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Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters
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Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  484 Ratings  ·  85 Reviews
Like a well-crafted stage play, Just Passin' Thru delivers one suspenseful scene after another. But in this historic setting — a store on the Appalachian Trail called Mountain Crossings — the characters who show up are no fictional creations. They are the real-life stars of the author’s new life as a backpack-purging, canteen-selling, hostel-running, bandage-taping, lost-c ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Menasha Ridge Press (first published November 1st 2009)
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Isabella Norse
Apr 16, 2014 Isabella Norse rated it liked it
My husband and I are enthusiastic hikers and have been to the Mountain Crossings store many times. As a matter of fact, we bought our copy of this book there. :-)

I enjoyed the tales of the colorful characters Winton Porter has encountered, both those that are regulars and those that are "just passin' thru."

However, there was one aspect of the book that bothered me as I read - and still bothers me all these many weeks later. Mr. Porter tells us that he is a "patient" man and based on the tales t
Feb 17, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it
Absolutely incredible, like the perfect mix of funny and inspirational. It's not like a great book in history, but I'm interested in this kind of thing which is why I'm giving this the four stars. I would be VERY surprised if I didn't find myself reading through it again.

Lessons learned: Don't always judge people by what you see at first. Some normal people that seem like they are awesome have issues, and other people who seem like they have issues may be far more normal than people imagined.
Brian Reasor
Jan 24, 2011 Brian Reasor rated it it was amazing
Another in a long list of good Appalachian Trail books...
Winton's Mountain Crossings store and Walasi-Yi hostel literally
sit across the A.T. 30 miles northbound from the southern trail
terminus at Springer Mtn Ga. This place is the 1st pit stop for
intrepid souls hiking north to Maine in the spring and the last
pit stop for southbounders ending their hike late in the year.
Winton's place gives great service to all the hikers passing
through and is a bit of a collection point for eccentricity.
Feb 15, 2011 Sue rated it it was amazing
Just Passin' Thru is a wonderful read. Porter runs the outfitter's store at Mountain Crossing GA, right on the Appalachian Trail. The book is filled with the people who make the store work, the hiker's passing through on the way to Maine, and those who just stop and stay while. It talks about the trail and what it means to backpackers as well as the diverese personalities of those backpackers. I so enjoyed this book that I will reread it and recommend it to anyone no matter where their trails ...more
Bert Tomlin
May 20, 2016 Bert Tomlin rated it it was amazing
I loved this book - could not put it down. Not only does he give a good look at what the first 30 miles of the AT can do for Hikers, he has excellent writing skills. Porter keeps you wanting to know more.
Gail Gray
Sep 05, 2012 Gail Gray rated it it was amazing
I have to say that Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters by Winton Porter is in my top five books on the Appalachian Trail - speaking from a family member as opposed to a thru-hiker. This non-fiction collection of stories about real people, is a find not only because I scored an autographed copy on the used Amazon section, but also because it gives you a cross-section of the types of people who want to hike the trail and the people who ...more
Sep 01, 2012 gina rated it really liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed Winton Porter's tales about his experiences at Mountain Crossings. My husband and I passed through here in 2006 and basically fell in love while on the AT headed towards Amicalola (SOBO). Our first and only shower of the trip was here (lol!) and we were novice and inexperienced hikers. I'm glad we didn't allow them to give us a shake down (we never even let our packs go near the door really, we were so embarrassed). And since then we've had a few more backpacking and camping ...more
Sep 13, 2016 Julieb rated it it was amazing
Good storyteller. Interesting topic
Apr 26, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
Why did I give this 3 stars? Again, I rated it a few weeks ago and now I'm feeling like it should have been a 4. I think I need to start delaying my star ratings until a week or two after I've read the book to see what I remember or what has stayed with me. In this case, I am still thinking about this book and all of the interesting characters on the Appalachian Trail. Not book characters, but the crazy characters in this real life story of a man who quit life in corporate America to buy a ...more
Feb 03, 2010 Leslie rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who likes people
Recommended to Leslie by: the AT community
This is a Really Good Book. Winton Porter is owner of Mountain Crossings, an outfitter/hostel in Georgia that the Appalachian Trail passes right through. It was built by the CCC in the '30s, and has been a haven for hikers ever since. When he and his family took it over in 2001, he started a series of journals about the people who passed through his life. He has a wonderful eye and ear for people and understands their core needs. Although I knew only one of the people in the book personally, I ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Marie rated it it was amazing
This book had me doing outburst of uncontrollable laughter. Hated to see it end.

Like a well-crafted stage play, Just Passin' Thru delivers one suspenseful scene after another. But in this historic setting — a store on the Appalachian Trail called Mountain Crossings — the characters who show up are no fictional creations. They are the real-life stars of the author’s new life as a backpack-purging, canteen-selling, hostel-running, bandage-taping, lost-child finding, argument-settling, romance-fixi
Herman Kappes
May 12, 2016 Herman Kappes rated it it was amazing
When I was a Boy Scout I use to dream of hiking the Appalachian trail. Over the past 25 years I have settled into a job and recreation has been replaced with multiple Jobs, teaching, and numerous other responsibilities. About a year ago I started exploring the idea of section hiking the Appalachian during breaks from work and, as fate would have it, this book comes into my life. The author brings the trail to life with stories of locals and hikers that are sometimes inspirational and other times ...more
Sep 16, 2011 Laura rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
This was a quick, happy read. Porter's store is directly on the Trail -- 7 steps of it pass through a breezeway connecting the store to his house, making it the only covered part of the whole A.T. They offer a "shakedown" service to literally help hikers lighten their load and have a hostel on the property for overnighters. Needless to say, it's a place ripe with stories. It is only 30 miles from the southern terminus, so Porter primarily interacts with hikers who are just starting out. I think ...more
Feb 03, 2013 Stefan rated it liked it
The setup for this book sounds great: eight years of crazy characters wandering through a hiking store and hostel set directly on the Appalachian Trail about thirty miles from the start. This book does deliver on that, but left me questioning by the end, "is that all you've got?". Although I appreciated learning about the author's personal experiences and relationships, I guess I was just expecting more personalities. I can only wonder what wild and amazing characters and stories come through a ...more
Aug 08, 2014 Correen rated it liked it

Pleasant light read. Porter bought a store on the Appalachian Trail, moved his family out to live at the store and run this strange mix of store, hostel, relief and rescue center, and information/education distributor. He introduces his readers to his customers and shows his joy in his life including his wife and two daughters.

It would never occur to me to hike any of the great trails -- Appalachian, Pacific Crest, and Continental divide -- but I have read experiences of hikers in all of them.
Richard Chenoga
Sep 11, 2013 Richard Chenoga rated it it was amazing
I have been reading articles on the Appalachian Trail and following along with hiker journals online with Trail Journals. Nearly every hiker has made some reference to stopping in or passing through Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi.It was nice to find this book, Just Passin' Thru" by Winton Porter.

I had read so much about the store and Winton, I was excited to read his book. It was enjoyable to hear stories from his perspective. I read the whole book in one day and just couldn't put it down and
Apr 01, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
Every year between 1000-1500 people hike the 2178-mile Applachian Trail--all kinds of people! Each one has their own reasons for the journey. Some make it to the end and some don't. The author owns a store/hostel smack in the middle of the trail in north Georgia and this is the story of the unique characters he meets on a daily basis. It's well written and he knows how to tell a story very well. With humor and a great deal of understanding, Winton Porter makes many of the trail characters come ...more
Feb 22, 2015 Liz rated it liked it
Shelves: animals-nature
Quite a cast of characters that pursue the goal of walking over 2,000 miles, taking months to achieve this strenuous, risky hike. If you start from the southern end, then this will be your first stop 30 some miles up the path. Here you can ditch what you find you don't need and resupply. Much of this was interesting and the anecdotal stories were sometimes intriguing. I liked the pictures and the history of the building and its former owners as well as hearing the hardships of winter in the ...more
Feb 01, 2011 lynn rated it really liked it
Winton Porter owns the first trail store one comes to when hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. His store and home are right on the trail; it actually passes under an archway in the building. As a result, he meets all kinds of people who are passing through as tourists or hikers. Many he may never get to meet; others he gets to know as they continue to gravitate here each year. Written as a series of vignettes about those people as well as his family members provided an enjoyable ...more
Sep 04, 2015 Linde rated it really liked it
Shelves: hiking-trails
As opposed to most Appalachian Trail books, this book is not about someone hiking - moving ever on through different landscapes, over different mountains, towards that one distant mountain that marks the end of their journey. No, this book is about a point on that journey, like a rock in a fast-moving stream. Oddly comforting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, enjoyed meeting the host of characters that came along, enjoyed the stories from the area, and enjoyed reading about the daily life of ...more
Michael Perry
Dec 30, 2012 Michael Perry rated it liked it
Read this book as part of my immersion into AT culture prior to embarking on a failed attempt to hike a long section of the trail.

This book is funny. It's evident that the author really loves people in all of their absurdities and is generally accepting, even of those he might find insufferable. That is what made me like the book, more so than any writing style or plot.

Read this if you are interested in the AT, or if you just like books heavy on dialogue and an author's take on real life people.
Ciera Blackburn
Mar 22, 2015 Ciera Blackburn rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Porter does such a great job of making you feel like you are right there as the story is being told the first time or witnessing what is happening at mountain crossings. I'm sad to see that he no longer owns the store but I can only hope he will write another book about his life there, up to the selling of the store. In the next few years I plan on segment hiking the AT and this book has made me so excited. I can't wait to experience these hiker stories first hand.
Kathy Nealen
Oct 29, 2012 Kathy Nealen rated it really liked it

Delightful set of stories about the memorable characters who frequent the Mountain Crossings store on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia written by the owner of the store. I look forward to visiting the store when I hike the trail in Georgia. (it is the only store actually situated on the trail). This memoir also provides a great deal of advice with its cautionary tales of hikers who are under-equipped or over-equipped or just plain wrongly equipped.
Sharry Miller
May 15, 2013 Sharry Miller rated it really liked it
Just Passin' Thru deserves a better review than I'm willing to peck out on my iPad, but that's life. Instead of another chronology of a hike on the AT, Porter instead tells us stories of the many characters he's met while the proprietor of a south Georgia trail shop and hostel. It's a quick, fun read, and I definitely recommend it. I'd love to hike the AT someday, and when I do, I'll introduce myself to Winton Porter.
Dec 27, 2013 Marty rated it it was amazing
This book describes the diversity of the numerous travelers you can encounter along the Appalachian trail (AT) that intersects with Mountain Crossing Outfitter owned by the author Winton Porter

The characters he describes will intrigue you and their history along with the circumstances that brought them to the AT seeking the beauty of the trail.

His tales will stir your traveling soul to venture out and experience the beauty that is enjoyed by hiking the AT as a thru or sectional hiker.
Mark Sloan
Jun 30, 2012 Mark Sloan rated it really liked it
I've been on an AT book kick since returning from my last camping trip. This one is about some of the more colorful characters that Winton Porter, owner of Mountain Crossings, has met since he bought the outfitter that sits right on the Appalachian Trail. The book is an entertaining read and the shop is pretty cool as well, picked up a new pack while I was there.
Apr 04, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
I like to collect Alaska books, but since I no longer live there, and still like my hiking and outdoorsy stuff, I think its time to collect AT books. This is my first of the books- picked up at the Walasi-Yi store at Neel's Gap last time I was there. Not a huge book, but enjoyable with plenty of stories about characters on the trail. A good start to my collection.
Becky Patrick
Jul 20, 2015 Becky Patrick rated it it was amazing
It was refreshing to read a book about the AT from a single point. Winton Porter has a style of writing that is easy to read, funny and very conversational. The portraits he paints of the various people that have passed though his door are vivid. I would love to pass through Mountain Crossings on my way to Mount Katahdin someday.
Jonathan Burt
Aug 12, 2011 Jonathan Burt rated it it was ok
I love travel. And adventure. And the novel personalities involved in both. Porters book seemed to offer both so I went into this book hoping to like it. Alas.

All in all it is not terrible, but it is lacking the adventure element I was seeking. There is no spark. Still, as a first attempt it is not a total loss. Reads like a draft.
Disappointed !!!

The reviews I Read on this story were all great so I Bought it.Very Disappointed. Winton spoke of a few people, but mainly about himself. No I Would not Recommend anyone to read it,there are many Great Books about the App.Trail,but this was not one of them.Just my Opinion for what it was worth.
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Ever since starting his lawn-mowing business at age 10, Winton Porter has found it hard to stay indoors. At 21 he opened B. Bumblefoot and Co., producing hiking sticks for retailers throughout the southeastern U.S. For years he tried the corporate routeselling gear and managing operations at banks and major retailers such as REI in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Atlanta. In 2001, at age 35, he ...more
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“That's what coming face-to-face with six months in the woods will do to you: as soon as you realize you have the chance to be a different person, you become one. You can forget who you are. This is no accident when you've spent miles wondering, with every labored step, Who is this person who has decided to try this?--wondering who you are. You have nothing but time to answer the question, to give a new account of yourself. Your only witness might be a blanket of cool moss on a sunny day, or a panorama of endless mountains, or a young doe gazing by the Trail. You've yet to discover that the journey is the destination. So you lose yourself, then you find yourself again, farther along.” 1 likes
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