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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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    declining media effect

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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?

  6. #6

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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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    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"

  8. #8

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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...

  9. #9

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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.

  10. #10
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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.

  11. #11
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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)...

  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.
    yeah, no one goes there anymore - it's too crowded

  13. #13
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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

  14. #14
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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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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    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
    I thought AT is on a similar window. Start in April or May if your goal is to climb Katahdin before they close that park in October. No?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I thought AT is on a similar window. Start in April or May if your goal is to climb Katahdin before they close that park in October. No?
    Though people seem to do the AT in more different setups (S-N, N-S, start in the middle and then return to finish the other half and more). Maybe that's not the case with the other trails (as it seems some sections of those trails have much more limited times when weather is favorable)?

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Josh View Post
    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.
    If I am reading correctly, there were 749 flip floppers. This number is not shown on this page https://www.appalachiantrail.org/hom...ty/2000-milers for other years. Perhaps an increase in flip-floppers has occurred, which if so, might be credited to ATC efforts.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jefals View Post
    I thought AT is on a similar window. Start in April or May if your goal is to climb Katahdin before they close that park in October. No?
    other than whites N (say mid may to mid oct) the AT is practical to hike year round - bail out points, easy transportation, resupply availability, less water shortages etc make lots of alternatives practical, if not popular

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    If I am reading correctly, there were 749 flip floppers. This number is not shown on this page https://www.appalachiantrail.org/hom...ty/2000-milers for other years. Perhaps an increase in flip-floppers has occurred, which if so, might be credited to ATC efforts.
    IMO the best data is the ferry report, not yet out for 2019 - that is the point on the AT where the most variables are controlled

  20. #20

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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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