AT Trail Days 2023 in Damascus VA by Francisco Miller

AT Trail Days 2023 in Damascus VA by Francisco Miller

The ole Van down by the river at our Airbnb


Another Trail Days is in the books!  Just a few weeks ago, I got the chance to join the SMD crew (and Sawyer and Toaks) for the third time.  Since 2019, I’ve made the pilgrimage up from North Carolina to come to Trail Days and help out in the booth and mingle with our lovely Thru Hiking community of dirtbags I miss so much.  It might not be the same as a thru-hike but it at least gives me a little weekend escape back to this wacky world, and in beautiful Damascus, Virginia nonetheless!

Backpacker Magazine 50th Anniversary Party

Evening views of Laurel Creek and the Damascus Old Mill Inn

This year was a little different, in that I also tied in a big loop road trip out of the weekend, spending some time rock climbing in Kentucky, and then three days in the Linville Gorge Wilderness (Pisgah National Forest) after Trail days before returning to Asheville and the Great Smoky Mountains for work.  A whirlwind adventure with our weekend in Damascus to cap it all.

Walking to Trail Days along the Virginia Creeper Trail with Whitney and Elise

Karate Kid and Allgood at the SMD booth

These last two years we upgraded to some stylish Airbnb accommodations where I was able to park my van down by the river where it feels most comfortable when I leave it for the day, and a short walk along the Virginia Creeper Trail got us straight into the action.  I arrived Friday evening, just in time to miss most of the booth set up and get zipped away to the Backpacker Magazine 50th anniversary party which started off the weekend’s festivities.  Live music, local craft beer and pizza, and a hiker paradise was achieved!

SMD booth in the vendors' row at Trail Days

Tent set up at the booth.

Friday morning, after having breakfast with our housemates and fellow vendors, we took our morning stroll into town and finished setting up displays and umbrellas, and signs for the booth and began the fun of chatting with all the hikers about the gear, giving out stickers and carabiners, and signing people up for our daily raffle.  We had a little bit of gear available for sale and as always, the Silver Shadow umbrellas were the hot ticket item of the weekend (especially with rain in the forecast).

Matching shirts day!

Saturday was mostly the same with the exception of the traditional hiker parade through town, another raffle, and a mad sell-off of all of our umbrellas as the rain started. It is quite possible that being an umbrella salesman in the rain is my true calling.  A few days later I was recognized as the umbrella salesman from Damascus, and so the legends began. We capped off the evening with a venture into a tent city and Sunday we began dismantling our booth!  By the afternoon my partner and I were in Linville Gorge, using our SMD gear to climb some cliffs!

Allgood giving the pre-dinner speech at our BBQ Saturday night

All in all, it was a great weekend full of memories and reunions from the SMD family and the hiking world. And as always, a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful community!

Elise wearing the Wy’East for some rock climbing in Linville Gorge!

Reading next

Silver Shadow Mini - The Mobile Personal Shade Tree by Michael Vergalla
Lockdown Stuff by Jim Sutherland

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.