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Hikers flock to Damascus for Appalachian Trail Days

By Laura Halm
Published On: May 17 2013 05:11:33 PM CDT
Updated On: May 17 2013 11:00:00 PM CDT

You've heard the phrase "take a hike," and that's exactly what thousands of people are doing this weekend in Damascus, Virginia.

DAMASCUS, Va. -

You've heard the phrase "take a hike," and that's exactly what thousands of people are doing this weekend in Damascus, Virginia.

They're hiking the Appalachian Trail to attend the 27th annual Appalachian Trail Days.

If you're wondering just how many hikers will be visiting this weekend, organizers say they're expect to see 15,000 people trekking through our region.

A patch of white paint on utility poles is more or less a compass for hikers making their way along the Appalachian Trail, but this weekend it's a welcome sign for Trail Days.

Tom Kennedy is hiking to raise money for a charity and traveled all the way from New Jersey for this weekend's biggest backpacking event. "[I had] a ten-hour drive and that's because we're going 80 miles per hour," said Kennedy.

Damascus is a small town showing true Southern hospitality with free laundry services and medical care. "It's important when [hikers] get scraped or scratched. We need to make sure that everyone has had a tetanus shot," said Kristina Morris with Southwest Virginia Medical Reserve Corps.

With thousands of hikers in town, homeowners say it does come with a few inconveniences. Lois Faris says that's why she surrounds her home with yellow tape. "Although we have a good sidewalk on the other side of the road, we find that the people would rather walk up and down through the yard and bring their animals to the yard," she said.

Over at Adventure Damascus Mountain Biking, employees say this weekend means triple the business. That's where we met a hiker who goes by his trail name 'Earth Balance' who says this weekend is more of a journey. "I'm going all the way from Springer Mountain to Katadhin in Baxter State Park in Maine so it's more or less 2,000 miles," he said.

Something else we learned -- many hikers ship extra supplies and gear to the local post office to be used during Trail Days.