Days 42-44: Trail Days, Zero Miles
The owner of Boots Off Hostel shuttled us to Damascus, VA for the annual Trail Days festival.
We arrived on the afternoon of the 1st day and got our tents set up in the woods rather than in “Tent City”, which is a giant open field. We thought we would get a little protection from the sun and rain, and a little privacy.
As soon as we were set up I set off to enter some contests and win some free gear 😂 I had my heart set on winning a certain backpack that my favorite gear company was giving away- The Crown 2 from Granite Gear, which is the updated version of my pack.
There were tons of gear reps and items for sale, kind of like a big flea market. Most of them were still getting set up on the first day, so in our true fashion Shelley and I headed to the brewery.
We were the only ones there aside from 2 employees, so we enjoyed some beers while we all watched the game show network and shouted answers at the TV. It was great fun!
After dark, tent city and the woods turned into some sort of rave/music festival. I have actually never been to either- but this is how I would imagine them to be. I have never seen anything like it! Turns out the “party” is in the woods and we were the only ones that didn’t know it- so much for our idea about quiet and privacy 😂
People actually carried speakers, tables, rocking chairs, etc. into the woods and had entire “camps” set up. We hung out with some of the people I had been leap frogging: 4G, Camel, Coyote and Roadrunner, Puddin’ Keg, Gin Gin, Jesus and Groovy, and Bonzo. They all had formed a loose association and called themselves “Trailer Dayz”, a little wordplay off of Trail Days. We had a blast dancing to music (and singing of course), exploring, and staying up all night.
In the morning, I walked over to the Trailer Dayz headquarters and everyone started shouting “Dr. Jeckyll!!!” …and so, my official Trail name was born!
They said that they called me that because I usually just say Hi and then run off to camp by myself, but they saw a whole new side of me when I became a singing and dancing social butterfly 🦋
At first I wasn’t sure about the name- I mean, there is a pretty strong negative connotation there! But as I rolled it around upstairs, I decided it was absolutely perfect.
Two of my favorite quotes are “Two roads diverged…”(The Road Not Taken, Frost), and “What’s in store for me in the direction I do not take” (The Subterraneans, Kerouac). To me, both of these lines symbolize the duality of options and choices that make up our lives- how we stand at a fork in the road and make a choice that sends us further and further away from the original choice; how we get down that road and wonder “what-if” we had done one thing differently? Where would we be now? Not trying to get weird on you, but this is exactly how my analytical brain works.
Another reason I found it to be perfect was that I do feel there are two sides to my personality. Sometimes I am an introverted, scholarly, bookworm… but sometimes I am a booty-shaking, singing, life of the party. I like to believe that I am often sweet, generous, and maternal… but I also know that I am judgmental, unforgiving, and a tough, swearing bad-ass… I’m a dreamer and a cynic. How else could these characteristics be reconciled without there being a Jeckyll and Hyde? It’s perfect and I love it!
Most people just call me Jeckyll, but I have to introduce myself as Dr. Jeckyll because otherwise with my Minnesota accent people think I am saying “Jackal” and assume I laugh a lot 😂 Everyone asks where Mr. Hyde is- and they get a kick when I tell them that’s me too 🙂
The rest of Trail Days was much the same, except that there were two giant bonfires complete with drum circles. It rained a lot, and it was a muddy mess everywhere. There was no choice but to give in to the mud.
I did not win any gear. I did however get a new hipbelt for my pack from the Granite Gear rep, which was super trail magic for me! The Granite Gear and Big Agnes folks were really amazing and truly go above and beyond with their customer service and truly stand behind their products. Meeting the people behind the brands really made me proud to carry their gear!
I also enjoyed getting to know my new friends a little more. Camel and I hit the brewery for “Hiker Prom” and took a shot at Prom King and Queen. There was no official voting, but let’s just say we won.
The churches in Damascus and beyond do a great deal for the hikers at Trail Days. They give away a lot of hiker necessities such as hand sanitizer and toothbrushes, and provide device charging stations. I was really impressed with their generosity toward the hiking community. I was also excited to see the same volunteers that I had met at Newfound Gap in Gatlinburg. They traveled to Trail Days from Sevierville, TN to offer laundry and shower services. It was truly a treat to see their smiles AND find that they remembered me! They said there were 3 hikers in particular that they remembered and were looking for- and myself and my pal Lil’ Dipper were 2 of them- talk about feeling special!
I enjoyed my Trail Days experience and will definitely be going back in hopes of a reunion with my Trail Pals. I would probably either only go for 1 day, or stay at an Inn- the party aspect was fun, but it gets to be a little overkill after so many days in your tent with all of us crazy hikers all around-Anyone looking to check out Trail Days but avoid that aspect should stay in an Inn.
We had a little trouble getting a ride back to where we left the trail, but we eventually landed at Castle Braemer Hostel. We had some BBQ from a local restaurant while watching Caddyshack with the other hostel guests. Alex, the caretaker was very friendly and attentive. I did have to sleep in a bunkroom… with farters and snorers 😭