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  1. #41

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    Back to the OP question

    A few more thrus, probably tilted a little older. The “life is short” crowd. Folk like me who know a successful thru becomes less likely (health/injury-wise) with each passing year. Perhaps a few less of the younger folk for financial reasons.

    The folk who hiked this year for lack of other things to do will go back to those other things they clearly prefer.

  2. #42

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    Original ATC reason for “closing” the trail was mostly to protect the less medically resourced communities the trail goes through. (I think). Those medical resources should be protected via vaccine by spring.

    So I think trail opens.

    I hope shelters and privys open too; doesn’t seem like surfaces are really the concern for transmission.

  3. #43
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    For me, hiking in 2021 will look much the same as 2020. Hiking and backpacking trails close enough I can reach in a day’s drive, only stopping for gas or drive-through food. Not staying in hostels.

    Crowds are definitely noticeably higher than normal, but I find if you know where to go you can still find solitude in my area at least. I went on a ~14 mile hike today on a Saturday in beautiful, PERFECT weather, and only saw 5 other groups, and that was all one the stretch I did on one specific “popular” trail. As others have essentially stated, the crowds are a gift and a curse..On one hand, I don’t want to see anybody when I’m on the trail. But on the other hand, I want enough people using them that the FS is motivated enough to maintain them. Double-edged sword..

    I do genuinely feel for those who planned their life around a thru-hike and and are having to change plans. That sucks.

    EDIT: The “city” trails are absurdly slammed lately, worse now than in the spring. So packed I’ve driven to the parking lots, sighed, and turned around a few times and have given up until the weather really turns and drives people away (January and February).
    Last edited by Slugg; 11-22-2020 at 13:46.

  4. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by HankIV View Post
    Original ATC reason for “closing” the trail was mostly to protect the less medically resourced communities the trail goes through. (I think). Those medical resources should be protected via vaccine by spring.

    So I think trail opens.

    I hope shelters and privys open too; doesn’t seem like surfaces are really the concern for transmission.

    I agree with this. I think the calculation will be different at the beginning of this upcoming thru season (say, March and April) than they were earlier this year. There are at least two vaccines, and a back-of-the envelope estimate is that ~ 10% of the population will be vaccinated each month, possibly starting as soon as January. One presumes that medical staff and older folks will be prioritised. Also, indirectly, the added risk of thru-hikers carrying the virus to small communities may be less of a concern when the virus is already wide-spread (and we know now more spread through shared indoor spaces).

    I agree on the shelters and privys. I'm not sure that I'd sleep in a crowded shelter quite yet, but stopping at one would not appear to be a risk.
    (trailname: Paul-from-Scotland)

  5. #45

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    Very few people in the rural southeast are wearing masks, what makes us think they will get vaccinated? I worry there will be a surge of COVID in rural communities and how the ATC responds is anyone’s guess. But does it even matter? Not many hikers are following the ATC recommendations...camping and hiking in large groups and continuing to use privys, etc.

    I recently hiked Standing Indian Loop and stopped at McDonalds in Franklin to use the bathroom. The staff were mostly half masked, one was maskless, and two other patrons were maskless, After the hike, I stopped at a gas station and bought a drink and no one in the store wore a mask except the clerk but again, she was only half masked. After the hike, I found out that I’ve had a direct exposure. Go figure.

    The AT will be crowded in 2021 and will continue to be more crowded every year. Many hikers have been inspired to start backpacking due to Covid and we all know what happens when you get the bug.

  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    After the hike, I found out that I’ve had a direct exposure. Go figure.
    You just proved it's best to just stay home for now.
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  7. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoshMcR View Post
    I think the increase in the popularity of hiking from Covid will probably be permanent. The parks in my area were really crowded back in April and May. I thought it would eventually dive down as a fad among most of the new hikers. It's increased. I did a 12 mile loop at a state forest 2 hours from me a couple weeks ago. Before 2020 I almost never saw more than 5 people on this trail. I saw at least 50. On a societal level it's a good thing more people are getting out into the woods, but man. I'm getting increasingly inspired to move to Alaska.
    I wouldn't be so sure of that. I heard an RV report that while sales and rentals were through the roof this year that the vast majority of those who were first timers or hadn't been out in years planned on NOT going RVing again. And that's a whole lot easier than hiking in many respects.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

  8. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    You just proved it's best to just stay home for now.
    Yep...I’m usually the example of what not to do!

    I only admit to it as an illustration of how easy it is to unknowingly expose others and that it’s not necessarily thru hikers who are an issue but the hordes of day and section hikers. (Thus your suggestion to test all thru hikers is superfluous). From what I witnessed recently, I can make a good case that 75% of hikers on any given day have never heard of the ATC and/or know nothing about LNT (or just don’t care).

  9. #49

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    On a happy note, I think we will see more diversity on the AT in 2021. Recently, I saw more diversity in one day than in years of hiking.

  10. #50
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    Fads, like fashion, come and go. 2021 will be busy, as again most people will be unable and/or unwilling to travel overseas. By 2023 it'll be back to normal.
    Be Prepared

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Very few people in the rural southeast are wearing masks, what makes us think they will get vaccinated? I worry there will be a surge of COVID in rural communities and how the ATC responds is anyone’s guess. But does it even matter? Not many hikers are following the ATC recommendations...camping and hiking in large groups and continuing to use privys, etc.
    I'd think the idea is that, once the vaccines are available to everyone easily (similar to how it would be to get a flu vaccine today), it becomes less of an issue. After all, it would be difficult for someone to complain that someone hiking through their area somehow made them sick when they hadn't taken advantage of protecting themselves.

  12. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by BillyGr View Post
    I'd think the idea is that, once the vaccines are available to everyone easily (similar to how it would be to get a flu vaccine today), it becomes less of an issue. After all, it would be difficult for someone to complain that someone hiking through their area somehow made them sick when they hadn't taken advantage of protecting themselves.
    ..........
    Last edited by Traffic Jam; 11-23-2020 at 15:51.

  13. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackCloud View Post
    Fads, like fashion, come and go. 2021 will be busy, as again most people will be unable and/or unwilling to travel overseas. By 2023 it'll be back to normal.
    What is normal? The number of AT hikers have increased every year. There were problems even before Covid.

    I’d be interested in seeing a poll on how many people were inspired by AWITW and Wild and continue to regularly hike.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    Very few people in the rural southeast are wearing masks, what makes us think they will get vaccinated? I worry there will be a surge of COVID in rural communities and how the ATC responds is anyone’s guess. .............
    I went car camping and fishing in Arkansas and southern Missouri (Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals lakes and Buffalo River) last month. Not too many folks wearing masks in the small towns even though these lakes and associated campgrounds are magnets for folks from all over the mid-west including big cities. I share your concern that these rural communities will get hit hard by the virus. I don't think that by March and April when the through hikers start that a significant number of the population that hikes the trail (generally young and healthy) will have been vaccinated because they will be lower on the list to be vaccinated than medical people, first responders, essential workers, old folks etc. So I doubt the ATC is going remove all the restrictions for the trail this spring.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tennessee Viking View Post
    The trail will definitely be overcrowded by thrus in 2021 of those who missed their 2020 start. Services will be about the same as those who operated during 2020. Newbie interest has jumped so probably a lot of weekenders and sectioners as well.
    I wonder about that. In my mind there were a ton of small businesses that have simply been destroyed by the multiple shut downs of state economies. For a seasonal business having your peak revenue destroyed in the summer of 2020 will hard pressed to survive until 2021, particularly with its current uncertainty.
    Last edited by Alligator; 11-23-2020 at 23:51. Reason: Heading Political

  16. #56

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    I agree with KittySlayer on services. Empty restaurant spaces in cities and ‘burbs will get refinanced and reopened by same or new operators pretty quickly. Hiking services are businesses of passion more than profit. Many probably self financed—there aren’t tons of people just standing by to restart a closed hostel. It’ll happen, but slowly.

  17. #57

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    I'm hearing that vaccines will be released by mid December.I am hoping that by June all this will be in the rear view mirror....unless and of course,something else happens..............

  18. #58
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    Then the question becomes whether yet another follows.



    don't worry-----it will come.....


    the way that this country is lackadaisical about it all, this thing will take longer to get settled
    down than necessary.....

  19. #59

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    So same thing I said in the other thread, keep it focused on the trail situation. Still kind of premature to really gauge much, other than some good possibilities for a few vaccines. We've got Thanksgiving and Christmas to get through first. More uncertainty than what's the weather going to be in March or what's the water situation going to be like in June.

    Now it being November, if anyone knows of specific trail businesses or critical/unique operations important to hikers that aren't operational that would be informative. Recent ATC policy pronouncements, land manager rule changes, hotspot conditions/closures along the trail, those sorts of things that readily affect AT hikers.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
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  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    So same thing I said in the other thread, keep it focused on the trail situation. Still kind of premature to really gauge much, other than some good possibilities for a few vaccines. We've got Thanksgiving and Christmas to get through first. More uncertainty than what's the weather going to be in March or what's the water situation going to be like in June.
    Thank you! Very wise advice, as there still is too much speculation and not enough factual information yet regarding all the issues related to Covid-19 and hiking the AT.
    "I told my Ma's and Pa's I was coming to them mountains and they acted as if they was gutshot. Ma, I sez's, them mountains is the marrow of the world and by God, I was right". Del Gue

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