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788 Just Passin' Thru
Book Review

Titel Page from iBook edition of Just Passin' Thru

Just Passin' Thru on iPad

In 2001 Winton Porter moved his family from a comfortable suburban life to Neels Gap in the north Georgia mountains. They were the new owners of Mountain Crossings, an outfitter store and hostel that catered to Appalachian Trail hikers.

The Appalachian Trail starts thirty miles south of Neels Gap at Springer Mountain. Most trail hikers prior to their journey, spend countless hours packing - or rather deciding what to pack. Questions abound as the hiker sits in the comforts of their living room trying to balance comfort with weight. The hiker before taking his or her first step has to decide what they will carry in their pack and even what kind of pack to use.

Once on the trail, as the hills begin to wear on the muscles, most hikers rapidly change their minds as to what is important to them. By the time they reach Neels Gap, they are desperate to make some adjustments. Neels Gap is where US Hwy 19/129 crosses the Appalachian Trail. At many such intersections along the AT, hikers have to walk or catch a ride to town to reach a store. Some hikers stop at every town, others do not. At Neels Gap the trail descends from Blood Mountain and literally goes thru the Mountain Crossing building. If you walk the trail, you will visit Mountain Crossings! The store provides many services for hikers - showers, a real bed, meals, a store, and their infamous 'shakedowns'. A shakedown is when the experienced store personnel go through the hikers pack and analyze each piece of gear with them. The unneeded gear is boxed and sent home.

'Just Passin' Thru' recounts some of the daily events in the Porter family's life as the new caretakers and store owners. The twenty chapters of the book are stories. Because the AT passes through Mountain Crossings it is easy to imagine the vast array of humanity who have taken steps under the passageway. Deciding what stories to include would have had to have been difficult. Among the twenty chapters were stories of the family's life adjusting to living in the old stone building, store employees, search and rescue events, tourists, locals, mountain runs, hikers that were 'Just Passin' Thru', and the shakedowns - or what the hikers sent home.

In the last chapter, we meet Demetri 'Coup' Coupounas, the founder of the GoLite company. Coup was hiking. He was attempting to break the unsupported record of hiking 620 miles in 40 days. In other words, he was carrying all his food and gear for a 40 day trip in which he had to average 15.5 miles per day. Well, the pack weighed 140 pounds. He stumbled down Blood Mountain and into Mountain Crossings. It is a good story.

My only complaint about the book was that it was not long enough! It was good entertainment.

Happy Just Passin' Thru trails



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