National Trails Act 50th Anniversary

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act of 1968. The National Trails System Act of 1968 was the direct result of the Trails for America report. It established three different types of trails: National Scenic Trails, National Recreation Trails, and Connecting and Side Trails. As the Act stands today, as amended, National Scenic Trails are described as extended trails of more than 100 miles in length that provide for outdoor recreation and “for the conservation and enjoyment of the nationally significant scenic, historic, natural, or cultural qualities of the areas through which such trails may pass.” Of course, we love our National Scenic Trails because we are located on one!

Benefits
Green infrastructure like trails and parks are true economic engines and provide for the economic vitality of a community—and a nation. Well-managed and funded parks and trails makes strong, economic sense and are job-creating enterprises for the economic vitality of communities and their surrounding regions.  Trails are an integral part of the outdoor recreation experience in America and stimulate business creation, influence corporate location decisions, increase property values, reduce medical costs by encouraging exercise, and generate tax dollars.  Trails also provide low or no-cost recreation opportunities and transportation options to the public.

Being outdoors, and hiking is becoming a popular activity. Having established trails such as the Appalachian Trail, encourages people to get outside and go for a hike! It benefits their health and mood to be outdoors and the trails help get them there.

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Ways to get involved
The National Trails System has a lot of ways you can get involved this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary. Of course, you can volunteer every year on one of your favorite National Scenic Trails. But this year, there is an event map of all the trails and events nearby. It is a great tool to see what other trails are established by the National Trails Act, and to see where you can get involved. They are also having a photo contest, and you can submit your story about being on a National Scenic Trail. Be sure to check out your local hiking community to get involved and volunteer on a trail!

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National Scenic and Historic Trails

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Mountain Crossings Hike School

I’m sure you’ve seen our event on Facebook and on our website for Mountain Crossings Hike School Backpacking Class. We decided to try out our own backpacking class to help prepare people for whatever adventure they have in their future. The staff here has a lot of experience helping people with their gear and questions about backpacking. We are all experienced backpackers so that gives us even more credibility. This blog post will go over details about our backpacking class and who should join.

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Former hike school at Mountain Crossings

When is it and how much?
The class begins Friday, June 1st at 7pm and ends Saturday, June 2nd when everyone gets finished with gear and questions, sometime in the afternoon. The class is $50 up front, but that turns into a voucher for the store during the class.

What happens in this Hike School?
There will be a presentation Friday night, and then all the classmates will sleep in our hostel. The next day, we will help each person one on one with gear and questions. The presentation Friday will cover the basics of backpacking. We will go over how to plan your hike, leave no trace principles, what to expect out on the trail, and much more! On Saturday, we will be doing more hands on learning. We will help fit you for a pack and gather any gear you might need. If you have your own gear, we can do a pack shakedown and give you recommendations on what to keep, and what to get rid of. We will show you how to pack your pack, and how to adjust your pack each time you put it on. We can show you how each piece of gear works such as a stove, water filter, tent, etc. We will also make sure you have good shoes and make sure the fit is right. Pretty much, we will go over anything you need help with! We will have all hands on deck that day so that each person gets one on one attention. We want to make sure you are as prepared as you can be before you go out on your backpacking trip.

We know that a lot of people are unprepared when they start the trail and end up dropping even more money on gear and shoes because they didn’t get it right the first time around. We want to avoid this problem! We also want to make sure you can avoid small mistakes with some of your gear due to improper use. No matter who you are or what questions you have we will help you out!

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Ryan doing a pack fitting

Who should come?
Honestly, anyone can come! If you have never been hiking before, you can certainly learn a lot from the class. Even if you’ve been on a few trips and want to learn more about gear and hiking, you can learn a lot too. If you consider yourself a backpacking expert, you might be able to pick up a thing or two from the class as well or just enjoy meeting other people and seeing what kind of gear they have. The great thing about this class is it is only $50 to sign up, and that $50 becomes a voucher for the store! So if you are an experienced backpacker and are needing a new Sawyer, pot, jacket, anything, you can come to the class and learn something you didn’t know, and get the gear you need.

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Matt doing a shakedown

What do you bring?
We encourage you to bring the gear you already have so we can help you optimize it, or make sure everything works properly for you. If you do not have any gear, this class will help you buy your gear once and to buy it right the first time. Our hostel has mattresses, but you need to bring your own sleeping bag and pillow. Be sure to bring all your nightly essentials for a sleepover. Other than that, just bring a list of questions for us and we will answer them!

Contact
If you want to sign up, go to our website here to purchase your voucher. If you have any questions regarding the class, contact jason@mountaincrossings.com. Thanks and we hope to see you there!

Appalachian Trail Passport

The Appalachian Trail Passport is becoming a more exciting item to carry on the trail. It acts like a real passport in that you can get stamps each place you stop. It is a fun souvenir to carry with you on the trail and look back on all the places you have been after the trail.

The idea originated in Spain on the Camino de Santiago. On the Camino, hikers carry a “passport” that would be stamped at each hostel to show where they stayed and to prove their pilgrimage of the trail. On the Appalachian Trail, most places you can stop along the trail have acquired their own stamp to stamp the AT Passports. Hostels, outfitters,  hotels,  shuttle drivers, and other points of interest carry their own stamps. The passport only weighs one ounce so it hardly takes up any weight! But of course, ounces make pounds. A benefit to purchasing a passport is all the proceeds are donated to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy to help further protect the trail. Check out the passports here to buy yours today! We also sell them in the store if you want to stop by the shop on your way through.

Locations
Here is the official list of locations to get your passport stamped. The Southernmost place to get a stamp is at Amicalola Falls State Park, and the Northernmost spot is at Baxter State Park, right before you climb Katahdin. There are hundreds of spots in between the start and finish where you can stop and get your passport stamped. It would be hard to visit every single place but I’m sure someone out there has done it!

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Mountain Crossings Stamp

My Experience
It is personal preference whether or not you want to carry a passport. I didn’t carry one because I knew I would forget about it and just be carrying dead weight around. I also enjoy looking back through my journals and pictures and figured that would be enough for memories. I definitely considered it though! It would be fun to carry around a passport of all the places you’ve been and be able to show others.

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I hope you decide to carry this AT Passport but if you don’t, that’s ok too. Hike your own hike and have fun out there!

Bear Canisters

Proper food storage is a very important concept on the Appalachian Trail and any other trails or camping areas. There are several methods for proper food storage such as hanging food, bear boxes, and bear canisters. The most common method has been hanging food in a waterproof sack from a tree branch. It is recommended to hang your bag at least 6 feet from the tree trunk, and 12 feet above the ground. While this method is good for deterring bears from your food, it does not always work. Bears have gotten smart when it comes to food and have been known to get in bags that are hanging. Throwing the line to hang your food can also be tricky, especially in treeless areas. Bears aren’t the only issue, rodents and small animals are known to tear through your bag. I swear some of those animals are acrobats because I have no idea how they got in to my food when it was hanging so high on a small bear line!

Bear canisters are becoming a more popular food storage container so we wanted to tell you a little bit about them and our experience with them.

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Grizzly Bear can’t get into a bear can (note: no Grizzly Bears are on the AT)

Bear Canister Basics
Canisters are hard plastic containers that are portable. They are not scent proof, but since they are durable, no animals can get inside of the canisters. Anything you carry that has a scent, should ideally be stored in your bear can at night. Items such as food, toothpaste, and hand sanitizer should to go into the bear can. The canister is supposed to be set down at least 100 feet from your campsite. You want to try to wedge it in between some rocks or trees because while the bear won’t be able to get into it, they can roll it away.

Bear cans can weigh a few pounds and they are bulky. Since they remain the same shape all the time, it can be difficult to finagle it into your pack. But once you start to eat more food, you can always stuff other items in your bear can such as stove, or first aid kit. The plus side of carrying a bear can is the convenience. You don’t need to worry about hanging your food, and you can even sit on the bear can as a seat!

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BearVault 500 on left, 450 on right

Bear Canister Requirements
The only place on the entire Appalachian Trail that has a bear canister requirement is the five mile section South of us here at Neel Gap, to Jarrard Gap. There have been issues with bears in the past, so this regulation is to protect the bears and the hikers. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy recommends hikers to use a bear can from Springer Mountain, to Damascus. The trail is just very crowded and bears are likely to hang around camping areas. Storing food in bear cans protects the bears from tasting human food, and it protects people to keep the bears away from them. There are many more bear canister requirements throughout the United States, so it is important to do your research for your hike beforehand to know if you need one or not. Here is a brief list of the bear canister requirements.

  • Yosemite National Park
  • Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Denali National Park
  • Glacier Bay National Park
  • Gates of the Arctic National Park
  • Inyo National Forest, eastern and central Sierra Nevada, California
  • Eastern High Peaks Wilderness Area, Adirondack Mountains, New York

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My experience
I was a Ridge Runner for the ATC a few years ago and was required to carry a bear canister to show hikers and lead by example. I really didn’t mind carrying it! I had one of the smaller ones, the BearVault 450, and it carried about 4 days of food for me. I did run into an issue with a bear rolling my bear can off the side of Tray Mountain. It took me and several other hikers to find it about a quarter of a mile down and it was severely scratched up! The bear never got into it and I was still able to eat all my food! Crisis averted.

I also carried a bear canister in the Sierra Nevadas on the Pacific Crest Trail. I carried the BearVault 500 which is the larger one. The food carries in the Sierras were a bit longer, and I had been hiking for over a month, so my appetite was pretty strong. I will admit that I couldn’t even fit all my food in my bear canister because I ate so much! The bear canister was fairly heavy when it was fully loaded, but it fit fine in my pack and wasn’t  uncomfortable. Yes my pack was bigger, but it really wasn’t too bad. I was following the rules of the National Park, and I felt safe from bears getting into my food.

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My bear canister all scratched up!

All in all, the bear canister is bigger and heavier, but it helps keep your food safe from bears and other animals. It is important to not let bears taste human food because once they do, they will become habituated and constantly search for that food. We want to protect the bears and keep them safe and wild for years to come!

Norovirus

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.

Causes
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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Prevention
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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Shoes
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
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.

Traction
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.

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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 usajobs.gov. 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!

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“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

“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

“Fresh” March 1 – July 7, NOBO

lumberjack

“Lumberjack” March 8 – September 16, NOBO

lunatic

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

nope

“Nope” February 18 – June 28, NOBO

puddin

“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

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“Alpine” January 1 – June 13, NOBO

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“Pretzel” October 22-27 Tahoe Rim Trail

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“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 TheBackpacker.tv this January and February. Find out more information on their website here. Happy Holidays!