Dumpster Chili Cook Off and Vodka Squirt Guns

Bama➡️Baxter Day 83&84 

Day 83: 8 miles

This morning we all woke up super early at the cabin. Smokey, Sweet Pea, and I quickly packed up our things. Yesterday Spring Break and Boosted bought ingredients to make us all breakfast! So they got cooking quickly because they knew that the other three of us had to hike out pretty early. They made bacon, eggs, and pancakes. It was a marvelous spread.

Spring Break making breakfast in the Getting Pickled Cabin.

The breakfast spread that the guys made us before we hiked out this morning.

Then Sweet Pea, Smokey, and I hiked out around 7am. There was a spur trail right from the cabin which we were able to reconnect to the AT to save a bit of time. Then we had a pretty big climb up to Dragon’s Tooth, one of the locations along the Virginia Triple Crown.

A photo of myself at the 700 mile marker which we passed just before Dragons Tooth.

I was pleasantly surprised that the climb was a bit easier than I expected. It didn’t get too rocky or scrambly until we were up closer to Dragons Tooth. We were moving quick enough that we had time to do the spur trail and check out Dragons Tooth before we had to descend down to the road to meet Tripod.

Dragons Tooth in the Virginia Triple Crown.


The views from Dragons Tooth.

I assumed that we would be cruising on the descent once we made it to the top of the climb. But the descent down from Dragons Tooth heading north along the AT was actually super rocky. We had to do a few rock scrambles and really take our time getting down. But eventually the trail leveled out a bit and we were able to pick up the pace.

A group of pink ladies slippers right off of the trail.

Sweet Pea and I got down to the road around 10am and Tripod was already parked there waiting for us! We met briefly on the PCT last year but really had never formally met until today. It was super cool to actually meet him and even cooler that he had come all this way to pick us up and take us to trail days. Smokey arrived about 30 minutes later and we all packed into Tripod’s car and headed out.

The drive from Catawba, VA to Damascus, VA was about 2 hours. Tripod stopped along the way so that we could get some essentials for trail days from Walmart. I got a backpack to carry around for trail days which was my best idea yet. At Walmart I also got some snacks and a few cases of seltzer’s so that I’d be set for the whole weekend.

My Walmart shopping cart full of the goodies that I picked out for trail days.

Then we stopped off at a sonic to grab a bite to eat before Tripod drove us the rest of the way to Damascus. We arrived in the early afternoon on Thursday and I was shocked to see how busy it already was. There was little to no parking around so Tripod had to take a spot pretty far down from tent city and wait for something closer to open up.

We grabbed our things from his car and got set up in tent city in the grass. Everyone said that most of the partying happened deep in the woods. So we figured that camping in the grass would allow us to actually sleep a bit when we wanted to. While I was setting up my tent I got to finally meet Nanaman who hiked the PCT last year and the AT in ‘21. I never crossed paths with him last year on trail but had heard about him from a lot of people.

Once we were situated we decided to walk around and take a look at everything being set up. I ran into loads of hikers who we started with back at the end of March. It was cool to see people who were a bit further behind on trail and you otherwise would have never ran into again. I saw Purple Pioneer, CBS (who was Kyle when I met him), along with a few others.

The number of tents set up in the grass on the Thursday before trail days even began.

We walked with Tripod to meet up with Nine Lives and their new friend Sammy. It was cool to meet Nine Lives in person after seeing her stuff on Instagram a lot over the last couple of years. Then we just wound up lapping around, hanging out, and talking to loads of people for the rest of the day. It seemed like every 10 feet that you walked you would get stopped by a familiar face and wind up talking to them for a while.

Back around tent city I ran into Mudbag, Snuggie, and Firefly who I hadn’t seen since Erwin, TN. I also met another hiker Road Soda who also hiked the PCT last year and did the AT in ‘21. It feels like such a small world out here in the trail community. We got some free snacks and goodies while we walked around. And a church group gave us all tickets to get free dinner later on tonight. I really didn’t fully understand until arriving at trail days just how much free food was available for thru hikers.

All of us wandered around for a while and had a couple drinks. Then we headed to the free dinner. While I was waiting in line to eat I saw TABA! I met him on my first day before starting the Pinhoti Trail back in February. He was making a Pinhoti Trail guide and also doing a Bama to Baxter thru hike. It was so cool to see him again. He was truly the first thru hiker that I met on my entire adventure this year.

While we ate we sat with a few hikers Bambi, Lawsuit, Cookie Monster, Tripod, and Nine Lives. It was so fun hanging out with everyone and meeting new people. Tripod has a really awesome group of friends from his previous hikes and it was really cool of him to introduce us to everyone.

After we ate we walked around in tent city and looked around. I saw probably 100 tents already set up back throughout the woods. This weekend is going to be absolutely wild. I truly couldn’t comprehend how busy it was the day before trail days even began. Back in tent city we drank and smoked a bit and hung out with everyone. Nanaman and Road Soda got duct taped together and decided that they wanted to beat the world record for the longest hug. So they would have to be taped together for over 36 hours. Those dudes are such characters and such a good time to be around.

We hung out in the woods with everyone for a while before finally calling it a night around 10pm. Trail days doesn’t officially start until tomorrow so I didn’t want to go to hard the first night. Back in my tent I did some blogging and relaxed. Then I called it a night.

Day 84: zero day Demascus trail days

This morning I woke up surprisingly early and got out of tent to walk around. Once Sweet Pea and Smokey got up we all walked around the booths and scoped everything out. We got free breakfast sandwiches from one of the booths which was awesome. Then we met up with a lot of the people from yesterday and entertained ourselves by walking through the vendor booths.

Around 9:30am Boosted, Tia, and Spring Break arrived. They got a ride down with Boosted’s parents who were also attending trail days. It was really cool that they were there and he was able to see them. Once they all arrived they set up their tents by the rest of ours. Then we had a new mission to accomplish. Which was setting up the massive 18lb car park tent that we bought for trail days. It was literally a tent material car parking area that we decided to use as a group shelter for trail days. And our intention was to keep it and pack it out onto the trail after we left trail days. I was shocked that we were able to find the perfect place to set up the ginormous shelter.

Our trail days group shelter.

Once we were all set up we walked around the check out the vendors again and enter some raffles. Then around 1pm Shaws Hostel hosted a hiker BBQ which was awesome. We ran into more familiar faces there. One of them was Papa Bear who we met a few times recently. He is such a super nice guy and we were able to meet his girlfriend. All of us ate burgers there and hung out for a while before heading out to see the results of a few more raffles.

The whole crew together at trail days. Boosted, Smokey, Spring Break, Sweet Pea, myself, and Tia!

While I was walking around the vendor grounds I ran into Tigger! She picked me up from the Birmingham airport and brought me to Pinhoti Outdoor Center down in Sylacauga, AL. It was so amazing to see her again. Her and her husband Chuck Norris both treated me so well while I was down in Alabama. I let her in on a bit of a secret… that I would likely be seeing her again later on in the year at the POC after I finished the AT.

I’ve tentatively decided that after I complete the AT at Katahdin I am going to keep walking and go all the way to the Canadian border. And once I reach Canada I plan to flip back down to the southern terminus of the Pinhoti Trail. From there I could walk all the way to Key West and finish the entire Eastern Continental Trail (ECT) in one calendar year. I still have a long ways to go on the AT but if all goes to plan I would love to complete the ECT in 10 months. I’m definitely on track to complete that goal at the pace I’m walking currently.

While I was talking to Tigger about that I also talked to a few other class of ‘21 AT hikers who said that they would be interesting in tagging along for the Alabama road walk. I’m excited for what’s to come in the future for sure.

Hanging with old friends and new friends at trail days!

After spending a lot of time at the vendors we all headed back over to tent city. We took shots with Tripod and a few other people and then wandered through the woods while it we still had the daylight. The tent city back in the woods was truly a wild maze. I wanted to navigate it for the first time in the daylight for sure.

Bambi doing an interview while he had his sit pad strapped to his head as sun protection.

While we were wandering through the woods we ran into Magic Jim who I met for the first time just before Neels Gap! It was so cool to see him again. He’s such a fun guy. He had a squirt gun full of vodka and was spraying it into peoples mouths. Then we heard someone announce that there was a “chili cook off happening over by the dumpster!” A line that I will never forget. Only a bunch of thru hikers would go to a chili cook off by a dumpster.

Magic Jim squirting vodka into the mouth of a man dressed as a knight.

All of us hung out by the dumpster and sampled some pretty great chili. Then we each voted on which one was the best. We smoked a joint after that and then walked to wait in line at one of the set ups in tent city which was giving out pulled pork sandwiches.

The line of hikers waiting to taste chili at the dumpster chili cook off.

Once we ate we walked around some more. After it got dark we went over to a big bonfire with a drum circle. Everyone was running in a circle around the fire singing and chanting. I ran into Road Soda and Nanaman who were still taped together which was hilarious. At one point they grabbed a hold of me and then ran off into the woods with me in tow.

We wound up at the riff raff bonfire and hung out there signing and dancing for a while. It was really cool hanging out with the two of them. They are truly endless joy and entertainment. After a while they scampered away and I was by myself out in the woods wandering around which was pretty fun. I wound up hanging out with some new people off in the woods for a while. Then Boosted called me and him and Smokey came out to meet up with me for a bit. We jumped between the drum circle and riff raff on and off for the rest of the night. I caught back up with Tripod too and we grabbed more drinks and hung out for a while. Then around 3am I headed back to my tent to call it a night.

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Comments 4

  • thetentman : Jun 27th

    Too much fun. Watch out for hangovers.

  • Charlotte : Jun 29th

    OOPS, as someone 40 years your senior, i offered you that advice. Peace and love ❤️

  • Easy-Pack : Jul 12th

    Thanks for documenting your journey, well written and enjoyable.

    Had to cancel my late July Smokey’s backpacking/bushwhacking deep woods headwaters Tenkara fishing trip due to work! Need the trail!!!


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