Monday, May 19, 2014

108. Trail Days - The Hiker Parade

The hiker parade is a longstanding tradition at Trail Days, and all past, present and future hikers are encouraged to gather together and walk down the main street of Damascus, Virginia. In spite of what can only be described as a completely unholy bouquet of smells as hundreds of hikers all prance down the street together, all the local townsfolk gather on the sidewalks to watch the hikers go by. There are no parade floats, no marching bands or acrobats. There is only one goal of the hiker parade: for the hikers to make it down main street, and for all the locals to completely obliterate them with water balloons.

I think it's a way for the locals to be able to celebrate the presence of the hikers for Trail Days, while simultaneously forcing them all to take a bath. Via water balloon.

Last year there was a change in policy, as apparently the Damascus police force got tired of having to clean up the billion tiny bits of latex balloon shrapnel all over their streets. As of 2013, water balloons were banned. Not to be deterred, the locals instead showed up armed to the teeth with squirt guns. Some folks just stood on their lawns with their garden hoses on full blast, completely soaking the already damp hikers. Being part of the parade felt like being involved in some sort of hazing ritual, in which we were fully inducted into the hiker culture via a gauntlet of icy water. To be fair we probably all deserved it. I wore a raincoat but got soaked in the first 5 minutes anyway.

I tried to find some fun videos of last years hiker parade, but I was unsuccessful. Very unfortunately, last year there was an accident in which an elderly man who had been driving his car had a sudden medical emergency that made him lose control of his vehicle and drive into the crowd of hikers in the parade. Several people were struck by the car, including one hiker (Rainbow Brite) who got pinned under the vehicle. No one was seriously injured, though Rainbow Brite was taken to the hospital. I had never met her, but from what I heard down the hiker grapevine, she was able to continue hiking!

I bring this up not to bring down the mood of this post, but in an effort to do just the opposite. In response to the accident, several hikers in the parade sprung into action, and actually lifted the front end of the car up and rolled it backward off of Rainbow Brite. There was an incredible amount of teamwork and fortitude in the hikers that were just on hand at the site of the accident. I was about 75 feet ahead of the accident, so I was not directly involved, but I have seen a few videos of folks moving the car, and it is pretty amazing. Though it was really scary that this happened, it was beautiful to see how hikers were so quick to band together to save the day. In the overall culture of our country, where it can so often feel like everyone is just out for themselves, it can be incredible to see people work together. Alright, that's enough of that mushy stuff.

This year I wasn't able to be there, but I have been told that the hiker parade was just as excellent as ever, and they even had a firetruck actively spraying people down! I've found some photos of this year's hiker parade, and a few from previous years' hiker parade, so that you can get a feel for the fabulous community of it all. Neither Dumptruck nor I were brave enough to bring any photographic devices to our own hiker parade, because we knew they'd just get SOAKED. So, I have to scavenge from the goodness of others.

All of these photos are from the local news website for Damascus and the surrounding towns!

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Damascus Hiker Parade - From http://www.TriCities.com (Bristol Herald Courier)

Love,
Clever Girl

1 comment:

  1. The last picture could have been taken at Woodstock! The 60's vibe lives in long distance hikers...peace, love, and drugs; except the drug of choice now is Ibuprofen! Love, Mom and Dad

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