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  1. #1

    Default Public's perception of the AT?

    What do you think it is? Also, do thru-hikers have much to do with shaping the public's perception?

  2. #2
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    Default

    From the perception of most of my non-hiking family it is a wild place no one wants to go. Other than that they don't give it much thought.
    SGT Rock
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    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
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    NO SNIVELING

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    Default not another stupid Lobster quiz!

    Gee, Lobster, you've managed to raise inanity to an art form.......

  4. #4

    Default Presuming the people I've mentioned my upcoming AT thru-hike to as representative...

    80+% of people have never heard of the AT. Most that have heard of it are older and/or better-educated than most, and have zero desire to ever hike it, considering it crazy, pointless, terribly dangerous, and as uncomfortable as being in the infantry in the military in wartime. A few younger (under age 35) people say "That sounds neat!" when they are told about it in some detail, but virtually NONE of them show any desire to actually hike it themselves. The only girlfriends I have had that I told about the Trail that showed some interest in going with me on a thru-hike were ones that didn't want me out of their sight for that long, worrying that hazards on the Trail (or hiking females) would become issues if they weren't there with me.

  5. #5
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Default Depends ...

    Out here in Wyoming the general awareness of the AT is pretty low. The local newspaper in Laramie did a feature on my 2003 thru-hike and you would have thought I climbed Everest or something more extreme like that. Not that a thru-hike isn't something to write about ...but if you saw the newspaper article you'd understand.

    I'd have to say that perception depends a great deal on awareness and once you start to get further and further away from the Appalachian corridor there are fewer and fewer people who are familiar with the AT and what's involved in hiking it.

    Before I relocated to Wyoming I lived in the Atlanta area and I'd have to say that the awareness level regarding the AT was relatively high and most people I know had a positive perception of people who thru-hiked the AT. As evidence of that I would sight the large number of people who live near or around the trail and provide hikers with rides in/out of towns and often even offer them food and lodging.

    'Slogger
    AT 2003
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    Default

    99% of the "public" in the world could give a rats ass about the AT. It's just a walking path.

  7. #7

    Default

    Minnesota,

    "80+% of people have never heard of the AT. Most that have heard of it are older and/or better-educated than most, and have zero desire to ever hike it, considering it crazy, pointless, terribly dangerous, and as uncomfortable as being in the infantry in the military in wartime. "

    This ties in with my other post. If everyone finds out about all the amenities, will they come to hike the whole AT in droves or be turned away from it because they won't perceive the AT as wilderness or a thru-hike as a true challenge or accomplishment?

  8. #8

    Default Hmmm, Lobster...

    "If everyone finds out about all the amenities, will they come to hike the whole AT in droves or be turned away from it because they won't perceive the AT as wilderness or a thru-hike as a true challenge or accomplishment?"

    I'd say that there are fewer purists in the nation (who would be offended by the AT getting easier to thru-hike) than there are soft people who might be more likely to consider hiking the AT if it were easier. However, the hills and distance, the majority of the rain and nights in the woods, etc., will still be there regardless. I would guess that the impact of increased Trail amenities on hiker #s will be minor, but towards more people hiking. The purists can always go do the CDT, one of the little-known trails in Canada, or (as I'm going to) do cross-state hikes in Alaska, if the AT gets too wimpy and crowded for them -- and probably will.

  9. #9
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Default Let's Clear the Air ....

    All the amenities in the world aren't going to make a thru-hike of the AT a "wimpy" experience. Sure ...some may be drawn to the appeal of a brief hike followed by a stay in town with showers, TV, bars and restaurants. But no one is gonna convince me that the population of hikers who set out and successfully cover the AT from END TO END is going to increase for that reason.

    In my opinion, any real increase in "thru-hikers" will occur due to awareness among the population of those who are attracted to this type of experience. The reasons that people thru-hike the AT will always stay the same for the most part. Any measurable increase in thru-hiker traffic will have nothing to do with the availabiliy of niceties along the trail.

    The number of steps, the number of miles and amount of time required will always dictate the relative difficulty of hiking the AT from END TO END ...and not the extra-curricular activities.

    Nuff said ...

    'Slogger
    AT 2003
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  10. #10
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Default Public's perception

    Footslogger you "hit the nail on the head". You have to do it to understand.
    Grampie-N->2001
    Grampie-N->2001

  11. #11

    Default

    It can be the other way too... I'm the girl, i'm the one with a deep want to do the trail, and the boyfriend is trailing along... I'm just a girl, so i'm not good enough to do it alone.

    pink

    Quote Originally Posted by minnesotasmith
    The only girlfriends I have had that I told about the Trail that showed some interest in going with me on a thru-hike were ones that didn't want me out of their sight for that long, worrying that hazards on the Trail (or hiking females) would become issues if they weren't there with me.

  12. #12

    Default choices

    Quote Originally Posted by lobster
    Minnesota,

    "80+% of people have never heard of the AT. Most that have heard of it are older and/or better-educated than most, and have zero desire to ever hike it, considering it crazy, pointless, terribly dangerous, and as uncomfortable as being in the infantry in the military in wartime. "

    This ties in with my other post. If everyone finds out about all the amenities, will they come to hike the whole AT in droves or be turned away from it because they won't perceive the AT as wilderness or a thru-hike as a true challenge or accomplishment?
    I think maybe today, people have easy choices than before. Today, if they want to choose to have their hikes more fun and enjoyable, they can choose AT. If they want their hikes to be more challenging, no trail magic, less hostels, they can choose to hike either PCT or CDT. Obviously, more thru hikers want to hike the AT because they find them more enjoyable with amentities than CDT and PCT. Would it be more boring if all three trails comes with same character?

    So, answer to your question, the better media technology have comes today, i.e. internet, satellite dishes, cables, etc., and the more people understand the purposes and uses of AT. A lot of people know more about AT than people during the Earl Shaffer's first thru hike. What we need to feed information to those people are, the benefits, the life before and after, and how safe is it to thruhike. Many people's first react about 2,174 miles thru hike is mainly most about the dangerous of wildlife, and how we can be able to find food along the AT.

    The more education comes out, the better understanding will come toward Appalachian Trail and thru hikers.

    Flash Hand

  13. #13
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Flash Hand
    I think maybe today, people have easy choices than before. Today, if they want to choose to have their hikes more fun and enjoyable, they can choose AT. If they want their hikes to be more challenging, no trail magic, less hostels, they can choose to hike either PCT or CDT. Obviously, more thru hikers want to hike the AT because they find them more enjoyable with amentities than CDT and PCT. Flash Hand
    ========================================
    Gotta disagree with you about the above statement. Can't prove it but I'd submit that a thorough survey of past/present AT thru-hikers would NOT site the choice of hiking the AT over other trails as having been based on the "ease, fun or enjoyment" factor.

    If someone wants to hike the AT they tend to hike the AT and if they want to hike out west they choose the CDT or PCT. Then again ...some hikers who complete the AT and still have an urge to distance hike choose the CDT or PCT ...or totally vice versa.

    I know and have talked to many hikers who have completed one or more of the above listed trails and I know that none of them chose a trail to hike based on whether or not that specific trail did or did not offer "amenities".

    Anyhew ...just a different perspective.

    'Slogger
    AT 2003
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

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    Registered User neo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nameless
    It can be the other way too... I'm the girl, i'm the one with a deep want to do the trail, and the boyfriend is trailing along... I'm just a girl, so i'm not good enough to do it alone.

    pink
    nameless you are good enough,no body is truely alone on THE TRAIL
    every body are more like family,some of my greatest experinces with people
    in life have been on the trail,fellow hikers,doesnt matter if they are thru hikers,section,hikers or weekend warriors,our love for the trail is what binds us together,have met so many wonderful people in all the towns,life is good
    neo

  15. #15
    Spirit in search of experience. wacocelt's Avatar
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    If anything is going to cloud the publics opinion of the AT it will be them mistaking trolls like you for an actual part of the trail community on sites like this. Your flaming masked as concern for the publics opinion is thinly veiled and rather tiresome.
    Everything is exactly as it should be. This too shall pass.

  16. #16
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Most folks I know have no concept of the trail - Many are golfers and think it is a horrible "deliverance" type arena that is flush with hillbillies and wild animals willing to attack at a moments' notice.
    My idiot Bank President Brother-in-law on the other hand, deserves a darwin award.
    I took him and my 3 nephews (10-14) for an overnight between Fox Gap and DWG. I provided all the gear for them (Yeah I have a lot of extra stuff). The first morning they were repacking their packs and I saw this baggy filled with about $20 in change - It weighed about 2 lbs. (They didn't bring much water that night due to the spigot right at Kirkridge, so it didn't occur to me to check how many water bottles they actually brought, as I told them to bring at least 3-16 oz bottles each)

    I asked my BIL why the heck he brought all the heavy change and he said very casually "for the soda machines that we pass today". I questioned him further and he admitted he thought the AT was paved all the way to Maine and that there were vending machines, toilets and water fountains every few miles.
    Boy was he in for a surprise!!
    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

  17. #17
    First Sergeant SGT Rock's Avatar
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    True, I often get asked what sort of gun I carry because of hillbillies, bears, snakes, and brigands at the trail heads. My last hike I was asked if I was going to take a cell phone to call for help if I got snowed in. I had to explain to the guy that there would probably not be any coverage, and if I was snowed in up in the mountains, that a rescue team would have to wait for the weather to clear to hike in, which would be the same weather I would wait for to hike out. My non-hiking friends that have heard of the AT think it is wilderness for sure.

    Another thing I have noticed that even in some trail towns like Pearisburg, some of the locals haven't even heard of the trail that goes right throught the town.
    SGT Rock
    http://hikinghq.net

    My 2008 Trail Journal of the BMT/AT

    BMT Thru-Hikers' Guide
    -----------------------------------------

    NO SNIVELING

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    Spirit in search of experience. wacocelt's Avatar
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    In 2000 I was asked several times how much climbing gear I carried and if I was prepared for avalanches, mind you, this was in August/September.
    Everything is exactly as it should be. This too shall pass.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by lobster
    What do you think it is? Also, do thru-hikers have much to do with shaping the public's perception?
    ================================================== ===========
    For most people, the Trail is invisible. Think about it. Unless you know what to look for (white blazes, etc), you could whiz by a road crossing every day for 30 years and never even know it's there.

    One misconception the public has is that the AT was an old Indian warpath. The Indians weren't stupid; the path of least resistance was through the valleys, not along the ridgetops.

    Another one is that hikers constantly have to fight off wild animals. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my.

    And crime, due to a few unfortunate and well publicized murders.

    Tom

  20. #20
    Registered User FatMan's Avatar
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    Default Off the radar screen

    Public's perception of the AT? It's not even on the public's radar screen.

    I live within 80 miles of Springer in Metro Atlanta. Maybe 5% of the folks in my town have heard of it and maybe 1% knows that it starts here in Georgia. Less than .05% have ever stepped foot on it. Only those .05% would even know what a through hiker is.

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