Sandra and I were in nearby Abingdon, VA for the 13th National Scenic and Historic Trails Conference hosted by the Partnership for the National Trails System. I was there to represent the Florida National Scenic Trail (FNST). I took on the added duties of administrator of the FNST the previous year. While there the group participated in the Appalachian Trail Days Festival in Damascus, VA. Damascus is known as “The Friendliest Town on the Trail” and has been hosting the annual Trail Days festival since 1987. It’s a weekend of good food, fellowship with other hikers, and activities – the highlight being the Hiker Parade. Sandra and I first attended Trail Days back in 1999 where we got to meet Earl Schaffer – the first person to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1948. He was at the festival to talk about his 50th anniversary thru-hike which he had just completed.
Sandra is talking with Steve Elkinton, National Park Service’s program leader for the National Trails System. We have known Steve for many years. At the end of 2001 when we were looking for a place to live in the Washington DC area we stayed with Steve and his family for a week. We ended up finding a house to rent in Berwyn Heights, MD. I went to work for Christopher Douwes, program manager for the Recreational Trails Program housed in the Federal Highway Administration.