Norovirus is a very unpleasant sickness, and can be common at the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. There have been people that have gotten sick at Mountain Crossings in the past because it can spread easily from infected people in closed environments. There are a lot of misunderstandings about Norovirus, so we just want to share the facts with you so you know how the virus occurs and spreads.

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Norovirus Basics
Norovirus infection can cause the sudden onset of severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus is highly contagious and commonly spread through food or water that is contaminated during preparation or contaminated surfaces. You can also be infected through close contact with an infected person. Diarrhea, abdominal pain, and vomiting typically begin 12 to 48 hours after exposure. Norovirus symptoms last one to three days, and most people recover completely without treatment. However, for some people — especially infants, older adults and people with underlying disease — vomiting and diarrhea can be severely dehydrating and require medical attention.

Noroviruses are highly contagious and are shed in the feces of infected humans and animals. Methods of transmission include:

  • Eating contaminated food
  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Touching your hand to your mouth after your hand has been in contact with a contaminated surface or object
  • Being in close contact with a person who has a norovirus infection

Noroviruses are difficult to wipe out because they can withstand hot and cold temperatures as well as most disinfectants.

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Noro on the Appalachian Trail
The most common cause of Norovirus on the trail is water contamination. There are people who start the trail without any water treatment, and they get the sickness from a contaminated water source. I would not trust any water source to be clean unless I could see it coming straight out of the ground at a higher elevation. Even then, I still treat my water. Many of these sources have been contaminated by animals, and people. There are people on the trail who don’t know how to properly dispose of their waste, and they wind up going to the bathroom too close to the water source. Most common water filters on the trail, may not filter out Norovirus. To be safe, you should pair your filter with a chemical treatment, or use a filter that can catch viruses.

It’s hard to say where individuals got infected before coming into Mountain Crossings. One theory is hikers get infected by the water source at Lance Creek. This camping area has no privy, and is limited in areas to use the restroom because it is steep around the campsite. I have visually seen human feces too near the creek there, and hikers have said they have seen toilet paper in the creek. But, we don’t know for sure. It could be anywhere from anyone!

Once an individual becomes infected, it can spread easily in a shelter, other privies, hostels, even just shaking hands or passing an item to someone.

At Mountain Crossings, we do not get the chance to screen every single hiker that comes into the shop for Norovirus. If a person is contracting symptoms but decides to stay in the hostel, we may have no way of knowing until they are throwing up in the bathroom and infecting other hikers. We thoroughly clean the hostel every day with bleach, and we clean commonly used surface in the shop regularly throughout the day. Norovirus can spread here but it is not anything we at Mountain Crossings have or haven’t done. Last Spring, I never contracted Norovirus and I was in the store 5 days a week, and in the hostel at least 3 days a week if not more. In fact, only one staff member got sick once last Spring! Don’t worry, we made him stay home for a few days 🙂

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Now that we have established what Norovirus is, and how it spreads, let’s talk about the ways you can prevent contracting the sickness. Norovirus infection is highly contagious, and anyone can become infected more than once. To help prevent its spread:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after using the toilet or changing a diaper.
  • Avoid contaminated food and water, including food that may have been prepared by someone who was sick.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Dispose of vomit and fecal matter carefully, to avoid spreading norovirus by air. Soak up material with disposable towels, using minimal agitation, and place them in plastic disposal bags.
  • Disinfect virus-contaminated areas with a chlorine bleach solution. Wear gloves.
  • Stay home from work, especially if your job involves handling food. You may be contagious as long as three days after your symptoms end.
  • Avoid traveling until signs and symptoms have ended.

Definitely get off trail and stay in a hotel room by yourself until symptoms have cleared. Inform anyone you come in contact with that you are sick and be careful to avoid touching any common areas or items other might use. If you come into Mountain Crossings and you are sick, we definitely would like to know so we can prevent it spreading. We can help you pick out items you  may need in the store and we can put you in contact with someone to take you to a hotel in town.

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We hope this post has cleared up any questions you have about Norovirus! Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any other questions!



Mountain Crossings 2018 Kick Off Party!

Our Kick Off party this past weekend was a huge success! I know some people might have decided to bail because the weather was looking questionable, but it turned out to be a beautiful day! Wyatt Espalin delighted us with awesome music, we ate a ton of hot dogs and smores, and we had some great gear reps to talk to! I hope everyone enjoyed their time and congratulations to all those who won a prize in our raffle. We raised around $800 for the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (SAWS) so thank you to everyone who bought a raffle ticket. We just wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from this past weekend so enjoy and we hope to see you in the store soon!







Thanks again for coming to our party and good luck to all 2018 AT thru hikers!


Mail Drops on the Appalachian Trail

Many people wonder whether or not mail drops are a necessity on the Appalachian Trail. They can be beneficial to your wallet, and they can be convenient. This post will talk all about mail drops on the trail and what to expect.


Resupply boxes

Mail Drop Pros
If you are budget conscience on the trail, buying food ahead of time and sending mail drops in certain places can definitely help. You can buy cheap food in bulk and have someone send them to you. You do need to pay for shipping, but flat rate USPS boxes are fairly cheap.

If you have diet restrictions, mail drops might be a must for you. Some towns won’t have as many food options or grocery stores where you can buy special food. Even if you like homemade dehydrated meals, this can be more nutritious to make ahead of time and have someone send you food along the way.

Mail Drop Cons
Sometimes the post office will not be convenient to access. The hours for post offices can vary and sometimes they are further off trail then maybe a convenient store. You can also send mail drops to hostels, hotels, and outfitters. These hours can be more convenient but a lot of the time you will need to pay a fee for holding the box. The hours for these businesses can also vary. If you are being budget conscience, you might not be able to afford to hang around town for a day to wait to get your  box.

You might not know when you will stop. Maybe you will end up hiking with a group of people who decide to stop in a different town than the one you’ve had a box sent to. You can always split up, but it seems silly to change all your plans just to pick up some food. Mailing drop boxes won’t always be cheapest. If you stop in a larger town, they usually have a reasonably priced grocery store you can stop at and get all the items you need and you can save money on shipping.

Resupplying can take time and energy from your day, but if you generally know what you want, it’s fairly easy.


So many boxes!

Bounce Box
A bounce box is a box that you continually send up trail ahead of you. This allows a hiker to have a larger amount of an item at their reach without having to carry it all on their back. If a medicine or food is hard to find, a bounce box can be a great way to ensure you have it. If you get to town and decide you don’t even need to open your bounce box, you can go ahead and forward it ahead. USPS does this for you for free but if you’ve mailed it to a store or hostel, they will likely make you pay for shipping.

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USPS can be very helpful along the trail!

My Experience
Before my thru hike, I prepared almost all of my food so my mom could send me mail drops along the way. We dehydrated tons of fruits, veggies, meat, etc and prepared meals ahead of time. I also bought lots of snacks in bulk from Costco. I had stations set up in my parents basement sorted into breakfasts, snacks, lunch, dinner, toiletries, so it was easier for my mom to throw things in a box. I would text her how much of each I wanted her to send and where. I thought this was a great idea and would save me time on finding places to buy food along the way.

This was a mistake for me. I prepared a lot of the same meals, and snacks, and got sick of all of them. I also didn’t always know when I would want to stop in a town. It can take time for a package to get to its destination so if I decided to go to a town in two days, that wouldn’t be enough time to mail a package. Getting food in town is usually fairly easy, and I wasn’t on a strict budget so if a town was a little pricey, that was ok by me.

I had been backpacking a good amount before my thru hike, so I thought I knew what I wanted to eat, but there are so many options out there! I tried a lot of different meals and discovered what I liked. The food I prepared ahead of time was still good but I needed variety.


Resupply at Mountain Crossings

The Right Way to Mail a Drop Box
Doing the research ahead of time can help when sending a drop box. At Mountain Crossings, we ask you write your name on all sides of the box, and estimated time of arrival (ETA). This helps us find the box faster when you arrive. You want to send your box 1-2 weeks ahead of time, so you can be sure that it will arrive before you do. We hold boxes for a month after the ETA. It is helpful too if you get off the trail to let us know whether you want us to mail you box back to you, or if we should donate it to the hiker box.

We also ask for a dollar donation for holding the box if you have it. Some businesses may ask for more so that is important to note and have the appropriate amount of cash. Again, check business hours so you can make it to your box in time. We have this information on our website here if you want to check it out!

Make sure you mail a box with enough time for the box to get to its destination!

Mail drops are not necessary unless you are on a strict diet or budget. The Appalachian Trail has many towns  you can access that will have stores for your resupply. If you plan on doing another trail, research to see if drop boxes are necessary.

Hiking in Snow and Ice

We’ve already had quite an eventful winter! In December, we saw almost a foot of snow. We’ve also had a few icy showers and temperatures that didn’t get above the teens. Staying warm is important while Winter hiking. You can have the best clothes and sleep system and will do fine surviving in the cold. One aspect of Winter hiking that people tend to look over is snow and ice. What is the best way to keep hiking in these harsh conditions and what gear should you use? We are going to talk a little bit about those items you can take with you to help you tackle the Winter weather.


First off, you want to be prepared with the right shoes. This can depend on the person and may take some trial and error to figure out what you are comfortable with in the Winter. I have worn my trail runners, which is my usually shoe of choice, in the cold weather, and I suffered. I’ve learned that anything below freezing, I’m going to want boots. I have a waterproof boot that keeps my feet and toes warm in the Winter.

We currently have some great boots in the store. Oboz is our most popular brand and they won’t disappoint. The men’s Bridger are a waterproof boot that doesn’t need much break in time, and the women’s Phoenix is another waterproof boot that is comfortable and durable. All you need to do is try on a pair of Oboz and you will understand why they are our best seller. We have a bunch of other shoes currently on sale, including Keen, Salomon, La Sportiva, and Salewa. While not all of these are made for Winter hiking, check them out anyways! They are in the store and online here.

Gaiters are designed to keep items on the trail out of your shoes. In the summer, it is usually dirt, small rocks, mud, etc. In the winter, they can protect your feet from the snow and cold rain. If you know it is going to be really cold outside, and there is a chance of snow, I would definitely bring gaiters. They can be waterproof, durable, easy to attach to your shoe and fit around your leg, and they will keep snow from getting in your shoes.

We have the three different kinds of gaiters in our store. The Outdoor Research Stamina gaiters, are the simplest. If you are a trail runner, these are likely what you will want to wear in the winter. They are lightweight and will keep excess ice and snow particles out of your shoes. For those of you that are hikers and not runners, we have more durable options as well. The Outdoor Research Cirque gaiters are still shorter in length, but they are waterproof. Snug-fitting elastic top and bottom edges keep dirt, twigs, scree, and snow out of your footwear; ideal for light-to-midweight hiking. Lastly, for something extra tough, look into the Outdoor Research Crocodile gaiters. They come up to just below the knee, they have Gore-tex nylon uppers are durable and breathable, while lower panels of coated Cordura nylon are lined with packcloth. These are ideal if you our ou in deep snow for a day, or multi-day trip.

Snow is not as common down in Georgia, but you can see ice frequently in the Winter months.  After a little bit of freezing rain, the trail can become very slick. Even if it does snow a little bit, once people walk on the trail, it compacts the snow down into ice. This can be very treacherous hiking. If you come unprepared, you could risk getting an injury. Even if you decide to hike in these conditions, it can be damaging to the trail because you will inevitable try to walk around the ice on the trail, and trample areas besides the trail.


Icy Trail

In the store, we have Yaktrax. These are chains that attach to the bottom of your shoe. For Georgia weather, they can usually get the job done. The chains act as an extra metal grip into the ice to prevent you from slipping. Another goot alternative are Microspikes. These are made by Kahtoola and they are spikes that attach to the bottom of your shoes. They are pricier, but they are more sureproof than the Yaktrax because the spikes have the ability to penetrate the ice further than the chains, therefore giving you more traction.

The last option is crampons. I have never even thought about using crampons down in Georgia because they are heavy duty and not necessary for the weather we see down here. They can come in handy if you plan on doing more mountaineering such as ice climbing and glacier walking. Crampons are heavier and need to be attached to boots.

These items will help you on your next snowy/icy Winter hike. I have definitely used all three so far this year to get out there and enjoy the snow. Don’t forget to look at the weather forecast ahead of time so you can prepare for the snow and cold. And always make sure someone knows where you are in case you have a slip and fall. Now get on out there and enjoy some Winter hikes in Southern Appalachia!

Interview with a Wildland Firefighter

We are beyond happy to welcome Matt, aka “Pretzel”, back to Mountain Crossings after his first season as Wildland Firefighter out in Idaho. He was on a US Forest Service hand crew from May to October doing the incredibly hard work of keeping wildfires under control and contained. Here is what Pretzel had to say after his first season the fire lines.

What gave you the idea to become a Wilderness Firefighter?
I had always thought it sounded like a cool way to spend the summer. It wasn’t until I met a hiker here at Mountain Crossings who had worked on a fire crew, and got me thinking a little more seriously about the job. The following summer I hiked the PCT and met a woman that was a burn boss for the State of Florida. Thanks Dirty Harry, and Blazing Star for inspiring me to become a Wildland Firefighter!

Can you tell us your official title and what your job included?
The entry level firefighting position is called a Forestry Aid. I was on a Type 2 Initial Attack Hand Crew. Initial attack means we had the training to be at a fire as the first resource on scene. My first and foremost duty, was to suppress wildfire. I am a sawyer, which means I am certified to run chainsaws. This was important to work on the fireline. The fireline consists of removing all brush and material in a 20 foot swath with chainsaws, then digging a 2 foot wide trench down to mineral soil. This prevents the fire from crossing the line. My saw partner and I spent most of our 16 hour days on the fireline within a couple feet of each other. My partner and I would truly work together. When he was running the saw I would swamp for him, meaning I helped remove the material he would cut. At times I’d hold back material so he could cut it and move to the next cut faster. Efficiency is very important.

When we weren’t fighting fire we spend a lot of time cutting out forest service roads in our district. We lived in a remote duty station 17 miles from a paved road. The duty station was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, so we spent a lot of the summer replacing historic fences around the station. We would also spend a good hour or two of physical training, or PT. This could be everything from push ups, sit ups, to running a few miles wearing a weighted vest. Being in peak physical condition at all times is crucial. We had a saying on our crew, “There is safety in fitness.”

How did you feel the first time you were walking up against a wildfire?
My first experience on a fire was nothing short of exhilarating. There’s nothing like seeing the smoke column build from miles away, and driving toward it knowing soon you’ll have your pack, chaps, and saw slung over your shoulder hiking toward it!

What sort of training proceeded your first fire event?
There are federal standards everyone must meet to be on the fireline, regardless of their role. Everyone must go through basic fire school. This even includes the reporters that cover fires in the news. I sat next to a local celebrity from a Boise news station during fire school. In addition to the basic fire school, the crews need to go through additional training. I had to pass the S212 – Wildland firefighting chainsaw certification. I had a fair amount of time running saw for fire food and leading and working on trail crews, so this helped me obtain my certification. There were other great sawyers on my crew that didn’t pass the certification because they couldn’t hike in the saw and the gear that comes with it. Being a sawyer requires you to carry the saw , fuel, saw kit, and an extra tool which was around 40 lbs — in addition to 45 lbs of firefighting gear. So being a sawyer isn’t just about who can cut the best — you have to be able to hike the best. My captain said, we can teach people to run a saw, we can’t teach people how to hike. Thanks thru-hiking!

What was the most rewarding part of your job?
The product at the end of the day was extremely rewarding. We would finish the assignment and leave feeling as though we performed quality work for our Division Captain.  The camaraderie, and group suffering is another rewarding part of the job. I spent the entire summer working and living with the same 20 people. In a lot of ways thru-hiking and being on a fire crew are very similar!

What advice would you give someone thinking of taking up a career in wilderness firefighting?
It can be hard to break into the wildland firefighting world. My captain told me my background in thru-hiking, trail running, and trail maintenance was what got me the job. All federal fire jobs can be found at Jobs are usually posted October to March for the following summer fire season.

Congratulations 2017 Thru-Hikers!

At Mountain Crossings, we wanted to dedicate a blog post to congratulate all the 2017 thru-hikers! About a week ago, we asked ya’ll to send us your finishing pictures so we could post them on our blog. Here they are and enjoy!


“Amazon” March 20 – September 5, NOBO

Banana Split Club

The Banana Split Fan Club
Calories, Brave, Banana Split and Pickles
Started on various dates between March and May but all finished on September 25, 2017, NOBO



“Bangles” Flip-Flop, summited Katahdin August 29, and Springer November 12


“BC” July 14, 2001 – June 29, 2017, Section Hike – sections every year for 17 consecutive years!



“Burning Man” and “Peach”, March 4 – August 21, NOBO
Bonus picture: Them crushing pizza on a cold day at Mountain Crossings!


“Fresh” March 1 – July 7, NOBO


“Lumberjack” March 8 – September 16, NOBO


“Lunatic” February 8 – July 11, NOBO – third AT thru-hike


“Nope” February 18 – June 28, NOBO


“Puddin,” “Waterboy,” and “Peaches” also known as “Dem Teepee Boys” – They all met at Mountain Crossings and hiked the trail together.

rolling thunder

“Rolling Thunder” June 4 – November 11, SOBO

Seth Rogen

“Seth Rogen” March 31 – October 14, NOBO



“Lost” May 16 – October 18, Flip-Flop


“Alpine” January 1 – June 13, NOBO


“Pretzel” October 22-27 Tahoe Rim Trail


“Starcrunch” and “Pano” May 1 – September 23, NOBO PCT

Congratulations again to these thru hikers and every other 2017 thru hiker! You should check out the AT medal for yourself, or a friend who recently finished the trail. If anyone is interested in thru-hiking in the future, please do not hesitate to call, email, or stop by the store! We love talking about thru-hiking and helping others achieve their goals. We are also hosting an AT Prep Class that’s taught by this January and February. Find out more information on their website here. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Gift Guide

It is that time of year again, Christmas time! While we enjoy all the splendors that this season brings, we also have that chore on our list, buying Christmas presents. The great thing about buying gifts for hikers is there are so many different items to choose from! Hiking gear is always evolving, and whether you have the big bucks, or just want something small, we’ve got it at Mountain Crossings. Even if your loved one isn’t into hiking, we have all kinds of trinkets and clothes for everyone. Here is this years top picks for Christmas presents at Mountain Crossings!


Souvenir Items – Under $50
These little gifts are perfect for the hiking friend in your life. Whether you have done a thru-hike, section-hike, or day hike, these gifts are a great way to remind a loved one of their time on the trail! We have pins, stickers, magnets, koozies, mugs, frames, jewelry, and more. Check it out on our website here.

Hiking Equipment – Under $50
An item that won’t break the bank, but is something every hiker should have, is a water filter. The Sawyer Squeeze is one of the best out there. I personally used the same one for 2500 miles of hiking with no issues! Any backpacker will appreciate a Sawyer. Another inexpensive item that all backpackers can use, is a drysack. The Granite Gear eVent Sil drysack is perfect to use as a food bag, clothes bag, etc. Stuff it with candy and set it under the Christmas tree. The last more affordable item I recommend, is a Toaks Titanium Cup. This is perfect for making hot chocolate, coffee, or even just gatorade on the trail. It’s lightweight and easy to carry.

Hiking Equipment – $50 or more
The bigger ticket items that can make great gifts include sleeping bags, tents, and sleeping pads. My favorite sleeping bag is the Western Mountaineering 20 degree Alpinlite. It is so warm and cozy and you have some wiggle room because it is wider than the other 20 degree Western Mountaineering bag. The Big Agnes UL Fly Creek is an all time favorite. It is super lightweight and comfortable. The most popular sleeping pad on the trail is the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite. It’s a blow up pad but it doesn’t take too much to blow it up, and it’s worth it for the comfort. Check out all these items in store and online!

Clothing – Under $50
A pair of base layers is a perfect gift for anyone that sees some colder weather. You can wear them just lounging around the house, or for a day of hiking and camping. Since they are stretchy, sizing isn’t as difficult to predict. The lightweight Patagonia Capilene base layers are on sale and under $50.

When you were a kid, socks may not have been the most exciting thing under the tree. As an adult, socks are great! Especially a pair of Darn Toughs, they are perfect for hiking, or just everyday life. You can never have too many socks.

A hat is another great gift. We have an assortment of hats, whether it says Mountain Crossings, Appalachian Trail, or Blood Mountain, anyone will love the fit and feel of our hats.


Clothing – $50 or more
We have a lot of great men’s and women’s outerwear in the store and online. The Women’s Patagonia Re-Tool Snap Pullover is one of my favorites because it is so comfortable. The Los Gatos Jacket or vest is an overall popular item because it is soft and comfortable, but also fashionable. The men’s North Face Campshire jacket or hoody are super soft and great for hiking or a night on the town.

Shoes can be a difficult thing to buy for someone else, unless they’ve told you their size and kind of shoe they want. If you don’t want to risk it, a pair of camp shoes is a great gift. We have the Xero Sandals that are super lightweight and easy to pack away in your pack. They can also be used as a casual sandal to wear in the Spring and Summer. You can always come by the store and get fitted for some hiking shoes. We have all the best brands in our store.


Xero Amuri-Trek Sandal

We have so many different t-shirts for everyone on your list. “May the forest be with you” shirt is great for that witty friend of yours. We have another popular shirt of a bearded guy with a bird in his beard. Your fellow hiking friends have probably felt this way about their beard at one point in their life. It grows so big you don’t know if there is a bird living in it! The synthetic Appalachian Trail topo map t-shirt features maps of Katahdin and Springer mountain. It’s great for your active friends and family. We also have the cutest little baby onsie. It says “Future AT hiker” and is great for friends who have started a family.

This completes our 2017 holiday gift guide! We have more items in the store than online, so you can always come on by and get all your Christmas shopping done in one go. We still have our Salomon shoes for 50% off, La Sportiva shoes for 30% off, scarves for 20% off, and other sale racks in the store for 30% off select items. Come on by and happy holidays!


Medicine Bow: The Importance of Keeping with the Ways of Old

Every now and then you come across a person who is truly fascinating! They make you wonder how someone can come to learn and excel at such a wide variety of skills in life. Mark Warren is one of those people! Currently he is the director of Medicine Bow Wilderness School, a primitive school of earthlore located just outside Dahlonega, Ga in the Chattahoochee National Forest, but his skills are far reaching. He is a U.S. National Champion whitewater canoeist; he has composed music for the Atalanta Symphony; he is a world champion of longbow; he has authored many books on his work as a naturalist, and designed environmental education workshops for Georgia schools; he was named Georgia’s Conservation Educator of the Year by the National Wildlife Federation; he spent 10 years as the naturalist and environmental educator for The Georgia Conservancy and 17 years he was the wilderness director for High Meadows Camp. Needless to day, he’s been a busy guy in his lifetime!

Being the director of any school is impressive enough, but particularly when that school, by default of what it teaches, requires both very refined knowledge and physical ability. You can read all the books you want about identifying wild plants and proper tomahawk throwing technique, but to be proficient, there is nothing but time in the field that will make you successful!

We caught up with Mark and had him answer a few questions about the beginnings of Medicine Bow and more. Check it out!

Mountain Crossings: Can you briefly tell me about the beginnings of Medicine Bow? When was the idea sparked? When did you first start hosting classes?

Mark Warren: “When I began this work back in the 1970’s, I had no property on which to teach. I floated around as a teacher, using either national forest or private land where I was invited. I enjoyed a pretty large clientele from my work as naturalist/environmental educator for The Georgia Conservancy, and this kept me busy with school classes as well as providing me with students who were ready for lessons outside the classroom. When I finally leased a large tract of land on the Etowah in Lumpkin County, I established a more permanent camp for students. There I lived in an old farm house and hosted students for weekend classes. When that house burned down (along with virtually everything I owned), I chose a life in a tipi. I chronicled these two years in my first published book, Two Winters in a Tipi.

I purchased land at the north end of the county and have continued here up to this day, nearly half a century after my teaching began.”

Mountain Crossings: Can you speak on the importance of these ideas, techniques and skills as we move further into a technological lifestyle as a whole? 

Mark Warren: “Survival skills represent to me the ultimate adventure, and yet these same skills were the norm once. It was the original way we were probably intended to live. And then along came the Evolution of Comfort, a most natural course of action. But as tasks were made easier, we lost our identity as autonomous humans, trading it for something more intellectual. There’s nothing wrong with that except that loss of autonomy erodes the human esteem. And worse, we lose our direct connection with Nature. These are the two driving principles that fuel my work. I like serving as a guide to self-esteem and then seeing a person find his/her true worth on the planet. I also want to bridge that human-Nature connection, because without it no one has reason to respect and become a steward for the Earth.

To my way of thinking, the greatest masterpiece is Nature. For us to taint it seems the ultimate insult.

I am actually more interested in self-esteem development and Earth conservation than survival skills per se. But the skills are a wonderful vehicle for my teaching.”

Mountain Crossings: Do you feel there is a particular skill you teach that would most beneficial to backpackers? If so, why? 

Mark Warren: “No, not one in particular. But I would like to emphasize that using just ONE skill on a backpack trip could change the experience entirely. To eat a wild food … or to spin a stick for fire … or to resolve an upset stomach with yellowroot … or to solve a gear problem by using natural material (like pine sap glue) … elevates the hiker from visitor to participant.

If I had one jewel to share with backpackers, it would be this: Take time to integrate with the place you walk. You’re already healthier than most due to your sylvan milieu and your physical trek. Let the experience expand now by using this and that from the woods around you. That’s a major step. Of course, this means learning about those “this and that” items first. Welcome to the unending classroom.”

Medicine Bow offers a plethora of classes and courses for those interested in local ecology, Native American techniques and primitive survival. Classes include tracking, medicine, botany, wildlife, conservation, archery, wild foods and many more. You can check out the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 class schedule for a full listing and the dates on which Mark will be hosting classes at Medicine Bow.

Mark has also authored many books on the topics on which he teaches. Mountain Crossings’ favorite is the Secrets of the Forest Series. This four volume series covers nearly everything this Mark will teach you if you took all his courses, but it lacks the advantage of the hands on knowledge of learning visually and having a master help you trouble shoot as your learn. Regardless, the books are an incredible resource to get your started or help you keep your skills honed!

Muddy Moses’ Soap Dishes

Did you know that many decades ago, Walasi-yi was the home of a little local arts shop called the Georgia Mountain Arts Center?! Mountain Crossings is proud to continue the tradition of selling the work of local artisans and Muddy Moses and Mom Soap Dishes are one of our best sellers! Miss Jenny, the Mom of the pair, has been selling homemade soaps in the area for years and years. As each of her children got older, the soap business has turned into a family affair and they also picked up trades of their own. Now Moses, who is only 8 years old, makes soap dishes in a very unique way.

soap dishes

Each of the leaf imprinted soap dishes that Moses makes is a one of a kind. He uses a different leaf to imprint its’ shape onto the moist clay that will become a soap dish. These leaves are collected from right here in the North Georgia Mountains! Each soap dish goes through the firing process twice. The first one burns the leaf off of the soap dish, leaving the imprinted leaf shape on the hardened clay. Then Moses and Miss Jenny select a glaze for each soap dish and when they come out of the kiln from their second firing, they are are ready for use!

sopa dish

We love how you will never see a soap dish made by Muddy Moses and Mom that is exactly like another. For a full explanation of how these soap dishes are made, check out the Muddy Moses and Mom website.

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Appalachian Trail Weekend Prep Class taught by TheBackpacker.TV

Being situated 3 days into the Appalachian Trail, we at Mountain Crossings see a lot of folks from all walks of life coming through the shop. Some are so prepared and do so well that they don’t even need us. Others skip parts of the trail to come seek help before that have even hiked the first 30 miles. As thru hikers ourselves, we know very well that the prepared man is no safer than the unprepared man when it comes to the treats of a failed thru hike. Something could still happen at home that pulls either of them off trail and both are still susceptible to injury or sickness. What we do know, is that the prepared man is having a WAY more enjoyable time than his unprepared counter part! Doing everything possible to be ready mentally, physically, and with your gear won’t put you on Katahdin, but it will make your experience way more incredible and give you every leg up possible! 

That is why Mountain Crossings is excited to host a weekend long Appalachian Trail preparedness class taught by Scott and Ariane of TheBackpacker.TV. When Scott and Ariane came to us with this idea, we were instantly behind it. They have years of experience leading backpacking trips in the Southern Appalachian mountains and they equally understand the benefits of seeking first hand experience from fellow hikers who can help you tune into your ideal hiking and gear style before you hit the trail. Most importantly, Scott and Ariane know the importance of getting out on trail with your own gear and giving it a go BEFORE you take your first step on your thru hike or section hike. This class will offer you all of that! Information on lightweight gear, the ability to talk with former thru hikers and a chance to get out on trail and test your gear for a night, if you so wish.

Ariane and Scott of TheBackpacker.TV have YEARS of experience in outdoor education!

The class starts on Friday afternoon at 3pm and includes a meal and a stay in the hostel at Mountain Crossings. A class will be taught that night by Scott and Ariane inside the outfitter at Mountain Crossings so that you can see first hand what lightweight gear looks like as your learn about it. The next morning, a light breakfast will be served and the class will continue, along with a gear fitting session with outfitter employees. Enjoy personalized expertise as you select gear that works for you, whether you are starting at zero or just filling in a few little items into your gear setup. Later in the afternoon, individuals in the group have the choice to head out onto trail to test out their gear if they choose. Scott and Ariane will lead the group and teach a segment on Leave No Trace practices.

On Sunday morning, the group will return to Mountain Crossings to make any gear adjustments that may be needed. Often times, by getting out and using your gear, you learn a lot about what you like and don’t like about particular types of gear. This last session in the outfitter help you dial into your exact preferences while on trail! The class will terminate at 3pm on Sunday afternoon.

Click here for the Facebook event giving more details. 

Click here to see an Official Class Itinerary on TheBackpacker.TV website.