Mike St. Pierre from HyperLite Mountain Gear also made the drive from Maine. For anyone who follows HMG, they pretty much jumped into the lightweight scene without all the drawbacks of a small company trying to market small items and going through the pains of growing the business. Mike had investors which is a very different business model than other cottage businesses and is extremely evident based on his amount of very solid and widespread marketing. You’ll see HMG nearly everywhere, and if you miss everywhere, you won’t miss their motorhome. If my perspective means anything, it is all a bit overwhelming. I’ve made a handful of purchases from HMG, returned most, and fondled quite a bit of HMG gear. HMG is nice stuff, but I just can’t figure out where it fits in my gear closet. ZPacks and Gossamer Gear are lighter; Gossamer Gear, Six Moon Designs and Mountain Laurel desires offer slightly heavier products which are more bulletproof and I find them to be more comfortable to carry.
Each of these lightweight manufacturers are top-notch and I wouldn’t hesitate from buying from any of them.
My wife and I had plans at a resort about 3 hours north to celebrate our anniversary, so we left shortly before 1pm. While checking my phone a couple hours later, I learned of a tragic accident that happened during the annual Trail Days Hiker Parade where successful past and present Appalachian Trail hikers walk down the main street as crowds clap and throw water balloons or use squirt guns. It is all meant in good fun and an event everyone looks forward too. Unfortunately, an elderly hiker who attended the event decided to get behind the wheel of his Cadillac during the parade and suffered a medical event causing him to lose control and plow through the crowds of hikers. Initial reports were that 50-60 people were injured and up to 6 had to be airlifted out. Only later was it learned that the driver died and the injuries sustained by hikers were far less in number and severity than initially reported. Hopefully those who were impacted were able to finish their once-in-a-lifetime journey. Prayers for all involved.
I must admit, overall I wasfairly disappointed with Trail Days this year, and if I’m being honest, the event has lost a bit of its luster than in years past. This year was very ho-hum in that I felt like I had seen it all before and more of it. With the real exception of ZPacks, only because Joe hadn’t been there recently, Ready Fuel, and Bedrock Sandals, there wasn’t a ton of reasons for me to go and I may think twice next year unless the lightweight industry comes up with some new innovation which has otherwise been stagnant for the last several years.
My apologies for lack of quality pictures this year. My iPhone pretended to take pictures only to learn that there was an issue with the zoom which negated quite a few otherwise good opportunities to better tell the story of Trail Days.