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  1. #41
    Registered User tagg's Avatar
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    Some people don't carry any weapons, feel perfectly safe, and the overwhelming majority of them never have a truly dangerous encounter on the AT. Some people do carry weapons, which help them feel safer, and the overwhelming majority of them never have to use said weapon on the AT. Bottom line is you can carry as many knives as you want, you're the one carrying the weight. I personally carry a tiny pocketknife for functional purposes only, and have never felt unsafe on the AT. But if I was stopped along the trail and some dude came up with a bunch of knives visible or talking about all of the different knives he has and why, I would probably put on my pack and mosey on down the trail.
    -tagg

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sporky View Post
    So, when I first (the only time) went on the A.T., I thought I felt pretty comfortable with the place, and the safety aspect. I'm an east coaster, from Quebec, I'm perfectly bilingual, I'm white, I blend in as a chubby American.
    I'm a pretty big guy, AND I knew consciously that the A.T. was very non-violent, and that I would generally be very safe, AND that the area I was going into did not really have natural predators... Bears in MD and PA being few and far in between.

    But I still brought a 'small' (heavy AF) foldable Gerber knife I thought was very nice, and a tiny pepper-spray canister. On top of my Victorinox Spartan knife, and of course my Victorinox Classic SD knife.

    Honestly, I think that the 'visiting the US' factor encouraged me to bring the spray. In fact, over just some 130-150 miles, I got asked numerous times whether I was carrying a gun... (what??)... and got told that they would not ever hike like that without a gun. Holy moley. Man, guns scare the hell out of me, and I would never want to own one even if I could...

    Today, though, I seriously think that I would go with ONLY the Victorinox Classic SD. I think that the only features I'd be missing are the can opener and the wine bottle opener. The first being EASILY replaced with a super light-weight army opener, and the second being totally useless, as anybody offering me wine will have one, lol.

    In fact, one of the most stressful aspects of my hike was feeling like I had to dispose of the bloody dog spray before getting on the train back to Canada, in NYC. I ended up tossing it into a garbage bin on advice of port authority officers, and I felt really, really awful doing that (what if it pops? what if someone takes it and assaults somebody? urghhh!).

    I would like to know how you people feel about safety, then. There was one night when, and I feel really stupid for it, I told two people I'd judged to be weird rednecks (they were just two nice people day-hiking with little gear, lol) that I was thinking of camping at that shelter (alone) and hiking faster to catch up with some trail friends the next day. That whole night, I kept getting paranoid and thinking that maybe they were coming back to kill me or something. I discovered that I have a big, irrational fear of being alone in the woods... I always knew I was afraid of the dark woods, but that night really made it all very concrete.

    How do you deal with safety, AND, HOW do you deal with being alone in the woods, especially on a trail where others can find you?

    Thank you
    -A humble and very open Spork
    The AT is pretty safe. I have never worried about self defense or even seriously thought about being armed while backpacking, and I'm a pro-gun type of guy.
    Time is but the stream I go afishin' in.
    Thoreau

  3. #43

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    People's belief that the AT is safer than civilization is held to with religious zeal. Safer than a grocery store?

    Yeah, the ingredients in processed highly refined foods has been associated with at least four of the U.S. Top 10 causes of fatalities. Diet plays a role in health.

    Yeah, more people have died from contaminated food bought at a grocery store than have died on the AT. Who knows the number of grocery store employees who contaminate food with poor hygiene or miss freshness dates resulting in illness or greater. I routinely note grocery store employees sneaking food eating it while on shift or scratching their face or mucus membranes(nose and teeth pickers), fingering their scalp and hair, coughing into their ungloved hands, touching garbage and then handling food served to customers without washing their paws.

    Yeah, more have died on the way to a grocery store than on the way to the AT . Dont really know this only suspect it.


    Not everyone who is contagious and sick spreading bacteria using shopping carts, handling money/credit cards, has used the hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes. Then kids are strapped in those seats with undeveloped not fully formed immune systems.

    Yeah, slips trips and falls can be common in grocery stores that don't immediately clean up hazards.

    Yeah, over exertion or stress injuries such as damaged backs occur in grocery stores. Being cut by knives is another hazard for employees. Most grocery stores have potentially hazardous equipment on site - forklifts, balers, power jacks, etc. Not all stores have the safety and learning classes.

    And, if you're buying groceries at a Wally World marketplace around Black Friday there's the risk of being trampled or crushed by those seeking limited quantities of Cabbage Patch Kids dolls and LCD large screens.

  4. #44
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    You guys got me all worried about fellow AT hikers perishing in car crashes.

    So I ran some numbers.

    100,000 Hikers (about the number who have attempted a thru hike) X 2,179 miles (Not everyone who starts a thru will finish, but what the hell ) = 217.9 million hiker-car miles.

    The NTSB says there is about 1.25 deaths for every 100 million miles driven.

    So the conclusion is obvious.

    Mile for mile you about 3X more likely to get Murdered thru hiking, than dying in a car wreck.

  5. #45
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    Default duration, not distance

    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    You guys got me all worried about fellow AT hikers perishing in car crashes.

    So I ran some numbers.

    100,000 Hikers (about the number who have attempted a thru hike) X 2,179 miles (Not everyone who starts a thru will finish, but what the hell ) = 217.9 million hiker-car miles.

    The NTSB says there is about 1.25 deaths for every 100 million miles driven.

    So the conclusion is obvious.

    Mile for mile you about 3X more likely to get Murdered thru hiking, than dying in a car wreck.
    It's more accurate to account for time spent on the activity in the denominator, rather than simple distance. If a thru hiker goes 3 mph (and spends the night on the trail), it is therefore much, much safer than driving. Add in thousands of section hikers 'at risk' and it looks even better.

  6. #46
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    Mile for mile you about 3X more likely to get Murdered thru hiking, than dying in a car wreck.



    i don't believe this.....

    last year, in tennessee----there were 1,047 traffic fatalities (https://www.tn.gov/safety/news/2019/...y-figures.html).........

    but not one person killed in TN due to thruhiking last year......



    so now in Virginia-----where there was one thruhiker that was murdered earlier this year..............and i'll use last years numbers of 819 traffic fatalities in virginia (https://www.drivesmartva.org/about-dsv/annual-report/)..........

  7. #47

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    I believe it,statistically speaking.However statistics don't necessarily reflect reality.It's a lot like commercial air travel statistics.You KNOW there are more fatalities per passenger mile driven than by commercial air travel.That's a FACT.Commercial air travel is hands down the safest way to travel statistically speaking.

    However,I would argue that the survivability of an automobile crash is higher than that of a commercial airliner crash.So if most people were given a choice of being involved in a commercial air liner crash or an automobile crash,which one would you pick? Incidentally,statistics point toward higher survivability in airline crashes as compared to automobiles but that's not a bet I would like to take,thank you very much.
    Last edited by Five Tango; 11-12-2019 at 19:56.

  8. #48

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    Here's a staticstic and some comments by someone from Harvard (so you know they're Right!)
    https://traveltips.usatoday.com/air-...avel-1581.html

    As for me,I would rather have a car crash((because I survived one unscathed thanks to a shoulder harness(not to be confused with a shoulder holster)) and the thought of being trapped in a smoke filled tube with about 300 panicked people Really does not sound like a good thing despite what statistics prove.

  9. #49
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    Exclamation You ignore a VERY important point

    I would argue that the survivability of an automobile crash is higher than that of a commercial airliner crash
    When trying to decide whether or not to travel from City A to City B by plane or by passenger car, you can't simply calculate the odds of surviving a car crash versus surviving an airplane crash. You have to ALSO factor in the odds of BEING in a car crash versus being in a plane crash.

    For instance, let's make a bet on which quarterback will pass for the most yards in this season's NFL playoffs. If you pick Matt Stafford of the 3-5-1 Detroit Lions, simply because he averages 312 yards per game, over Jimmy Garappolo of the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers, who averages 228 yards per game; I see the source of your confusion. You can't just calculate the odds of Stafford throwing a lot of yards *IF* he makes the playoffs, you also have to calculate of odds of Stafford even MAKING the playoffs.

    It's the same way with the odds of surviving a crash in either a car or a plane *IF* one occurs.

    And the odds of BEING in a plane crash, given that you travel between two cities, are MUCH smaller than being in a crash if you travel between those same two cities by car.

    And let me add one more thing: even if the crash you died in isn't reported by national news, YOU"RE STILL JUST AS DEAD.

  10. #50
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    The trouble with statistics is they apply to an entire population without acknowledging individual differences that exist.

    I have driving skills like Mario Andretti so my odds of being able to avoid an auto accident are better.

    I have honed my fighting skills like Chuck Norris so even grizzly bears run in fear.

    My outdoor skills match Jerimiah Johnson and mountains flatten as I approach.

    I can’t fly a plane and would die a horrible death if my number came up on the statistics Roulet wheel.

  11. #51

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    My outdoor skills match Jerimiah Johnson and mountains flatten as I approach.

    he he he

  12. #52
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    While flying in a passenger plane may be a safer way to travel, it is also thru that
    Being a professional Aircraft Pilot or Flight Engineer is classified as on of the deadliest jobs in this country.


    The 10 Deadliest Jobs:
    1. Logging workers
    2. Fishers and related fishing workers
    3. Aircraft pilot and flight engineers
    4. Roofers
    5. Structural iron and steel workers
    6. Refuse and recyclable material collectors
    7. Electrical power-line installers and repairers
    8. Drivers/sales workers and truck drivers
    9. Farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural managers is country.
    10. Construction laborer

    There is a point in here somewhere, but I have forgotten what it is.

    Oh, I know: seven AT Thru hiker deaths at the hands of a complete stranger is statistically noteworthy, and should be taken into consideration when making rational decisions ó not out of fear, but a calm understanding of that (still small) possibility.

  13. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by GoldenBear View Post
    When trying to decide whether or not to travel from City A to City B by plane or by passenger car, you can't simply calculate the odds of surviving a car crash versus surviving an airplane crash. You have to ALSO factor in the odds of BEING in a car crash versus being in a plane crash.

    For instance, let's make a bet on which quarterback will pass for the most yards in this season's NFL playoffs. If you pick Matt Stafford of the 3-5-1 Detroit Lions, simply because he averages 312 yards per game, over Jimmy Garappolo of the 8-1 San Francisco 49ers, who averages 228 yards per game; I see the source of your confusion. You can't just calculate the odds of Stafford throwing a lot of yards *IF* he makes the playoffs, you also have to calculate of odds of Stafford even MAKING the playoffs.

    It's the same way with the odds of surviving a crash in either a car or a plane *IF* one occurs.

    And the odds of BEING in a plane crash, given that you travel between two cities, are MUCH smaller than being in a crash if you travel between those same two cities by car.

    And let me add one more thing: even if the crash you died in isn't reported by national news, YOU"RE STILL JUST AS DEAD.
    You make a good point and I agree with you 100%.But if you had a crystal ball and told me that tomorrow at 2:21p.m. I am going to be in either a car crash or a commercial plane crash and could pick which one;I would not pick the long smoke filled tube with hundreds of panicked people;thank you very much.

  14. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Mile for mile you about 3X more likely to get Murdered thru hiking, than dying in a car wreck.
    Dang, stepping over bodies from GA to ME must be exhausting....

  15. #55
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    This thread has just turned fun. People are at least attempting to make valid apples to apples comparisons about trail safety. It is not as easy to do as one would think. It is a lot more complex that just looking at the total number of people that spend at least 5 minutes on the trail.

    While the trail is not as statistically safe as some like to claim, I'm guessing that no one is going to NOT hike because of that.

  16. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by illabelle View Post
    The kind of hiker that makes me nervous are those that carry big scary knives and talk about how dangerous the trail is.


    Seriously, the primary danger to hikers is falling. All of us fall. Most of the time it's a little slip, maybe a bruised ego, or a stubbed toe. But sometimes it's the kind of fall where you get hurt. And if you're alone and/or unprepared, being hurt can precipitate a cascade of difficulties. Like an unintended night without a way to stay warm and dry, and being unable to call or signal for help.
    Very much this. Hiked alongside a guy (with an overtly adventure hero trail name that I'm certain that he gave himself) for a few hours. He had a 10 or 11 inch blade Bowie knife, strapped to his belt. I chuckled as I asked him if he was planning on chopping down pine trees to make his shelter every night. He said it was "for bears... and 'other' dangers." Well, alrighty then!


  17. #57
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    It's difficult to come up with a completely accurate death rate by murder for thru-hikers, but here goes: As of 2018 data, ATC reported that 20,479 people had completed a thru-hike. The completion range every year runs between 20 and 25%. So taking the middle ground of 23%, some 90,000 have been considered thruhikers at some point as of 2018. Lets go with 7 as the actual murder count, although there have been several other murders of hikers in the corridor that just as easily could have been thruhikers and not day or section hikers. That puts the thru-hiker murder rate at 7 per 90,000, or 7.78 per 100,000. In 2018, the overall US murder rate was roughly 5 per 100,000. Based on this, the AT thru-hiker murder rate is slightly higher than the US average.

    But statistics don't tell the larger picture. There are probably 10 times as many section hikers on the trail as thru-hikers, all potential targets as well, which would reduce the AT rate substantially. But not by a factor of 10 as they typically spend a week or less on the trail. And it's probably fair to assume that the murderers probably don't know if you're a thru-hiker or section hiker. But even so, the presence of other hikers/potential victims obviously would reduce the overall any-hiker murder rate. The section hiker factor probably cuts the actual any-hiker murder rate in half or more. But, the other factor is that even though rural crime rates have increased recently, the overall US murder rate is skewed higher by more murders occurring in urban areas. So that would reduce the effective US rate as it pertains to the more rural AT. If you look at the numbers, the US rate, AT thru-hiker rate, any-hiker rate, etc all fall within a pretty small range. My thoughts have always been is that the AT is roughly as safe crime wise as the area it passes through.

  18. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    It's difficult to come up with a completely accurate death rate by murder for thru-hikers, but here goes: As of 2018 data, ATC reported that 20,479 people had completed a thru-hike. The completion range every year runs between 20 and 25%. So taking the middle ground of 23%, some 90,000 have been considered thruhikers at some point as of 2018. Lets go with 7 as the actual murder count, although there have been several other murders of hikers in the corridor that just as easily could have been thruhikers and not day or section hikers. That puts the thru-hiker murder rate at 7 per 90,000, or 7.78 per 100,000. In 2018, the overall US murder rate was roughly 5 per 100,000. Based on this, the AT thru-hiker murder rate is slightly higher than the US average.
    But statistics don't tell the larger picture. There are probably 10 times as many section hikers on the trail as thru-hikers, all potential targets as well, which would reduce the AT rate substantially. But not by a factor of 10 as they typically spend a week or less on the trail. And it's probably fair to assume that the murderers probably don't know if you're a thru-hiker or section hiker. But even so, the presence of other hikers/potential victims obviously would reduce the overall any-hiker murder rate. The section hiker factor probably cuts the actual any-hiker murder rate in half or more. But, the other factor is that even though rural crime rates have increased recently, the overall US murder rate is skewed higher by more murders occurring in urban areas. So that would reduce the effective US rate as it pertains to the more rural AT. If you look at the numbers, the US rate, AT thru-hiker rate, any-hiker rate, etc all fall within a pretty small range. My thoughts have always been is that the AT is roughly as safe crime wise as the area it passes through.
    It's estimated that 2-3 million visitors hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year. Most enjoy day hikes and short backpacking trips, but each year a small fraction of those hikers complete the entire Trail.

    Why would you limit this to successful thru hikers only? You're comparing apples to oranges.

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    It's estimated that 2-3 million visitors hike a portion of the Appalachian Trail each year. Most enjoy day hikes and short backpacking trips, but each year a small fraction of those hikers complete the entire Trail.

    Why would you limit this to successful thru hikers only? You're comparing apples to oranges.
    Actually, I didn't. If you'll note, I did say that there were some 90,000 thru-hiker attempts out of the roughly 20,000+ completions, used the 90,000 as the thru-hiker base, and added that the presence of section and other hikers reduces the effective rate: "There are probably 10 times as many section hikers on the trail as thru-hikers, all potential targets as well, which would reduce the AT rate substantially. But not by a factor of 10 as they typically spend a week or less on the trail. And it's probably fair to assume that the murderers probably don't know if you're a thru-hiker or section hiker. But even so, the presence of other hikers/potential victims obviously would reduce the overall any-hiker murder rate. The section hiker factor probably cuts the actual any-hiker murder rate in half or more."

    Are these VERY rough estimates? Yes. There just isn't enough data to get really accurate rates. But it was just to point out that the effective murder rate isn't the almost alarmingly high one of 7 out of 20,000 - or even 90,000. I would hesitate to use the 2-3 million number as most are day hikers, and almost all the murders have been related to hikers staying overnight camped or at shelters. That's also why day hiker murders like Meredith Emerson weren't considered, even though a strong case could be made to include at least 4 other murders of day and other hikers related to the AT, but not on the AT proper. To get really into the safety data, you'd have to consider thru-hiker attempted mileage, location (all murders but one were south of PA I believe), victim age and gender (most all were young, most involved females), and then factor in all that stuff. A better way might be to come up with a ratio of hiker miles or time/bag nights vs murder rate, but this would be most difficult given available data.

    No matter how you cook the books, the AT isn't 5 or 10 times safer nor 5 or 10 times more dangerous than the world surrounding it. The crime rate is within the expected range of the society it's located in.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 11-13-2019 at 10:10.

  20. #60
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    Lots of solid advice and …….statistics. There are many other trails that are less popular/visited. That may or may not put you at ease a bit with less folks out and about. Take what you need to feel safe as it will give you a peace of mind. I have backpacked on the AT, in Colorado, Wyoming and many states in between and never once felt unsafe, even with grizz in Wyoming, cautious and prepared yes, but not in danger/fear. I did feel a bit uneasy when I camped near a trailhead once near the road but that was my mistake for not picking a different camp spot. The fear and anxiety would ruin the reason why I head out. As mentioned, there is enough fear and danger in our everyday lives to think about. If I was that worried where it ruined the reason why I hike (overnight), I would just stick to day hiking and maybe work up to overnighters.
    I remember my first solo trip was on the AT for 5 days. While I had camped before, I was always with friends and never thought about being alone. First night was different as I heard every noise, tree blowing, animal noise, etc! Could there really be a Bigfoot.....! I will say the more you camp alone, the more you get used to it and at the end of the day, you have no problem catching a good nights sleep despite noises, rain, wind, animals, etc. I even enjoy cowboy camping at times, throwing your bag on the ground under the stars and enjoying it. No tent or shelter.
    Good luck and relax as the woods are the best place for it.

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