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  1. #1

    Default Hiker "registration" tags

    I was on the trail this weekend in Mass and noticed that every thru-hiker seemed to have these ATC issued orange tags hanging from their packs. A ridgerunner passing in the other direction glanced at my friend's pack for a tag.

    What's the deal with these tags? They don't seem mandatory, but do hikers starting at Springer feel like it's an offer that can't be refused?

    Is this "registration" a pretext for a full permitting system? I saw that the ATC now has registration for section hikers for shelters and campsites. I am not sure how many people if any use it. I understand the trail isn't as wild and free as it once was, but I also don't want to feel like I am being policed. Are retina scans at road crossings next?

    I think for my next hike I will wear a Guy Fawkes mask and use the trail name Anonymous...
    Springer to Katahdin: 1991-2018

  2. #2
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    They give you a tag at Amicalola Falls when you sign in. It's free and not mandatory, but it helps the ATC understand how many people are using the trail for a thru-hike attempt, and make maintenance decisions based on those numbers, so you're helping the AT community when you participate. Plus, I think the more competitive thru-hikers like them because you can look at someone else's tag and know whether you started ahead or behind them. My thru-hiker tag is basically my only physical souvenir from the trail besides postcards I sent home to myself, so I love it. If you start Sobo, they issue them at Baxter, and for a flip flop starting somewhere else, they will mail it to you ahead of time if you register.

    And the only sections I'm aware of that require section hikers to register for shelters are the Smokies, Baxter, and huts in the Whites. I don't think the ATC directly oversees any of that though, just the administration of each state/national park.
    A.T. 2018 Thru-hike Hopeful
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  3. #3
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Marlboro, MA
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Kisco Kid View Post
    Are retina scans at road crossings next?

    It used to be you could tell a thru hiker at a glance by their unshaven face, bandana and large pack, but since those days are gone nice to have them flagged.

    My guess is that you may not be familiar with and check-in photo at Harpers Ferry, either.

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