The year 1987 was the 50th anniversary of the Appalachian Trail, which passes right through Damascus. That year, members of the Town Council decided to celebrate the anniversary with an event for hikers. At that time, there was no town park in Damascus, so the small festival was held in the parking lot of the town hall and behind the bank. The festival was held again the following year, the year after that, and every year that’s followed, growing to the tens of thousands. In the early years of Trail Days, a street was sometimes roped off for a dance, but there were no vendors. There were only the hikers and the cyclists who followed, who inspired the town to rebuild its economy, which had been devastated by flooding and the loss of most of its industry. Read more…
Each year, thousands of hikers make the 2,180 mile trek along the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain to Katahdin. Each of those hikers crosses the Nantahala River along the NOC Founder’s Bridge, in Bryson City, NC. Most of these hikers cross on their way north in early April, just before beginning the difficult ascent into Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Many more hikers enjoy the Appalachian Trail in segments, hiking one section at a time over the course of many years, or maybe just sticking to their favorite sections of trail. Read more…
What does it take to do an extensive thru-hike? Planning, planning, planning.
Travel blog Gadling has a great ongoing video series by writer Adam Kaufman who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail last summer. They’ve already covered two of the basics: gear and food. Hop on over, watch and get inspired!
2,000 plus miles is serious business. According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, of the roughly 300 people or so that start on the trail every year, about 60% of them finish. Interested in learning more? Check out the PCTA’s website.
Have you ever done a thru-hike? Are you planning one for this summer? Tell us about it!
You can check out Gadling’s full series of PCT videos here.
Image: Miguel Vieira
Osprey associate marketing manager Sam Mix attended Appalachian Trail Days in Damascus over the weekend. Here’s his take on the view from “Tent City”…
How best to describe the fun of Appalachian Trail Days without getting arrested?
If I had to sum it up quickly I would say a Bacchanalian celebration of the Appalachian Trail, the magnificent stretch of America it covers from Georgia to Maine and those who have, will and are planning to hike it. A true ‘merican celebration of sorts including a Hikers Parade and Talent Show, a wide array of vendors, presentations, food and drink; a rip-roaring, rockin’ good time for all, in short!
25,000 souls descend upon Damascus, Virginia for a cosmic convergence of sorts with Osprey Packs on hand in the mystical Kingdom of Tent City providing free pack and gear repairs, pack fittings and previewing all that is new in the realm of the Osprey for spring 09 – with a little of what is on tap for the fall as well.
Osprey Packs is here in support of that earth encrusted creature known as the long trail thru-hiker – especially those carrying Osprey Packs who may be in need of a quick repair or some good advice as they head down the trail. In a single season the Osprey Pack of an Appalachian thru-hiker will see several average lifetimes of usage – a true testament to Osprey’s 35 years of independent, innovative, bad-ass, burly design and the people who choose to push the capacity of human endurance – while having complete and total fun doing so. Osprey is also here in committed support of those who had the vision to establish The Appalachian Trail and the protection of the verdant and important ecological and historic landscape it encompasses.
So if you find yourself in Damascus and need your pack or gear repaired, need a pack fitting or expert advice on packs, please visit Osprey in Tent City near the outer edge of town, the fringe, if you will. Or stop in at Mt. Rogers Outfitters at 110 Laurel Avenue for an expert fitting and they will sell you that Osprey Pack for 20% off the regular retail price just to celebrate this unique, one of kind event known as Trail Daze!
Thanks for reading – I am headed out for a long walk in the woods.
The Appalachian Trail, completed in 1937:
* Is a unit of the National Park Service.
* Is the nation’s longest marked footpath, at approximately 2,178 miles.
* Is the first national scenic trail, designated in 1968.
* Crosses six national parks.
* Traverses eight national forests.
* Touches 14 states. Houses more than 2,000 occurrences of rare, threatened, endangered, and sensitive plant and animal species.
* Crosses numerous state and local forests and parks.
* Is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships.
Fun facts about the Appalachian Trail:
* Lowest elevation: 124 feet – near the Trailside Museum and Zoo at Bear Mountain, New York
* Highest elevation: 6,625 feet – on Clingmans Dome in Tennessee
* There are 165,000 blazes along the length of the Trail.
* More than 10,000 people have reported hiking the length of the Trail.
* It takes approximately 5 million footsteps to walk the entire length of the Trail.
* More than 6,000 volunteers contribute about 200,000 hours to the Appalachian Trail every year.
*Image and information courtesy of Appalachian Trail Conservancy