Today is Pretzel’s last day at Mountain Crossings. He is on to a new chapter of devoting his life to America’s long distance trails. We secretly hope that he may return one day for another thru hiker season at MTX, but he is also on the track of becoming a career trail maintainer.
Matt “Pretzel” will be leading several of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Trail Crew over the next few months. From early June to late October, he will be leading a group of the S.W.E.A.T. Crew in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Smokies Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail Crew is a volunteer based trail crew lead by a professional trail maintainer. The volunteers that Matt will be working with are housed and fed for the extent of their time spent volunteering and all tools and equipment needed are provided as well. Volunteer stints are a week long but you can stay for as many of the seven weeks of S.W.E.A.T. Crew sessions as you’d like. Volunteers arrive in Gatlinburg, TN to prep for a week in the backcountry working in very remote places. When the S.W.E.A.T. season is done, Matt will be moving on to be a trail crew leader for the Rocky Top Trail Crew from late August to late October. Rocky Top is a little bit less intense than the S.W.E.A.T. Crew but because it is still a remote location within the Smokies, the volunteer stints consist of five sessions that are 8 days long. Just as with the other crew, the Rocky Top Trail Crew is provided with food, tools and equipment needed for the volunteering period.
If you are looking for an awesome way to spend a week or so this summer, think about volunteering with the S.W.E.A.T. Crew! Learn More Here!
If you are looking for an awesome way to spend a week or so this fall, think about volunteering the Rock Top Trail Crew! Learn More Here!
After Pretzel finishes up the next five months of trail maintenance, he is headed out for a bit of fun. In late October he will be hiking the AT/BMT Loop, which is more of a figure 8, really. This loop involves hiking the AT from Springer Mountain, up thru the Smokies, where the BMT ends and taking the BMT back down to Springer Mountain. You can also choose to reverse the process and hike the BMT to the Smokies and hike the AT back south!
We are sad to watch Pretzel go and to loose our resident gram weeny, who can turn a kitchen sink packer into an ultralight backpacker in an afternoon. Still we know, that even if Pretzel’s new path in life takes him to new places, we can count on his friendship. Keep in connection with all the cool things Pretzel will be up to this summer and fall, as well as his AT/BMT Loop hike (and maybe a 2017 CDT thru hike?!) by following him on Instagram @firexneck. He is always up to something interesting and has the beautiful images to back it up!