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  1. #1
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    Default Thru Hiker Numbers down for 2019?

    According to this website the estimated NOBOs this year was around 3300, so even if thats off by say 3-400, the number of NOBO Thru hikers are still down from previous years.

    Ignoring the reported completions (the site says these numbers aren't complete) does it seem like the number of thru-hikers are trending down? There was a negligible increase from 2017-2018. I haven't been following these trends very long it just peaked my curiosity. Is it too early to be speculating about this? I'm guessing all of the 2019 NOBOs have been off the trail for a bit.

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    Default Thru Hiker Numbers down for 2019?

    I for one would love for these numbers to be trending down. And not just for the AT...

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I for one would love for these numbers to be trending down. And not just for the AT...
    Come out to where I backpack---in the mountains of TN and NC adjacent to the vaunted AT. I just got back from an 18 day trip and didn't see a single backpacker the whole time I was out.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Come out to where I backpack---in the mountains of TN and NC adjacent to the vaunted AT. I just got back from an 18 day trip and didn't see a single backpacker the whole time I was out.
    I couldn't agree more. Plus, many of the trails (that often link to the AT) are way more interesting and challenging.

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    Like many other occurrences in nature and society, it is cyclical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I for one would love for these numbers to be trending down. And not just for the AT...
    Less on the AT sounds nice, but where I hike in Ohio I'm lucky to see anyone past the trailhead and the trails are in rough condition and no one cares. The funding cuts to the Forest Service almost makes sense here, no one uses the trails - why maintain them. I really wish more people would hike/backpack here and we could get more trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    declining media effect
    Does this mean the media isn't reporting it as much? Or we're not reporting/reading the media as much?

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Josh View Post



    Does this mean the media isn't reporting it as much? Or we're not reporting/reading the media as much?
    walk in woods book, then movie, german documentary - obviously the effects die out with time

    now deliverance was timeless....... if you are in to that

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    declining media effect

  9. #9

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    40 years ago there was a steep decline in the 1980s after a huge increase stating in the late sixties. The explanation at the time was that "yuppies don't hike". My explanation is the crowding conditions on the AT is finally getting out to potential hikers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    My explanation is the crowding conditions on the AT is finally getting out to potential hikers.
    yeah, no one goes there anymore - it's too crowded

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    My explanation is the crowding conditions on the AT is finally getting out to potential hikers.



    or there hasnt been a very popular hiking book out lately................such as "Wild" or "A Walk In The Woods"

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    My explanation is the crowding conditions on the AT is finally getting out to potential hikers.
    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    or there hasnt been a very popular hiking book out lately................such as "Wild" or "A Walk In The Woods"
    Some combination of these two explanations seem the most likely to me. I finished the AT in 2015, my wife joining me for three 100-ish mile sections. In 2018, we set out to hike her huge missing sections, and it was night-and-day more crowded, so much so that the AT has lost almost all of its appeal to her. We did do NH and ME though, not so damn crowded up there. But GA/NC/TN/VA? Fugedaboudid during regular hiking season.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by TNhiker View Post
    or there hasnt been a very popular hiking book out lately................such as "Wild" or "A Walk In The Woods"
    True,but there's a proliferation of hiking vids for every trail on Earth available on YouTube.So here's my take on the current decline-Age Demograpics.

    If the Baby Boomer generation birth dates range from 1946-1964 as I have read,then if we choose 1955 as the birth year of the Average Boomer,that Boomer would be 65 years old now.This hits close to home for me as as I turn 68 this year and I hardly know or can find anyone my age interested in hiking or still fit and healthy enough to do it if they were so inclined.Most of the people I hike with or see out there anywhere are younger then I am.

    Meanwhile,if the average Boomer's kids are in the Generation Y group of 1977-1995,they just might be busy raising children and maintaining a two income family to meet financial demands.So maybe they don't have time to think about it right now but at some point they may and if their children do then maybe we could anticipate a sharp increase in participation at some point in the future as these people come of age.

    Then again,maybe now that people are tuning in to YT and following other's thru hikes and weekend adventures they may be living vicariously and not all that interested in ever doing a thru hike.Some of us,self included,who like to make a few trips to the trail per year have no interest in a many month day in and day out trudge.Everybody winds up hiking their own hike and what is great for one might not be so great for others.
    Last edited by Five Tango; 01-12-2020 at 08:39.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Five Tango View Post
    I turn 68 this year and I hardly know or can find anyone my age interested in hiking or still fit and healthy enough to do it
    over 55 backpackers is a busy facebook group - you do not show your location, but if you are in a metropolitan area search hiking meetup groups - or form your own

  15. #15

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    The economy is different and there are less returning military hitting the trail. There was a surge of vets not too long ago. The peak was shortly after the '08 recession and a scale down of Middle East deployment.

    The popular trail books along with social media no doubt helped to spike the numbers. More people knew about the AT and there was a pool of people primed for it.

    Maybe the numbers are treading down to more sustainable levels. Or more people are section hiking. There's no good data on that, but I'm sure they greatly out number thru hikers.

    Weather was a factor last year too. March was down right nasty to the early starters and then it got wicked hot. The reduced numbers were really apparent here in the Whites.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  16. #16

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    Trail isn't much of a secret anymore or viewed as an experience that few do, which may cut down on the allure.
    Not that it was ever a big secret, but the influx of hollywood movies and other hiking videos brought so much attention, and there are so many vlogs etc.
    I think the current younger generation will not generate as many hikers going forward either; as a teacher, at least up here, I am seeing so many less people engaged in anything that doesn't have constant wifi and phone usage, but this may be my skewed view.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hikingjim View Post
    I think the current younger generation will not generate as many hikers going forward either; as a teacher, at least up here, I am seeing so many less people engaged in anything that doesn't have constant wifi and phone usage, but this may be my skewed view.
    The trend has overall globally been occurring for a long time - less of a connection to the Natural environment replaced by a connection to the economy or other things. This trend has been occurring in your/my generations too but according to that/our age's cultural normalcies.

    Hiking or other adventuring in Nature activities such as thru hiking, or as TW does "getting his bag nights", can be our attempts to somehow reconnect to that which is instinctually engrained, that we know/connect with in our souls - a connection with and love for Nature... because humanity is part of it not separate from it. Richard Louv terms it Nature Deficit Disorder. Humanity may not be as separate and levitating above the greater environment as some world belief systems and colonization efforts have us unquestionably believe and built societies/Nations.

    Some have the notion less Nature less wilderness less savagery more progress. Turn your TV or computer on. Read US history books. It's preached everyday in abundance from the highest pulpits of power. Some in a fallen state take the command 'take dominion over the Earth' as justification to rape, pillage, and waste it ignorant of life beyond our noses not aware that destroying Nature we destroy ourselves. Onwards to the next planet. See how we have progressed? Doesn't that contain a hint of species self absorption and arrogance?

    Humanity is not meant to be in rebellion to the Earth.
    Last edited by Dogwood; 01-09-2020 at 16:35.

  18. #18
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    Wish tgheree was a like button on WB.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    The trend has overall globally been occurring for a long time - less of a connection to the Natural environment replaced by a connection to the economy or other things. This trend has been occurring in your/my generations too but according to that/our age's cultural normalcies.

    Hiking or other adventuring in Nature activities such as thru hiking, or as TW does "getting his bag nights", can be our attempts to somehow reconnect to that which is instinctually engrained, that we know/connect with in our souls - a connection with and love for Nature... because humanity is part of it not separate from it. Richard Louv terms it Nature Deficit Disorder. Humanity may not be as separate and levitating above the greater environment as some world belief systems and colonization efforts have us unquestionably believe and built societies/Nations.

    Some have the notion less Nature less wilderness less savagery more progress. Turn your TV or computer on. Read US history books. It's preached everyday in abundance from the highest pulpits of power. Some in a fallen state take the command 'take dominion over the Earth' as justification to rape, pillage, and waste it ignorant of life beyond our noses not aware that destroying Nature we destroy ourselves. Onwards to the next planet. See how we have progressed? Doesn't that contain a hint of species self absorption and arrogance?

    Humanity is not meant to be in rebellion to the Earth.
    Handlebar
    GA-ME 06; PCT 08; CDT 10,11,12; ALT 11; MSPA 12; CT 13; Sheltowee 14; AZT 14, 15; LT 15;FT 16;NCT-NY&PA 16; GET 17-18

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Come out to where I backpack---in the mountains of TN and NC adjacent to the vaunted AT. I just got back from an 18 day trip and didn't see a single backpacker the whole time I was out.
    Beautiful country!
    I'm a western boy, tho. I hiked 3 weeks on the PCT and barely saw a soul! How's that possible? Started from Campo (Mexican border) in September.
    I'd LOVE to do that hike at the proper time -- (April) - but not with the crowds that are there then. Maybe, as folks are pointing out, the novelty from the films has died down. (Of course the other thing -- age-related ailments --seem to be getting in my way now, too. But that's another story)...

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    Beautiful country!
    I'm a western boy, tho. I hiked 3 weeks on the PCT and barely saw a soul! How's that possible? Started from Campo (Mexican border) in September.
    I'd LOVE to do that hike at the proper time -- (April) - but not with the crowds that are there then. Maybe, as folks are pointing out, the novelty from the films has died down. (Of course the other thing -- age-related ailments --seem to be getting in my way now, too. But that's another story)...
    PCT, much more than the AT runs on a specific "window" - therefore more empty in the off season

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