Because, if you haven’t, you’ve been missing out!
Bill Harris, or “Just Bill” as he will say if asked, came to be a Mountain Crossings employee at the beginning of the 2016 thru hiker season. It was an organic relationship. He had recently moved to the area, was an avid hiker and was used to hanging out in outfitters. To read further into that statement, he had recently moved just 7 miles down the road from Mountain Crossings from Damascus, Virginia, where he spent many years living along side the Creeper Trail, picking up trash, riding his bike, and working for Mt. Roger Outfitters. (Check out the video link below about that time in his life.) If you’ve hiked through Damascus, you know it is the most hiker centered town on the entire Appalachian Trail and you’ve probably been inside Mount Rogers Outfitters. You just may very well have talked to or walked past Bill, particularly if you’ve ever gotten a shuttle in the area!
When Bill moved to Blairsville, he came up to hike on the AT often and we got to know him well. It didn’t take long for Bill to start jumping in and helping customers when staff were busy. This became a habit. Bill would sell gear by simply talking to people about his experiences, telling them how he thinks something may or may not benefit them and then showing them something different that he thought may suit their needs better. All just because he’s a super friendly guy who wants to hear folk’s stories and loves gear, maybe a little bit too much! Eventually, it just made sense to put him on the payroll! Bill became the face of the Mountain Crossings Satellite store when it first opened up in March of 2016. The Mountain Crossings Satellite store is a temporary outfitter in Hiawassee, GA at Ron Haven’s Budget Inn that only opens in March and April while the Northbound thru hikers are coming through. Every year Bill mans the Satellite store and the rest of the year he is up at the shop at Neel Gap being the most helpful guy you have ever met in an outfitter.
Bill will fix your trekking poles if they are broken, he will sew your pack back together, he will fit you for the right size shoe (not the size you think you are!) and even teach you to properly tie your shoes depending on what is ailing your feet. If you are hurting, Bill will doctor you up with all natural remedies. No matter what it is that is needed, Bill can help! He is actually the only employee at Mountain Crossings that has not thru hiked the Appalachian Trial, but we are pretty sure Bill has more miles on his feet than any of us and we know for a fact that he knows just as much, if not more, than the rest of us!
Sometimes in life you meet people, and you know it pretty quickly, that they’re are something special. Bill isn’t just a good friend, a helpful employee, a fun person. He is an experience. Just as hiking on the AT is an experience that shapes people and leaves an impression on them, so is Bill. I personally believe that is because he is a product of his environment. He has lived so simply, so completely, so well, for so long, that he emanates the serenity one finds from communing with the outdoors and holding it close to you heart.
Click the image above or this link to check out a beautiful video that delves further into the life and mind of Bill!
(Sorry ladies, Bill is NOT available! He is happily married to an awesome woman who is so great that he moved 436 miles down the Appalachian Trail and we are so happy about it!)