The Most Tiring Zero Day of My Life

Bama➡️Baxter Day 85&86

Day 85: zero day Demascus trail days

This morning I still somehow woke up around 7:00 a.m. just like yesterday. Even though I went to bed sometime after 3:00 a.m. I was aggressively hungover and was so thankful that I bought a couple Dunkin’ Donuts coffee drinks from Walmart before coming to trail days. I knew that I needed to eat but I had absolutely no appetite.

After a while everyone else got up and we decided to walk around to find some food. We hit the diner in town which we ate at back when we were in Damascus a couple of weeks ago. I could barely stomach anything I was so still feeling super hungover. So I wound up getting home fries and hash brown casserole.

Once we finished up eating we walked around at the vendors again and entered a bunch more raffles. One of the raffles that I entered yesterday at the Merrill booth actually sent me an email last night saying I had won something!

The hoards of tents in the grass at tent city.

At the Merrill booth I found out that I won a $25 Uber gift card which was sweet. Every now and then you Uber on trail of need be. Whether it be to get back to the trailhead or to get from one town to another further town in order to resupply. I’m sure that will come in handy one day!

Around the vendor area we met up with a bunch of other hikers and were all hanging out. Then we all had to head down the street to get ready for the parade which was at 2:00 p.m. I was walking around with a bunch of people and then it wound up just Sweet Pea and I. We grabbed something to eat before going to the parade. But then I lost him too after we got food! It’s hilarious that people can just walk out of sight at such a busy place and it’s like they disappear.

I started walking over to the parade line up area after that. And along the way I ran into Bambi! I met him the first day of trail days and he is absolutely hilarious and a great time to be around. He had his sit pad strapped to his head most of the day yesterday to help prevent a sunburn. We walked over to the parade together which felt like quite the adventure. It was a surprisingly long walk. Then we had to side quest to find a place to pee before we actually lined up for the parade.

My trail family under the sign at Damascus.

Eventually we actually made it to where everyone had to line up for the class of 2023. There is this massive parade every year at trail days that is basically just comprised of all the different thru-hiking classes from over the years.

When everyone started to walk I found everybody else as well. Sweet Pea, Boosted, Spring Break, and Tripod all arrived and we walked through the town with all the other class of 2023 thru-hikers. I saw loads of familiar faces in the crowd and wound up talking to a few different people while we walked. It’s been really cool meeting so many new people also reconnecting with people that I met a long time ago.

The class of 2023 hikers walking in the parade. If you zoom in you can see Sweet Pea and I walking through the crowd.

While we walked through the town loads of people sprayed us with water from squirt guns or hoses. You name it! I didn’t realize that that was a major theme of the parade. We were all running around the crown trying not to get absolutely drenched by water guns. It was honestly hilarious. Plus there is a chance that it  is going to rain later on today anyway. Towards the end the water spraying really ramped up and it was next to impossible to stay completely dry. What a super cool experience.

After the parade came to an end Otie got all of the class of 2023 hikers together to speak to us as a group. An absolutely massive group of hikers.

Crowds of hikers and other people at trail days.

He climbed on top of an old time train which is set up in the center of town and said some words to our class. It was a really incredible thing to bare witness too. Otie is a true legend in the thru hiking community, especially on the AT. So to hear this man preach about the glories of this trail and the life changing journey that we are all on was truly incredible. That was a really powerful moment to be a part of. Everyone chanted and cheered afterwards. Then a hoard of hikers dispersed amongst the scene at trail days once again.

I headed back to tent city to chill out and maybe eat something. On my walk back I ran into Spring Break, Tia, and a few other people. And once we got back to tent city the guys and I walked to go grab some food. We caught back up with Tripod and hung out with him for a while.

I had a major debate going on in my mind. The fact that I definitely wanted to drink more as the evening progressed, but that I drank so much yesterday I was still a little hungover at 4:00 p.m. Trail days has been a hilarious and awesome experience. We are all taking two zeros right now, but they are the least restful days off imaginable. We’ve been drinking a ton and hardly sleeping. And to top it off we walked 14 miles yesterday around Damascus and tent city. Somehow between all the laps that we made around the vendors, through town, and through tent city I managed to walk 14 miles on a “zero day”.

It rained on and off for the rest of the evening. Fortunately it never got too bad. I wound up going for a walk with Boosted and Sweet Pea to go to dollar general. Then we headed back to the group tent to start drinking again. A bold decision. But I figured I could dabble a little at least. We hung out at our tent for a while and then I went with Tripod and a few other people to go hangout back in the woods.

We wound up going to riff raff and hiding under their massive shelter from the rain. It started to absolutely pour but a massive group of people was under the large tarp, all signing and dancing and having a blast. Once the rain let up some of us walked over the drum circle for a while. Then we wound up bouncing between the drum circle and riff raff for the rest of the night. The vibe was much more mellow tonight than last night. It was clear that people were going a lot less hard tonight.

I had a couple drinks but didn’t wind up doing too much. Yesterday really took its toll on me for sure.

After walking around for a while and hanging out with a bunch of different people I wound up heading back to the group shelter around 2:00-3:00 a.m. Boosted, Sweet Pea, Tripod and I hung out in the group shelter for a while and smoked some pot. It was a super mellow way to end off a wild and fun weekend. A little after 3:00 p.m. I finally called it a night and headed over to my tent.

Trail days has been fantastic. I saw so many familiar faces from the first few weeks on the AT. Plus it was amazing meeting hikers who hiked the PCT last year but we never crossed paths somehow.

It also made me so unbelievably happy to see Tigger, Chuck Norris, Nathan, and Kim from the Pinhoti Outdoor Center. I was lucky enough to see each of them at least a time or two this weekend. And I look forward to seeing all of them again in the future! Then to top it all off I met so many new people this weekend. I can’t even begin to count how many amazing hikers I met these past few couple of days. Hopefully I’ll be seeing a lot of them down the trail after trail days.

Day 86: 8 mile day

This morning I slept in until around 7:00 a.m. I wasn’t feeling particularly rushed to get up and ready. We’re just leaving trail days sometime this afternoon.

It rained lightly on and off last night but was sunny this morning. I wanted to leave my tent up for a while so that it could fully dry in the sun. Eventually I got out of tent and brushed my teeth. I packed up a bit and walked around. Everyone else was slowly starting to get up.

Then after a while I packed all of my things up and put them over at our group shelter.

Our giant shelter in the middle of the grass at tent city.

We all decided to walk around the town one last time and get to grab something to eat. There was a coffee shop open that did sandwiches and I got the best chicken salad sandwich of my life. After we ate there we headed back over to tent city to get ready to leave.

Homemade had me sign his ass at trail days!

While we were walking back one of the Yellow Deli guys chatted us up. He gave me a bunch of tickets for a free meal when we get up to Vermont.

Breaking down our group shelter at trails days to pack it out with us.

Around noon we finally got everything packed away. We packed up the 18-pound group shelter and divided the parts amongst ourselves. We’re going to see how long we can carry that ridiculous shelter on trail. Some people were carrying piles weighing around 2.5 pounds, and one person had to carry the entire fabric tent portion which was over 4 pounds. It was absolutely ridiculous. But we were committed to the joke.

Boosted trying to figure out how to carry the massive shelter on his backpack.

Tripod came over around 1:00 p.m. and we loaded all of our things into his truck. He was going to take all six of us back to trail while was awesome. Plus he is going to hike a portion of the AT with us over the next few days.

On the drive some people slept but I just listened to music and talked to Tripod. We had been driving for over an hour when we pulled off to get Wendy’s for lunch. And while we were inside Boosted pulled up the GPS and realized that a massive error had been made. While we were driving Tripod lost service and his phone reconnected on the GPS to a different Catawba. We were heading to Catawba, NC instead of Catawba, VA. Even after driving for over an hour, we still had about two or three hours left to go. The drive was only supposed to be about two hours long.

Smokey, Boosted, and Roxy in the back of Tripod’s car

Roxy sleeping on top of everyone’s packs in the back of the truck.

Once we realized what had happened everyone couldn’t help but laugh about it. It was such a ridiculous circumstance you could hardly even care. So after we ate we got back to driving and were finally heading back to Virginia!

Half of us got off at a different mile marker than the other half, so Tripod stopped to drop off Boosted, Spring Break, and Tia first. Then we drove to a different trailhead and he dropped off Smokey, Sweet Pea, and I. In the parking lot Tripod got his own backpack situated so that he could hike with us tonight. He’s going to get a shuttle ride from a nearby hostel and meet us at a road intersection a few miles up. Then we will all hike together for the next few days.

Flowers alongside the AT.

It was 7:00 p.m. when we got dropped off at the trailhead and we still planned to do eight miles. But we were mentally prepared to hike into the dark and make the most of it. The start of the evening had a bit of climbing. I was definitely feeling a bit weak after being at trail days all weekend. Though I managed to get into a groove and feel pretty good after a while. I walked for about an hour and a half and then pulled out my headlamp. There was still a bit of daylight left but I wanted to have it ready for when I needed it.

The sun setting along the AT around mile 705

Views of the AT on our evening hike out after trail days.

Not long after that I passed by Sweet Pea who was eating some packed out Wendy’s. We were pretty close to the parking lot at this point so I decided to keep on moving and just break there. I walked in the dark for about 30-40 minutes and then arrived at the trailhead. Tripod was already there laying in his pad in the parking lot. I’m so excited that he’s gonna be out hiking with us for a few days. It’s like trail days never had to end!

Hiking in the dark to the parking lot to meet Tripod.

We waited in the parking lot for Sweet Pea to arrive. He wasn’t far behind at all. Then we headed out to continue on to the shelter. Smokey was a ways behind us at this point but he was still going to make it to the shelter for tonight.

There were only a couple miles remaining and they really flew by. Time always seems to go by quicker while you’re walking in the dark. There is nothing to look at so you just wind up zoning in to your walking. The only thing you have to do is watch your step.

We got to the spur for the shelter around 10pm and headed over. Spring Break, Tia, and Boosted were all set up inside. All of us tried not to wake them up but it is damn noisy to set up camp. Once I got everything set up I whipped out a Wendy’s chicken sandwich for dinner. I even had two cups of ranch to dip it in.

After I ate, I got in the shelter and did my stretching. Then I eventually called it a night. Tomorrow we’re waking up bright and early to catch the sunrise over McAfee Knob, so I won’t be getting much sleep tonight.

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Comments 3

  • Charlotte : Jun 29th

    Peg Leg your posts are fabulous! I am literally energized by your enthusiasm, excitement, and genuine enjoyment of life! If I may offer 1 piece of advice-please don’t let anyone’s negativity influence you!! Life is short, and it isn’t worth your energy to defend, argue, or justify YOU. Hike your own hike, and life your own life…I’m having fun reading your journey . Go PEG LEG

  • thetentman : Jun 30th

    So glad you are having fun.


    • Dave : Jul 1st

      Looks like a blast!!


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