Your Pre-AT Thru Hike Companion

It is 2016, which means that we are one huge milestone closer to the date and time when many folks will set out to accomplish a massive dream. The northbound thru hiker class of 2016 is nervously and excitedly ramping up for their treks to Maine: counting down the days, finalizing their gear, preparing their body and mind for the big task ahead of them and Waiting on Spring.


Mountain Crossings’ employee and 2013 Appalachian Trial thru hiker Carlie “Rainbow Braid” Gentry has a little collection of words that will help ease the minds of thru hiker’s looking to set out in the Spring. This eBook is a compilation of the collective thoughts of a hiker upon returning from her thru hike. She addresses many topics such as: fully understanding and accepting the commitment of a six month thru hike, what mode of preparation ended up being beneficial, what books were worth reading, what she wished she had known going into the first few days of the hike and much more.

Carlie “Rainbow Braid” Gentry made the big choice to thru hike in 2013 after graduation college with a degree in photography. Upon her return she began to work at the local REI and started writing for Appalachian Trails as the senior most contributor, save the creator, Zach Davis. She made the switch from corporate gear store to small business, specialty outdoor retailer a year ago when she took a job at Mountain Crossings. Carlie has been doling out thru hiking advice to all who ask on the Appalachian Trails webpage and on various sales floors for two and a half years now. Waiting on Spring is a compilation of all of those thoughts just waiting to be unleashed onto your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer.

Get Your Copy Here

In Case You Missed It – The MTX Tour!

Our little town of Blairsville has seen some interesting technological influx in the last few months. Google has been offering to do high resolution, virtual tours through Google Maps all throughout the local area. Since Mountain Crossings is such an intriguing historical location, we were readily on the list and willing to participate!

Just as when you see those funny little cars with strange domes protecting cameras driving down the street, Google now has smaller, more mobile versions of those that sit on a tripod. A representative from Google came out and we made a plan for what all was going to be photographed.

If you have never seen a tour on Google Maps, you are in for a treat. They are 360° Virtual Tours of a location with immaculate resolution and clarity. You can go see Yellowstone National Park. You can go see Stone Henge. And now you can go see Mountain Crossings!

On the tour, you can walk through the breezeway and then jump down to look into the hostel. Then you can walk up to the over look for a quick view and then check out the inside of the shop. Have fun!

Reinventing the Shake Down!

Mountain Crossings has been well known for the gear shake down for many decades. Each thru hiker season, hundreds, now thousands, of hikers pass through the shop to dump what they have found they don’t want and to pick up what they didn’t know they needed.

Want a tiny pack like this that still has all the gear needed to keep you comfortable, safe and happy on trail?! Get a Virtual Shake Down!

Want a tiny pack like this that still has all the gear needed to keep you comfortable, safe and happy on trail?! Get a Virtual Shake Down!

Traditionally, hikers do this on their thru hike, about the 3rd or 4th day into their extended stroll. In recent years, more and more prospective thru hikers who are relatively local to the shop (Atlanta, Chattanooga, Greenville, Huntsville and even beyond) have been making a trip to Mountain Crossings to have a shake down before hitting the trail. The result makes their first few days on trail radically more comfortable in two major ways. One is physical: their pack is lighter due to not carrying unnecessary items and they also don’t find themselves lacking something important. The second is mental: they have asked all the questions they can and talked with experts about what to expect. The over all experience of the first few days is better. Plus, when they arrive at the shop all they have to do it eat, shower and relax instead of wait in line with tons of other hikers for a much needed shake down.

Full gear layout as see

A typical day during hiker season at MTX looks like 3 or 4 (way less organized) pack explosions like this one! It can get messy, but it’s fun!

As the shake down becomes more popular, section hikers, weekenders, and even boy scout troops are opting to receive this helpful service. It is beneficial to all backpackers, not only thru hikers!


A Bit of Info on the Virtual Shake Down

  1. Anyone of any experience level or preparedness can participate in a Virtual Shake Down. (Whether you’re a former thru hiker looking to shed some pack weight or only have three pieces of gear, all are welcome!)
  2. A computer with video chat capabilities (built in or attached video camera and microphone) is needed for a Virtual Shakedown.
  3. Virtual Shake Downs happen over an application called Google Hangout. We will provide you with a dummy G-Mail account for use during the shake down.
  4. A Virtual Shake Down costs $100, but that cost is a 100% (absolutely full and total) rebate!!
  5. During the shake down you will have access to all the entire inventory of Mountain Crossings and we will help you locate the exact items you need to complete or update your gear set.
  6. After you have chosen what you need from that shop, you will have 48 hours to purchase these items and apply your $100 rebate towards your gear.

Click on this Image to check out the Virtual Shake Down

Mountain Crossings’ Holiday Gift Guide

Alright folks, so wether you are one of the prepared of if this is your first realization that Christmas is just a short ways away, we’ve got some things here that will help you out! It can be so tough to think of the perfect gift for everyone on your list so we’ve gone ahead and taken care of the outdoor loving, AT hiking friend or family member! Just get them anything off this list and they will dig it!

Click on any image to link to the product on Mountain Crossings website. Prices listed do not include shipping or sale tax.

Start Small: Little Gifts/Stocking Stuffers

Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail Magnet



This is the same image of the official National Scenic Trail plaque that one finds nailed to trees along the Appalachian Trail, except this is a magnet! It spruces up any refrigerator or large, magnetic faced kitchen appliance. It has a low profile so it stays on cars even during a car wash.

Official Appalachian Trail Logo Patch

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The official, copy written, Appalachian Trail Maine to Georgia patch is an excellent gift for any backpacker who is looking to decorate their pack or commemorate a hike.

Landmark Project’s Retro Appalachian Trail Sticker



We think this sticker made by the Landmark Project out of Greenville, SC is one of the coolest Appalachian Trail stickers we have seen to date. Give a little AT flair to a friend or family member to represent a beautiful trail on their car, Nalgene, notebook or whatever they’d like!

Appalachian Trail Shot Glass



Everybody has a souvenir shot glass from some random beach town but what about one of America’s long distance hiking trails?! That’s way more worthy of a toast!

Movin’ On Up: Stand Alone Gifts

Appalachian Trail Pint Glass



We think that there is no better time to drink a beer than right after a great hike! It’s the most satisfying a beer can possibly be. But unfortunately, it’s not always possible to be fresh off the trail. No fear! Drinking your beer out of an Appalachian Trail pint glass often gives similar effects!

Blood Mountain Trucker Hat



This Blood Mountain trucker hat not only has an awesome design featuring the tallest mountain in Georgia on the AppalachianTrail, it also comes in three great colors! Blood Mountain is quite possibly the most popular day hike in Georgia and if you’ve ever been the the summit, it’s not hard to imagine why.


Glow in the Dark Silicone Pint Glass with Mountain Crossings’ Logo



This pint glass is the only pint glass your friend or family member will ever need again!! (Except for re-buying it in all the colors possible!) This Silicone pint glass depicting Mountain Crossing’s logo is made by a company called SiliPint. They manufacture pint glasses that are unbreakable, dish washer safe, microwave safe, freezer safe, and BPA free. Owning one of these cups make its easier to cut down on your possessions because you only want to use this one cup all the time! Oh, also, THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!!!

Sawyer Mini Water Filter


The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is still the lightest weight filtration system on the market for backpacking coming in at just 3 ounces. Besides being the go to way to filter water for backpackers, they make an excellent addition to a day pack for those just in case situation. Your day hiking buddy won’t even know its in there, but it could end up saving them from a long day of no water if the event ever arises.

A Walk In The Woods

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The Appalachian Trail community is abuzz with talk of the recent release of the feature length film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. But we all know that the book is better than the movie! Give the reader on your list the original memoir that over took the AT community so solidly that it over took Hollywood as well!

Assorted Appalachian Trail Ceramic Mug


Another thing many hikers love as much as beer is coffee! These awesome ceramic Appalachian Trail mugs are perfect for transporting someone back to the peace and serenity of Nature while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. They also come in so many colors and glazes that everyone is sure to be pleased!

Getting Serious: They’ll Love You Forever!

Woolrich Appalachian Trail Blanket


This is hands down the coolest gift you can give someone who loves the Appalachian Trail! Every hiker has fond memories of their times on trail, so why not personify the warmth of the memories with a blanket! It’s so nice to wrap up in a wool blanket on a chilly day and when it is not in use, this particular blankets makes a wonderful accent piece of an AT lover!

Helinox Ground Chair



This chair is not only light enough to be carried on any backpacking or camping trips, but it is also comfortable enough to be used on a regular basis around home! It weighs in at only one and a half pounds, packs away into a tiny zippered case, and is super easy to put together. It is perfect to keep around the house for extra seating or stow away in the back of your car for just in case purposes.

The Real Hiking Viking Sets Sail Again

It is getting to be that time of year again. It’s the season where we all shut ourselves away indoors and wait until spring to go back out. There are the few hardy ones who brave the elements with the help of the right gear, but most only go out on the best of days, if at all. Thankfully, there are those few hardy ones! One of them is Thomas Gathman.


Thomas “Tom” Gathman AKA Jabba AKA  The Real Hiking Viking

Besides his given name, Thomas is also know by his trail name, Jabba. But most people know of him not by his trail name, but by another moniker: The Real Hiking Viking. He solidified his love for long distance hiking when he thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2013 with other veterans as part of the Warrior Hike Program. Jabba has put down a lot more trail miles since then. In 2014 he thru hiking the Continental Divide Trail and earlier this year, he hiked the Florida Trail, the Arizona Trail and nearly completed the Pacific Crest Trail until fire closures along the trail shut him out.

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A sneak peek of Jabba’s hiking style, which he indeed puts a lot of “style” into.

Its obvious that The Real Hiking Viking is the sort that likes to be out in nature a lot, but thankfully for us, he is also slightly insane and has signed himself up for a trip that will keep our adventurous mountaintop seeking selves satisfied from the warmth of our own homes. All we need to do is tune into The Real Hiking Viking’s Facebook or Instagram.


A sampling of the beautiful kinds of images found on The Real Hiking Viking’s social media pages.

Starting December 1st, yes, that was yesterday, Jabba will be thru hiking the Appalachian Trail south bound through the winter! It is a trek that is reminiscent of Trauma and Pepper’s Winter Southbound PCT Thru Hike. The elements may not be quite as extreme and with a history as varied as that of the AT, he is surely not the first to take on such a hike, but he is bucking against tradition and traveling by foot over rugged terrain that is inhospitable at best in the winter. Join in with us in following along with his progress, which is sure to be full of gorgeous winter time photographs and fun stories.