys, Kenny and Angie's place with sweet little Gypsy to greet you from behind the register as you walk through the door. What a site to see, pure sunshine on a rainy day...............Biscuits and gravy, 3 eggs over easy, tater tots and a slam of coffee to wash her all down the ole windy pipe. Fat, fat, fat, a true hikers breakfast. If I ever leave this town I might be able to burn some of this crap off as I hike on into never, never land.

Again I run into hikers of years past as I sit down next to Pirate. And he's got his Garmin E-Trex Legend GPS hanging from his neck. I mean that thing is on and tracking his every movement. The Navy has never left ole Pirate, heck fire he's been out of the service for over a hundred years now. But being the Special Forces kinda chap he is he just wants to know where he has been so he can kinda figure out where he is going. GPS helps much.

One thing I'll tell you hikers right now, and this should be the second thing on your itinerary at Trail Days, and that is that you need to have an encounter with Pirate and his GPS, Wee-Willy and his dumpster diving techniques ("don't laugh, it could come in handy when you least expect it"), and Lone Wolf- this man will instruct you on gun use so that you can gently persuade others to see things your way. Nah, just joshing ya a bit, but really these three gents are what "white blazin, blue blazin, and yellow blazin is all about." You'll definitely have a good time around these fellas. To me they represent the true American blooded hiker, but they don't possess the "Super Duper Hiker Instincts" that I possess. Nope, I'm the only one to claim that and it's not for sale so don't ask!

Next it's the hiker talent contest. I wanted to enter and yodel but they remembered hearing me yodel a bit after a quart of moonshine from the 2001 trail days competition and they weren't about to have no more of that. Ah memories, how they seem to linger. They told me to just sit back back and enjoy the show and to keep my trap shut! I felt so rejected, I would have won too......

The guy that won was the "Dobro Kid." Man he made that laptop box talk! I had visions of an elite army marching off to defend our country as he played that thing! That boy needs to be producing music for movies, he was just downright good!

Now comes the parade. To me the parade just wasn't up to par. I'm just going by my experience of Trail Days 2001. Others thought it was a blast and had a good time. However there was this one group that I got allot of enjoyment out of that was bringing up the rear. This one chap was dressed as Fred Flintstone, along with him are three assailants. They had a water balloon slingshot and could they propel them balloons! They had precision too!

Oh yeah, I just remembered and it all comes back to me now. As the parade is advancing into my area, police cars first, there was this law enjoyment officer directing traffic. I spy a water balloon sailing through the air from the rear of the procession and "kasplash" it hits that officer right smack dab upside his head! Everyone sees it and the parade almost comes to a halt! That boy grabs for his holster and he's looking all around real beady eyed and blushing red mad! He was hot I tell ya! He calms down a bit and snaps his head to the right and then to the left and then nods to the parade participants and everything returns to normal.......

It was a sight to see, my guess is that it had to be the Fred Flintstone dude. Ha, ha funny............

Nah, really though the parade just didn't have any "oomph" to it in my opinion so that's why I had to add that line of bull..............

The rest of the day was uneventful until about 6:30 when I decided to go and hang out with some of the local crowd and play bingo at the local "Bingo and Training Center." And man did I ever get a lesson in Bingo playin' and it cost me a whopping forty dollars to learn! I didn't have any business playin' bingo either, but what really lured me into there was this chubby hot chick that I met as I entered the building, her name was Manny. Man was she hot and as soon as I sat down at the table with her and her Aunt Sue I began winking at her and trying to get her to come and sit next to me. I don't think she was at all interested but she sure enjoyed my flirting with her as much as I enjoyed flirting her.

Her Aunt, now that gal knows how to play bingo! Heck she must have had 50 cards laid out for each game along with at least four of those bingo ink dabbers sandwiched between her fingers on each hand! It was a sight to see. Right before each game began she would light up that cigar she had clenched between her teeth and commence to playing! She was fast I'm telling ya, fast! I got the idea that I didn't have to really work for my bread here if I would just lay my cards right up next to her cards and that is what I did. I think she was too fast though, she had to forget to dab all the numbers because her and I never won a thing! In fact on the last game I thought of arising and volunteering to show the caller what numbers to pick but thought better of it. They had that thing set up I tell ya, they weren't about to let no stinking hiker win one red cent! I know I was stinking because I smelled myself after I sat down. Maybe that had something to do with why my flirting techniques didn't work on that hot babe?

Bingo ended about 10:30 pm and I head back to tent city. I run into some buddies that I had hiked with recently, Matt and his brother Compost or something like that and their friend Tortoise. They invite me over and we have a little socializing. The conversation at hand was the fact that Matt had went and purchased one of them so called "hiking kilts" of which I really like to call a "hiking dress." I join right in and his brother, Tortoise and I start making snide comments to him. I told him that since he planned on hiking in that thing then I was going to just run up the trail behind him and look up his dress! He didn't care much for that comment one cotton-pickin' bit I tell ya! Kilts my barnyard hiney, them are dresses!

In my opinion unless you are a real Scott, you ain't got no business wearing a Kilt. Here is some info for you would be "Kilt" wearers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilt
A dress is a dress and a Kilt is a Kilt.

As we're sitting there giving ole Matty boy a hard time the drums are getting louder and louder over at the drum circle. The crowd is whooping and hollering over there. Tonight is the climax of the whole Trail Days gathering. So I says my goodbyes and head that way.....

Tonight's action around the bon fire was triple than what it was the previous night! This was definitely tribal I tell ya! Everyone has definitely gotten real primitive I tell ya! Them drummers were a thumping them drums, the crowd around the dancers were a swaying, and them dancers were a chanting and a shuffling around that big ole bon fire like a bunch of Blackfoot Indian Warriors after having drunk a wagon full of crazy water! It was just plain spiritual. Make it a point before you pass from this earth to at least attend a real bonafide drum circle......

I hung out there until about 12:00 am. The law enjoyment officers were in there thick too, they were ready for anything in case things got a little out of hand. They were enjoying themselves though because they were just swaying as much as the rest of us. It was charismatic like that, it just drew you in....

And man there were some fine hiker babes in that circle of dance too! I saw two that were barely clad with one wanting to take more off too but I think her friend was advising her not to. If them law enjoyment officers weren't around there would have been all kinds of nakedness going on! This was real tribal stuff!

Oh yeah, there was this kid that I had previously met down at Miss Janet's in Erwin, Tn who was a playing the flute along with the drummers. He was right in rhythm and step with them too! Excellent!

You didn't have to be stoned to get stoned there at that moment in time if you get my drift, it was just plain genuine good and tribal!

As the rest of the night progressed the drums, the dance and the hikers just kinda quieted down to pure silence. The dark enveloped us one by one as the sunshine awoke us on a cloudy Sunday morning.

One by one we awoke, we arose, we packed our packs, and we departed vowing to return next year. Some of us would continue our hike and some of us would return home and continue to dream of the trail.........................

"The Only Wanderer"

PS until next year............

Hammock Hanger
05-26-2006, 17:06
one of them so called "hiking kilts" of which I really like to call a "hiking dress.....

Well to be truthful a dress starts at he shoulders and goes down, therefore a kilt can not be considered a dress. Now on the other hand you could call it a skirt...

Uncle Silly
05-29-2006, 16:13
glad you enjoyed waking up to some bluegrass ... i was one of the mandolin pickers in front of your tent ... we sure had fun playing!

ed bell
05-31-2006, 23:52
Thanks for the up close and personal account of Trail Days 2006, I really hope and pray that you keep on keepin on for many more. Keep those updates coming from your travels up the trail!:sun

06-01-2006, 12:06
Great story, thanks T.O.W.! I enjoyed the details, as well as the first person point of view - this made for great reading. I learned a few things as well!
Hope you are feeling better soon.....

06-03-2006, 12:39
anybody think this is a longwinded story i wrote????