New Year’s Resolutions

It’s almost the New Year, and you know what that means, New Year’s resolutions! A lot of people like to make resolutions which is great! It can really help a person do something they might not normally do. But you don’t have to get too ahead of yourself. Sometimes you have to start with something small. At Mountain Crossings, we are all about the outdoors. We would like to encourage you to make some resolutions to get outside and do some hiking!

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Hiking is good for the body
Exercising more and getting healthier seems to be one of the most popular resolutions. It is a good one. Especially after the holidays when you eat like a pig. Instead of going to a gym, try getting outside for some exercise! I know that not everyone is close to the mountains, but you would be surprised at the amount of trails you can find even in the city. It can be much more enjoyable to be outside rather than working out in a row of people looking at a TV. You might find yourself outside exercising for longer because it is easier to lose track of time. You could even head to a local park and do some exercises in the grass such as push ups, and squats. Living in the mountains is a bonus, because you can get a great workout just walking up mountains. If you don’t live in the mountains, I encourage you to take your weekends to find a good hike. The mountains can be just a short drive from cities, and are a great way to spend a day off from work. But no matter where you are, city, country, mountains, you can always find some place to get outside and exercise!

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Strong hiking legs

Hiking is good for the brain
This might not be as obvious as the physical benefits of hiking, but if you’ve gone outside and enjoyed the outdoors for a day, you understand. Previous research has shown that just a 50-minute walk in nature can improve your mood, decrease your anxiety and even improve your memory. Our world is becoming more and more urban and urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness. Simply removing us from an urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise, and fewer distractions can be advantageous for our mental health. It is also important to disconnect from technology for a little bit during a hike. We have become so connected to our phones and other electronics. Freeing ourselves from these devices can open up your mind to the world around you and encourage creative thinking. This Earth is around us to enjoy and experience!

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Happy hikers enjoying the day

New Year’s hikes
We’ve got some hiking recommendations for you in North Georgia! The most popular one by us is Blood Mountain. It is a 4.5 miles hike, out and back, or 6.5 mile loop. There are stunning rock outcroppings at the top with great views. Woody gap is another great spot. If you go North on the AT from there you hit Preacher’s Rock, also known as Big Cedar Mountain, and get a nice view from there. It’s only a mile to the top so it is definitely a shorter hike. From there if you want to add some miles, you can go south on the AT and go to Ramrock Mountain which is another 2 miles from Woody gap. If you want something more challenging, the Coosa Backcountry trail is a 12 mile loop out of Vogel State Park and is fairly difficult, but awesome.

If you’re looking for maybe some easier trails with waterfalls, we’ve got a few more suggestions. Desoto Falls is right down the road from us. There is a lower, and upper falls that total about 2.5 miles. Raven Cliff Falls is another popular waterfall in the area. It is about 5 miles and the waterfall cascades through a 40-foot-tall, towering cliff. Long Creek Falls is the last one I will mention. This is a little trickier to get to by road. It is along forest service road 42 so you might need to check out directions ahead of time. Once you get to the Three Forks area,  it is a one mile hike to the falls. If you are feeling ambitions you could also drive over to Big Stamp Gap and hike the mile up to the summit of Springer Mountain for a nice view, and the start of the Appalachian Trail!

These links are from http://www.atlantatrails.com/, which is a great site containing detailed information on trails in Georgia. The trail reviews include trail info, trail maps, elevation profiles, inspiring photography and driving directions. They aim to inspire Atlanta residents and visitors to get active outside and to find a great Georgia hiking, backpacking or running adventure.

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Blood Mountain in winter time

Basic equipment for day hiking
The first item on the list, is a small daypack. We’ve got several in the store that are perfect for just a few items on  your day hike. We have Osprey, Granite Gear, and Outdoor Reasearch day packs.  A water bottle or a bladder with a hose is a must. You’ve got to stay hydrated out there! Even when it’s freezing outside, be sure to drink your water. Most people don’t because it’s too cold but you can still become dehydrated in the cold. Pack layers! Especially in this cold weather, having a jacket can really make a difference. If the weather has even the slightest chance of rain, a rain jacket or poncho is good to bring as well. Check out some of our clothing options here to help on your hike. Pack a map so you know where you are going. Cell reception is poor in the mountains so do not rely on a phone GPS for your location. Maps are fun too because you can find many different trails in an area you may want to explore. For example, Blood Mountain is the more popular hike right by us, but if you look at the map, you will see other connecting trails that are equally as beautiful. Lastly, pack food. Even if you are out for just a short hike, you may need that fuel to help you along.

Hope this has inspired you to make your New Year’s resolution and get you into hiking! You can start small and work your way up to some overnight hikes, or even a thru hike! Check back next week to learn about the steps to preparing a thru hike.

Congratulations 2016 Thru Hikers!

This past week I did a social media post calling all 2016 thru hikers to send me their pictures. Mountain Crossings wants to congratulate all ya’ll on your awesome journey! Thanks to all who sent in pictures, it has been fun looking through them. Now let’s take a look shall we?

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“Brightside” NOBO 3/7 – 7/27

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“Dirty Bowl” NOBO 4/15 – 8/11

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Hannah and Danielle NOBO ? – 8/21, They raised nearly $11,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention throughout their journey.

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“Headshot” NOBO 4/8 – 9/7

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“Hoot and Padfoot” NOBO 4/12 – 10/15

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Clockwise from the guy in the yellow vest, “Goat, Verge, Sweets, Jingle, Mountain Goat, Princess Peach, Training Wheels, Legs” NOBO various – 8/25

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“Ninja” NOBO

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“Stephanie” NOBO

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“Sweets” NOBO 3/20 – 8/25

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“The Kid” NOBO 4/4 – 9/2

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“Slipper and Tripper” NOBO

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“Wankles” NOBO Early March – 9/21

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“Holy Diver and Ghost” NOBO 4/7 – 9/15 Holy Diver is now a Mountain Crossings employee 🙂 

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“Stitch, Sonic and Lavender” SOBO 6/1 – 10/9

Wow what a crew! Now we have a deal for those wanting to give their thru hiker a special gift this year. We will take 16% off the thru hiker medals pictured below. It is a great commemorative medal, great for showing their accomplishment. Plus you can make them wear it and take pictures of them 🙂 Order yours today!

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For those thru hikers who may not want to give themselves a medal, we will take 16% off your item of choice in our AT gift section! You need something tangible you can see and use to remind you of your hike. Check it out here and pick something for yourself!

Use  code “Classof16%Off” to get your deal today!

Cumberland Island National Seashore

This past week, me and another Mountain Crossings employee took a trip with some friends down to Cumberland Island. The Island is located off the coast of Georgia near St. Mary’s and is only accessible by boat. It is the largest of the barrier islands and contains 9,800 acres of Congressionally designated Wilderness. There is much to do, and see on the island. It is rich with history and has several structures open to visitors where you can learn about former inhabitants of the island. You can hike, bike, take a van tour, or just sit on the beach. The island is your playground!

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Map of Cumberland Island

History
Many people have lived on the Island over the past few centuries. Some believed to date back to indigenous people 4,000 years ago. There are various Native American artifacts found around the island that are now in the Ice House Museum. The museum is a great place to learn about the history on the Island. There are other awesome places of history you can see on the Island.

The first place would be Dungeness. These are ruins located on the southern tip of the Island and was the site of homes of several families through the decades. James Oglethorpe, Henry Lee, Nathaniel Greene, and most recently, Thomas Carnegie. The Carnegies  moved out in 1925 and the mansion burned down in 1959. It is preserved now by the National Park Service.

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Dungeness ruins

Plum Orchard is the more famous site of the Carnegies. Plum Orchard is an 1898 Georgian Revival mansion building by Lucy Carnegie for her son, George and his wife, Margaret Thaw. This mansion was donated to the National Park Foundation by the Carnegie family in 1971. The contribution of Plum Orchard helped achieve congressional approval for establishing Cumberland Island National Seashore. Tours to the Plum Orchard Mansion are conducted daily as part of the Lands and Legacies Tours.

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Plum Orchard

On the northernmost part of the island, there is a small church called the First African Baptist Church. In the 1890s the site was established for African American workers. There was no more slavery, but many of the African Americans stayed behind and continued to work as free people for the Carnegies and other families. Most recently, the church was the site of the September 1996 wedding of John F. Kennedy, Jr. and Carolyn Bessette.

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First African Baptist Church

Sea Camp
This is the most popular site for campers on the island. It is a short distance from the docks and there are carts you can rent to take your belongings there, so it is basically car camping. People get very comfortable there with large tents and tarps, grills, coolers full of delicious food, and whatever luxuries they want. There are bathrooms and cold showers there as well as potable water. The beach is right next to it and is a great place for a sunrise.

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Sunrise from the Sea Camp boardwalk

Our group definitely took some luxury items, mostly good food, but we are all hikers and campers so we carried smaller tents, fewer clothes, and I don’t think any of us took a shower. :/ The tent I carried was the Big Agnes Fly Creek. It is a great tent ranging from one person, to three person sizes and is comfortable. I kept all my belongings in there with me and was able to backpack with it for a night. Hanging around the fire at night was a popular pastime. These Helinox chairs were comfortable and the perfect height to sit around and talk. Sea Camp is great for those who don’t want to get too dirty. It makes it easy for anyone to enjoy the Island.

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Campsite at Sea Camp

Hiking
There are many hiking trails on the island. The island is more narrow at the south end and widens as you go further to the top. It’s about 17 miles if you walk from Dungeness up to the Settlement. There are many small connecting trails you can take to get from one end to the other. The dirt road is the most direct, but not as fun as you might run into vehicles and bikes. The parallel trail is a popular one as many people like to also camp at Stafford beach, just 3.5 miles from Sea Camp. I hiked through a series of trails up to Brickhill Bluff campsite. It was a beautiful site on the West side of the island right on the water. Hiking 11 miles to this spot led me through a beautiful Palmetto and Live Oak forest. At times I came across various ponds and marshes in the middle of the island. Wildlife was everywhere. Armadillos are the most abundant, but I also saw deer, horses, hogs, and squirrels. Even though it is December, it was still fairly warm and buggy down there! The mosquitos were out and I was glad to have some lightweight long underwear to keep them from biting. Since I was walking on sand a good bit, having camp shoes at night was a must to let my feet breathe after getting sandy and sweat. These Xero camp shoes are super lightweight and comfortable. I was a little sore after hiking 23 miles, but I was happy to see more of the Island.

Recent news
The day after I returned from the Island,  a subdivision was approved to be built on the island. There are still several private residences there and they are free to divide 88 acres of  property to build more homes for their families. In 1972 when the island was given to the National Park Service, the families that lived there were able to negotiate to keep their properties and continue to pass it down to their families. The land, which stretches from the marshlands to the beach, currently carries a “conservation preservation” zoning. The families are trying to get the county to waive the zone so they can build. Even though more than 5,000 citizens and other Environmental groups signed a petition to prevent this from happening. There is still a chance to stop the development. Organizations and individuals have a 30-day window to appeal the planning board’s decision. Once that appeal is filed, the matter will go before the Camden County Commissioners. Help out and sign this petition to stop the development on the Island!

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Feral horses on Cumberland Island 

 

Holiday Gift Guide

Happy Holidays! There is just something about this time of year that is so special. A chill is in the air, holiday lights are all around, you can snuggle up by the fire with hot cocoa and a good Christmas movie. There is also lots of quality time with loved ones. We hope you are planning to spend time with family and friends and possibly get outside and go for a hike! We’ve put together a list of some great gift items for this holiday season. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or not, we’ve got something for everyone.

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Stocking Stuffers
Let’s start with the small stuff. If you’re planning on hiking this winter, hand and toe warmers are a must. They last up to 10 hours and will keep your hands and feet toasty if you’re a bit colder than anticipated. Mini sticks of body glide are very useful for chafing. Whether it’s your feet, or upper thigh, this stuff will help prevent blisters and rashes from occurring. Lastly, we have Tenacious Tape, and Seam Sealer. Tenacious Tape is good for any  rip or tear along the trail. Use it for tents, pants, or whatever and it will hold everything together! Seam Sealer is important for tents, tarps, and backpacks. Put it along the seams and it will waterproof them. Check here for both tenacious tape and seam sealer.

For those that may not want to go hiking, we’ve got other great little items for your stocking. Our loose neck little turtles are so cute and hand painted! We also have tons of stickers, patches, and magnets, which make great stocking stuffers.

Clothing
We have all kinds of clothing from t-shirts to down jackets. T-shirts tend to be the most popular item because they are cheaper and people wear t-shirts all the time. We have some more humorous shirts, and also typical Appalachian Trail or Blood Mountain shirts. Check some select few online here and stop by the store for even more options.

There is a wall full of various hats, scarves, and gloves here in the store. We have all kinds of brands from Patagonia, to Marmot, to North Face. You could definitely find the perfect one for a friend or family member. Jackets are also plentiful here. We have some on our 30% off sale rack as well as more throughout the store.  We have Patagonia, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, Montbell and more. We also have custom Mountain Crossings jackets and pullovers that are comfortable and more affordable than some of the brand name jackets. Check out our online selection here or come by the store for more options.

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Although we are known for being an outfitter for hikers, we have a surprising amount of gift items. One of the favorite items is our AT and Mountain Crossings mugs. We have many different colors and styles to choose from. You can order then online here. We also have glasses made out of recycled wine bottles. They have the AT logo and are really neat. Our last glass item I want to mention is hanging glass terrariums. We have a great selection in the store and they are very beautiful. You can put a flower or plant in them, and hang a few to make a neat decoration.

Backpacking Gear
Let’s move on to some bigger ticket items. Of course we have packs, tents, sleeping bags, etc. If your loved one knows what they want, go ahead and get it for them. We’ve got our backpacking gear here. We have some special sales in the store on some larger tickets items such as Big Agnes tents, and select trekking pole. We also have some deals on thermals and other hiking clothing online here as well as in the store.

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Check out a blog post we did a few months back about books that can help inspire you for a trip. There are some great memoirs about thru hikers as well as some more informational books to help you figure out what you need to do to get ready for your hike. Stuff sacks and dry bags are another good cheaper option to give to your hiking friend. Even a water filter, bottle, or bag would make a great gift. We have an awesome glow in the dark Nalgene bottle that anyone would love.

This is only a taste of items we have. Come on by to see even more and get your holiday shopping done!