The Battle of De-Feet

It’s summer time, which means that everyone every where is letting their toes hang out. What a great feeling! Those poor, forgotten little digits deserve to live it up during the warm months of the year. Ditch the wool socks and closed toe shoes and get a pair of something your feet can rock and roll in all summer long! The question is, what sort of sandal do you want to wear? There are so many out there and many are vastly different. Here is a break down of the pros and cons of two sandals carried by Mountain Crossings that may help you make the best choice for you!

At MTX we carry both the ever classic summer adventure sandal, Chacos, and the new kid on the block knocking out the competition, Xero Shoes. Both these sandals are designed for summer fun in mind. They aren’t going to flip and flop around. They aren’t going to trip you up. They will seamlessly transition from hiking to frolicking in a creek to wearing around town. They are both your one stop shop shoe for summer time! But despite these similarities, they are SO different! Just look at them!

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Chacos

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Xero Shoes

As you can see, these sandals share a lot of design features, but there is one that you can can’t help but notice the two don’t seem to agree on. The Sole! Every pair of Chacos has a nearly clunky sole with a high arch. Xero Shoes have barely any sole at all and no arch support. What is a purchaser to do? Decide what kind of arch you have and buy that pair? Surprisingly, no! Either shoe you choose will become the new best friend to your feet! But let’s go over some specifications of each shoe and learn how our feet react to the different designs.

All About Chacos

As soon as you put on a Chaco, you can feel the stability and support of the sole. It is sometimes concernedly prominent. The first time I put on a pair, I immediately declared that the arch was too high and didn’t look back for years. (In the meantime, I wasted tons of money and time on other sandals that didn’t hold up for longer than a month and never did quite serve the high action, outdoor purposes I needed.) The next time around, I wasn’t so impulsive. Sure, I wasn’t used to the feel of it, but I could tell the polyurethane sole wasn’t going to compress like other sandals. I had seen friends wear the same pair for years as I cycled through countless shoes made of less durable materials. As I continued to wear them, my feet began to really enjoy the curvature and arch of the sole. Chaco calls their design the LUVSEAT Footbed and I began to see why. My foot felt cradled by the shoe! As for the straps, you have two options, one with a strap for the big toe and one without a strap for the big toe. All Chocos are designed with the straps as one long piece of webbing, making both versions  fully adjustable so your foot is perfectly nestled on the LUVSEAT Footbed and held in place by the straps. An added bonus to Chacos is the brand’s dedication to repairs. They don’t want you to have to buy a new pair. They will fix and repair any shoes they can, which is perfect because you will fall in love with your Chacos and not want to give them up for a new pair anyway!

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A diagram for adjusting the two different strap designs.

All About Xero Shoes

Xero Shoes have stepped into the footwear world and brought us a shoe unlike many others. As adventure races and ultra running are gaining in popularity in the outdoor world, Xero Shoes have come in and helped up the game of barefoot running as well. Many extreme runners site barefoot running as the ultimate form of running; the healthiest shoe for your foot is no shoe, they say. But the reality of that isn’t so pretty. It’s actually really dirty and dusty, might include a few cuts and scraps and definitely a couple bruises. That’s where Xero Shoes step in. These minimalist shoes are designed to train your foot as if it were barefoot but give you that extra edge to keep your feet safe. Contrary to what most believe, the thin sole with zero arch support is not bad for your feet, it is actually better for them. A minimalist approach like Xero Shoes actually helps build the muscles in the foot and strengthen the foot. The thin sole allows the foot to bend and move in all the natural ways a foot is designed to move. Because of the zero drop design of the shoe, meaning there is no difference in the height of the heel and toe of the sandal, the foot is allowed to strike the ground in a more natural way as well. Xero Shoes are built around a strong belief that a bare foot is already a perfect design. Now there is something out there to make it better than barefoot.

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The Takeaway

Feet are incredible and we don’t give them enough credit. They are versatile, strong, resilient and adaptive. There are many routes we can take on the path to taking care of our feet. Chacos and Xero Shoes are each a different path towards healthy feet ready for a summer of fun. Don’t cast away a good shoe option just because first appearances are vastly different from what you have seen or felt on your foot before. Trying something new may just be the best thing you could choose for you feet!

For details on Chacos and Xero Shoes in store at Mountain Crossings, call us at 706-745-6095.

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Half Way To Glory at the Headquarters

Summer time has recently begun and it is rolling onward, day by day. Springer Mountain has been void of traditional Northbound thru hikers for quite a while. They are all further up trail by now and many of them have just passed or are soon going to reach the halfway point of their journey; The Appalachian Trail Conservancy‘s Headquarters.

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This infamous building is actually the “mental” halfway point of a thru hike of the AT. It is actually a few more days to the real halfway point as far as milage is concerned. But the tiny historic town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia is a more receptive place to bask in the glory of a feat many never experience. This is popular place for hikers to receive visitors. Many take a day or two off to recollect themselves for the second half of their hike.

Walking into the ATC’s Headquarters is an incredible feeling for thru hikers. It is a place that 100% expects you and is waiting for you when you come strolling up. You sling your pack off as you walk into the historic building and are washed over with everything Appalachian Trail. You greet the friendly faces before you and head straight for the hiker photos. A growing book of Polaroids photos shows the face of all the hikers who have come before you. You flip through the pages in delight as you see friends you met months ago or maybe just days ago.

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A typical book of photos at the ATC Headquarters, as photographed by Robert Sutherland.

Then it is your turn. You stand in front of the second most iconic sign on the Appalachian Trail (after the Katahdin sign, of course) and have your picture taken.

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Mountain Crossings employee Carlie “Rainbow Braid” at the headquarters in Harper’s Ferry.

Besides the warm fuzzies that come with an incredible achievement like backpacking 1,000+ miles, visiting the ATC Headquarters is an incredible treat for anyone who loves the AT, backpacking, the outdoors or history. The history of the AT itself is greatly celebrated there but those who are keen on that topic will quickly be side tracked by the quaint town of Harper’s Ferry. It is a place steeped in American history, particularly Civil War history.

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Harper’s Ferry sits at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and after walking through the city and over the bridge, hikers are in Maryland and continue to walk the C & O Canal for quite some time. The Harper’s Ferry experience is a special one, whether for a hiker, or a family member of a hiker or someone who is simply visiting a new, cool town!

Top 3 Sections Hikes in GA

It is SUMMER TIME!! Which means it is the perfect time to cherry pick a section of the Appalachian Trail to hike. Here is a mini guide to several popular section hikes in Georgia that offer something for all levels of backpackers. Which one is right for you?!

The Over Nighter

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Blood Mountain Shelter on the summit of Blood Mountain.

Not everyone is ready for a hike that will test their limits. For those who are wanting to get out there and try their hand at backpacking for the first or second time, the over nighter is the perfect section hike. We suggest hiking from Woody Gap to Tesnatee Gap, covering a 16.17mi stretch of trail. To set shuttle, drive up to Tesnatee Gap and drop your first car off, then drive down to Woody Gap. This breaks down into two 8mi. days and requires a two day food carry. Start at Woody Gap and take the slow and steady way up to the summit of Blood Mountain, staying at the shelter and taking in the views of the beautiful summit. (Remember that camping on Blood Mountain requires a bear canister from March 1st to June 1st.) On the second day, you will descend the mountain into Neel Gap and be able to get a refreshing cold beverage at Mountain Crossings. Continue on north, taking a break at both Wolf Laurel Top and Cow Rock to soak in the wilderness around you before dropping down into Tesnatee Gap to your car.

The Georgia Classic

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Pop into the shop at Neel Gap for a cold drink before you head home!

For those who have a couple of days and are looking for the classic Appalachian Trail experience in Georgia, hike from Springer Mountain to Neel Gap. This 31.7mi. hike takes 3 to 4 days for most hikers. Drop your first car at the Bryon Reese Trailhead Parking and drive down to the Springer Mountain Parking Lot. This hike requires 3+ days of food to be carried and you can break down the 30ish miles how ever you would like, whether you choose to shelter hop for the social aspect of it or camp at more secluded areas. This hike ends at Neel Gap, where you can pop into Mountain Crossings for some refreshments and to spruce up before you drive home.

The Full State

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This camp site just past Neel Gap is called Wolf Laurel Top. Be sure to stop for a snack, if nothing else!

If you are looking to challenge yourself and have the time to set aside for a week or so in the woods, hiking the full Georgia section of the Appalachian Trail is for you! Drop your first car at Deep Gap and drive down to Springer Mountain to begin your hike. This is an 85.4 mi. section of the Appalachian Trail that traverses all of Georgia and takes you just into North Carolina. There are two spots to resupply along this 8 to 10 day trek. The first portion requires carrying 3+ days of food to Mountain Crossings at Neel Gap where you can get your first resupply. From there, carry 3+ days of food to Dicks Creek Gap, where you can get a ride into the town of Hiawasee, Ga to resupply again for a final 2 day food carry to Deep Gap in North Carolina. Don’t forget to get your Appalachian Trail Georgia Patch for a souvie!!

Good Things To Know

If you don’t want to bring two cars along, consider calling a shuttle driver to help you set shuttle before you hike. We suggest parking your car at your final destination and having a shuttle driver drive you to your beginning point. That way you can be on your own time schedule and when you finish your hike, you can head home immediately. Need help finding a shuttle? Call us up and we will give you a list of folks in the area who do shuttles!

Always allow yourself extra time when planning a hike so that it can be a leisurely and fun hike. Also, always pack an extra meal or so in each resupply just incase!

Bring a map! But don’t go over board. Anti Gravity Gear make the most perfect section hiking maps. The Georgia portion gives you all the info you need on a small, water resistant strip of paper. Your shelters, camp sites, water resources and road crossings are all marked and there is even an elevation profile. Pick one up before you go!

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