Stretch called me a few days ago and convinced me to go to Trail Days. I have other stuff I should be doing and I didn’t think there’d be anyone left up here to drive down with me late Friday night, but it sounded fun so I was in. Shepherd was down for going that late (it starts Thursday morning) so I had an additional driver and was all set. We left about 6:30pm for the eight hour drive. I taught Shepherd how to drive stick at about 11:30 so I could take a nap, and we pulled into Damascus at 3am. Little Bear’s uncle has a cabin right outside of town so we could avoid sleeping in tent city and maybe actually get some sleep.

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I woke up early, of course, and said hello to Stretch, Little Bear, Papa Bear, and Riner. We caught up some and then headed out for breakfast and to walk around town looking for 2013 alumni. It was still early and hikers were presumably still sleeping so it seemed like a ghost town but we eventually started finding people as we walked around the vendor area and into tent city. It was especially great to see people I’d spent time with all the way back at the beginning of the trail and then gotten separated from.

We found even more familiar faces when lining up for the Hiker Parade, although there was a surprising number of people I didn’t know hanging out in the 2013 section. Rainbow Bright was there with a sense of humor, wearing a helmet that said “Crash Test Dummy 2013.” This year’s parade successfully made it to the end with no incidents!

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Next up was a new beard competition at the Blue Blaze. Little Bear won two out of six categories! “Full and Natural” and “Alumni.” He only had one real competitor but he took home the prizes.

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Later the Damascus Brewery was hosting the “First Annual” Thru Hiker Prom. Excuse me, but it’s the second annual. The first was last year. It was a blast though, more dancing with friends.

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We ended the night with a walkabout through tent city and found even more people randomly in the dark.

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Trail Days seemed much smaller and quieter to me this year but Stretch pointed out that it might be a perception thing. Coming out of the woods to such a festival would make it seem much bigger and louder than just coming from the real world. I was jealous of the current crop of thru hikers and wished I was one of them again, awful smell and all.