A Better Way to Give Back

The Appalachian Trail has a strong pull on the lives of those who experience it. Whether you live close and its a part of your community or you are a section hiker or former thru hiker whose life was changed by your hike, so many who experience the AT feel a need to give back in some way. For many, the first thought is trail magic. This is great fun for those who who provide it, as well as those who reap the rewards, but in many ways Trail Magic and Hiker Feeds can be unintentionally detrimental to the trail when Leave No Trace practices are not followed. If you are looking for a better way to give back, one that has a hugely positive affect on the trail, consider these ways below!

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Our very own Zack “Blueyes” Finney worked with the Konnarock Trail Crew several years back.

Give Back To The Trail

Trail Maintenance is THE BEST way to give back to the Appalachian Trail! It’s like giving your mom a spa day for Mother’s Day! Unfortunately, trail maintenance is not nearly as large on the radar as hiker feeds and trail magic because it requires a LOT of hard work!! It also takes a lot of knowledge and planning to properly be effective. Thankfully, there are groups out there that make the barrier to entry far easier for those of us who are willing to get dirty for anywhere from a day, to a week, to a summer!

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is obviously knee deep in trail management! The ATC heads up six major volunteer groups that take on large scale projects on trail and they also support 31 local trail clubs along the entire AT. Their trail management page gives an excellent rundown of what life is like for trail crews, a great breakdown of all the major crews along the AT and even has an online test to help you figure out which of the six majors trail crews is best for you!

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Which trail crew is right for you?!

Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (also known as SAWS) is a group who makes it easy to get involved in taking care of trails all throughout the beautiful southern Appalachian mountains. They not only employee year round folks to lead volunteer groups and ofter extended volunteer trail maintenance opportunities, they also set up trail work days in which you can grab a backpack full of snacks, a pair of boots and join them for a day of maintenance! Coming up on April 30th, they have a work day at Hemp Top Trailhead at Dally Gap in the Cohutta Wilderness in GA and on May 7th there is a work day at Rock Creek Trail in the Little Frog Wilderness in TN. SAWS provides all the needed tools for the work day.

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Even current thru hikers can get in on giving back to the AT through trail maintenance by participating in Hard Core at Trail Days in Damascus, Virginia! You can sign up with Bob Peoples at the ATC booth during Trail Days and spend a few days working in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. If you miss this opportunity and find yourself at the end of your hike and not wanting to go home just quite yet (a typical thru hiker problem), consider jumping on to the Rocky Top Trail Crew or the Mid-Atlantic Trail Crew, both of which start up work about the time many northbound thru hikers are finishing up.

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Bob Peoples, owner of Kincora Hostel, has been hosting Hard Core, a two day trail maintenance bash for 15 years!

Give Back To The Community

If digging in the dirt isn’t your cup of tea or if you can’t work it into your schedule, there are still tons of ways to give back to the trail!  Donating to the ATC or becoming a member supports an awesome organization that is doing incredible things for our beloved Appalachian Trail.

Caring for the AT can even be as simple as picking up trash whenever you are out on a day hike. Whether you are hiking on the AT or not, the spirit of LNT is needed on every trail. This is a way current thru hikers can make a HUGE impact while hiking! Mountain Crossings employees have vowed to pick up trash every time we go out hiking this season and have collectively packed out over 300 lbs. of trash in an effort to keep our home healthy!

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Silent Bob weighs up his day’s gatherings after a hike!

The Appalachian Trail is held together by 31 hardworking local trail clubs up and down the east coast. Even if you are unable to help them work on the trail, there is still much support that can be offered to help these clubs and in turn, help the AT! Consider looking up your local AT trail club and asking what their current needs are.

For those who live in or near trail towns along the AT, you have a unique opportunity to help individual hikers as they travel north. Paying for a meal for a hiker will blow their mind! Giving a hiker a ride into or out of town will make their day! For those specifically living near the parts of the trail that are currently experiencing fire closures, giving a hiker a ride can be a make or break situation.

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Due to the low humidity and low rainfall so far this spring, there are several wildfires on the AT, such as the Rocky Mountain Fire in the Shenandoah National Park.

For us all, whether thru hiking, section hiking, weekend hiking or day hiking, being diligent about LNT practices and speaking up against the abuse of the trail is the biggest and easiest way to give back to the Appalachian Trail. Speaking up against poor bathroom practices, burning trash, littering and other detrimental actions seen while on trail will go far to help correct poor behavior and educate those around you. Be nice! But be firm when you see misuse of the Appalachian trail!! We want this beautiful corridor of land to be healthy and open to the loving public for a long, long time to come!!

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Meet Zack!

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Zack at the Taccoa River Bridge while backpacking on the BMT.

This is our good friend, Zack! He is more than just our good friend, he has been a valuable employee with us for about six months. He has been a good friend for even longer. In fact, when Zack started working for us this summer, we weren’t even looking to hire anyone. He was just a quick study and kind of had to keep jumping in and helping on busy summer days at the shop. Plus, he’s got that kind of personality that you’d rather have around than not!

Zack was born and raised in the suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee and you can see that the influence of such an iconic town runs deep in him. He’s a good ol’ southern boy with a big heart but you may not think it just by looking at him. We he rolls up on his Harley, arms covered in tattoos, you may not think he was such an affinity for the Appalachian Trail either!

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Besides an adorable mutt named Romper that he saved from a roadside ditch, this is Zack’s other baby!

In 2011, Zack transformed into ‘Blueyes’ on his thru hike of the AT, a trail name that he comes by with striking honesty. Like most hikers, he fell in love with the trail and had to find a way back soon after his hike. This desire to stay connected with the trail brought him to Virginia, where he worked with the Konnarock Trail Crew along the AT. The next year he upped his connection between trail and job even more by becoming a ridge runner in both Pennsylvania and Georgia, where our friendship began. When it came time for a hot meal and to get a shower, Blueyes would have a stay in the hostel at Mountain Crossings during his regular patrol.

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Trail work with the Konnarock Trail Crew in Virginia.

Zack then found a less nomadic role on the AT when he took a job at the Hike Inn on the Approach Trail. Besides offering a unique backcountry experience focused on sustainability, the Hike Inn also offers nightly educational classes on varying topics. On his off days, Zack would come up to Mountain Crossings and hang out until we began to put him to work in place of several of our own staff who were thru hiking. For quite a while, he worked at both until moving over to the mountain full time to help with the busy fall and spring seasons!

3 Ways to Avoid Gear Failure

As a gear shop along the Appalachian Trail, we have folks pop in all the time to ask about a failed piece of gear. “Can it be fixed? If it can’t, what can I get that will be more reliable this time?” We always do our best (and a few of us are actually really decent at and enjoy trying) to fix whatever may land in front of us. Trekking poles are common and typically are straight forward. They are either broken for good or most likely just need a deep cleaning to function properly. Packs are common as well and the culprit is usually a faulty buckle or strap. We do our best to come up with a mate for it and have even gone as far as to sew it on for folks.

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Many times, a trekking pole that will no longer lock tight just needs to be taken apart and cleaned of any dust, rust and debris that has collected inside of it.

But if we are realistic, we hate seeing these failures. Sometimes it is the result of overly loved items that are coming by their failure due to honest use. Every now and then the failure is due to misuse of the item, like putting far too much weight into a pack, causing strain and stress on key structural points. Other times it is a result of plain, old, cheap gear. This is the most upsetting sort of gear failure because the owner feels as if they did not get the expected life of the product out of it before it left them hanging out to dry somewhere along the trail.

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Putting too much weight into your backpack can cause certain points of the pack to start taking too much pressure and strain, resulting in a failure of the pack.

Thankfully for avid backpackers everywhere, there are a few ways to easily avoid gear failure. There is nothing worse than when you are days away from your next town stop and a majorly important piece of gear like a pack or tent fails on you. When backpacking, you are so reliant on the gear you carry. Not to mention that fixing items with just what you have in your pack can sometimes be difficult. Here are a few ways to avoid gear failure and be prepared for it if it does arise.

1. Buy High Quality Gear

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The easiest way to avoid unwarranted gear failure is to buy a good product to begin with. The backpacking gear world is full of small businesses creating gear for the love of living an outdoor lifestyle, not for a quick buck. Some of these companies have become mammoths in the eyes of thru hikers and avid backpackers because they make a such good product. Think Big Agnes, the most popular tent on all of the AT; ULA, the second most popular pack on all of the AT, every pack of which is hand sewn in America! (No wonder they hold up so well!) But no one or nothing is absolutely perfect. When one of these companies does have a reported failure, they stand behind that product and act in a timely manner to help out the customer. Working in the outdoor industry and being big time backpackers ourselves, we hear the occasional stories of broken packs and tents or parts from these companies (and several others) where hikers have been mailed replacement parts or replacement gear while on trail! So be smart and help set yourself up for success by investing smartly in your gear. The old adage “You Get What You Pay For!” has never been so true as in a sport where you consistently execute major wear and tear on your gear everyday.

2. Treat Your Gear Well

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Once you have saved your money, done your research and purchased that high quality piece of gear that will become the basis of your survival on trail, you must commit to treating it well. If the fabric of your sleeping bag gets stuck in the zipper, don’t yank it out, gingerly extract it. When setting up your tent, be sure to pick a good area, not a patch of rocky land or a cluster of thistle and briars. Make sure you are aware of the recommended base weight for your backpack and the max load it is meant to carry. Going over this rating becomes more of a recipe for disaster as time passes. Check the floor of a shelter for protruding nails or other sharp debris before placing an inflatable sleeping pad down. Generally speaking, be responsible and think about your gear and what is best for it! Just a little bit of forethought can save you so much grief on trail.

3. Use Preventative Measures

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Over a 6 month, 2,000+ mile trail, things will definitely begin to breakdown a little bit. Replacing or fixing gear is just a part of thru hiking. You will probably go through several pairs of shoes and multiple shirts but you should’t have to go through several packs or tents or pads. These are items that should last you throughout the hike and they will if you take care of them and give them just a little TLC. Carrying a small amount of thread or floss with a few needles means you can reinforce an area of your pack if it begins to show signs of stress or excess strain. Carrying a small amount of Tenacious Tape will assist you in fixing holes in a sleeping bag, down jacket or tent. Some people carry the patch kit to their sleeping pad in hopes of being able to find the hole while on trail to fix the pad. Waterproofing your rain jacket and tarp/rain fly with Seam Sealer before setting out on trail also helps insure their ability to keep you dry. Being able to stop small problems from becoming big problems is the key to keeping your gear functional for longer and extending its life to match the length of your thru hike.

 

NOTE: If you have a piece of gear fail on you, be sure to truthfully note why. Was it something you did? Was it a mistake or misuse of the item? If you are going to ask a gear manufacturer to replace a piece of gear for you, be sure that you are coming by that new gear honestly. Trail Karma is real!

Escape to the Mountains: Route 2

Just because it is winter doesn’t mean you have to stay inside! And at the same time, we understand that hiking and backpacking in cold weather isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. This is a neat idea for spending a day off in the mountains that is much more cold weather friendly. You owe it to your sanity to break free of that cabin fever and we’ve got just the trek you need! Here is the second of two driving routes up into the mountains and out of Atlanta that can help you escape and offer fun things to do along the way!

The Eastern Route: I-85/GA-400/US-19

This route takes you out of Atlanta through the North Atlanta suburbs. It is the most direct route for anyone in East or South Atlanta and suburbs such as Conyers, Covington, Lawrenceville, Buford, Cumming, Roswell and Alpharetta. This route covers approximately 150 miles of road and takes just about 3.5 hours of drive time (from Atlanta). Of course, you will want to jump out of the car every now and then and check out some cool little mountain towns, neat country stores, beautiful waterfalls and gorgeous mountain views! They’re all along this route!

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Your route in it’s entirety

Step One: Get out of the City

If you live in or south of the center of Atlanta, get to I-85 and go North! Follow signs for GA-400 N and US-19 N. Alternatively, if you live North or further West of Downtown Atlanta, work your way to GA-400 N. After a while, the city will begin to fade away and GA-400 will loose its limited access and become US-19. Follow Signs for Dahlonega and join up with GA-60 N into town. Dahlonega is a great town to top off the gas tank and grab some lunch if you need.

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Step Two: Start Seeing Cool Things

As noted before, Dahlonega is isa great place to stop and get acclimated to the mountains. Grab lunch at the Picnic Cafe, also known as the Dahlonega Dessertery, or at The Crimson Moon (which has live music on weekends if you want to shop by for dinner and tunes on the way home) and walk around the square for a while. Check out the General Store for some old time candy and ready yourself for a day of fun!

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Follow signs out of town for US-19 N and stay right at Stone Pile Gap, splitting ways with GA-60N. When the road T’s at Turner’s Corner, take a left on US-129N. As you crest the top of the winding mountains, you will see Mountain Crossings on your right. This stone building houses a gear outfitter and gift shop and the view off of the overlook is incredible. Take some time to stretch your legs or even go for a hike up Blood Mountain, 2.2 miles up the Appalachian Trail.

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Take a right out of the Mountain Crossings’ parking lot and start heading down the mountain. Five miles down the way, you will come across Vogel State Park on your left. Swing into the park for some great views over Lake Trahlyta. You can hike around the lake and on the far end check out the falls.

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After leaving Vogel, take a left out of the park onto US-19N/US-129N. In a few miles, take a right on GA-180 and follow signs for Brasstown Bald Visitor’s Center. Brasstown Bald is the highest point in Georgia and offer spectacular views. It is advisable to check in with the Visitor’s Center before committing to the drive up to the peak if it is wintertime. The road up to Brasstown Bald, GA-180 spur, is incredible steep and is the first road in all of Georgia to be shut down during inclement weather. But, if the weather during your visit allows, the crystal clear winter views from the top of Brasstown Bald on the tower are breath taking.

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Backtrack down the steep GA-180 Spur and take a right to retrace your steps on GA-180 until you see GA-348 on your left and turn left. This is the second most likely road to be closed in Georgia during inclement weather but as you will see with Brasstown Bald, this also means it offers the best views in Georgia. This road will criss cross you over the Appalachian Trail in two places. The first will be Tesnatee Gap on your right. If you pull off into this parking area and begin walking on the AT to your right, it will bring you to Cow Rock in 1 mile. It is a steep climb, but a great hike to warm you up, get your blood flowing and give your some great views of the mountains. If you aren’t in the mood for a hike, continue driving a short ways to Hog Pen Gap. You may see people Ice Climbing if it is the middle of Winter and you can catch from great views without having to leave the car. The third pull over (the first of them to be on your right and the one that is past the AT) will provide you with the ability to swoop through in your car and snap some grandiose photos.

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If you continue down GA-348 you will soon come across several chances to view waterfalls. Once you have descended from the high mountains, on your right you will seen signs for the Dukes Creek Falls Recreation Area nearly immediately followed by Raven Cliff Falls Recreation Area. Dukes Creek is approximately 1 mile out and 1 mile back to view the falls and Raven Cliff is 3.5 miles out and 3.5 miles back but both hikes are relatively east. Raven Cliff in particular has little to no elevation gain.

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After getting your fill of the falls, keep on GA-348 until it T’s into GA-75A. Turn right onto GA-75 Alternate and follow it to GA-129 N, taking another right. In no time this will loop you back to Turner’s Corner, where you will take a left back onto US-19S towards Dahlonega. Retrace your steps back to town for dinner or to get back to 400 and head home. This is a great little route to show you some new places to have fun in the mountains, even in the winter!

Find This Route On Google Maps!

Your Pre-AT Thru Hike Companion

It is 2016, which means that we are one huge milestone closer to the date and time when many folks will set out to accomplish a massive dream. The northbound thru hiker class of 2016 is nervously and excitedly ramping up for their treks to Maine: counting down the days, finalizing their gear, preparing their body and mind for the big task ahead of them and Waiting on Spring.

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Mountain Crossings’ employee and 2013 Appalachian Trial thru hiker Carlie “Rainbow Braid” Gentry has a little collection of words that will help ease the minds of thru hiker’s looking to set out in the Spring. This eBook is a compilation of the collective thoughts of a hiker upon returning from her thru hike. She addresses many topics such as: fully understanding and accepting the commitment of a six month thru hike, what mode of preparation ended up being beneficial, what books were worth reading, what she wished she had known going into the first few days of the hike and much more.

Carlie “Rainbow Braid” Gentry made the big choice to thru hike in 2013 after graduation college with a degree in photography. Upon her return she began to work at the local REI and started writing for Appalachian Trails as the senior most contributor, save the creator, Zach Davis. She made the switch from corporate gear store to small business, specialty outdoor retailer a year ago when she took a job at Mountain Crossings. Carlie has been doling out thru hiking advice to all who ask on the Appalachian Trails webpage and on various sales floors for two and a half years now. Waiting on Spring is a compilation of all of those thoughts just waiting to be unleashed onto your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer.

Get Your Copy Here

In Case You Missed It – The MTX Tour!

Our little town of Blairsville has seen some interesting technological influx in the last few months. Google has been offering to do high resolution, virtual tours through Google Maps all throughout the local area. Since Mountain Crossings is such an intriguing historical location, we were readily on the list and willing to participate!

Just as when you see those funny little cars with strange domes protecting cameras driving down the street, Google now has smaller, more mobile versions of those that sit on a tripod. A representative from Google came out and we made a plan for what all was going to be photographed.

If you have never seen a tour on Google Maps, you are in for a treat. They are 360° Virtual Tours of a location with immaculate resolution and clarity. You can go see Yellowstone National Park. You can go see Stone Henge. And now you can go see Mountain Crossings!

On the tour, you can walk through the breezeway and then jump down to look into the hostel. Then you can walk up to the over look for a quick view and then check out the inside of the shop. Have fun!

Reinventing the Shake Down!

Mountain Crossings has been well known for the gear shake down for many decades. Each thru hiker season, hundreds, now thousands, of hikers pass through the shop to dump what they have found they don’t want and to pick up what they didn’t know they needed.

Want a tiny pack like this that still has all the gear needed to keep you comfortable, safe and happy on trail?! Get a Virtual Shake Down!

Want a tiny pack like this that still has all the gear needed to keep you comfortable, safe and happy on trail?! Get a Virtual Shake Down!

Traditionally, hikers do this on their thru hike, about the 3rd or 4th day into their extended stroll. In recent years, more and more prospective thru hikers who are relatively local to the shop (Atlanta, Chattanooga, Greenville, Huntsville and even beyond) have been making a trip to Mountain Crossings to have a shake down before hitting the trail. The result makes their first few days on trail radically more comfortable in two major ways. One is physical: their pack is lighter due to not carrying unnecessary items and they also don’t find themselves lacking something important. The second is mental: they have asked all the questions they can and talked with experts about what to expect. The over all experience of the first few days is better. Plus, when they arrive at the shop all they have to do it eat, shower and relax instead of wait in line with tons of other hikers for a much needed shake down.

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A typical day during hiker season at MTX looks like 3 or 4 (way less organized) pack explosions like this one! It can get messy, but it’s fun!

As the shake down becomes more popular, section hikers, weekenders, and even boy scout troops are opting to receive this helpful service. It is beneficial to all backpackers, not only thru hikers!

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A Bit of Info on the Virtual Shake Down

  1. Anyone of any experience level or preparedness can participate in a Virtual Shake Down. (Whether you’re a former thru hiker looking to shed some pack weight or only have three pieces of gear, all are welcome!)
  2. A computer with video chat capabilities (built in or attached video camera and microphone) is needed for a Virtual Shakedown.
  3. Virtual Shake Downs happen over an application called Google Hangout. We will provide you with a dummy G-Mail account for use during the shake down.
  4. A Virtual Shake Down costs $100, but that cost is a 100% (absolutely full and total) rebate!!
  5. During the shake down you will have access to all the entire inventory of Mountain Crossings and we will help you locate the exact items you need to complete or update your gear set.
  6. After you have chosen what you need from that shop, you will have 48 hours to purchase these items and apply your $100 rebate towards your gear.
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Click on this Image to check out the Virtual Shake Down

Mountain Crossings’ Holiday Gift Guide

Alright folks, so wether you are one of the prepared of if this is your first realization that Christmas is just a short ways away, we’ve got some things here that will help you out! It can be so tough to think of the perfect gift for everyone on your list so we’ve gone ahead and taken care of the outdoor loving, AT hiking friend or family member! Just get them anything off this list and they will dig it!

Click on any image to link to the product on Mountain Crossings website. Prices listed do not include shipping or sale tax.

Start Small: Little Gifts/Stocking Stuffers

Appalachian Trail National Scenic Trail Magnet

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$4.95

This is the same image of the official National Scenic Trail plaque that one finds nailed to trees along the Appalachian Trail, except this is a magnet! It spruces up any refrigerator or large, magnetic faced kitchen appliance. It has a low profile so it stays on cars even during a car wash.

Official Appalachian Trail Logo Patch

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$4.50

The official, copy written, Appalachian Trail Maine to Georgia patch is an excellent gift for any backpacker who is looking to decorate their pack or commemorate a hike.

Landmark Project’s Retro Appalachian Trail Sticker

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$2.59

We think this sticker made by the Landmark Project out of Greenville, SC is one of the coolest Appalachian Trail stickers we have seen to date. Give a little AT flair to a friend or family member to represent a beautiful trail on their car, Nalgene, notebook or whatever they’d like!

Appalachian Trail Shot Glass

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$5.99

Everybody has a souvenir shot glass from some random beach town but what about one of America’s long distance hiking trails?! That’s way more worthy of a toast!

Movin’ On Up: Stand Alone Gifts

Appalachian Trail Pint Glass

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$9.99

We think that there is no better time to drink a beer than right after a great hike! It’s the most satisfying a beer can possibly be. But unfortunately, it’s not always possible to be fresh off the trail. No fear! Drinking your beer out of an Appalachian Trail pint glass often gives similar effects!

Blood Mountain Trucker Hat

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$18.99

This Blood Mountain trucker hat not only has an awesome design featuring the tallest mountain in Georgia on the AppalachianTrail, it also comes in three great colors! Blood Mountain is quite possibly the most popular day hike in Georgia and if you’ve ever been the the summit, it’s not hard to imagine why.

 

Glow in the Dark Silicone Pint Glass with Mountain Crossings’ Logo

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$13.95

This pint glass is the only pint glass your friend or family member will ever need again!! (Except for re-buying it in all the colors possible!) This Silicone pint glass depicting Mountain Crossing’s logo is made by a company called SiliPint. They manufacture pint glasses that are unbreakable, dish washer safe, microwave safe, freezer safe, and BPA free. Owning one of these cups make its easier to cut down on your possessions because you only want to use this one cup all the time! Oh, also, THEY GLOW IN THE DARK!!!

Sawyer Mini Water Filter

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The Sawyer Mini Water Filter is still the lightest weight filtration system on the market for backpacking coming in at just 3 ounces. Besides being the go to way to filter water for backpackers, they make an excellent addition to a day pack for those just in case situation. Your day hiking buddy won’t even know its in there, but it could end up saving them from a long day of no water if the event ever arises.

A Walk In The Woods

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$15.95

The Appalachian Trail community is abuzz with talk of the recent release of the feature length film adaptation of Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. But we all know that the book is better than the movie! Give the reader on your list the original memoir that over took the AT community so solidly that it over took Hollywood as well!

Assorted Appalachian Trail Ceramic Mug

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$25.99

Another thing many hikers love as much as beer is coffee! These awesome ceramic Appalachian Trail mugs are perfect for transporting someone back to the peace and serenity of Nature while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea. They also come in so many colors and glazes that everyone is sure to be pleased!

Getting Serious: They’ll Love You Forever!

Woolrich Appalachian Trail Blanket

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$185.00

This is hands down the coolest gift you can give someone who loves the Appalachian Trail! Every hiker has fond memories of their times on trail, so why not personify the warmth of the memories with a blanket! It’s so nice to wrap up in a wool blanket on a chilly day and when it is not in use, this particular blankets makes a wonderful accent piece of an AT lover!

Helinox Ground Chair

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$109.95

This chair is not only light enough to be carried on any backpacking or camping trips, but it is also comfortable enough to be used on a regular basis around home! It weighs in at only one and a half pounds, packs away into a tiny zippered case, and is super easy to put together. It is perfect to keep around the house for extra seating or stow away in the back of your car for just in case purposes.

The Real Hiking Viking Sets Sail Again

It is getting to be that time of year again. It’s the season where we all shut ourselves away indoors and wait until spring to go back out. There are the few hardy ones who brave the elements with the help of the right gear, but most only go out on the best of days, if at all. Thankfully, there are those few hardy ones! One of them is Thomas Gathman.

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Thomas “Tom” Gathman AKA Jabba AKA  The Real Hiking Viking

Besides his given name, Thomas is also know by his trail name, Jabba. But most people know of him not by his trail name, but by another moniker: The Real Hiking Viking. He solidified his love for long distance hiking when he thru hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2013 with other veterans as part of the Warrior Hike Program. Jabba has put down a lot more trail miles since then. In 2014 he thru hiking the Continental Divide Trail and earlier this year, he hiked the Florida Trail, the Arizona Trail and nearly completed the Pacific Crest Trail until fire closures along the trail shut him out.

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A sneak peek of Jabba’s hiking style, which he indeed puts a lot of “style” into.

Its obvious that The Real Hiking Viking is the sort that likes to be out in nature a lot, but thankfully for us, he is also slightly insane and has signed himself up for a trip that will keep our adventurous mountaintop seeking selves satisfied from the warmth of our own homes. All we need to do is tune into The Real Hiking Viking’s Facebook or Instagram.

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A sampling of the beautiful kinds of images found on The Real Hiking Viking’s social media pages.

Starting December 1st, yes, that was yesterday, Jabba will be thru hiking the Appalachian Trail south bound through the winter! It is a trek that is reminiscent of Trauma and Pepper’s Winter Southbound PCT Thru Hike. The elements may not be quite as extreme and with a history as varied as that of the AT, he is surely not the first to take on such a hike, but he is bucking against tradition and traveling by foot over rugged terrain that is inhospitable at best in the winter. Join in with us in following along with his progress, which is sure to be full of gorgeous winter time photographs and fun stories.

What in the World is a Lasher?!

Each year thousands of NoBo thru hikers set out for Katahdin from Springer Mountain and hundreds of SoBo thru hikers set out for Springer Mountain from Katahdin. We all know that these descriptions, NoBo and SoBo, tell us which direction a hiker travels, whether it be North Bound or South Bound. We all have also heard of section hikers who tackle the trail in smaller, more manageable chunks. But there is another kind of hiker out there that has just in the recent years past come to have a name of their very own.

Lasher is a relative new term in the culture of long distance hiking. Lashers are essentially the perfect mix between a full blow thru hiker and a section hiker. The term  is actually an acronym that captures the good humor of hikers everywhere: L.A.S.H-er stands for Long Ass Section Hiker.

As where section hikers take a week or two of vacation to knock out the trail in small pieces, a Lasher is out for months at a time and falls into the long term habits, customs and mentalities of traditional thru hikers. They are indistinguishable from thru hikers besides their itinerary.

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This is Rain. He is from Texas and has been hiking south from Harpers Ferry. Next summer he will begin to hike northward to Katahdin. He is the very definition of a Lasher!

Lashers are a fairly new breed of hikers who may not be able to commit to the full six or so months to thru hike, but they get out a use up every moment of what time they do have! As the popularity of long distance backpacking grows, more and more folks are falling into this new style of hiking. If you are one of the many out there who dream of hiking the AT in full but can’t find the time, take a look into this unique way of hiking!