Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Bureaucratic Solution to Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker Issues*

The number of hikers starting Appalachian Trail thru-hikes in Georgia have increased each year such that shelter areas and campsites are beyond capacity. Hikers with scant hiking experience trash the trail with garbage, and are impacting wildlife with poor food-handling and personal hygiene practices. The impact to the trail threatens its viability, while hikers engaging in spring-break pack mentality in trail towns tests the townspeople's hospitality. At the other end of the trail, thru-hikers who fail to comply with Baxter State Park's regulations have resulted in threats to kick the AT off the iconic Mt. Katahdin.

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC, has taken steps to spread out thru-hiker start dates, to encourage non-traditional hikes, and to educate them on Leave No Trace (LNT), trail ethics, and specific park policies.  Compliance is currently voluntary.

As a certified bureaucrat, I propose taking it up a notch.