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:: Just Passin' Thru
Just Passin' Thru
Deep in the Georgia woods, the vintage Mountain Crossings Store sets the stage for zany characters, comedy, and drama. Almost two thousand hikers each year attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail from south to north. Only one in ten will finish the trail’s 2,178 miles, but almost all of them—with the help of experience, courage, luck, or madness—will get as far as Mountain Crossings, the small outfitter shop that sits astride the trail outside of Blairsville, Georgia. And they will have dealings there with Winton Porter, the shop’s proprietor since 2001.
In Just Passin’ Thru, his first book, Porter tells the story of this historic trading post and sketches some of the memorable souls who have passed through it—looking for gear or a place to sleep, coffee or gossip, souvenirs or advice—in the years of his tenure.
These men and women are as varied as their reasons for walking. Some are wise and kind; some are depraved and dangerous. Some just hang out, and barely hang on. Many are gifted storytellers themselves. They may walk the trail without any special agenda or destination, because they have nowhere else to go. They may walk in brave inspiration, knowing each step may be their last. They offer tales of grand ambitions and shattered dreams. Of courage and kindness. Of mindless cruelty. Of those who have lost their minds only to rediscover them beneath the silent wilderness sky. They will arrive to you as strangers. Brought to life in Porter’s effortless prose, they will share their joy, their sorrow, and their wisdom. They will depart having touched your heart.
The trade at Mountain Crossings is in more than food and equipment, and the people here are more to each other than buyers and sellers; they are neighbors in the wilderness, a family of wanderers and dreamers strung across a great American landscape. This book gives them their long-deserved family album. Hiking guide, memoir, story collection, and rogues’ gallery, Just Passin’ Thru is a report from a thriving example of old-fashioned American business. And it is, finally, the compelling self-portrait of a happy and grateful man, whose livelihood has been blessed by the bloom of life.
About Winton Porter
Ever since starting his lawn-mowing business at age 10, author Winton Porter has found it hard to stay indoors. At 21 he opened his own B. Bumblefoot and Co., producing hiking sticks for retailers throughout the U.S. southeast. And for years he tried the corporate route—selling gear and managing operations at such retailers as REI in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta.
In 2001, at age 35, he ransacked his 401k and bought the venerable Mountain Crossings store, a hiker’s mecca deep in the Georgia woods near the southern end of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a blissful match for the lifelong outdoorsman and natural-born storyteller. Now called the Guru of the Appalachian Trail, Winton is famous for his “shakedowns” to help weary hikers lighten their loads.
When he’s not busy selling boots and shipping hikers’ boxes home, he’s writing about the zany adventurers that populate the trail and his store. Winton’s memory for dialogue, eye for detail, compassion for those in trouble, and gift for humor come together in the 27 chapters that make up his first book.
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