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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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  682 ratings  ·  102 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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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  682 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Isabella Norse
Apr 16, 2014 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
Nov 03, 2010 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.
Bert Tomlin
May 18, 2016 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.
Krista Danis
I absolutely loved this book and its author! Porter is a very strong storyteller with a fresh sense of humor. Its nice to read about the Appalachian Trail from the unique perspective of a business owner, one whose bread and butter rests comfortably atop the trail itself. Porter humanizes the employees of Mountain Crossings with delightful details about their personality strengths and flaws, characteristics he learns about his hiker customers, too. Above all, he is a people-lover who joys in laug ...more
Brian Reasor
Jan 24, 2011 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 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 ta ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: at-cdt-pct
Really interesting stories and people, but the author can be an insensitive and condescending jerk at times.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Interesting stories that quickly dwindle down into a venue for experienced hikers to make fun of newbies.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just Passin' Thru instantly became one of my favorite books about the trail. This book is quite a bit different from every other book about the AT that I've read in the past, and that's a good thing. Other's accounts that you'll read of peoples trip up and down the trail while enjoyable, get somewhat repetitive after a half dozen books.

Winton tells stories of friends and experiences with hikers that he has had as the owner of Mountain Crossings, an outfitter along the Appalachian trail. The peo
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic -- and I didn't want to see it end. Although this is nonfiction, it reads like my favorite novels because it incorporates (1) a setting that grows on you and becomes a character you love and (2) a cast of strong characters, each of them standing out and being easily distinguishable.

At first, the book reminded me of the TV show "Newhart," with a deadpan narrator (I listened to the audiobook and loved the reader, Jones Allen) who runs a business and encounters travelers and th
Anne McLeod
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Unexpectedly bittersweet story of Mountain Crossings at Walasi-Yi. I didn't want this book to end. I have been up to the store many times, and while I will never (ever!) be an AT through hiker or even much of a hiker at all, I recognize the sense of place and history that comes through Porter's book. It's the people, their stories, fact and fiction, that make the trail come alive. The author captures these beautifully.
Bob Wallner
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very well written book about the cast of characters that pass through Mt. Crossings on the Appalachian Trail. Funny, sad and even curious....there are many life lessons that are woven into to the stories.

One of this biggest ironies that is woven throughout this book is how much the author adores, boarding on worships, his wife. As I understand, he and his wife divorced right around the time the book was finally published. I don't know the situation, but life can blindside you sometimes.

Kristina Carter
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Given my love of the Appalachian Trail and the fact that I've stayed at this hostel and wandered through the store, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The author captures hikers' stories and memories vividly while conveying the drive beyond long distance hiking and love of nature and the outdoors.
Gary Mcgee
Oct 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
I bought this book used... And it's signed... I understand why they got rid of it. I've read a number of books with the trail as subject matter. This is the worst one. The condescension of the author is palpable and really off putting.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Having read Bill Bryson's _A Walk in the Woods_, when I saw this book, I really wanted to read it. Wow, what a life the Porter family is living! This book talks about many of the adventures of people on the Appalachian Trail. Makes me want to walk it (almost)!
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Loved every bit of it. Different from all the other hiking books I've read.
Lovely book. I would like to visit this place.
Marcia Mock
May 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I wouldn’t call this a great book but definitely an enjoyable read.
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Rounded up to 3.5. If you like hiking you will enjoy these stories of the AT.
Grant Lewis
Jul 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Listened to the audio book on Audible. I enjoyed the whole of the book, but the voice of the individual who read it got on my nerves at times.
Dan Francis
Dec 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very entertaining.
Bob Fox
Jul 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An entertaining look at running a store and hostel near the beginning of this beloved trail. Some references in the book require reading Bill Bryson's "A Walk In the Woods" first. Winton captures the reader as I couldn't put this book down and finished it one rainy weekend. His descriptions of people and naming of classes of hikers like "Go Freezers" is hilarious. I enjoyed this more the A Walk In the Woods, highly recommended.
Gail Gray
May 13, 2012 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
James Garlits
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Winton had the opportunity of a lifetime as the proprietor of Mountain Crossings and made full use of it. The stories in this book are gems. Vignettes of the recently deceased Baltimore Jack is worth the price of the book.
Mar 16, 2011 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
Apr 07, 2011 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 hiker ...more
Feb 03, 2010 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 k ...more
Apr 26, 2012 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 10, 2016 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
Jul 02, 2011 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
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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 ransa ...more
“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.” 2 likes
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