Trail Days 2024 Hiker’s Stories – Will

I met Will one evening at the One Way Ministries Coffee House across the street from Tent City. City. The Coffee House was one of my favorite places to hang out in the evenings, a venue where I could get out of the rain, charge my phone, and enjoy live music and snacks. Will was one of the volunteers who served snacks, busing table, cleaning up messes, and generally providing hospitality. Somehow, we managed to strike up a conversation.

A retired police officer from Akron, Ohio, Will has loved the AT and especially Damascus since he and his wife first sauntered into Trail Days in 1993. He and his wife returned to Trail Days in 2011 and 2012 to volunteer. This year was his third trip to volunteer and the first time he came without his wife. He remarked how he and his wife felt so welcomed when they came through as hikers that they wanted to return to help other hikers feel equally welcomed. I think he is succeeding.

Will’s favorite part of the AT is the section near Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. His least favorite is the hike to the Gravel Springs Hut in Shenandoah National Park. He said the Gravel Springs Hut was so far off the trail that it was not worth hiking to.

Over thirty years after his thru-hike, Will still enjoys the outdoors. He hikes up to twenty miles a day with his two sons and hikes shorter trips with his granddaughters.

Will was the only AT hiker I met at Trail Days to come back to Damascus not to hike or to partake of the festivities, but to give back, as an expression of thanks for what he had once received. I have a hunch I might see and talk with him again at a future Trail Days.

I have one more Hiker’s Stories to post in this series resulting from eight interviews I conducted during Trail Days 2024, so stay tuned to The Trek.

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