The Youngest Thru Hiker Finishes AT

In an age where FTKs are taking over thru hiking culture, here is a story that you would think was fabricated for the glory of breaking the bounds of what most think is possible. In reality, it was as simple as keeping a dream alive. Bekah and Derrick Quirin had long since decided to hike the Appalachian Trail together by the time their daughter Ellie was born. But instead of putting that dream to the wayside and waiting until she was fully grown and on her own, they decided to envelope their daughter into the dream.

With Bekah carrying a pack full of the family’s belongs and Derrick hauling precious cargo consisting of one year old Ellie in a child carrier, the family set out to thru hike the Appalachian Trail on March 20th, starting southbound from their hometown of Roanoke, Virginia. Just before the family hiked their last few days on the southern portion of their journey, they passed through Mountain Crossings on May 11th.

I remember the sunny afternoon they passed by. Ellie was fussy until the moment she laid eyes on a banana but then lit up like a firework in the night!  Derrick began ripping off chucks for her to snack on and she hummed pleasantly as she smashed them into her mouth one after another. By the time Bekah and Derrick had finished shopping for their resupply, Ellie was smiling and giggling. As a former thru hiker myself, I laughed, recognizing the hanger that had over come Ellie and then quickly dissipated as soon as she had eaten.

The family continued south and upon reaching Springer Mountain, flipped up to Mount Katahdin to continue walking south to McAffees Knob outside of Roanoke, VA. On Setptember 30th, the reached their final summit!

They had completed not only the incredible feat of walking all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail, but they had done it together as a family. Ellie learned to walk and said her first words while on the thru hike. She also became the youngest known person to have ever traveled the full length of the Appalachian Trail. Bekah and Derrick followed their long time dream to thru hike the Appalachian Trail and ushered their daughter into a lifetime of outdoor experiences! Congratulations to the Quirin Family and their awesomely inspiring story!

In honor of the completion of the thru hike by a one year old, we’ve put several of our baby and toddler items online! Click on either of the images below to see more information about these super cute “Future AT Hiker” shirts and onesies.

“Future AT Hiker” Onesie Sizes 3 months to 18 months $19.99

“Future AT Hiker” Shirt Sizes 3 months to 18 months $19.99

 

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Have You Met Bill?

Because, if you haven’t, you’ve been missing out!

Bill Harris, or “Just Bill” as he will say if asked, came to be a Mountain Crossings employee at the beginning of the 2016 thru hiker season. It was an organic relationship. He had recently moved to the area, was an avid hiker and was used to hanging out in outfitters. To read further into that statement, he had recently moved just 7 miles down the road from Mountain Crossings from Damascus, Virginia, where he spent many years living along side the Creeper Trail, picking up trash, riding his bike, and working for Mt. Roger Outfitters. (Check out the video link below about that time in his life.) If you’ve hiked through Damascus, you know it is the most hiker centered town on the entire Appalachian Trail and you’ve probably been inside Mount Rogers Outfitters. You just may very well have talked to or walked past Bill, particularly if you’ve ever gotten a shuttle in the area!

When Bill moved to Blairsville, he came up to hike on the AT often and we got to know him well. It didn’t take long for Bill to start jumping in and helping customers when staff were busy. This became a habit. Bill would sell gear by simply talking to people about his experiences, telling them how he thinks something may or may not benefit them and then showing them something different that he thought may suit their needs better. All just because he’s a super friendly guy who wants to hear folk’s stories and loves gear, maybe a little bit too much! Eventually, it just made sense to put him on the payroll! Bill became the face of the Mountain Crossings Satellite store when it first opened up in March of 2016. The Mountain Crossings Satellite store is a temporary outfitter in Hiawassee, GA at Ron Haven’s Budget Inn that only opens in March and April while the Northbound thru hikers are coming through. Every year Bill mans the Satellite store and the rest of the year he is up at the shop at Neel Gap being the most helpful guy you have ever met in an outfitter.

Bill will fix your trekking poles if they are broken, he will sew your pack back together, he will fit you for the right size shoe (not the size you think you are!) and even teach you to properly tie your shoes depending on what is ailing your feet. If you are hurting, Bill will doctor you up with all natural remedies. No matter what it is that is needed, Bill can help!  He is actually the only employee at Mountain Crossings that has not thru hiked the Appalachian Trial, but we are pretty sure Bill has more miles on his feet than any of us and we know for a fact that he knows just as much, if not more, than the rest of us!

Sometimes in life you meet people, and you know it pretty quickly, that they’re are something special. Bill isn’t just a good friend, a helpful employee, a fun person. He is an experience. Just as hiking on the AT is an experience that shapes people and leaves an impression on them, so is Bill. I personally believe that is because he is a product of his environment. He has lived so simply, so completely, so well, for so long, that he emanates the serenity one finds from communing with the outdoors and holding it close to you heart.

Click the image above or this link to check out a beautiful video that delves further into the life and mind of Bill!

(Sorry ladies, Bill is NOT available! He is happily married to an awesome woman who is so great that he moved 436 miles down the Appalachian Trail and we are so happy about it!) 

 

Family Hiking Day 2017!!

Most of my favorite childhood memories have to do with the great outdoors and family trips spent hiking and camping. There is something magical about being exposed to the wild world of Mother Nature as a small child. It broadens your comfort zone, exposes you to the unfamiliar and emboldens your imagination and your sense of adventure. Best of all, maybe, it builds a platform at a young age on which a healthy lifestyle of physical activity and mental health can be lived out!

On Saturday, September 30th, join the Blairsville community for Family Hike Day, brought to our community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce, the Mountain High Hikers, Georgia Appalachian Trail Club, and the Benton MacKaye Trail Association. Wether you and your family are avid hikers, or just getting out together for the first time, come along for a great hike at the TVA Trail at Nottely Reservoir Trail Parking #2 off of Hwy 325, just 1.5 miles past the Nottely Lake Dam.

The hike will begin at 8:30am and will be led by George Owen. George, who is a father to two children and grandfather of four grandchildren, has in the past led hikes in Switzerland as a guide for ten years and also in parts of the USA. He is involved in several hiking clubs in the Southeast, two of them as both maintenance director and constructions director and two as president. He is a wealth of information about the local area and particularly these mountains!

We understand that sometimes it can be hard to wrangle the whole family together to meet at a specific place, at a specific time, on a specific day! If you are unable to join an official Family Hike Day event, you can still participate by hiking on the A.T. with your family on Saturday, September 30th or Sunday, October 1st and sharing a photo or video via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #ATFamilyHike. Doing so will automatically enter you into a contest for a chance to win one of five Osprey Packs! Entires can also be emailed to soro@appalachiantrails.org and all winners will be announced on October 1st.

For more information on planning a family hike throughout the year and suggestions of family-friendly day hikes on the A.T., visit appalachiantrail.org/FamilyHike.

This awesome event is brought to you by these incredible groups:

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Blairsville-Union County Chamber of Commerce

Mountain High Hikers

Georgia Appalachian Trail Club

Benton MacKaye Trail Association

Hurricane Irma on the AT

While we love the cool air and color change that comes as summer fades into fall, it also means Hurricane Season. As many of your know, Hurricane Irma made landfall late Sunday/early Monday in Florida as a category 3 hurricane. By the time the leftovers hit the Appalachian Mountains, it had dropped down to the level of a Tropical Storm. The mountains and its inhabitants are no strangers to harsh weather and even high winds, but Tropical Storm Irma was enough to put a damper on some things for hikers and wilderness enthusiasts.

Over the weekend we had many people pull off trail to hunker down in the hostel and take refuge. Getting off trail and staying in town or in a hostel is always the smartest plan of action when are large and potentially dangerous storm is forecasted. Late Monday night and into Tuesday morning, the brunt of the storm hit the North Georgia area and the Chatahoochee National Forest with high winds and heavy rains.

Since then, we have received many calls about the conditions of the roads and the trails in the area. The paved roads and main highways and byways in the area are very well maintained and were cleared immediately upon the storm passing. The trails and the forest service roads and other dirt roads are sadly another story. Because of their remote location, it is very difficult to clear these areas and though there are many people working very diligently, time and patience is requires.

We have heard from many hikers who have come and gone from just north or south of us and they all have one resounding report: There are LOTS of trees down! Felled trees are a constant sight in the backcountry and after a huge storm as this, it is always expected that there will be many of them. If you are not prepared to walk around, under, through or over a felled tree, it is best to avoid the trails. If you are hiking and come across a tree laying across the trail, always proceed with absolute caution and make sure you assess the situation before you climb into a rickety tree waiting to collapse. When setting up camp or taking a break, avoid hanging out under leaning trees. We recommending staying off trail if you are not absolutely certain an area has been cleared.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy also has a report and recommendation for hikers in our area. It and others can be found on their Trail Updates webpage.

We have heard reports that USFS 42, the road used to get to Springer Mountain, has been shut down until it can be cleared. Amicalola Falls State Park has been without phones for quite some time and we have not been able to contact they yet, still. On their Facebook page, they announced that they shut down all of the trails in the area until the damage can be assessed and fallen trees can be cleared. This includes the Approach Trail up to Springer Mountain. Amicalola has yet to update their page, but you can follow along as see when the trails open back up on their facebook page.

We were very lucky not to sustain any damage here at Mountain Crossings, but we know this was a powerful storm. We had many visitors from Florida and south Georgia who were escaping the storm. We wish them the best as they travel back home and hope that find things in good order.

The MTX Eclipse Viewing Party… In Photos!

As many of you know, Mountain Crossings hosted an Eclipse viewing party this past Monday, the 21st. We were one of many venues at which you could catch a glimpse of this once in a life time (for most) event of the moon crossings over the sun during broad daylight. Check out these photos of the day!

The parking lot was packed out for the day! Here is a shot of viewers looking into the sky!

Mountain Crossing Employees snuck onto the roof to get the best view possible!

We don’t know about you guys, but we were pretty blown away by what we saw! Sam’s and Tyler’s faced say it all. And Jason, as always, simply smiles!

Matt and Terry, owners of Blood Mountain Cabins and neighbors of Mountain Crossings, climbed up high for a view.

Dusk at 2:30ish pm! How cool?!

The “Snake Shadows” were something everyone was told to look for. We found them!

PSA: Eclipse Day Saftey!

This is a preview from an eclipse in Norway of what the sky looks like in the middle of the day when a Total Solar Eclipse sends the moon passing by the sun!

The Total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21st is just around the corner and it is ramping up to be an event like no other. Even local schools in are are opting to let out school for the day to extending the school day so children are not riding the bus at the time of the event. The Forest Service in are are are warning that our little home in the Chattahoochee National Forest may be quite the hotspot for viewing the event. As many visitors to Mountain Crossings know, we are located at the very top of the mountain as far as road traffic is concerned and the roads leading to us are steep and winding. These roads make for a wonderful drive through the mountains and are even part of several well known loops for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Add in being the closet point to Atlanta to view a Total Solar Eclipse that won’t happen for another several hundred years and you’ve got a recipe for some traffic!

For all who are driving towards Blairsville and Dahlonega to catch a glimpse of the moon passing over the sun (in totality for just shy of 2 minutes!) we urge you to be patient, plan ahead with a possible back up plan or two, and be thoughtful and considerate to others in where you choose to park a car and view the eclipse. In an estimation from the Forest Service, the already potentially treacherous roads carving through the Chattahoochee National Forest may be lined with cars wanting to catch a clear view of the Eclipse. There are many safe pull off areas on these roads, but the number of them are far less than the expected number of visitors. Please do not put yourself of other motorists at danger in choosing a spot to watch the eclipse.

There are many places that are hosting viewing parties where parking will be much safer than on the side of a road. Mountain Crossings is one of those places where you can safely watch the eclipse! We will have lunch and eclipse glasses, which are needed to view the eclipse without the danger of damaging your vision. In fact, there are plenty of places where you can catch a glimpse of this phenomena in our area! Union County is expecting to more than double its population for a day as 40,000 viewers are projected to find a places within the totality band to catch the eclipse.

Besides careful driving, the most important factor of safety on the day of the Eclipse is wearing the proper eye protection. While the sun will be no stronger than it is on a typical day, we typically are not staring at it waiting for a once in a lifetime event to occur! It is massively important that if you are planning on viewing the solar eclipse during the times it is entering and existing totality that you wear NASA Approved Solar Eclipse Glasses. Mountain Crossings will have glasses available for all who attend our event but we urge all viewers anywhere to make sure they are properly protecting their eyes against the strong UV rays of the sun. The retina of the eye does not feel pain, so you are unaware that you are damaging your eye sight until the harm is irreversible. Please be safe, wherever you choose to view the Eclipse!

Working for the ATC: An Inside View

At Mountain Crossings, supporting the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is very important to us because they are the ones who work endlessly to support the Appalachian Trail. They help round up volunteers and resources to maintain the trail. They seek to educate users of the AT in an effort to protect the future of the trail for all. And they work to solve the major problems facing the Appalachian Trail all along its nearly 2,200 mile length. What they do is absolutely amazing and understanding their work better is one step in supporting and appreciating this amazing group of individuals and all their associates (every volunteer up and down the trail!) Check out this Question and Answer below with the ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office Director to get a better sense of how this non-profit organization is keeping the Appalachian Trail alive.

In further support, Mountain Crossings will donate $1 to the ATC for each purchase of an ATC Topo T-Shirt. This synthetic hiking tee sports the old timey, original metal trail marker plaque with a topographic background and the AT slogan, “A Footpath For Those Who Seek Fellowship With The Wilderness”, all on the back and a small, simple version of the metal trail marker in the center of the chest on the front. 

Working at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: A Question and Answer with Andy Downs

MTX: What is your job title for the ATC and what kind of work does that include?
Andy: I’m the Regional Director for ATC’s Central and Southwest Virginia Regional office. I personally work on land protection, external threats, volunteer development, trail design, visitor use management and sometimes rabid skunks, full privies, broken shelters, friendly bears, crazy hikers, etc. etc.

MTX: How does this compare to former positions at the ATC?
Andy: From 2007-2013 I worked in the Southern Region, mostly in the Smokies. My job at the time was about 65% in the field and I worked more closely with the Trail Crew Programs and the Ridgerunners.

MTX: How did you come about working for the ATC and what lead you there?
Andy: I went back to school at NC State with the specific intent of working for the ATC.

MTX: What was your experience with the Appalachian Trail before working at the ATC?
Andy: 2002 Thru-hike, numerous shorter sections but like most hikers, I had no idea who managed the trail or what it entailed.

MTX: Did you see yourself working for the ATC one day as you were thru hiking?
Andy: No, but I did soon after I started my first “real job” as an Archeologist.

MTX: What is your favorite thing about working for the ATC?
Andy: The Trail

MTX: What is the hardest part of working for the ATC?
Trying to explain to hikers when they are ruining the whole thing for everyone.

MTX: How have your feelings about the Appalachian Trail changed over time from when you were first acquainted with it, to now, after working to help protect it for years?
Andy: I love it more, much more than I ever have. Also, over the past couple of years I’ve come to realize how fragile the Trail experience is. We could lose the whole damn thing if were not careful. I mean, in 25 years, the A.T. will still exist BUT the kind of experiences that are available on the Trail could easily and irrevocably be limited through the actions of the people who love the trail the most. I don’t think most visitors know how close we are to that cliff’s edge.

MTX: Tell us one of your favorite stories from the years you have worked for the ATC:
Andy: I’ve told the story of the closest I’ve ever been to a bear a few times (which is very, very close) so maybe I’ll tell the story of the New River Relocation. I’d heard about this relocation since the first day I started with ATC, it had been on the books for about 25 years. It was the last major section of the entire Trail that was not protected, required land acquisition and about 6 miles of trail relocation. Along with the Rocky Fork project (which is another great story), the New River Relo was one of the last of the original big relocations.

About a month after taking the Regional Director job in Virginia, the word came down that the land owner, in this case the Celanese Corporation in Pearisburg, VA (yes, that factory) finally wanted to talk about providing an easement over their land for the long-preferred route up to Rice Fields. The catch was that we had to flag, clear and build about 3 miles of trail in just less than two months. I think volunteers came from around the state to help out on that project and the moment that sticks out to me was when all-star volunteer Trudy Phillips showed everyone the tuff stuff that she is made from. At the end of a hard summer day of clearing brush and trees from the trail route, at about 4pm, a group of guys sat on a log and started to take their gloves off. Trudy, at about 5 foot 1 and roughly 85 pounds immediately popped out of the woods in full chainsaw regalia – chaps, hardhat, long sleeves, earmuffs and went down the line like a General on a battle field, willing these tuckered out senior citizens onto their feet for one more shift. She banged her hands together and shouted, coercing every last ounce of energy out of the crew. The sight of Trudy, after she’d run a chainsaw all day in the 90 degree heat marching down the front lines and pulling the crew back into the woods for one more push will always stick with me.

We finished that relocation and, although it’s not the prettiest section of the trail, no one can put a fence across it and shut down the whole thing.

Mountian Crossings would like to extend a HUGE thanks to Andy Downs, the Regional Director for the Central and Southwest Virginia Regional Office for agreeing to help out with this blog post and taking time out of his day to participate! We would also like to thank ALL staff at the ATC, ALL the members who keep making contributions, ALL the ATC volunteers and ALL the trail crews and clubs to help maintain and protect the AT as we know it! THANK YOU!

Solar Eclipse Viewing Party at Mountain Crossings

You would nearly have to be living in outer space to have not heard the news of the upcoming solar eclipse that will be passing right over the southeast! On Monday, August 21st, the skies will go dark for just a few minutes in the early afternoon as the moon passes over the sun in the first total solar eclipse to cross the entire United States since 1918. The eclipse of August 21st will begin its journey over the U.S. in the north west corner of the country and pass by down through the south east and Mountain Crossings is directly in the line of the Total Solar Eclipse! Join us for the spectacular event!

The darkened area represents all the places where you can catch a total solar eclipse and Mountain Crossings is the yellow star fully submerged in the path of the eclipse!

We will begin at 12pm on Monday, August 21st, by grilling hot dogs for lunch. There will be fun for the kiddos and music playing for all to enjoy. The eclipse will take place fully at 2:35pm in the Blairsville area and will last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. We will all be crowding the over looks and the parking lot at Mountain Crossings to get a good look! We will provide eclipse glasses for a small donation so that everyone can safely view the sun as the moon passes by it and makes the sky go dark. There will also be commemorative stickers and mugs while supplies last!

See what the Eclipse will look at where you will be! Use this Eclipse Simulator to input your location and get a preview of the eclipse in your area. The image below shows what Blairsville will see.

Blairsville will see the solar eclipse in all its glory as the moon passes directly over the sun, darkening the sky!

Fun Eclipse Facts:

  • During a total solar eclipse, the shadow of the moon on the Earth is relatively small. The Earth typically continues to receive 92% of the usual sunlight it sees.
  • It is very dangerous to attempt to view an eclipse without proper eye protection. Even just a few seconds spent staring directly into the sun can damage the retina of the eye from the visible and invisible radiation of the sun. The retina does not feel pain and damage can take hours to take effect, meaning you have no way of knowing you are damaging the retina until it is too late.
  • It is safe to view a solar eclipse with out eye protection during Totality. This is when the moon is completely covering the sun and only a ring of light is illuminating the diameter of the moon.
  • Regular sunglasses are not appropriate for viewing a solar eclipse. Eclipse specific glasses a required to remain safe, as these glasses are specially made to filter out the harmful radiation of the sun.
  • Total solar eclipses occur somewhere on the planet about once ever 18 months on average. On the other hand, they occur at one given place only every 360 to 410 years!
  • A total solar eclipse can only last for up to a few minutes because the moon is moving at a rate of approximately 1700km/h past the sun.
  • The eclipse on August 21st will only be visible in totality through a narrow 70 mile corridor.
  • The eclipse will be visible in totality only in 14 states, but it will be partially visible from many more states.

 

Section Hiking Tips!

This time of year, we get a lot of section hikers passing through the shop. It’s the time of year when people either already have time off work or can more easily obtain time off of work. It is also one of the more forgiving times of year to be out in the mountains. For so many great reasons, summer time is peak section hiking season! Here are a few things to keep in mind for your section hike, whether on the AT or any trail!

Planning

Unexpected hiccups in your planning can sometimes lead to shattered expectations when backpacking, such as poor weather that the forecast didn’t quite pick up on or an injury. But still, a certain amount of it is needed to get you out there and on trail! Some folks get by with beginning and ending at major drop off and pick up points along the trail using information that can easily be found online. But if you are embarking on an extended section hike or if you are a serial section hiker and have a dream of piecing together a full AT hike, having access to all the ins and outs of the trail will be very beneficial! Purchase a guide book used by thru hikers to gain a continuous scope of the entire trail and to find potential jump off points that may otherwise be forgotten about. If your section hike is taking you past several trail towns, you will have all the information needed for a night of rest and resupply in the nearby town. You will also gain the benefit of all the information printed inside the guide book telling of local services that any and every hike may potentially find need for. Though a book like AWOL’s AT Guide is mostly carried by thru hikers, it works wonders for section hikers as well! Consider picking one up to help plan your next hike!

Shuttles

Nearly a third of all the phone calls we answer at Mountain Crossings is a hiker searching for shuttle driver numbers. Some folks are planning a hike and are looking to schedule a ride and others are currently standing at a road crossing on the trail, hoping a driver is currently available to come pick them up. No Matter which is your preferred method, it can be nice to already have a list of shuttle driver numbers ready and waiting. Many guide books, like the one mentioned above, will have a few shuttle drivers listed in their information sections about certain towns. You can also call up a local outfitter and receive even more phone numbers of local people looking to give rides to hikers.

When planning a shuttle for a section hike, many people will drive their own car to the destination that they plan to stop at and have a shuttle driver take them to their beginning point. This method of walking to your car allows you more freedom in your planning. If you try to get a ride from a shuttle driver at the end of your hike, you may have to wait several hours, if not more, for a shuttle driver to be available if you call them at the time you need a ride. If you plan to meet them at a certain time and date, many things can potentially go wrong and it at very least sets you on a firm time schedule you have to abide by. We always suggest giving yourself all the time in the world you may want so you can enjoy your hike and also making sure that you never leave a shuttle driver high and dry after planning a ride!

Pro Tip: Always carry a bit of extra cash for shuttle rides and unexpected cash only instances!

Some who have gotten shuttles in Georgia may recognize this car as belonging to one of the most reliable shuttle drivers around! Our section of trail has MANY great shuttle drivers who are very kind and knowledgeable people!

Exit Routes

Anytime you are going on a backpacking trip, it is good to have an exist strategy if needed. One of the things that keeps pulling us all outside is the unexpected nature of backpacking! If a problem arises, such as something back home, an unexpected injury or horrendously poor weather, having the phone numbers of several local shuttle drivers is a great way to make sure you are able to contact the correct person for a ride. Carrying a guide book with all the data points about road crossings, parking areas and side trails will also be crucial to helping you revise your plan if needed. Before setting out on trail, familiarize yourself with a few potential ways you can switch up your hike if you have to. Already having this bit of information in your mind will do wonders for helping you roll with the punches and not spoil your trip!

Knowing the gaps where you have a paved road crossing or even a Forest Service road crossing is important to your exit strategy!

Weather

One of the greatest things about section hiking is your ability to pick times of year or blocks of time with good weather. Unfortunately, Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate with our plans. Be sure you have done your research into local temperatures and weather in the area you are about to go hike in. Always keep in mind that mountain ranges create a lot of their own weather. If you are coming from Florida to hike in the Smoky Mountains in May, snow may seem like the last thing possible, when it is quite likely that those mountains may see snow into June even! Look for the weather in local towns and make sure to subtract roughly 5 degrees for every 1000ft of elevation you gain from town. You can also use websites such as Mountain Weather Forecast to help you get an accurate idea of the temps and weather on particular mountain tops. Regardless of what the weather man is telling you, always come prepared for wetter, colder, dryer, and hotter weather than you are expecting. A thin, extra layer in summertime can be a life saver on a tall mountain peak and a collapsable extra water bottle may save you in a particularly dry stretch.

A not so atypical view on the AT!

Mentality

We often times see section hikers come in very bummed out when their hike is not going as planned. And we totally get it! When you have a week off and all you want to do is hike and all the weather wants to do is dump rain on you, it sucks! Or maybe you’ve built up a bit of an injury and know its not smart to keep trekking on. It’s so much nicer to be able to enjoy good weather on your week (or more!) out into the woods and to be able to cruise through it without problems. But we always tell them, “You getting the true hiking experience now!” It is a sometimes futile attempt to help them feel better, but it is fun as a section hiker to have to make those tough calls like thru hikers have to time after time while on their thru hike. Do I muscle through the bad weather (rain, snow, storms, whatever it may be) or do I throw in the towel for a few days until it passes? Do I take a rest day or two to help my ankle (or knee, or blisters) heal? Sometimes for a section hiker this means giving up crucial hiking days hanging out in town or at a hostel when you only have a small window of time to hike, and that is a hard choice. But don’t let it ruin your trip. It is all part of being in the hiking community! We have all had to make those hard choices to stay put for comfort or push on and suffer through it. That is what makes backpackers so interesting! If you are section hiking and get rained out for days on end, or have to take unexpected days off to rest, take heart! You’ve been inducted into the backpacking family!

Taking care of your body and listening to its needs are as important as knowing the weather coming your way!

Water

Lastly, having a general idea about the water report in your area is key. If the area you are planning to go hiking in has had lots of rain recently, you are most likely going to find that the springs and water resources along the trail are running well. If it has been dry, there is a potential that finding water may be a problem. Local outfitters, as well as several websites, can give you an update on water. In our area, the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club has a list of all the GA water resources and their volunteers work to keep the list updated as much as possible. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy also has an ongoing list on Trail Updates that will inform you of any trail closings and major goings on along the AT. Be sure to always have the capacity to carry several liters of water if needed and drink up while at the water resource if you are hiking in a dry portion of trail!

This is what everyone longs to see after hoofing it up and over a big mountain!

Help the ATC Fight the Mountain Valley Pipeline

DISCLAIMER: All hikers know that talking politics is one of the best ways to ruin a beautiful day of hiking. So lets make one thing clear; we write and post information related to the Appalachian Trail, not politics. Sometimes, those two things over lap. We are not here to sway anyone in any political direction or another, only to help spread the word and bolster support for the protection and preservation of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail now and in the future. 

If you have flipped on the TV or radio in the past few weeks, you are well aware that American leadership has chosen to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement, an agreement between 195 nations to work towards sustainable development goals and slow the emission of green house gases causing climate change across the world. Whether this seems to you to be a good move or a bad move, it has staggering direct affects on the Appalachian Trail.

The alternative to diving headlong into sustainable and renewable energy is to continue on with mining coal and drilling for and transporting natural gas. Since the recent turn back towards these tactics, several states that the AT runs through have found themselves once again in danger. If you’ve hiked the AT, you know these states well. You’ve loved them, hated them, walked through the rain in them, ate the hardest earned burger in them, been parched under the summer sun in them and learned incredible life lessons in them. That’s all in a days work on the AT.

Sadly, there is currently a major threat to the Appalachian Trail leading through West Virginia and southwest Virginia, the Mountain Valley Pipeline. This pipeline travels south from Mobley, West Virginia to meet up with the Transcontinental Pipeline and will cross right over the Appalachian Trail, carving through the ancient landscape.

As many AT hikers know, the trail roughly follows parallel to I-81 heading north through Virginia. The pipeline will cross the AT just east of Roanoke.

For over a year, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has been trying to work the builders of the Mountain Valley Pipeline. They know that they can not slay the beast, so they have been focusing on working along side the builders as much as possible to find ways to lessen the environmental impact on the communities near the AT, on the trail itself and to help preserve the beauty of the trail for future hikers.

This superimposed image following the pipeline map shows what a view from the AT is likely to turn into once the pipeline has been finished.

The job of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy is to protect and preserve the trail since its creation in 1925. Yes, thats 12 years before the trail was completed! These guys take their job seriously and we love them for it! As you can imagine, with a threat like this to their way of life, they aren’t too happy.

Directly from Conservancy: “The ATC does not take this position lightly — for months, we have attempted to find ways to minimize environmental and visual impacts through collaboration with Mountain Valley Pipeline officials and the project’s various partners, including the U.S. Forest Service. However, due to the massive impact the proposed project would have on the Appalachian Trail, the surrounding environment, and multiple communities and small businesses, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy strongly opposes the construction of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and we urge our members, the A.T. hiking community, outdoor lovers, and the citizens of Virginia and West Virginia to stand with us.”

Again, we aren’t starting a political debate here, but we can’t help but to agree with the ATC. We don’t like this because it is a threat to the things we love most: the Appalachian Trail, the beautiful natural landscape around us, and America’s most popular way to drop it all, re-learn to rely on ourselves and those around us, and reconnect us to nature all while whipping us into the best shape of our lives. We value the environment, protecting natural landscapes, the mental and physical health the trail offers, and mostly, the beautiful people that make up the AT Community.

The Mountain Vally Pipeline will cut right through the Appalachian mountains, crossings over the Appalachian Trail, scaring the landscape and immediately surrounding environment from its construction onward into the future.

We pity our nations complacency with reliance on fossil fuels when there is such a wash of negative effects on the surrounding community and landscape and feel a need to raise awareness and fight back when that reliance begins to rear is ugly head in our backyard.

So we ask, if you love the Appalachian Trail, (If you have thru hiked or section hiked, we don’t see how you could be in love with all 2,180+ miles of it! If you plan to thru hike or section hike, you should want it to be a beautiful of an experience as it has been in the past! And if you haven’t walked it all, that shouldn’t lessen the love in your heart!) please, please, please, help us and the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in spreading the word and working as hard as we can to save the Appalachian Trail as we know it and to keep it as wild as we can. We know that every employee at Mountain Crossings has had their life transformed because of hiking the AT and we meet customers every day who feel the same. Please, let’s work together to allow that to keep happening for hikers for years to come.

 

CHECK OUT THE ATC’S FULL ARTICLE EXPLAINING THE IMACTS OF THE MOUNTAIN VALLEY PIPELINE IN THE AT AND WAYS TO TAKE ACTION TO HELP PROTECT AND PRESERVE THE AT!