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hopefulhiker
05-09-2006, 12:25
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?

Ender
05-09-2006, 12:42
My guess (stress Guess) would be that back then was when "Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson was at it's peak, raising the interest in the trail. That's faded, so so has the number of hikers.

Mags
05-09-2006, 12:44
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?

A little of everything, I think.

Backpacking as a whole has declined. Sure that effects thru-hiking as well.

Interesting post from PCT-L by Andew Skurka:
http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/pct-l/2006-May/031996.html

Without quoting the whole post, you can read the raw stats at:
http://www.outdoorindustry.org/pdf/2005_Participation_Study.pdf

And to quote the nice summary by Skurka:

"A quick summary...
- They've been tracking backpacking statistics only since 1998, so
unfortunately a comparison to backpacking's "hay day" in the 1960's and
1970's is not possible.

- But it's still interesting to see what's happened in the last 7 years.
The number of "participants" (i.e. "recreational backpackers"; see the
report for the technical definition) has dropped to 6 percent of the US
population that's 16+ years of age, from 7.8 percent in 1998 (a total of 3.1
million people, ***and a 23 percent drop total***)

- The number of "enthusiasts" (i.e. "hard core") has experienced a similar
decline, dropping to .8 percent of the total 16+ population, from 1 percent
in 1998 (.3 million people total, ****or about 20 percent***). It should be
noted that backpacking was the *only* outdoor activity that has experienced
a decline in participation rates among enthusiasts.

One of the big conclusions that came out of this report (and that was the
buzzword at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow a year or two ago) was Americans'
growing preference for "done-in-a-day" activities. It's interesting to see,
for example, that while backpacking has seen a 23 percent drop in
participation, *hiking* has experienced a decrease just 1 percent among
participants and a 21 percent increase among enthusiasts. The
fastest-growing activities included: Canoeing (+16.3%), Kayaking (+130%),
Snowshoeing (+50.0%), Telemark skiing (+166.7%), and Trail Running (+20.3%).
See the pattern here? It's the "Outdoor Experience LITE.""

Mags again:

Basically, front country use is up. Backcountry use is down.

Suspect thru-hiking will continue to decline as well. Backcountry use (which, for most people translates to backpacking) ain't "sexy". It doesn't sell schwag, it means grunge, it ain't fun for most people. Without getting into arguments of a certain backpacking magazine, it is why the backpacking magazines are shifting the focus from straight-up backpacking to more front-country use type articles.

The largest boom in backpacking was in the 1970s with the Baby Boomers. Gen X and now Gen Y enjoy the more "mountain dew" type activities. And there are more activities to choose from. It is not a worse or better way of enjoying the outdoors..but different.

The end result? In years to come, see an emphasis placed more on front country access and less on backcountry in National Park, BLM and USFS lands. It is happening already. Trail maintenance is down, parking lot building and other "improvements" are up, retailers are shifting their gear selection from backpacking gear to more front country type gear.

And for thru-hikers? Less of us, I think. Good in the short term..but what happens 20 years from now when less people are using the backcountry wilderness? Less protection? The trails open to mountain bikers and (gasp!) ATVs?

I seriously don't know. But, I do know that how the outdoors are shared and use will be much different twenty years from now.

neo
05-09-2006, 15:03
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?


:D that's wonderful:cool: neo

Frolicking Dinosaurs
05-09-2006, 16:10
Mags, thank you for the insightful, well written and solidly documented post.

weary
05-09-2006, 16:16
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?
Americans are getting older and fatter -- not characteristics good for backpacking.

Weary

RITBlake
05-09-2006, 16:18
Americans are getting older and fatter -- not characteristics good for backpacking.

Weary

not for Southbounders at least. :)

ed bell
05-09-2006, 16:42
Although less participation could be negative as far as advocacy goes, I don't mind being part of an increasingly small segment of society.:sun

Jack Tarlin
05-09-2006, 17:03
It should also be remembered that the starting figures are notoriously inaccurate; with every passing year, fewer and fewer folks start at or sign in at Amicalola Falls, opting to go up the Forest Service Rd. instead, skipping the approach trail entirely. A great many of these folks don't "sign in" anywhere, and while there was a Ridgerunner on top of Springer this spring whose duties included keeping track of names and numbers, it is certain that the actual number of starters exceeded the "official" count.

That being said, numbers are probably down this year, for any number of reasons, including those listed. Another factor is that in uncertain economic times, people are thinking twice before leaving a job, taking early retirement, etc. It would not surprise me in the slightest to discover that many folks are postponing their trip for several years for all sorts of reasons, and many of those reasons involve personal finances.

Lastly, while the number of folks interested in long-distance backpacking will always be quite small, this small group of folks has a lot more hiking options now than they did in the past....there are simply more long Trails out there than there were in the seventies or eighties, and some of these trails are attracting folks who otherwise might be on the A.T.

SGTdirtman
05-09-2006, 17:06
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?


Perhaps the trail being so overcrowded has sent hikers to find more peacefull places to hike...

briarpatch
05-09-2006, 17:18
Part of the data the ATC was looking at this year was to match the numbers Many Sleeps collected with the numbers from Amicalola and Neels Gap. Many Sleeps was also asking if folks had signed in at Amicalola and then driven to FS42. The number should be interesting, but I agree that the number of thrus was higher than recorded. After all, the Ridgerunner was off 2 days a week, and also missed some of the hikers that started before his season began.

Mags
05-09-2006, 17:46
Lastly, while the number of folks interested in long-distance backpacking will always be quite small, this small group of folks has a lot more hiking options now than they did in the past....there are simply more long Trails out there than there were in the seventies or eighties, and some of these trails are attracting folks who otherwise might be on the A.T.

What I've seen over in PCT land is that more and more people are choosing the PCT as their *FIRST* trail. At the KOP a little over a week ago, amazing how many first time thru-hikers there were for the PCT.

My friend Yogi (she of the PCT handbook fame) also noted this too.

Usually, the PCT was mainly AT veterans. That is not so true anymore.

Having said that, I think there is a direct corelation between backpacking declining and less thru-hikers. We'll see though, only time will tell.

max patch
05-09-2006, 18:02
I don't know if there are fewer people hiking the trail or not. I do know that the methodology for "counting" people who start at thru is not only flawed but has changed over the years so that a direct comparison is meaningless.

About a month ago on a Sunday afternoon it sure didn't look like there was a shortage of people on the trail. Mid afternoon and Gooch Mtn shelter was full. As we hiked south we passed a bunch of people heading north who were planning to spend the nite there. Justus Creek was a veritable tent city.

The Smith House was empty, though. No wait.

Ridge
05-09-2006, 18:02
The increased popularity of the PCT and CDT has drained some from the AT. Potential hikers tending to the war in Iraq, higher fuel cost (a negative for section hikers), and economic factors in general have reduced the number of starters. Some thru-hikers never sign a log or stop at the ATC HQ. Lots of room for error in the counting of actual hikers.

blitz134
05-09-2006, 18:14
I spoke with Many Sleeps, the ridgerunner on Springer, a couple of weeks ago. I think he said he personally logged ~600 people at that point, but total documented thru hikers between him and Amicalola was around this 900 number that was cited above. When I was up there, I saw a couple of folks who came the mile up to Springer from the FS road and then turned around. I dont believe these folks had been to Amicalola.

Regardless, even with the more accurate data the ridgerunner is helping to get, the numbers are still down. Surely the number this year will not underestimate the actual number of hikers nearly as badly as past years. My guess is that if a ridgerunner would have been at Springer over the past years that the total number of thru's reported would have been higher than what is currently documented.

Any way you cut it, numbers are down...its just unfortunate that the whole sport in general is down as well. It would be nice if there was just a better distribution of folks on other trails instead of total numbers being down.

MOWGLI
05-09-2006, 18:44
The apparent fact that fewer folks are attempting a thru-hike of the AT doesn't bother me. The apparent downward trend in hiking & backpacking does.

You can make a difference however. This National Trails Day (http://www.americanhiking.org/events/ntd/)(June 3) take a young person, a friend, a family member, a neighbor, or a co-worker for a hike.

Green Bean
05-09-2006, 20:52
Thru hiking may be on the decline but I know for sure that there are a lot of weekend worriors out there and people that hit the trail when they can take a day or two off. It seems everytime I go backpacking (I try to get out everytime we have a day off of school and if I'm not busy)I always see hikers maybe only a few and sometimes a lot when i'm out. It is sad though that the statistics say that backpacking is on the decline b/c it is a beautiful thing.

In this Technology era it seems that kids just want to play video games and eat. doesnt seem like they want to enjoy the outdoors or even get excercise. Not saying this for all the kids but for the majority it seems like!! :( ~GB

Lone Wolf
05-09-2006, 20:55
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?
Bullpoopy. The AT is very crowded.

T-Dubs
05-09-2006, 21:51
Although less participation could be negative as far as advocacy goes, I don't mind being part of an increasingly small segment of society.:sun

Works for me, too.

Tom

Blissful
05-09-2006, 22:06
In this Technology era it seems that kids just want to play video games and eat. doesnt seem like they want to enjoy the outdoors or even get excercise. Not saying this for all the kids but for the majority it seems like!! :( ~GB

Very true. My dh who is a scout leader has a very tough time trying to get kids to put on a backpack and hike. Out of fifteen one frosty Feb day, only one came out for a day hike. One. So we went anyway.

No one wants to do some tough stuff for a truly great reward. We are in the hurry it up, microwave convenience, computer savvy, sit in front of the 200 channel cable tv society. No one takes up a hoe to grow their own veggies, or walks places, or spends time cooking a nice meal from scratch. Can't tell you how many I know hire others to clean their homes, etc. (I do it for the exercise and b/c I get satisfaction out of working hard to make my place look nice. Wow - ain't that a feminist statement!) Wonder how many these days would survive living in the 1800's.

MedicineMan
05-09-2006, 22:55
this coming weekend i'm taking LiLi (my youngest) from Sams to Spivey....it will either make or brake her but she is a fighter and if we get some good weather on Big Bald I think she will see what its all about, it was her request a backpack for christmas....she got a Jansport Scout :)

kyhiker1
05-09-2006, 23:07
:-? Im not sure since I have done only short hikes on the AT.I plan to do the Tenn/NC section second week of June 06.Seems to be several hikers still but not doing the long or thru hikes as much.

Tinker
05-09-2006, 23:11
Americans aren't as "Anglo" as they used to be. Hiking was at its heyday when I was in my late teens to early 20's. It's a pretty safe bet that a lot of my peers grew up on Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett as I did, in the late 50's and through the 60's - hence, the interest in "The Wilderness Experience".
Many new, young Americans came from families fairly new to this country, whose parents grew up with the hope of a more civilized and easier city life, with conveniences at the touch of a button. These youngsters are probably more interested in obtaining the newest electronic gadget than escaping it (cell phones, which I deplore in everyday life [don't we have trouble getting a minute to ourselves already???????] come to mind).
I've never been lonely in the woods. I'm good company.:rolleyes: Fewer people on the AT is just fine with me. Unfortunately, lack of funding often follows close on the tails of lack of interest. We might just have to kick in a few extra bucks and hours to keep the AT maintained and protected in the future.

MedicineMan
05-09-2006, 23:17
your comment reminded me of a guy i met on last weeks section hike in n.Va...
he was carrying a bow saw and pruners....i had heard of him by passing hikers SoBo and found him at the next shelter. I asked if he was with the PATC but he said no, that he was on his own not having time or inclination for 'clubs'....the evidence of his work was obvious on the trail and i thanked him.....so maybe more of us need to adopt a section of trail and hug on it a bit.

weary
05-10-2006, 11:08
your comment reminded me of a guy i met on last weeks section hike in n.Va...
he was carrying a bow saw and pruners....i had heard of him by passing hikers SoBo and found him at the next shelter. I asked if he was with the PATC but he said no, that he was on his own not having time or inclination for 'clubs'....the evidence of his work was obvious on the trail and i thanked him.....so maybe more of us need to adopt a section of trail and hug on it a bit.
There are guidelines for maintaining the trail based on decades of experience by maintaining clubs and ATC. "Volunteer" maintenance without knowing what you are doing can be destructive as well as constructive.

Clearing too wide a trail, for instance, let's in the sun, encourages new growth and makes future maintenance harder. Experienced maintainers take a narrow slice out of large blowdowns -- wide enough for hikers, too narrow for ATVs.

Nor does participation in a maintaining club require extra time -- other than a few minutes reading the trail maintenance field guides. At least not MATC. We have no obligatory meetings. We do ask maintainers for $15 annual dues. But writing a check involves minimal extra time for most of us.

Basic maintenance along most of the trail is assigned to a single person by most of the clubs. Some have maintained the same few miles for decades. Many rightly resent it when others mess with "their" section.

Before taking on maintenance chores at least take the time to learn the policies of the club that is responsible for the trail you wish to volunteer for, and get to know whoever is responsible for the section you wish to work on. Virtually all maintainers welcome extra help; and resent meddling.

Weary

leeki pole
05-10-2006, 11:44
Mr. Weary: Your points are well taken. However, there are some of us who enjoy maintaining trails without the benefit of a club or organization, where budget shortfalls for State parks have seriously reduced the monies available for proper maintenance. I have two books on trail maintenance and have built two small trails on my "back 40" and have honed what few skills I have on my little trails. Please don't belittle our efforts, however meager they may be. I always ask permission of the Park Manager before beginning any maintenance, and I have yet to hear any criticism of my small, yet fruitful efforts. :)

weary
05-10-2006, 12:00
Mr. Weary: Your points are well taken. However, there are some of us who enjoy maintaining trails without the benefit of a club or organization, where budget shortfalls for State parks have seriously reduced the monies available for proper maintenance. I have two books on trail maintenance and have built two small trails on my "back 40" and have honed what few skills I have on my little trails. Please don't belittle our efforts, however meager they may be. I always ask permission of the Park Manager before beginning any maintenance, and I have yet to hear any criticism of my small, yet fruitful efforts. :)
That's probably because you are following my advice and asking permission from the responsible managers.

Ridge
05-10-2006, 12:38
Leave the cutting and pruning to the clubs......instead, pick up trash, clean out fire pits, etc. Trash grows much faster than the forest.

BlackCloud
05-10-2006, 12:55
Ipods, satellite radio, satellite tv, satellite phones, MP3 players, Playstations, internet, relative ease & accessibility of air travel, obesity, urbanization, lengthening of work (both in hours and years), and the disheartening list goes on.

The decline in backpacking is unquestionably related to the overall decline in National Park visitation since 1998. Where once you needed to make reservations a year or more ahead, you can now book a summer trip down the Colorado in May and reserve a room for the fall in Shenandoah after July 4th.

We now possess a society that places a social value on everything. Taking the kids hiking in Shenandoah impresses no one in an office where others go trekking in Nepal, Alaska, Vegas, or wherever...

Rain
05-10-2006, 15:06
Fewer people may be attempting a thru-hike these days, yes, but I think more are actually finishing. People are more prepared these days.

wilconow
05-10-2006, 17:01
your comment reminded me of a guy i met on last weeks section hike in n.Va...
he was carrying a bow saw and pruners....i had heard of him by passing hikers SoBo and found him at the next shelter. I asked if he was with the PATC but he said no, that he was on his own not having time or inclination for 'clubs'....the evidence of his work was obvious on the trail and i thanked him.....so maybe more of us need to adopt a section of trail and hug on it a bit.

Hey MedicineMan!

I believe I saw that same guy last fall when I was hiking between snickers and ashby. I asked him the same question - Are you with the PATC? He seemed very indepedent

Also, my group and I saw that section hiker in the orange shirt you posted in a photo.

Take care! Drop me a line if you have a chance.. I believe you have my email.

Kozmic Zian
05-10-2006, 17:54
Yea....Fewer

GOOD!!!! The Trail Could Use A Break! When It gets wide enough to drive a Mac Truck Thru, it's no longer a trail, but a 'Road'....'The Appalachian Road'. Sometimes I wish userability was 'limited', but no, don't want to go there....someone might bitch about it....say it was 'politically incorrect', etc. Ah, you can't win. Just Hike....hope it dosen't get so crowded you can't find a privey. [email protected]

Programbo
05-10-2006, 18:40
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year.

959 as of the 7th?????..Holy moly!.."Only"?....Forgive me but that sounds like an insane number of thru hikers and it`s still early in the season..How much is that down from before?...I guess I have been away a long time..I can recall two week trips where I spent 7 nights alone in the shelter and the other 7 nights there was maybe 1-3 others

River Runner
05-11-2006, 00:22
As of April 10, when we signed in for our section hike at Amicolola Falls, the park employees (rangers?) registering us said over 1,000 had started this year.

Ridge
05-11-2006, 00:29
If the rumor of Redford and Newman doing a movie based on Bryson's book comes true then all HELL will break lose, at least for a while. The next thread will go something like this: "When will the flood of hikers stop"

weary
05-11-2006, 08:13
Yea....Fewer

GOOD!!!! The Trail Could Use A Break! When It gets wide enough to drive a Mac Truck Thru, it's no longer a trail, but a 'Road'....'The Appalachian Road'. Sometimes I wish userability was 'limited', but no, don't want to go there....someone might bitch about it....say it was 'politically incorrect', etc. Ah, you can't win. Just Hike....hope it dosen't get so crowded you can't find a privey. [email protected]
The trail isn't crowded. Campsites are crowded. The answer is to acquire more land for off trail (one-quarter to one half mile) camping facilities. If and when the trail gets crowded the answer is to build parallel trails as needed to assume some of the hiker burden. With a majority of Americans overweight or obese, hiking is a good thing, not a bad thing. The more the better, both because in the long run exercise will reduce health costs to society, and because government was invented to provide those things people can't achieve on their own.

Those who can afford to buy their own trails should do so. The rest of us have to rely on government intervention.

Weary

Blissful
05-11-2006, 09:47
959 as of the 7th?????..Holy moly!.."Only"?....Forgive me but that sounds like an insane number of thru hikers and it`s still early in the season..How much is that down from before?...I guess I have been away a long time..I can recall two week trips where I spent 7 nights alone in the shelter and the other 7 nights there was maybe 1-3 others


I had always heard there's about 2,000 that start every year (about 200 sobo the rest nobo, correct me if I'm wrong). So to me, especially after the main start period of mid march to early April, 1,000 seems like a lot less (and I'm happy with that - starting next year). But I know Georgia is gonna be crowded anyway.

And of course, there are those I hear that drop out at Neels Gap, Damascus, Harper's Ferry or they flip flop. So the number must vary dramatically once you leave Springer.

Toolshed
05-11-2006, 10:23
I look around at my younger co workers now and everyone is plugged in with Ipods video cellphones, blackberries and laptops. They seem to all be driving very, very nice cars and wearing very fashionable designer style clothing and pulling small roller backpacks everywhere they go.

I think back to when I started backpacking again (17 years ago) and there were none of these things around, for the most part and if they were, they simply never distracted us as much as they do now. I think many folks would have a hard time being away from a phone for more than 24 hours as our society become more networked. I also think there is a shift in society to folks having to have it all or appear to have it all and backpacking doesn't fit into that scope.

I also look at many of these younger folks and I see life revolves around American Idol, Brittany Spears, and a host of other actresses or singers or celebrities that I don't know anything about. Many young women I see are into a more glamorous look and many of the men seem to be more metrosexual appearing. I am beginning to feel like an old fart.

I beleive it all goes hand in hand with the comment about backpacking & grunge not mixing well with today's youth.

Footslogger
05-11-2006, 10:32
[quote=Toolshed]I look around at my younger co workers now and everyone is plugged in with Ipods video cellphones, blackberries and laptops.
========================
Toolshed ...add 10 years and you're where I am. Even more of a difference for me. I live in an area where the mountains are virtually in our backyard. Most of the other employees in the clinic here are 20 - 30 years younger than I am and just about all of them TALK about doing outdoor stuff but rarely do any.

I suppose in my younger years the adults looked at us as somewhat of a lost generation. But one thing for sure ...when I and my friends had any spare time we were out in the woods. In many ways we were fortunate to NOT have all the electronics and entertainment options available today.

There's a good book out now about something called "Nature Deficit Disorder". It's an unfortunate affliction.

'Slogger

gsingjane
05-11-2006, 10:47
I sure don't want this to turn into a "kids today" post but, given my utter lack of success at interesting Girl Scouts in outdoors activities that don't involve nail polish or facials, it sure does seem like something has changed. (Yes, I know about Venturers, but for other reasons I do not want to get involved with leadership in BSA). When we went to (primitive) summer camp for two weeks in the summer, it was the absolute high point of the year... however tent camping, night hikes and lanyards have a very tough time competing with the "wow" factor of a DisneyWorld or even the local Chuck E. Cheese, neither of which were options "back in the day." As we all know, backpacking involves little, if any, instant gratification, and its pleasures are generally much subtler and frequently won at considerable cost.

I think that there are many factors, not just one, at work. People do seem to be working harder, and even middle class people can attain a lifestyle that 30-40 years ago would have been unthinkable. IOW, when I was a kid, people did family camping at a little lake in Northern Wisconsin because that's all they could afford, not because they chose not to go to the Bahamas or Europe. Parents have been told for years that they should "listen to the experts" on every aspect of child-rearing, so people lack even the basic confidence that they can take their kids out and survive. That's why outdoor schools like NOLS and Outward Bound continue to prosper (they're the "experts"), whereas the "DIY" mentality declines. There is so much news coverage of the dangers of the outdoors, whether it's bears, ticks, tainted water, or knife-wielding psychos, that people have a heightened and exaggerated fear of nature. Finally, it is absolutely the case that, just like their parents, kids have precious little free time for open-ended pursuits like hiking, backpacking or just being outside in an aimless and disorganized way (you know, the fun way). Youth sports are ubiquitous and incredibly time-consuming... and the demands are generally non-negotiable. That's a huge factor that's changed in the past 30 years and whether that's been a positive thing in terms of youth fitness or general well-being is, I think, fair grounds for debate.

I feel that at some point there will be a backlash. The overly-scheduled, professionally-coached kid of today may well grow up to say, hey, dude, what happened to my childhood? Maybe that's already happening in a way with the "slacker" mentality. And I also think that, as energy becomes more expensive, many family pursuits (such as airline trips to amusement parks) will become much pricier relative to outdoor recreation. We may well be looking at an outdoor "renaissance" in 10-20 years - at least that is my hope and fervent prayer!

Jane in CT

Footslogger
05-11-2006, 11:13
[quote=gsingjane]I feel that at some point there will be a backlash. The overly-scheduled, professionally-coached kid of today may well grow up to say, hey, dude, what happened to my childhood? Maybe that's already happening in a way with the "slacker" mentality. And I also think that, as energy becomes more expensive, many family pursuits (such as airline trips to amusement parks) will become much pricier relative to outdoor recreation. We may well be looking at an outdoor "renaissance" in 10-20 years - at least that is my hope and fervent prayer!
=================================
I wholeheartedly agree and share your hope.

Raised 2 kids (boy/girl) in the 80's - 90's. Based on my background I got them both outdoors as much as I could early on. My son even made it to Eagle. Funny thing happened though. My daughter (no 30) who was pushed by her mother to be "perfect" and was very academic and musical ended up resenting all the time I spent with my son in the Scouts. She literally revolted and insisted that I share some of the "adventure" with her (which I did, by the way). My son on the other hand somehow got caught up in the whole gen-X thing and sort of "checked-out" of the lifestyle I had provided for him. He remains somewhat "lost" today.

No simple explanation and I'd be the last to advise any other parent regarding how to best deal with this issue. But I too think that sooner or later the bubble is going to burst. The children of the 80's and 90's are going to realize that they are more "human doings" than "human beings" and seek a deeper connection with the natural world. I see it already in my daughter, who at 30 is a self admitted work-a-holic but who realizes that it is a dead end persuit. We took her with us on a week long scuba trip earlier this year and she needed the first 3 days to just be able to sit still and breathe the fresh air. It was a wake up call.

Anyhew ...didn't mean to take this thread down a personal path any more than you. It's about "Fewer People Hiking the AT"

We now return you to the regularly scheduled program ...

'Slogger

Jaybird
05-11-2006, 12:19
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?


HH:


dont know if those stats...stand up...or not...still very early for a head count!
how about Sobo-ers? How about Flip-Floppers?
i just returned from 12 days on the trail...probably saw 20-25 hikers in Central Virginia...thats about average...i'd guess! :D

BlackCloud
05-12-2006, 08:42
roller backpacks everywhere they go.

I am beginning to feel like an old fart.



I HATE roller backpacks & have all the contempt in the world for the fat lazy losers who push them around instead of "humping" a knapsack onto the school bus.

You're not necessarily an old fart, you're just not lazy. And for that, you just don't fit in.

Burn
05-12-2006, 19:09
the march 1st crowd this year was down as best i could tell and much slower hikers than i have seen in the limited time since i have been hiking...in 04 when i went over hump mt there were 2 of us in 05 there were 11 and i could see every single one of them....less is more in my oppinion.

alas hikers stack up anyways and get little possies going always thinking they are the last yet biggest crowd of hikers ever...and 2 weeks later a group that is 4 times bigger than that group is just strolling along picking flowers and playing in every stream along the way. The first group has no idea the others are behind them, they think they are the end of their calander year of hikers.

its amusing to say the least now that i have this limited sorta understanding of what is going on out there.

i also agree that fewere and fewer people register or even care if their picture is at neels gap, or even know that that is kinda always been the place to say, hey i have hiked 30 miles i am a thruhiker...when i was there, you guessed it nearly 80% of the people i hiked with had no idea there was a register or didn't care. so don't trust totally unscientific studies on the AT...or get a miniture digital counter that will count folks who cross way points such as say three forks or bly gap and see how yer numbers stack up compared to say ridge runners who have to ID folks to say they are actually hiking today. My guess is, yer numbers would be so outta comparison they would drop ridge runners for not being on the job.

Burn
05-12-2006, 19:13
oh, don't ferget the countless number of folks who think FR42 is the start of the trail and never touched springer at all...happens more than you might think

white blaze
05-13-2006, 01:27
If the rumor of Redford and Newman doing a movie based on Bryson's book comes true then all HELL will break lose, at least for a while. The next thread will go something like this: "When will the flood of hikers stop"

Got that right. After those two get done with their dirty work in a year or so, you'll find more solitude at Disneyworld than on the AT.

ed bell
05-13-2006, 02:34
If the rumor of Redford and Newman doing a movie based on Bryson's book comes true then all HELL will break lose, at least for a while. The next thread will go something like this: "When will the flood of hikers stop" C'mon Ridge, the trail could use some more 81 and 70 year olds.:cool:

weary
05-13-2006, 08:49
C'mon Ridge, the trail could use some more 81 and 70 year olds.:cool:
Besides, we all know that no one near those ages could possibly have serious hikes on the AT, so crowding won't be a problem.

And kids will abandon the trail in droves. "What, walk on a grandparent's trail? Why there'd rather drive a Buick.

Weary

hopefulhiker
05-18-2006, 17:47
According to the ATC site,appalachiantrail.org, 1135 thruhikers started by May 10, 2006 and 965 have made it to Neel's Gap. It looks like the numbers are ramping up......

Programbo
05-20-2006, 22:26
According to the ATC site,appalachiantrail.org, 1135 thruhikers started by May 10, 2006 and 965 have made it to Neel's Gap. It looks like the numbers are ramping up......

The horror!..I can picture it now...Shelters with 85 people camped out around them...Lines 5 people deep at the privys....I hiked about half the trail back in the 70`s before my money gave out (Long story. Came into a couple of hundred dollars in late March of that year and since I was out of HS and unemployeed I said "I`m gonna hike the AT"..Wasn`t quite enough money but I made it farther than most people could have on that amount of money I can assure you) and in all my time I never once saw more than 4 people at a shelter and many a time there was no one else there...Don`t get me wrong..It`s a great physical feat hiking the entire AT (As long as one doesn`t have to live like a hobo because they are carrying 21 pounds)..But I wonder what the motivation is for the majority of these people who are starting out :-?

Frosty
05-20-2006, 23:37
[COLOR=darkorchid]It`s a great physical feat hiking the entire AT (As long as one doesn`t have to live like a hobo because they are carrying 21 pounds)..Not sure I understand. Does it not become a great physical feat if they carry less than 21 pouinds? Or more?

Programbo
05-21-2006, 09:05
Not sure I understand. Does it not become a great physical feat if they carry less than 21 pouinds? Or more?

Obviously it becomes less of a physical feat the less weight one carries...It`s still quite an accomplishment but one can`t deny that if someone were to hike the trail with NO pack at all it would be far easier physically

CVANN
07-17-2006, 13:18
the liberals were in people had money and time off

c.coyle
07-17-2006, 13:57
On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?

98% of my hiking is done in Pa. On the Pa. AT at least, I see as many dayhikers and weekenders as I ever have. Drops in thru hiker numbers probably aren't close to being an accurate measure of overall AT use and interest. Dayhikers and weekenders use the trail over and over again. When their numbers start dropping, when membership in local trail maintaining clubs starts dropping, then we should start worrying.

weary
07-17-2006, 14:26
98% of my hiking is done in Pa. On the Pa. AT at least, I see as many dayhikers and weekenders as I ever have. Drops in thru hiker numbers probably aren't close to being an accurate measure of overall AT use and interest. Dayhikers and weekenders use the trail over and over again. When their numbers start dropping, when membership in local trail maintaining clubs starts dropping, then we should start worrying.
All outdoor activities are in decline. I read recently that even National Park visits are down 25 percent over the past several decades. I know that last summer and fall when my wife and I took a seven week tour of state and federal parks between Maine and the State of Washington we never once had difficulty in finding a campsite. Motels vacancies were a little hard to find on weekends, but not camping sites.

We don't need to worry about over use, at least until the trend reverses, which I suspect it will. I used to blame the first big flush of backpacking in the 70s to the sudden realization by young people that they had wasted their childhoods watching TV.

Maybe the current generation will realize the same waste has occurred from their video and computer gaming.

Weary

the_iceman
07-17-2006, 18:35
the liberals were in people had money and time off

It could be that because the liberals were in power during the hiking boom more people felt the need to escape to the woods to avoid the shame of a sleazy president.

Now that unemployment is at a record low less people have 5 months with nothing to do.:D

Habakkuk
07-17-2006, 19:42
The great inverse equation of life. When you have time, you have no money and when you have money you have no time.

There were all sorts of things I could have done back in college days - - lots of time in the summer, but funding from a minimum wage job was an issue. Now I have a job and can't get any time.

weary
07-17-2006, 20:52
It could be that because the liberals were in power during the hiking boom more people felt the need to escape to the woods to avoid the shame of a sleazy president.

Now that unemployment is at a record low less people have 5 months with nothing to do.:D
One can guess about a lot of reasons for the decline in outdoor useage, but your guesses are unlikely to be true because they are based on inaccurate suppositions.

Liberals have yet to be in power, for instance. The sleasiest president, Richard Nixon, in my very long memory, certainly didn't qualify as liberal.

Weary

max patch
07-17-2006, 20:59
Motels vacancies were a little hard to find on weekends, but not camping sites.



I have a LOT of difficulty getting a camping spot on one of the corps of engineers/state park spots on the lake in the spring/summer/fall during the weekend. Theyr'e all taken by RVs. Campers are in the distinct minority here in GA.

max patch
07-17-2006, 21:01
The sleasiest president, Richard Nixon, in my very long memory, certainly didn't qualify as liberal.



When I think of Richard M Nixon I think of a crook.

Sleasy is easy. William Jefferson Clinton. How soon we forget.

weary
07-17-2006, 21:10
When I think of Richard M Nixon I think of a crook.
Sleasy is easy. William Jefferson Clinton. How soon we forget.
I guess it depends on your definition of sleasy. I think stealing, cheating, and lying about it, is more sleasy than rather common sexual weaknesses.

How soon we forget genuine accomplishments and concentrate on the nonconsequential. No wonder our nation is heading towards decline.

Weary

Skidsteer
07-17-2006, 21:25
Originally Posted by max patch
When I think of Richard M Nixon I think of a crook.
Sleasy is easy. William Jefferson Clinton. How soon we forget.



I guess it depends on your definition of sleasy. I think stealing, cheating, and lying about it, is more sleasy than rather common sexual weaknesses.

How soon we forget genuine accomplishments and concentrate on the nonconsequential. No wonder our nation is heading towards decline.

Weary

I'm all about a thread comparing the sleaze factor of Nixon vs. Clinton, fellas. It sounds like a good read.....in the politics forum.

Remember the the Question?


On the appalachiantrail.org site they report only 959 thru hikers leaving northbound as of April 7 this year. Every year the numbers of those attempting a thru hike have dropped since the year 2000. Granted it is only counted as of April and more will be added in May but still.... Are people just not interested as they used to be? Are they overseas? Or is it just demographics?


Ain't thread drift a bitch? :p

weary
07-17-2006, 22:31
...Ain't thread drift a bitch? :p
Yup. Well that and it keeps the forum interesting. However, you are right. This was a giant leap. I was torn between telling Max Patch so, and replying. I Weakened at the last moment.

Skidsteer
07-17-2006, 22:46
Yup. Well that and it keeps the forum interesting. However, you are right. This was a giant leap. I was torn between telling Max Patch so, and replying. I Weakened at the last moment.

It happens.

generoll
07-18-2006, 08:05
max, try some of the smaller parks with fewer amenities. dunno where you live, but if you're near the Big Frog/Cohutta wilderness areas and can manage without hookups there're usually plenty of tent sites. The few sites along Jacks River seem to be occupied by long term squatters, but there're other campsites around that never seem to fill up.

hopefulhiker
07-18-2006, 20:16
Well, as of July 15 there were 1150 northbounders. I am not sure if anybody starts later than this. It was down around 200 for the same statistic last year....

woodsy
07-18-2006, 21:28
When I think of Richard M Nixon I think of a crook.

Sleasy is easy. William Jefferson Clinton. How soon we forget.

At least Clinton could finish a sentence without stumbling over his tongue.
And....lying about his affair didn't kill tens of thousands of people, like the current idiot has done.

weary
07-18-2006, 23:09
At least Clinton could finish a sentence without stumbling over his tongue.
And....lying about his affair didn't kill tens of thousands of people, like the current idiot has done.
Clinton's major effort during his first 100 days in office was to put into place a plan for balancing the federal budget.

W's major effort during his first 100 days, as near as I can tell, was to create a deficit so large that the functioning of government would be restricted by the lack of funds.

Yet the ignorant call Clinton "liberal" and Bush "conservative." I think more accurate are the words, "responsible and intelligent" compared with "irresponsible and stupid."

Weary

MedicineMan
07-18-2006, 23:33
is the smoke screen that claimed America's attention (e.g. Monika Lewinsky) while the Chinese spies gutted our warhead secrets (e.g. stole the hardrives from Oak Ridge)...it was almost like Klinton allowed himself to be smeared while the theft took place....the Chinese have already built the latest and tested them.....thanks Bill!

weary
07-19-2006, 00:07
is the smoke screen that claimed America's attention (e.g. Monika Lewinsky) while the Chinese spies gutted our warhead secrets (e.g. stole the hardrives from Oak Ridge)...it was almost like Klinton allowed himself to be smeared while the theft took place....the Chinese have already built the latest and tested them.....thanks Bill!
The Chinese are too bright to attack the best customer for their new capitalist economy anytime soon. And they will eventually be wise enough to invent any warhead technology they may decide they need.

I don't know whether they stole anything of value or not. But I know of no evidence that it makes any particular difference, whether they did or not.

Weary

rickb
07-19-2006, 06:49
You are correct, Weary.

Men of power should not need to trifle themselves with such things a sexual harassment suits. Especially from white trash.

The sad thing is not that Clinton lied under oath protect himself (and in so doing attempted to make this a better country), but rather that some idiots held firm to the idea that laws should apply to all citizens-- even those who are doing great things.

Clearly this is not, and should not be the case.

A similar principal holds true for thru hikers, of course. When you are doing something monumental like a thru hike, regulations and camping restrictions are so trivial in the context of your endevour, that they shoudl rightfully be ignored. Such rules are meant for the "liitle people".

If one has the gall to take issue with such tivia, one need only point out that Warren Doyle is the real evil on that score-- end of dicsussion.

Bottom line, you are correct, Weary. We should be ashamed that some self-rightiouys Americans expected more from great people. In the future, my guess is that we will expect less and less.

Rick B

Shade
07-19-2006, 09:39
Patrick Moynahan said Nixon was the last Liberal President. Carter and Clinton were not nearly as liberal an Nixon. The Rockefeller Republicans have been on the run ever since Nixon.

BlackCloud
07-19-2006, 15:24
Everybody shuttup and hike:welcome

Time To Fly 97
07-20-2006, 16:17
It is strange how we seem to be evolving. If I don't get a hike in every once and awhile, I just about go insane from the constant bombardment of information, time constraints, multitask addiction that is tough to shake at the end of the day...

The new generation seems to thrive on this like it was part of the air we breathe. It is just there...a fact of life. It is concerning to me that they may be losing their creative ability, motivation and identity. They just learn to become incredibly efficient information filters/routers. There is very little going out and getting life (real life in my opinion)...but rather waiting for life to come to them in the form of TV, IMing, cell phoning, Internet, PC games, MySpace, etc..

Parents don't seem to be putting limits on this either, maybe thinking that all this is advantageous for careers in the information society.

Is all this is an addiction that robs people of their time, or the new American culture? I sure am thankful I hike.

TTF

Footslogger
07-20-2006, 16:28
[quote=Time To Fly 97]Is all this is an addiction that robs people of their time, or the new American culture? I sure am thankful I hike.

==========================

I've heard it labelled "Nature Defecit Disorder"

'Slogger

RockyTrail
07-20-2006, 18:22
TTF I know what you mean, I first started noticing it when they started using that term "24/7".

Seems like that's what everybody expects today.
Despite the illusion, you don't get something for nothing, and a price will be extracted for that sooner or later, probably in human terms.
Man, I need to go take a hike...:sun

weary
07-20-2006, 19:42
You are correct, Weary.

Men of power should not need to trifle themselves with such things a sexual harassment suits. Especially from white trash.

The sad thing is not that Clinton lied under oath protect himself (and in so doing attempted to make this a better country), but rather that some idiots held firm to the idea that laws should apply to all citizens-- even those who are doing great things.

Clearly this is not, and should not be the case.

A similar principal holds true for thru hikers, of course. When you are doing something monumental like a thru hike, regulations and camping restrictions are so trivial in the context of your endevour, that they shoudl rightfully be ignored. Such rules are meant for the "liitle people".

If one has the gall to take issue with such tivia, one need only point out that Warren Doyle is the real evil on that score-- end of dicsussion.

Bottom line, you are correct, Weary. We should be ashamed that some self-rightiouys Americans expected more from great people. In the future, my guess is that we will expect less and less.

Rick B
Ah, Rick. Sarcasm works best when it is based on accuracy. I never said Clinton was perfect. I don't think I ever addressed the propriety of his comments on his encounter with the white house aide. I know he used weasel words to avoid lying. Whether they were enough, history must decide. Perjury remains a crime. He has never been convicted of perjury. If I remember rightly the Arkansas Bar took away his right to practice law for a time based on his testimony under oath.

No president in history was investigated for as long and at great expense than was Clinton. It's obvious to me that this was based mostly on a political vendata, and an unsuccessful attempt at destroying his presidency. DEspite the years, and the many millions of taxpayer dollars he was never indicted and certainly never convicted.

I consider a lie, a lie, whether under oath or not. No president in my memory has lied more than George Bush, or fudged the truth more than George Bush.

Weary

stuco
12-07-2006, 19:42
Perhaps the trail being so overcrowded has sent hikers to find more peacefull places to hike...

That reminds me of the Yogi Berra quote

" Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded" talking about baseball games.

Not trying to make fun, just a funny choice of words.