Just Passin Thru

Following the Appalachian Trail approximately 30 miles north of Springer Mountain is a building with a breezeway. What, you may ask, is so special about this breezeway? Well, I will tell you what. This breezeway is the only spot on the entire Appalachian Trail where the trail itself actually passes beneath a roof. This breezeway separates the Famous Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi and an actual residential building, which are joined just above the trail, at the roof. And if you haven’t guessed it by now, the title of this book tells it all…

This book is not your typical AT book. Most books surrounding the Appalachian Trail are usually a somewhat fictitious, humorous work with lively characters pounding their way down the trail, or at least some of it. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, many books are quite simply documented trail journals, with some being more lively than others. Then of course there are the straight up guides and data books which are quite useful when actually hiking the trail, but can also be fun to read even when not actually hiking…

This book doesn’t fall into any of those categories. This book starts off with Winton’s story of how he came into the actual possession of his “goal number twenty-two” which is the aforementioned Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi, or better known by some simply as Neels Gap. The small outfitter is nestled at the base of Blood Mountain, the highest point on the Appalachian Trail on the Georgia section of the trail. However, Mountain Crossings is more than just a simple store, it is a well-established “outfitter, hiker hostel, grocery store, backwoods mail drop, gift shop, picnic spot, and sometimes barbecue joint” which happens to be both Winton’s personal place of business as well as his former residence. This is where the 248 pages of his book takes place.

In Winton’s book he reflects back on stories of the many hikers and visitors that have come through the store. He tells of stories of his family growing up and into the store as well as hikers arriving in the middle of the night. He writes of rescue missions up the mountain, as well as the famous shake downs that the staff (as well as Winton himself) will do for hikers that need and want help with their backpacking gear. Stories of old boots found with bones still in it, breaking trail running records up Blood Mountain and even about the guy that sleeps on the roof with his flute, he has them all…

I have found this book to be a very fun read, and even educational. Thanks to Winton, I learned a little history about the actual building that houses the great store and hiker hostel as well as enjoyed a laugh as he told the story of the skunk spraying a group of boy scouts, and even got to know a little bit about someone I already knew of, just not about; the great Minnesota Smith…

Winton has done a great job at reflecting the spirit of the Appalachian Trail, even if it is only in glimpses of other hikers hikes. The words, sentences and paragraphs flow smoothly which makes the pages fly by and simply hard to put down until it is completely finished.

I definitely give this book a two-thumbs-up! Just Passin Thru is a great book and I definitely recommend it, especially for anyone that is even thinking of hiking the Appalachian Trail, whether it be all or some of it. For any Appalachian Trail enthusiast or even for any hiker in general, this book should definitely be on your shelf…or in your hands!


1 Response to Just Passin Thru

  1. Pingback: Trip Report: Neels Gap to Unicoi Gap | Stick's Blog

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