People obsessed with hiking the AT trail?

10:24 p.m. on July 30, 2015 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
71 forum posts

Why do people obsessed with hiking the AT trail? The trail must be devoid of firewood by now. I can imagine all the poop people left behind in the woods. 

11:34 p.m. on July 30, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

Depends on the person really and why to them they are hiking it..No hiker will give you the same reason they are hiking it and it does take determination and planning to Finish it..But remember it's 4 - 6 months hiking day in and day out to finish it if it's a thru hike...You need to be confident and determined to be in all types of weather for that long..Btw there's not void in some seasons for firewood..It's called the Green tunnel for a reason..Also the poop plums are bad in Georgia and the Smokeys and parts of the AT are no fire zones...

7:11 a.m. on July 31, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
9,694 reviewer rep
1,576 forum posts

People are interested because people are interested. While some of us are looking for peace and solitude, most folks are social animals. The AT community both on and off trail provides a social construct people can insert themselves into and become a part of. For some the community is more important than the trail itself.

Personally I hike to be alone in the woods or to share it with a rare companion so the AT sounds horrible to me. Just because I don't share their beliefs doesn't make them wrong though. It just means the AT is not for me. I'd rather they put more emphasis on LNT and respect for the trail and others on it, but I won't begrudge them the happiness they find out there. I just try to stay away from them.

11:25 a.m. on July 31, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,056 reviewer rep
1,541 forum posts

Well said LS...my thoughts exactly. Whatever floats your boat...mine tends to sail to the quiet spots but that doesn't suit everyone.

1:07 p.m. on July 31, 2015 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
3,278 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

There is a romanticism associated with the AT that I totally get. I love the vision and idea of it. The idea of taking a step out the door with all the things you need on your back and the adventure of the unknown before you is highly appealing to me. As I understand the original intent, it was to be a trail that allowed a person to escape modern life and experience more of the natural world.  The reality is somewhat different in my experience (I've done about 600 unique miles of it and some sections more than 15 times-like the Smokies crest).

I've met dozens and dozens of through hikers and section hikers over the years and many are doing their first backpacking ever on their AT hike. I see some strange behavior and choices being within 200 miles of the southern terminus as I am. Some are loving it, most are surprised at how hard it is and often you can look in the eyes of a through hiker and see the romantic notions being peeled away by every mile.

I guess every one has their own reasons....

I do want to hike a long trail some day but the AT is near the bottom of my list for various reasons (but still on the list).

All that being said, if you go in the off season it's a much different experience. People often mention the overuse of the GSMNP but I've been out for week long trips in the late fall / early winter and sometimes not run into anyone at all.

 

8:14 a.m. on August 1, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,056 reviewer rep
1,541 forum posts

Patrick...your "Strange behaviors and choices on the AT" reminds me of my first backpacking forays in GA in the early 80s. While I carried way too much stuff, it was always fun to stop by the first few AT shelters north of Springer and see what folks were getting rid of...mostly useless stuff but we sometimes got free gear that was decent and first timers had just brought too much of...rain jackets, socks, a stove or two, and numerous other things. In 85, I was given a Walrus solo tent...single walled and not ideal but it was free!

Sorry for diverting the thread...just brought back memories. I think I'll start another thread on this...see what happens.

12:58 p.m. on August 1, 2015 (EDT)
73 reviewer rep
4,069 forum posts

Most addictions are much worse.

The trail angels, blogs, and trail names are a bit much, but adds to the interest for a lot of people.

Last year I met two unusual brothers thru hiking the PCT. They went by "Stupid" and "Dumbass." They were anything but, foraging for their food along the way.

6:35 a.m. on August 3, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

PPine you hit on something good about the trail angels..I personally know 2 of three on the AT..The third is a legend but you have to look outside the box as the saying goes and ask do they  help create part of the problem on the AT..

11:07 a.m. on August 3, 2015 (EDT)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

I often use the AT as a small part in a bigger loop system on my backpacking trips and so will spend 10 days in a surrounding wilderness and then pop in on the AT for a few days to link up to another wilderness and exit out in the next 10 days.

Most of the time I get bummed out quickly on the AT by several factors although the trail itself is usually in great shape and much better than the trails getting me to the AT.

I find most AT backpackers are either just coming from a town or quickly rushing to a town and this bums me out. I guess I'm just easily bummed.  I find the shelter system a disgrace and a blight on the backcountry and often see thruhikers using them for a pot party and for Holding Court.

What is Holding Court?  It's when a guy has been on the AT for 3 months and has suddenly become a cool trail guru Who Will Now Take Your Questions. They sit with smug aloofness and will themselves NEVER ask a single question from anyone but eagerly anticipate YOUR questions.  It's depressing and so I get the hell off the AT as soon as possible.

I'd rather talk to the rattlesnakes and red newts.

9:59 a.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
73 reviewer rep
4,069 forum posts

Good words by Walter.  A lot of experienced people use the AT and the PCT for access to make some tracks. They do not revel in it, and prefer the backcountry without all the commotion. I do not get the angels, trail names, etc but Holding Court would definitely get to me.

I used to hike the AT in the 60s and early 70s. We avoided the shelters in good weather, but it was great early and late in the year to use them when no one else was around, especially in the rain.

10:01 a.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
32 reviewer rep
122 forum posts

Last summer, my son, nephew, and I hiked a 60 mile section of the AT from Caledonia State Park, PA to Harpers Ferry, WV. Because we hiked SB, we met a lot of different people going NB. Overall, we had a great experience.

Part of the allure of the AT for me is meeting people from different walks of life. During our week on the AT, we met our share of interesting characters. Most of them were recent HS or college grads or recently retired folks. Some were really interesting to talk to, some were annoying, some were "holding court," but the beautiful thing was we'd meet new and different people the next day. We were able to experience some "trail magic" at the end of the week, which my son and nephew appreciated after eating trail food and drinking filtered water all week.

As for the shelters, I don't necessarily have a problem with them. We brought a 3P tent with us and used it the first night on the trail, but I appreciated the convenience of the shelters. Every night on the trail it rained and stormed like crazy. I was thankful for the shelter, especially when the designated tent areas were often soggy, mud holes in the morning. That being said, we would have been better off pitching our tent than staying at the Pine Knob Shelter. We stayed there during another down pour with about 8-10 other people (wall to wall people), and discovered the roof had several leaks. Most of us woke up with wet sleeping bags.

Another part of the allure for me was all the historical places through which the AT passes. On our SB trip through Maryland, we passed several Civil War battlefields and memorials that are unknown to most and tucked quietly away. We got a chance to climb the Washington Monument in MD.

My 14 year old was disappointed that we didn't see more wildlife on the trail (he was hoping to see a black bear). But, all in all, it was a good experience for us.

We weren't trying to avoid people or to have a "wilderness experience." We weren't trying to break time/distance records on the trail. We desired to experience a trail, good or bad, that we had only heard and read about. I'm thankful I had a son and nephew who wanted to spend that week with me on the trail. They now have memories they will never forget.

1:07 p.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,056 reviewer rep
1,541 forum posts

It should be interesting to see how usage of the AT changes after the release of A Walk In the Woods movie next month...I have read about a spike in PCT usage after the Wild movie came out last year. Things may be mirrored out this direction with the adaptation of Bill Brysons book. No matter whether you end up on the AT for a short connector in a loop, which is all I usually do, or a longer section, there is likely to be some more traffic this fall or next year...

1:49 p.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
REVIEW CORPS
3,278 reviewer rep
2,295 forum posts

Hey good post tbastress

We all have different interests and notions. If you like meeting the people then the AT is a good choice; as you noted, there are all kinds of folks out there and some have great stories.

My moods vary and sometimes I don't want to interact with anyone and seek solitude, and like Tipi, I make tracks to get off the AT. But I've also had some valuable interactions with people. Last year I had a trip where I chose to hole-up in a storm with a trail-crew; had such a good time that I stayed the next day and helped them with their work. After all, backpackers in general are "my people".

For some reason I once had the notion that the AT was a wilderness experience but it's really not. After I hiked several sections of it I had to change my mindset or be disappointed on that point.

Anyway, thanks for sharing another perspective in the discussion. 

 

3:05 p.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

FlipNC said:

It should be interesting to see how usage of the AT changes after the release of A Walk In the Woods movie next month...I have read about a spike in PCT usage after the Wild movie came out last year. Things may be mirrored out this direction with the adaptation of Bill Brysons book. No matter whether you end up on the AT for a short connector in a loop, which is all I usually do, or a longer section, there is likely to be some more traffic this fall or next year...

 There's 800 SoBO this year alone ..A first..It will be packed next year for sure..Trail clubs are starting to already talk with the ATC about it.I been to 2 meetings already about it...

6:52 p.m. on August 4, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,056 reviewer rep
1,541 forum posts

While I tend to shy from the AT, I can see the allure for some for many different reasons. I met a guy last year, while passing through Grayson Highlands, who had switched from my habits of off trail solos in his 70s due to health issues. I helped him bandage up a knee and head from a fall that would have been tough for him to deal with on his own.

9:24 a.m. on August 5, 2015 (EDT)
32 reviewer rep
122 forum posts

denis daly said:

 There's 800 SoBO this year alone ..A first..It will be packed next year for sure..Trail clubs are starting to already talk with the ATC about it.I been to 2 meetings already about it...

 What realistically can the ATC do? Are they going to implement a permit system?

9:56 a.m. on August 5, 2015 (EDT)
295 reviewer rep
1,436 forum posts

A billion vehicles drive on the Interstate highway.  Do we therefore need permits and vouchers and pay fees to drive the Interstate?  What happens when an Interstate gets clogged?  They build another one or expand.  So too the Appalachian Trail.  Instead of instituting fees and permits and quotas, let's build more trails and another AT.  Use our tax money.

2:27 p.m. on August 5, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

tbastress said:

denis daly said:

 There's 800 SoBO this year alone ..A first..It will be packed next year for sure..Trail clubs are starting to already talk with the ATC about it.I been to 2 meetings already about it...

 What realistically can the ATC do? Are they going to implement a permit system?

 Good question..Be an realist myself and their pushing  a Kickstarter for someone filming a LNT Doc that they can show at Kick off and the beginning of the season to thru hikers and section hikers..Besides that really not much.Their just the stewards of the trail with the clubs and volunteers..The NPS has total say about quot's and permits since its actually them in charge,,,I wouldn't be surprised in the the next 5 years it goes to permits if it gets bigger a following...The Numbers have been pretty even the last five with 2-3 thousand starting and 600- 800 finishing a thru hike..When they hit my section on average we see 1200 thru hikers before they hit HF...This year the ATC was trying a self registration program to limit the impact on certain days and months of a start.They also had alot of flip Floppers since the start of that 5 years ago..That has changed some of the impact...

7:17 p.m. on August 7, 2015 (EDT)
244 reviewer rep
5,429 forum posts

I have never hiked the AT, the PCT or the CDT mainly as I like more solitude on trails. The longest trail I have ever hiked is the TCT, the Teton Crest Trail here in the Teton National Park area. At only about 40 miles end to end, its pretty nice for a week long backpacking trip. 

10:20 a.m. on August 8, 2015 (EDT)
73 reviewer rep
4,069 forum posts

I would enjoy hiking with Gary. He knows stuff.

3:04 p.m. on August 8, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
4,056 reviewer rep
1,541 forum posts

Denis

I know what Sobo and Nobo are, but can't figure out HF and flipfloppers...can you educate me? Don't spend a lot of time on sites besides this one recently or as much time on the AT any more, so am out of the loop on some trail lingo.

10:44 p.m. on August 8, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
12,166 reviewer rep
1,412 forum posts

The AT has been on my "Bucket List" for several years now. I was working a definitive plan to be on the trail in 2023. However, in recent years, that dream has lost a lot of its luster. Where the AT use to be a place for those looking past mid-life to spend 6 months of quite introspection (along with times of meeting others on the same journey), it now seems to be filled with college dropouts and potheads. The videos I have seen of each years "class" have annoyed me, and the Appalacian Trials crew seem to be ruining Katadyn for the rest of us.

I'm still working my AT plan. The other long trails seem to be more difficult to resupply. My plan now is to start early--ahead of the crowds and avoid the shelters. If I hike a consistent pace each day, I figure I will leave behind the party people within a couple of weeks.

8:56 a.m. on August 9, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

FlipNC said:

Denis

I know what Sobo and Nobo are, but can't figure out HF and flipfloppers...can you educate me? Don't spend a lot of time on sites besides this one recently or as much time on the AT any more, so am out of the loop on some trail lingo.

 Sorry i am use to social media..Harpers Ferry and a flip Flopper is someone who picks say Harpers Ferry and goes NOBO then return's to Harpers Ferry and goes Sobo or starts from Georgia and finish's there...There's so many ways to hike the AT from start to finish...My friend flipped in Daleville in 2014(went to Maine and hiked SOBO) and finished in Daleville..

9:01 a.m. on August 9, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

G00SE said:

The AT has been on my "Bucket List" for several years now. I was working a definitive plan to be on the trail in 2023. However, in recent years, that dream has lost a lot of its luster. Where the AT use to be a place for those looking past mid-life to spend 6 months of quite introspection (along with times of meeting others on the same journey), it now seems to be filled with college dropouts and potheads. The videos I have seen of each years "class" have annoyed me, and the Appalacian Trials crew seem to be ruining Katadyn for the rest of us.

I'm still working my AT plan. The other long trails seem to be more difficult to resupply. My plan now is to start early--ahead of the crowds and avoid the shelters. If I hike a consistent pace each day, I figure I will leave behind the party people within a couple of weeks.

 15 mile days consistent will be 120 days I believe in Maine..Hike the trail the way you want Goose..Alot of nice hikers are on the trail and you'll meet them..I have never slept in a shelter But the smokey's..I maintain 16 along our section but I never sleep in them.I talk with other hikers then I go to my tent..I toss and turn when I sleep and move around alot.I would keep other hikers awake and they really don't need that..I also have a tent and like the privacy..BTW if I am still in Virgina I will do some serious trailmagic a few times for you and your hiking partner...

11:07 a.m. on August 9, 2015 (EDT)
73 reviewer rep
4,069 forum posts

I like Denis' post. He maintains 16 shelters, but never sleeps in them.

5:35 p.m. on August 11, 2015 (EDT)
TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
12,166 reviewer rep
1,412 forum posts

denis daly said:

..BTW if I am still in Virgina I will do some serious trailmagic a few times for you and your hiking partner...

 You rock, Denis! Give me a few more years though. :)

9:21 a.m. on August 12, 2015 (EDT)
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts

I'd love to do the AT next year. Or at least start a first section (since I won't get a sabbatical at work). But I dread the flow of wannabe-Bryson's. I'm from Europe and backcountry backpacking is not a "thing" over here. "Wild" camping being prohibited in a lot of areas and such. I like the sense of community surrounding the AT, but I want to avoid the masses of college dropouts, party hikers and such. I mean, I like a good time as much as the next guy, but .... So, does anyone have an idea for an alternative? A 200+ mile / 1 month experience?

9:57 a.m. on August 12, 2015 (EDT)
73 reviewer rep
4,069 forum posts

There are about a million alternatives.

8:31 a.m. on August 13, 2015 (EDT)
32 reviewer rep
122 forum posts

Eric, I'd suggest you hike sections of the trail when most of the thru-hikers have either already passed or haven't yet arrived. So, for example, hike the northern sections in the spring / early summer.  Hike the southern sections in the fall.

12:53 p.m. on August 13, 2015 (EDT)
273 reviewer rep
1,962 forum posts

tbasstress Hit it on the nose:) Hike the fall for the southern which is considered off season for NOBO thru hikers and the North in spring and summer Just be ready for the temps...If you do the south in the fall you'll will probably run into sporadic Southbounders and get the solitude your looking for and meet weekend backpackers as you hike...No crowds...

March 31, 2020
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: What maps and GIS data do you use? Newer: Looking for Others to Hike With In Michigan
All forums: Older: looking for hard shell suggestions Newer: Patman's blog- recent summer weekends