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  1. #1
    TOW's Avatar
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    Default Is the Appalachian Trail slow this year?

    I belong to a hostels group and some are complaining that it has been dramatically slower for them this year. It has been slower for shuttle drivers around here in the Damascus area and it is slow right now. But, it is normal for this time of year for us to see less hikers. But I am hearing there are less folks in the southern part. What about north of Harpers Ferry? I bet it is busier right now that way.

    Anyone have any thoughts on this? Is it slow this year on the AT?

  2. #2

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    This thread discusses reduced hiker numbers this year.

    https://whiteblaze.net/forum/showthr...=Hiker+numbers

  3. #3
    Registered User JPritch's Avatar
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    I hiked a 13-mile section from the BRP SOBO towards Daleville Saturday. Passed 33 NOBO's in about 6 hours!
    It is what it is.

  4. #4
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    I recently hiked 8 days from Low Gap, TN before Damascus to Woods Hole Hostel, VA. I saw lots of people in the beginning but my last two days on trail I saw less than 10 people each day, which kind of surprised me.

  5. #5
    Registered User dudeijuststarted's Avatar
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    Everybody's broke this year.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by dudeijuststarted View Post
    Everybody's broke this year.
    Most thru hikers are students or retirees. Both groups got hit pretty hard by inflation.

  7. #7

    Default

    plus laying on the Covid 19 (lbs) didn't help physically for hiking fitness.

  8. #8

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    I would guess that in ‘21 and ‘22 you might have pulled forward some folks who were planning on doing it ‘23 or later. Certainly a lot of 55+ folk retired early, and retirement seems to be a common thru hike kick off event. In ‘21 I heard from several hostel owners and shuttles that it was the busiest SOBO season ever.

  9. #9
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    You are right. I made it out a few times this year and the 'numbers' were NOT there. One of the most populas stores along the Southern trail said that inflation and the fact that backpacking has become very expensive, food and all, that their profits were not there or the store traffic. I could go for miles and hours during the bubble and see no one. Yes, garage grown gear is out of reach financially for most folks, hostels, food, shuttles all add up quick.

  10. #10

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    I just pulled an 18 day trip and spent 10 of those days on the BMT and didn't see a single backpacker the whole time.

  11. #11
    Registered User Tennessee Viking's Avatar
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    Ran into at least 20 Nobo thrus at Dragons Tooth/Catawba last weekend.
    ''Tennessee Viking'
    Mountains to Sea Trail Hiker & Maintainer
    Former TEHCC (AT) Maintainer

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by RockDoc View Post
    plus laying on the Covid 19 (lbs) didn't help physically for hiking fitness.
    I was calling it the pandemic 15. Glad I never made it to 19 pounds.

    I'm up about 10 from pre-COVID right now.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by No Match View Post
    You are right. I made it out a few times this year and the 'numbers' were NOT there. One of the most populas stores along the Southern trail said that inflation and the fact that backpacking has become very expensive, food and all, that their profits were not there or the store traffic. I could go for miles and hours during the bubble and see no one. Yes, garage grown gear is out of reach financially for most folks, hostels, food, shuttles all add up quick.
    ATC was saying in May that registrations of thru-hikers, on line or at Amicalola, were down about 20%.

    Gear has gotten expensive. Being retired, I'm not comfortable paying full price for anything these days. The popularity of outdoor consignment shops is certainly a sign of high costs. I'm selling old gear I lent to my daughter when she moved out of our house, and she is now replacing. The consignment shop in Richmond seems eager to get it, and it sells quickly.

    I'll add another theory. Online information on hiking has become so good that people are broadening out to hike other trails, which is a good thing.

  14. #14
    Registered User Slugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Patrickjd9 View Post
    I'll add another theory. Online information on hiking has become so good that people are broadening out to hike other trails, which is a good thing.
    I hope this is true. Every foot not on the AT and instead on a less popular trail is a good thing for the AT and a good thing for backpacking as a hobby. Iíve seen an uptick in popularity of my local trails I keep an eye on over the last couple years (Pinhoti, BMT, Bartram, Foothills), but honestly it doesnít really seem significant enough to impact AT traffic.

  15. #15
    TOW's Avatar
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    I agree with that.
    Quote Originally Posted by stephanD View Post
    Most thru hikers are students or retirees. Both groups got hit pretty hard by inflation.

  16. #16

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    I bet there is a lot of anchoring in the perception. Folks got used to bigger cohorts in ‘21 & ‘22, caused by delayed 2020 hikers and some who would have gone ‘23 or later deciding to go earlier.

  17. #17
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    I SOBO section hike. Each year when I'm in the bubble I feel like I get a good gauge of overall traffic as thruhikers stream past me. Last year was nuts, in one day I saw over 150 in a hike from Albert Mtn to Deep Gap. This year is definitely way down from that, but IMO not much different from a pre-COVID bubble. One major change I have noticed is the amount of interaction at shelters is way lower. Most hikers (especially younger ones) not only are not sleeping in the shelters, they don't congregate & talk trail. I stayed at the Little Laurel shelter in April. There were maybe 15 people tenting and none of them socialized at all. The 3 people who did use the shelter were of the vintage hiker variety

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jomo1983 View Post
    One major change I have noticed is the amount of interaction at shelters is way lower. Most hikers (especially younger ones) not only are not sleeping in the shelters, they don't congregate & talk trail. I stayed at the Little Laurel shelter in April. There were maybe 15 people tenting and none of them socialized at all. The 3 people who did use the shelter were of the vintage hiker variety
    hikers today are extremely addicted to the ball & chain called an Iphone

  19. #19

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    I wont go on the AT until after the first freeze hits. I live in the bullseye of lyme. I simply will not chance it
    loose lips sink ships

  20. #20
    Registered User One Half's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 44terryberry View Post
    I wont go on the AT until after the first freeze hits. I live in the bullseye of lyme. I simply will not chance it
    most people fail to recognize that ticks are still active in winter
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

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