Monday, May 26, 2014

Book: Winton Porter's "Just Passin' Thru"

My latest read came from a friend of the Wife's.  Having heard about my plans to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), she loaned us her autographed copy of Winton Porter's "Just Passin' Thru: A Vintage Store, the Appalachian Trail, and a Cast of Unforgettable Characters".  I started reading it and hardly put it down until I'd finished.

The book is a collection of the author's stories accumulated over the years of the characters and happenings around the Mountain Crossings outfitter at Neel's Gap near the southern terminus of the AT.  Mountain Crossings is the only store the AT actually goes through, passing through the breezeway between the store and the author's home in the stone and wood structure built by the CCC in 1937, the year of the AT's completion.

The author runs the outfitter and hostel and does "shakedowns" of hiker's packs, going through their packs to help them lighten their loads and make their hiking experience more enjoyable and safer.  The stories he tells are filled with humor and read off the page like you were sitting on his front porch listening to him spin tales.  His story telling style reminded me of my days working on navy ships.  I often spent downtime listening to what can only be described as "old salts" tell stories.  Reading this book took me back to those days and enhanced my reading experience.

One pleasant surprise was reading about Cimarron (his Facebook page can be found here).  Cimarron, his AT trail name, has hiked the AT several times including once when he was 84.  I met him when he walked the Camino in 2013 at the age of 91.  I sat across the dinner table from him in Fonfr√≠a.  It's weird to read about someone you've met and talked to in "real life".

I really enjoyed this book and it makes me want to start hiking the AT tomorrow.  The only problem with this book is, when you've reached page 249 - the end of the book - you wish for 250 pages more.

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