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  1. #1

    Question Virginia journalist looking for thru hikers to talk about overcrowding on the AT

    The Appalachian Trail has been in the media a lot in the past year, due largely to the publicity around Scott Jurek's speed record, and the subsequent tickets he received from Baxter State Park officials for spraying/drinking champagne and being in too large of a group. A full recounting of the story is available in a New York Times article here.

    While the folks in Baxter may have overdone it a little in making an example out of Jurek, I was curious to get the opinions of people who have thru-hiked previously, or who are in the midst of a thru-hike on a question that Baxter State Park Director Jensen Bissell brought up in a letter he sent to the ATC in the winter of 2014.

    In the letter Bissell said on the matter of growth, "The AT model seems to be based on unlimited growth in use while BSP operates under a fixed capacity model." In a recent interview, Bissell confirmed his belief that the AT's model for growth is unsustainable.

    In 2014 I, myself, completed a thru hike. My name is Matt Chaney, and when I hiked I went by the trail name Sweet as a Peach. During my hike I experienced my share of overcrowding (especially in Georgia)...but didn't much see it as a problem at the time. That said, the experience was quite different than what I was expecting going into it, for better and worse, in that there were tons of people around, most people didn't follow Leave No Trace Ethics (myself included at times), I had wifi available mostly everywhere, and I didn't always feel like I was that much closer to nature or whatever it was I had built the trip up to be in my head going into it. And from talking to other hikers, I get the impression that this is what thru-hiking has become...Once more, not saying this is a bad thing, but it's just the way things are.

    So, for a story that I'm writing as part of a journalism class at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, about overcrowding on the AT, I wanted to get some opinions of thru-hikers of past and present, and even non-thru-hikers who have been around the trail over the years and watched as things have changed.

    The main question I want to ask is: Do you think the Appalachian Trail has become overcrowded? Please describe why or why not?

    And secondarily, if you think the trail is overcrowded, what needs to be done to fix the problem?

    One last thing that would be great, that would definitely improve your chances of getting into the story, would be if you could include a photo of yourself taken from your thru-hike, along with the year you completed your hike, your real name and your trail name.

    Thanks,
    Sweet as a Peach,
    aka Matt Chaney

  2. #2

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    If it helps any, here's a photo from my thru hike on top of Mt. Madison in the White Mountains in New Hampshire: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

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