2016 Thru Hiker Kick Off Party

It’s that time of year again! We are gearing up for thru hiker season and as part of that, we are throwing our annual Thru Hiker Kick Off Party!! Join us THIS Saturday, February 27th, from 12pm to 6pm for a day a fun in the mountains celebrating thru hiker season.

Live music will start around 1pm and go intermittently until 5pm. Bluegrass musicians Rob TigerWyatt Espalin and Kaleb Garret will be pickin’ on and off all day long. There will be hot dogs on the grill and a s’mores making station over a open fire, so don’t worry about lunch for the family! For the kids there will be face painting and other fun activities.

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There will be booths set up by the Georgia AppalachianTrail Club, Richard Judy, who authored the book Thru, and Roots Rated, a company out of Chattanooga, TN that has a website and a mobile app that assists you in finding the coolest local spots for outdoor recreation all over the country!

Gear reps will be present to demonstrate gear from several different companies including Big Agnes, Granite Gear, Garmont, Helinox, Salewa, Nemo, Buff and Exofficio. Fix It Man will be present to assess any and all broken gear and try his darnedest to repair it with his excess of materials and his industrial sewing machine, all for free!

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We will be holding a Gear Raffle in which prizes include packs, trekking poles,  shoes, hammocks, sweat shirts, t-shirts, stickers, koozies, water bottles, hats, key chains, wallets, stuff sacks and so much more! Raffle tickets are only $10 per ticket. You do not have to be present to win. Send cash or check to Mountain Crossings, 12471 Gainesville Hwy, Blairsville GA 30512 or purchase them on the day of the event. All proceeds go to funding the AT History Project, an effort by local Union County residents to research and preserve the history of the Appalachian Trail in conjunction to the Civilian Conservation Corps who helped build much of it in Union County.

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Our very own Matt “Pretzel” will be giving a free Gear Talk at 2:30 on the upper overlook. In the past he has taught a class on the subject of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail but this time he will be going into depth specifically about the gear needed for a thru hike.

Join us for a day full of thru hiking and backpacking centered fun! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never thru hiked or never backpacked. This is a great way to become introduced or to just simply enjoy a day in the mountains at the historic Walasi-Yi Center! Check out last year’s blog post about the fun day. This year it looks like we won’t have any left over snow, but plenty of sunshine!

Please carpool, as our parking lot is very small and will fill up quickly. Extra parking is available in the Byron Reece Trailhead Parking Lot a 1/4 mile North of Mountain Crossings on US-129/Gainesville Hwy.

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Fix It Man and The Flying Pig Trailer

There are two things that all thru hikers love: Gear and Free Stuff! And while free gear may seem like the pinnacle of thru hiker existence, there is actually something else, something even better than free gear, that all hikers eventually need and always love. A free fix!

When you live out of a pack, or in a tent or inside a jacket on trail, you come to love it so much that when it fails, it nearly breaks your heart. Replacing it is not only financially painful, but emotionally painful, as if you are giving up a good friend. Thankfully, there is a man for this sort of thing and this man has a trailer and a mission. Fix It Man, with his Flying Pig Trailer, aims to repair any piece of gear a hiker may have and do it FOR FREE!

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Fit It Man at work in his Trailer.

Allyn Morton unknowingly began laying the ground work for his lifelong hobby and service of fixing gear when he was only 15 years old. He began working with leather; creating custom pieces and repairing leather goods. Thirty years ago, at the first annual Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia, Allyn set up a small operation doing small fixes for hikers like replacing broken buckles and sewing fraying straps back together.

Three decades later, he travels a circuit of trail festivals and fixes gear out of his Flying Pig Trailer that he can both live and work out of. Dubbed Fit It Man by hikers in the late 80’s or early 90’s, Allyn now has a heavy duty industrial sewing machine that can stitch through tough fabrics like they are butter. His current day armory consists of gear parts like buckles and zippers and fabric types for gear such tents, jackets and packs.

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Fit It Man (on the left) with other gear reps at a hiker festival in front of his gear repair station.

When asked why and how he commits so much time and energy to providing s free service like this to hikers, Allyn simply replies that he does it for the hikers, for the dealers/outfitters who host him and for the several gear companies he represents. It’s a gift he realizes he has and enjoys, so why not share the joy and benefit of it?!

Give Fix It Man five minutes to evaluate the damage of your gear and then he will get to work on repairing it, for FREE!  If you don’t have anything that needs mending, just stop by the trailer for a chat. His advice is as free as his sewing skills and he’s got lots of it, having worked for decades in the outdoor industry as a rep for companies like Big Agnes, Helinox, Anti Gravity Gear, Granite Gear, Garmont and Point6 Socks. He has a wealth of knowledge about some of long distance backpacking’s greatest gear companies.

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Fit It Man performing his duties as a gear rep by introducing the latest from Granite Gear and Big Agnes to Mountain Crossings owner, Logan.

You can catch Fix It Man and his Flying Pig Trailer at Mountain Crossings Thru Hiker Kick Off Party on Saturday Feb. 27th and he will be staying until Monday Feb. 29th. Then further up trail at later days at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, Uncle Johnny’s in Erwin, TN and finally at the 30th Annual Trail Days in Damascus, VA!

Sentio Cycling: A New Way To Ride

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Humans were not always the well traveled beings we are now, with trains, planes and automobiles shuttling us to far off and exotic places. The Ancient Romans were the first among us to travel for fun. Before, travel had always been a means of survival. As we began to build permanent civilizations and began living in a single place, we also began to find a desire to travel for the sole sake of seeing new places. The Romans had a word for the amazing feeling that travel gives you. You know, that feeling when you kind of don’t know where you are exactly but it’s some where so unlike home, its super gorgeous, and you just can’t begin to explain it. They called that Sentio.

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THIS is Sentio. Standing on the edge of a oceanside cliff on Route 1 in California gazing out into deep blue green waters of the Pacific Ocean!

Sentio Cycling is a group of hardcore adventurers who wants to bring that feeling of Sentio to as many folks as they can! Eli and Erin are a young couple out of Steamboat Springs, CO who have opened up a whole new world of cycling. Eli, Erin and their team behind Sentio Cycling build group specific cycling rides and tours for corporate events, charity fundraisers and private groups.

Brought to life in the fall of 2015, Sentio Cycling was founded on Erin’s love for outdoor adventure and Eli’s former experience in leading long distance cycling trips. They are both triathletes and avid mountain bikers. Along with their team of varied experts of route planning, bike mechanics, group facilitators and more, Erin and Eli lead groups on cycling trips all over the country. Sometimes a ride is just one day and a couple of miles. Other times a ride is multiple days and hundreds of miles long. Sometimes a corporation contracts them to facilitate a kick ass team building exercise of epicness most of us couldn’t imagine our bosses allowing. Other times they work alongside a group to drive awareness of a fundraiser for a great cause. They will even assist individuals or private groups in building the perfect ride! What these guys do is incredible!

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A support van (or vans) is available for groups who request one.

It starts with a query form. They want to get a sense of what you are looking for. They want to know what sort of riders you have and what kind of ride you are looking for. You lay out your needs and wants for them and they take it all and hit the ground running on building a perfectly tailored ride for you and your group. They will structure your days based off of how many miles you want to ride and how tough you want it to be. They can take you over all the hills, or avoid as many as possible. They can even plan in fun, restful activities for days off during the ride. These guys will go so far to make your ride perfect that they will even provide an event photographer and assist in making custom jerseys or t-shirts! You can request that a chef accompany you on your ride if your group needs one and, of course, a bike mechanic will be ever-present to resolve any possible bike mishaps. If you have a dream of experiencing this land on two, man powered wheels but have no idea what in the world you’re doing, these guys can ensure that you are going to have an incredible time and that your ride will go off without a hitch!

Maybe you’ve got a bit of cycling experience and do not need a guide. Sentio Cycling can simply use their expert knowledge of route development to create the perfect ride and then hand it over for you and your group to enjoy on your own. Whatever you need, they have it!

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Mountain biking rides are on their menu as well!

Check out more from this fledging company who is destine for great things with this fresh, new take on adventure!

Click here to learn more about Corporate Rides!

Click Here to learn more about Charity Fundraiser Rides!

Click here to learn more about Private Group Rides! 

 

Meet Zack!

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Zack at the Taccoa River Bridge while backpacking on the BMT.

This is our good friend, Zack! He is more than just our good friend, he has been a valuable employee with us for about six months. He has been a good friend for even longer. In fact, when Zack started working for us this summer, we weren’t even looking to hire anyone. He was just a quick study and kind of had to keep jumping in and helping on busy summer days at the shop. Plus, he’s got that kind of personality that you’d rather have around than not!

Zack was born and raised in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee and you can see that the influence of such an iconic town runs deep in him. He’s a good ol’ southern boy with a big heart but you may not think it just by looking at him. We he rolls up on his Harley, arms covered in tattoos, you may not think he was such an affinity for the Appalachian Trail either!

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Besides an adorable mutt named Romper that he saved from a roadside ditch, this is Zack’s other baby!

In 2011, Zack transformed into ‘Blueyes’ on his thru hike of the AT, a trail name that he comes by with striking honesty. Like most hikers, he fell in love with the trail and had to find a way back soon after his hike. This desire to stay connected with the trail brought him to Virginia, where he worked with the Konnarock Trail Crew along the AT. The next year he upped his connection between trail and job even more by becoming a ridge runner in both Pennsylvania and Georgia, where our friendship began. When it came time for a hot meal and to get a shower, Blueyes would have a stay in the hostel at Mountain Crossings during his regular patrol.

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Trail work with the Konnarock Trail Crew in Virginia.

Zack then found a less nomadic role on the AT when he took a job at the Hike Inn on the Approach Trail. Besides offering a unique backcountry experience focused on sustainability, the Hike Inn also offers nightly educational classes on varying topics. On his off days, Zack would come up to Mountain Crossings and hang out until we began to put him to work in place of several of our own staff who were thru hiking. For quite a while, he worked at both until moving over to the mountain full time to help with the busy fall and spring seasons!