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  1. #61

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    Zombies, a new perennial threat on New York trails apparently, which makes a good case to avoid them. If backpacking numbers were falling off, there would be a similar effect in the retail and manufacturing of the equipment used in the activity. Popular trails that lure many people to them annually including many sections of the AT may be losing popularity with backpackers who have a wealth of other options they can pursue and get away from crowds at certain times of the year, creating the illusion of growing scarcity.

  2. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    I couldn't agree more. "Constant WiFi" about says it all. I think there's a direct correlation to higher phone usage and declining backpacking numbers.
    That would be my guess too. Even they they may be able to connect on the trail, the consequences of living a life from childhood on up constantly looking at a screen is that the cognitive processes are very different (and deficient in my opinion). I suspect that anything that is difficult to do will be less commonly done in the future.

  3. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    That would be my guess too. Even they they may be able to connect on the trail, the consequences of living a life from childhood on up constantly looking at a screen is that the cognitive processes are very different (and deficient in my opinion). I suspect that anything that is difficult to do will be less commonly done in the future.
    You post reminds me of one of the advantages of getting older---We see cultural changes on a broader scale.

    EX: When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma and Texas back in the 1950s---we all lived outdoors and stayed outdoors as much as possible---in our rural or suburban neighborhoods. We played baseball and football and explored on foot and rode our bicycles---it was common back in those days to drive thru an area and see every kid outside doing something. In fact, I often got in trouble when my Mom or Dad drove around looking for me and yelling at me to get back home.

    Now when you drive thru neighborhoods or suburbs or rural communities you never see kids outside playing. When I was a kid we swarmed everywhere and ran thru people's backyards and climbed their fences to get from one area to another. Nowadays you never or rarely see kids running thru yards or exploring an area on foot.

    Fast forward to 2020 and if I don't see kids outside playing why would I see them outside backpacking???

  4. #64

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    Here is some data from the Trek thru hiker surveys. I think this trend may continue. Long-distance Hiking is booming with certain demographics, but not as much in young people. It will take awhile for that to play out in trail numbers though.... since so many of us older people have a lot of legs left!

    2016: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 31 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 27 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 68.
    2017: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 32 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 28 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 74.
    2018: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 34 years old, plus or minus 13 years, with a median age of 29 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 18 to 74.
    2019: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 36 years old, plus or minus 15 years, with a median age of 30 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 13 to 70 years old.

  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    Here is some data from the Trek thru hiker surveys. I think this trend may continue. Long-distance Hiking is booming with certain demographics, but not as much in young people. It will take awhile for that to play out in trail numbers though.... since so many of us older people have a lot of legs left!

    2016: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 31 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 27 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 68.
    2017: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 32 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 28 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 74.
    2018: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 34 years old, plus or minus 13 years, with a median age of 29 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 18 to 74.
    2019: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 36 years old, plus or minus 15 years, with a median age of 30 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 13 to 70 years old.
    Those are some pretty interesting stats, it suggests there was a huge uptick of thru hikers over 40 years old in 2019.
    2016 - 39 hikers over 40 (22% of respondents)
    2017 - 50 hikers over 40 (20% of respondents)
    2018 - 68 hikers over 40 (23% of respondents)
    2019 - 106 hikers over 40 (37% of respondents)

  6. #66
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    Exactly. I live in a neighborhood with about 70 homes (with a nearby neighborhood of probably 100 more). My kids barely know any other kids in the neighborhood. I recall fielding two full baseball teams from just the kids that lived within 0.4 of my house growing up. I couldn't imagine anything like that today.

    When I want my kids to do something other than video games or watch youtube, I kind of want to tell them to go outside and play. But I'm hesitant because I know there will
    be no other kids out to play with. If they say: "There's nothing to do outside", I'm inclined to mock them, but then I realize they're kind of telling the truth at least when compared to my childhood.

    Phones and tablets available as of about 2005 to 2010 and later create all the entertainment a kid could want. When given unlimited access, kids may not develop as much interest in real world activities. From my own kids' lack of pursuit of real adventure, I suspect we'll see a lot fewer of their peers develop an interest in hiking. And it doesn't even matter if they can connect to the Internet while on the trail.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    You post reminds me of one of the advantages of getting older---We see cultural changes on a broader scale.

    EX: When I was a kid growing up in Oklahoma and Texas back in the 1950s---we all lived outdoors and stayed outdoors as much as possible---in our rural or suburban neighborhoods. We played baseball and football and explored on foot and rode our bicycles---it was common back in those days to drive thru an area and see every kid outside doing something. In fact, I often got in trouble when my Mom or Dad drove around looking for me and yelling at me to get back home.

    Now when you drive thru neighborhoods or suburbs or rural communities you never see kids outside playing. When I was a kid we swarmed everywhere and ran thru people's backyards and climbed their fences to get from one area to another. Nowadays you never or rarely see kids running thru yards or exploring an area on foot.

    Fast forward to 2020 and if I don't see kids outside playing why would I see them outside backpacking???

  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgillam View Post
    We have a booming economy, there aren't a lot of unemployed people with spare time right now.
    That's my paradox. If I have the time, I don't have the money. If I have the money, I don't have the time.

  8. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlyPaper View Post
    ...If they say: "There's nothing to do outside", I'm inclined to mock them, but then I realize they're kind of telling the truth at least when compared to my childhood...
    This made me laugh. I thought of an episode of "The Biggest Loser" (the TV show where trainers help overweight people get healthy) from several years ago. They took the contestants camping at the Grand Canyon. At one point they had a few hours of free time to work out on their own. When their trainer Bob showed up he was disappointed to find them just sitting around doing nothing. They said they couldn't work out since they didn't have their gym or equipment. Bob look dumbfounded, his jaw dropped, and he SHOUTED "Are you *#&%!!*$% kidding me. You're at the *#&%!!*$% Grand Canyon and you can't find something healthy to do????"

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    You post reminds me of one of the advantages of getting older---We see cultural changes on a broader scale.
    Most people see cultural change on a narrower scale as they get older. The past is perceived as better than the present.

  10. #70

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    Ya, not a whole lot of hikers in Arkansas. Wish we had more trail!

  11. #71

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    Liked this: Ya, not a whole lot of hikers in Arkansas.

    Ya got plenty of uncrowded miles. The full word isn't out on how awesome Ark is for hiking. Be careful what you wish for.

    Liked this: I'm a big fan of trail running. It can help make you a better hiker by decreasing your decision making time for where to place your feet.

  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    Here is some data from the Trek thru hiker surveys. I think this trend may continue. Long-distance Hiking is booming with certain demographics, but not as much in young people. It will take awhile for that to play out in trail numbers though.... since so many of us older people have a lot of legs left!

    2016: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 31 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 27 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 68.
    2017: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 32 years old, plus or minus 12 years, with a median age of 28 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 17 to 74.
    2018: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 34 years old, plus or minus 13 years, with a median age of 29 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 18 to 74.
    2019: The average (mean) age of hikers in the survey was 36 years old, plus or minus 15 years, with a median age of 30 years old. Hikers ranged in age from 13 to 70 years old.
    Why might that be? Could it have something to do with how the survey questions were phrased or how the survey was offered that elicited a lower number of responses from Post Millenials and Millenials - on the lower cusp age range of that category? That does happen. Not everyone equally desires to obtain a permit, register for a hike, answer or have that much interest in a survey/ time consuming survey. Societies are moving at an ever time crunched shortened attention span focus and pace. Intensity. The younger and younger generations more so. ADHD, ADD, Adderall, coffee/caffeine usage, rules? they don't apply to me, I'm not that old, yah tyah yah get er dun yesterday, graduate with two bachelors in 2 yrs from Harvard, complete the AT as a section hiker? no way I'm attempting a sub 90 day thru as a complete Newb, Nature? the immigrant landscaper mows my parent's lawn, Natured Deficit Disorder, concrete steel and glass and all things manmade, drop the hammer on the vehicle's accelerator, hoe fast does your lawnmower dragster go, how fast can you peddle a road bike, gotta go go go gotta be somewhere else next next next get out of my store, no loitering, FKT and speed hike interest, two minutes or less in the bedroom, gotta meet the boys/girls, go here, there gotta go go go, restless leg syndrome(LMAO). A survey? I don't have the time for no stinkn survey. Alienation, isolation, self absorption, gotta get mine, gotta go epic or not at all, if anythings worth doing it's worth doing fast, tick tock tick tock lets's get moving people, time is money, read a book? I'll watch the movie, No time for taht either, tell me what happens.... in 4 sentences or less, I'll get someone else to personally coach me rather than glean what personally applies, this thread I haven't read all the posts but I'm going to offer self authorized as an "expert" comprehensive targeted advice in two sentences or less or post something unrealted because the original question or important details concerning it was not considered or my mind is elsewhere now, instructions? screw dat I don't need to read no stinkn 5 page instruction booklet for piloting a helicopter. it's like PS4 or playing on Xbox. A survey? I dont have no time for a survey

    DAMN this post is too long How many made it this far? What's your age,
    Last edited by Dogwood; 01-14-2020 at 23:03.

  13. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by bjd002 View Post
    Ya, not a whole lot of hikers in Arkansas. Wish we had more trail!
    Yeah, I've hiked sections of the Ouachita Trail in OK and AR. Not a whole lot of hikers might be an understatement. Several midweek days I didn't see another human else except at road crossings. Even on the weekends I only saw a few other hikers.

  14. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    Yeah, I've hiked sections of the Ouachita Trail in OK and AR. Not a whole lot of hikers might be an understatement. Several midweek days I didn't see another human else except at road crossings. Even on the weekends I only saw a few other hikers.
    Thrued the OT and OHT and Buffalo River Tr. in early fall, Saw few people even at road crossings, established CS's, OT lean tos, some more known TH's and rather scenic SP's, along and in the BRT/BR Had the trails basically to myself.

  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgillam View Post
    We have a booming economy, there aren't a lot of unemployed people with spare time right now.
    I would think that with a booming economy people in mid career would be more likely to take a break and hike knowing that they can find a job when they are done hiking. Ten years ago on my thru hike I ran into several folks in their 40's and 50's who quit their jobs because they wanted to thru hike. And this was during a recession. One I hiked with for a couple of weeks was 54 and just had it with his job. He figured if he waited 10 plus years to hike after he retired he may not physically be able to.
    More walking, less talking.

  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by soilman View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by jgillam View Post
    We have a booming economy, there aren't a lot of unemployed people with spare time right now.
    I would think that with a booming economy people in mid career would be more likely to take a break and hike knowing that they can find a job when they are done hiking. Ten years ago on my thru hike I ran into several folks in their 40's and 50's who quit their jobs because they wanted to thru hike. And this was during a recession. One I hiked with for a couple of weeks was 54 and just had it with his job. He figured if he waited 10 plus years to hike after he retired he may not physically be able to.
    Welk, if you're in your 30s or 40s, married, kids -- taking that kind of time off just isn't feasible. And today, a lot of jobs are a little different than they used to be. Lots of folks working for themselves. My daughter , for example, drives around grooming dogs, and has spent years growing her business and reputation. If she took 6 months off, customers would go elsewhere. Also, more of the jobs are high-tech, so there's a learning curve. If you quit, thinking you're going to get another job when you get back -- you're giving up whatever seniority you might have built up, you'll face the learning curve at your new company. From a perspective employer's viewpoint. , they may be thinking along the lines, "her last company invested a lot in her, training for a few years, and then she left, and now they have to start all over. She might do the same to us".
    Given all that, and all the other negatives and positives, it still boils down to a personal decision.

  17. #77

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    WB, all things related to hiking, the site of and age for instant experts or laymen discussion on socio economics, economic analysis, data analytics, and demography hypotheses.

    Oooh oohh oooh me me pick me I have an opinion. I have a(THE) answer... a culture of self importance. And, some assume only the youngest generations do it. Ouch.

  18. #78

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    Thru hikers have always been primarily the young and the old. If most of your sample is young and old, the mean will end up in the middle. It really has to be broken down into smaller age increments to be of any use. That's the only way to know which way the scale is shifting. More old hikers but same number of young hikers or same number of old hikers but fewer young hikers?
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  19. #79
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    As noted by others, thru-hikers tend to fall predominantly into two age groups - younger and older (added the "ers" to be polite). While some jobs/careers may allow for someone in middle age to take 6 months off to hike, most won't. I believe it's also very dependent on what type of job people have, their education, socio-economic level, etc. It might be easier for someone in a job that could be easily matched upon returning. But for many, leaving a job, especially a higher level one means going backward in level of position, income, etc. Then add in little things like raising and supporting children/family, mortgages, etc. For most, back home expenses don't stop while on the AT or other trail - but the income stream does - and trail expenses add to the burden. Just isn't a realistic choice for most people in their middle age years.

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    When I hiked Monroe in August, I was delighted by how many kids I saw out with their parents. At least half of the groups included kids, from toddlers in carriers up through teens. I also sponsor and chaperone the hiking club of the school where I work, and in a school with about 150 kids in grades 5-8 eligible to join, over 40 of them are in the club. We brought our 7th and 8th graders on an overnight to Lonesome Lake hut for a leadership training back in October, no phones allowed, and I heard no complaints about it (none from the kids, that is... We did have some complaints from parents when we were unreachable and the weather was 40 windy and rainy and they were worried and so unused to being able to text their kid at any moment).

    If you don't see kids outside, part of the reason is very likely technology available indoors, but I think a large part is also the paranoid and competitive parenting that exists today. Kids aren't allowed to walk to or from the school where I work, even though it's less than a mile from the center of town, because people are so afraid of abductions and accidents. The unstructured "go out and play kickball or whatever, come back at dark" kind of parenting that even I received just 10-20 years ago would be considered neglect by a lot of people today. Instead, make sure your kid is signed up for every activity under the sun! A sport for every season, dance class, gymnastics, boy scouts, all of it! It's like "Keeping up with the Joneses" has evolved from competing over the nicest car and biggest lawn to competing over the most complicated pickup/dropoff itinerary for your kids. No hour must be left unscheduled! And then parents wonder why their kids want to just veg out in front of a screen at night to unwind. So every generation of parents is "ruining" their kids in a new and different way.

    Despite it all, most of my students are remarkably well-adjusted. I don't understand their Snapchat and their TikTok and I could pass those habits off as reasons why society is doomed or whatever, or I could recognize that generations communicate differently and my own lack of understanding doesn't mean that they aren't relating to each other in meaningful ways.

    Every generation laments how unfocused and unmotivated the youth are. I've shared this comic about the pace of modern life before but it remains relevant. The kids are alright.

    (And a lot of them are still into hiking!)
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
    Follow along at www.tefltrekker.com

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