The first thirty miles of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) north of Springer Mountain acts as a shake down for many hikers. Even as an experienced backpacker, with well broken-in boots, I lost a couple of toenails thanks to this section.
At Neels Gap, the trail literally passes through Mountain Crossings, an outfitter that has made its reputation helping A.T. hikers stay on the trail. Often, hikers find that the boots they thought were acceptable 30 miles back, now resemble medieval torture devices. Once a hiker has found a good replacement, they have the option to leave their old boots hanging in the rafters or trees surrounding the store. Visit the outfitter today and you’ll see hundreds of worn-down and sole-less boots hanging in every spot imaginable, like the ones in this photo of the day.
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