Howdy Hikers,

I've spent the past few years on a project researching and documenting the known accidental deaths associated with the AT and put out a book about them last June (updated last November). The work that went into it was incredibly interesting to me and the findings were not always intuitive. It also felt something that might be of broad appeal and value to this group of forum users.

Quickly a little bit about myself, I'm a class of 2019 NOBO. This project was inspired by a fall 2019 trip to the Grand Canyon and the discovery of a book titled "Over the Edge" by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers.

Some other quick comments about the format. It was never intended to be an exercise in schadenfreude, and the format differs appreciably from
a typical book (one that is read cover to cover). At the heart of it, I was hoping to summarize and capture all of the accidental deaths I could locate and see if there is anything we might learn from them. The currently identified 168 fatalities are grouped by category and presented chronologically. An appendix is also provided for easy navigation to the specific parts of the book of most interest to the reader.

My professional background is in science and as such, perhaps the most interesting part of the project was diving into the data associated with the materials I've turned up. In addition to the brief summaries for each incident described above, the concluding chapters of the book consist of a brief and simple statistical analysis for the data for these events. For each incident, I was able to determine trail user type, age, sex, date of accident, location, ..... There were many ways to group an parse the data available which can extrapolate to some conclusions based directly on the information from real documented events. A large effort was also taken to just present the details of each event with as little judgment as possible, as such some of the shorter summaries can read a bit similar to one another. There are only a few ways to summarize and describe someone having a heart attack for example.

I'm certain that I've not captured every historical incident that has ever occurred. There are a few specific categories that I strongly suspect go under-reported. I do feel as though I've identified a significant volume of materials to be representative and provide some meaningful insight. I also hope to keep this project current with periodic updates to the version in the years ahead. There is an email set up for the book, and I'll share it here, for corrections, omissions, or even just further discussion. That email is [email protected].

This is getting a bit long so I'll try and wrap up, the book is called Trail's End and it's available in a few different formats. I also pared a version back to a smaller subset of trail users (section and thru hikers) and presented it in another summary titled The Red Blaze. The current accident types that have been experienced by AT users include missing persons cases, falls, exposure, drownings, falling objects, traffic fatalities, lightning, medical emergencies, accidental gunshot, and homicide.

As an additional resource, I've created shared google map projects geographically locating each incident. There were cases I had to do some sleuthing and take my best shot but I actually think I'm pretty close with the vast majority of the stories. The links are below.

For all trail user types

For section and thru hikers

Thanks for your time and hike safe.