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  1. #1
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    Default 2021 Trail Crowding?

    So I'm planning and very much dedicated to hitting the trail in March 2021. Im wondering do people think it will be a busy year in 2021 because of the events of this year or do you think it will be a slower year since this event may throw the ol monkey wrench into peoples budgets?

  2. #2
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Great question, and I bet most will say things like "it will be crazy crowded next year", but I say there are too many variables to make an accurate prediction. I would say be prepared to do something like a flip if indeed it's crazy crowded. Last few years have already been pretty nuts, at least compared to, say, 2013 when I did my Springer start.

  3. #3

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    It will likely be very crowded for two reasons. Obviously, many of the people that put off this year are going next year and then a lot of people are going to be unemployed and numbers are higher when more people have the freedom to go. It is possible that a lot of people will even be getting paid while they hike.

    I would be one of those that would go next year but am pretty much deciding to put it off for another year.

  4. #4
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    As far as waiting another year, the one thing that I have learned from all this years events is that I'm done putting off things that I have on the bucket list. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, and your world can do a 180 in a matter of a week as mine did so as for me I'm going to hope it is not overly crowded but regardless I will hike my own hike and enjoy being out on the trail.

  5. #5
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    of course it will be crowded

  6. #6

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    I like your forward thinking right now. 2021 FTW!
    Springer to Katahdin: 1991-2018

  7. #7

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    I was pondering this question last night.

    A good question might be how many of the service providers hikers rely on will survive? Or the people who own them? I suspect many of those who planned a thru hike this year will not have the cash or be able to hike next year for any number of reasons. The virus could take a toll on many of the older hikers who are now a big percentage of thru hikers. To be blunt, many of these older hikers aren't in the best of health to begin with or have one or more of the issues which runs up the risk of dying.

    It's still to early to tell what the economic ramifications will be a year from now. There is a good chance we'll be in world of hurt. All we can do is hope not. We'll just have to wait and see what happens. I have a sinking fear this is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better and it's going to take a while for it to heal. One thing for sure, nothing will be normal for quite a while.

    In the mean time, if the AT sees little use this year and maybe next, a lot of the overuse damage will start to heal and all the stealth sites will grow back over and start to return to thier natural state.
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Great question, and I bet most will say things like "it will be crazy crowded next year", but I say there are too many variables to make an accurate prediction. I would say be prepared to do something like a flip if indeed it's crazy crowded. Last few years have already been pretty nuts, at least compared to, say, 2013 when I did my Springer start.
    Agreed with Colorado Rob on this. Many people will likely say it will be nuts next year but as Rob points out there are far too many variables to make that assessment. For one, many people will be out of work for many months this year and will be in difficult financial straits that will require a steady paycheck over a year or so following this pandemic to climb out of debt. If the pandemic does not ebb by early summer and/or if there is a second wave going into the fall/winter months, it could be next year will see a high percentage drop in thru hikers from previous years due to the financial burdens and life disruption recovery in populations around the US that will preclude taking a 5-month vacation.

    I think if one is able to do a thru hike next year, having two plans would be prudent. One to complete a NOBO/SOBO thru hike, the second plan for a flip flop if trail conditions are crowded. I don't think anyone can predict thru hiker population on the trail next year given current circumstances and how they will impact life a year from now.

  9. #9
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    I've been nerding out on this pandemic since January, and every model I've seen has this initial surge of cases blunted by the various mitigation and suppression methods nations are presently enacting, but there's more to it.

    --->I make no guarantee or prediction to this data, I just really like to read and learn new things, and this is what I've seen from more than one (in my estimation) very credible source. These sources may have had different fatality rates and/or rates of infection for the virus, but they all agree on the following. I am not a virologist or epidemiologist and these aren't my computations, and I'm not the one who has to make federal or state policy decisions. I'm just passing along what I read and found interesting.<---

    The bell curves we all see showing the pandemic ending in a few months are neat to see, but they're predicated on whatever suppression methods that informed the model basically being permanent. This is unrealistic for many reasons, economic mostly, so what happens after the initial surge has passed?

    Based on what I've read, we'll likely see something like the following:

    -This initial surge will wane, and the present restrictions will be relaxed (they have to be because we need an economy).
    -People will mingle and travel again, and we will have another surge in cases.
    -Mitigation and suppression methods will be reenacted in some form and severity based on a "trigger" of something like "# of new cases per week" or "# of ICU beds filled due to COVID-19", maybe nationwide but I expect them to be targeted at the specific region(s) with outbreaks.
    -This follow-on surge will be mitigated, mitigation methods will be relaxed based on whatever trigger that caused them to be enacted, leading to more surges and so on, each likely less severe than the preceding one.
    -This cycle will continue until enough people have contracted the virus (if "herd immunity" is in fact a thing for this virus, still unknown as far as I can tell) and/or we are able to field an effective vaccine to billions of people. That particular data is beyond the scope of everything I've read, and I'm not sure the smart people know enough about this particular virus to know for sure what the "far end" looks like yet. Maybe they do and I'm just not aware of that document yet.

    So to get to the point of the thread, it's really hard to make a prediction about trail availability next spring for many reason, not least of which is the fact that we may not be out of the woods (lol) with COVID-19 by then. I'm really disappointed as I was planning on a NOBO 8-10 week LASH starting next February using a bunch of saved leave during my transition from military to civilian life. If it doesn't happen next year, I won't get another chance for at least 10 more years.

  10. #10
    Registered User Nolan "Guido" Jordan's Avatar
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    I'm starting my thru-hike at that time too. The trail is crowded every year from what I've heard. However, I think it could go either way due to the biggest financial crisis ever that's happening with it. One way that I think you can predict is to look at the number of thru-hikers from 2006 to 2007 to 2008 (2008 financial crisis), and then compare those numbers to the thru-hikers in 2009. Whether 2009 was a slower year or busier year than average, I think we can predict that 2021 will busier or slower compared to 2009.

  11. #11

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    A vaccine may not be around by 3/21. Let's talk about crowds 3/22

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by martinb View Post
    A vaccine may not be around by 3/21. Let's talk about crowds 3/22
    my first thru hike was 3/22 of 1986. so 3/22/22 i need to make another attempt

  13. #13

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    I don't think 2008 is all that good of an indication of what will happen in 2021 because so much of AT traffic is now being driven by YouTube thru-hike videos. A thru-hiker is typically an upper middle class person who has the flexibility to hike and it is easier for them to get time off from a job if there is an economic downturn. Add in all the people with time on their hands and all the people that got skunked this year and it will almost certainly be a surge

    It is quite possible that the trail will not be open at all though since many of these measures are going to still be in place with no vaccine expected until March but with testing being more widely available and considerably less people to infect by then, I would expect hiking will be an option.

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    Theoretically the same number of hikers are ready to thru-hike, section hike in any given year. Just because hikers must miss a year, variables such as both young and older hikers for a variety of reasons, may not be able or willing to pursue hiking next year or the following year. I think you'll be surprised to see perhaps slightly more but not much more.

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  15. #15
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    I don't think it will be too crazy.
    1. If folks have jobs, they are not going to give it up with God knows what unemployment rate. It won't be easy to come back and find a new job.
    2. Folks that don't have jobs won't be able to afford the costs associated with a thru hike. Unemployment checks will only go so far with other bills to cover--car payments, cell phone, insurances etc.
    3. I'd be more concerned about the number of folks that start out not understanding that they will run out of money and most hikers know not to feed Yogi.
    4. As far as infrastructure goes, a lot of restaurants won't make it even with the money from Washington. If Hostels etc. are counting on income this year to help pay the mortgage there maybe fewer around depending on what banks do on foreclosures. . If it was just for extra income, then maybe they will be ok. May see more lodgings available in trail towns as unemployed home owners offer rooms and maybe more shuttle drivers looking for income. Either way I think the 2020 addition of the AWOL AT guide will be thinner and may not be as accurate as past years.

  16. #16
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    Default Possible overcrowding suggestion for 2021

    This year there has been much discussion about the trail including the H F bridg​e, Corona virus, trail head and various closures, trail town economics, one's right to hike the trail regardless . . and so on. A recent thread addresses the possibility of overcrowding in 2021. The ATC has suspended trail maintenance at this time. We have no idea what the conditions will be this summer, much less even next spring. Wear and tear on the trail and facilities may suffer from minimal attention by the many volunteer trail maintaining clubs due to the Corona-19 virus. Over crowded shelters and camp sites may be a problem in 2021, especially at the start of the hiking season.

    Over the past many decades thru hiking A T has seemed to be the epitomy of hiking goals in the backpacking/AT community.
    Folks plan and dream for years thinking ahead about their thru hike. They discuss gear and stratigies on this forum extensively. Their trail journals, books and YouTube videos allow those unable to hike the chance to see it vicariously and many to relive memories of hikes gone by. Yet, over crowded shelters and campsites and trails may be a problem for 2021 as expressed by another thread.

    I expect this will be a very sensitive suggestion and ask any moderators to block this thread if necessary.

    What I am suggesting is not to start a battle between groups but a rational way to over overcome crowding and allowing many hikers to experience the Appalachian Trail. Maybe even allowing the trail itself to relieve some of the pressures on the trail.

    However, thru hikers are not the only persons who enjoy a hike on the A T. Many day and section hikes like to enjoy ther trail as well. My thought:

    What if the A T community were to emphasize section hiking rather that thru hiking for a year or two.

    Lets say, for example, if only 10 potential thru hikers (who would have completed the trail) completed 500 miles (a 4-year thru hike completion) the would leave about 15,000 trail miles (10 X 1500 miles not hiked) that could allow 150 hikers to experience a 100 mile section. 100 thru hikers less would open up 15,000 hiker miles for others. That would allow 1,500 hikers a 100 mile section with the same impact on the trail.

    I can imagine what the discussion and objections will be here.

    Just a thought! That's all.

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  17. #17
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    The previous post was supposed to be a NEW thread.
    How do I move it? I couldn't find anyway to do so in "edit."

  18. #18

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    Those who are most at risk for this virus are senior citizens. These same folks make up the vast majority of trail maintainers. The virus will affect the AT in many ways.
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff View Post
    Those who are most at risk for this virus are senior citizens. These same folks make up the vast majority of trail maintainers. The virus will affect the AT in many ways.
    Not exactly in my understanding. So take it for what it's worth. I think a more accurate statement would be that those most at risk are those with co-morbidities, regardless of age, but risk rises with age within this group. So if you have heart disease and diabetes, you are at increased risk. If you are "older" that increases your risk slightly. But if your only "risk category" is purely age? I don't think, based on numbers I saw from Italy, that you have that much of an increased risk.
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  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by PGH1NC View Post
    The previous post was supposed to be a NEW thread.
    How do I move it? I couldn't find anyway to do so in "edit."
    I moved it here, this thread was already started and about overcrowding.
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