The large majority of Northbound thru hikers have passed by us here at Neel Gap and it is the time of year that a Mountain Crossings Employee or two jumps into a new adventure. During the thick of hiker season, we are heavily staffed and yet still all of our employees are working long hours to help serve the hikers as they begin their hike. We wait all year for hiker season and it is by far the most fun time of the year for us, but it is always nice to get a chance to get outside and go play after watching thousands of folks pass through the shop beginning their own epic adventures!
This year, Leigh, aka Star Crunch, is headed west to thru hike the Pacific Crest Trail! She thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2014 and was a Ridge Runner in Georgia for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy during 2015. Even after jumping on staff here at Mountain Crossings in the summer of 2016, Leigh continued to work as a Trail Ambassador, helping educate hikers about the local area and Leave No Trace practices.
At the beginning of this week, Leigh set foot on the PCT at the border of Mexico and the United States! She is taking on this new adventure with her boyfriend, Andrew, who is the Resident Naturalist for our good neighbors down at the Hike Inn. Together they have spent the last few months paring down gear and making selections for their thru hike. Now they are making their way north through the desert!
Be sure to keep up with occasional blog posts and newsletter updates to follow along with Leigh and Andrew as they hike the PCT.
After hiker season slowed down, Matt, aka Pretzel, also left for a fun new adventure. He recently landed a seasonal wildland firefighter position in Boise National Forest in Idaho. Pretzel is not new to physically demanding jobs that help protect or promote beautiful wild places. He has spent time working on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s S.W.E.A.T. Crew in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park building and maintaining remote trails, as well as helping do the same in Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Moving into the realm of a wildland firefighter is a step up in terms of specialized skill and training. Matt is used to living in the field and having to work with hand tools packed in on his own back, but the ante has been up-ed. His job will be to work on a small crew to help create fire lines around wildfires in an effort to keep them from spreading. The location of his crew changes with the needs of the National Forest.
Matt will be working on the crew during the prime time of wildfire season, at which time he will (we hope!) return to Mountain Crossing in the fall to help us with second busiest time of the year!
At Mountain Crossings, we are lucky to have such incredible employees who’s lives reflect their love of the outdoors!