Times, they are a’changing and the AT is not missing out on the passing of time. 2014 brought along the AT Passport. 2015 introduced the Registration Process. And in 2016, with record numbers hitting the trail, that registration process is becoming more and more important!
What is the Thru Hiker Registration?
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has long been concerned with the well fare of the trail. Their constant management of the trail and many trail maintenance groups play a large role in the health of the AT today. The Thru Hiker Registration process is just a step further in helping maintain and preserve the AT for years to come. By attempting to record and limit the amount of thru hikers starting each day at Amicalola and Springer, the ATC is aiming to lessen the impact of the mass amounts of north bound hikers on the trail through registration.
Why to Register?
Besides the warm fuzzy feelings of knowing that you are playing a role in helping support a healthy practice for the Appalachian Trail, you also a receive a year long membership to the ATC for FREE! This includes a discount at their online store and a subscription to AT Journeys Magazine. You also receive an AT hangtag dated with your thru hike year when you register for you hike. You are not required to register to thru hike and the ATC is not looking to micromanage the act of thru hiking. They are simply asking thru hikers to voluntarily register and be thoughtful of the trail when choosing start dates. The calendar will assist you in choosing a start date that will place you in less crowds that you may otherwise find on the AT in Georgia in the Spring.
By registering with the ATC, you get a commemorative hang tag for the year you thru hike.
How to Register?
To register your thru hike with the ATC and receive all the awesome benefits, follow this link. It is as simple as checking the availability of your desired start date and filling out a short online form. If you would like to know more about the Thru Hiker Registration Process please read these Frequently Asked Questions.
We are in the midst of a record breaking hiker season! It’s not even the end of March and we at Mountain Crossings have surely seen somewhere between 800 and 900 thru hikers, though keeping a tally is impossible. Despite our feelings about the wide openness of the wilderness surrounding the Appalachian Trail, thru hikers live in incredibly close quarters to one another. They are also the least likely they have ever been to properly take care of their hygienic needs because of the lack of available resources. These two factors can cause the perfect breeding ground for what has been dubbed The Thru Hiker Plague, aka, Norovirus.
What is Norovirus?
Noro, as most people call it, is a highly contagious stomach bug that inflames the intestines and results in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
How do you get Norovirus?
Noro is spread very easily from one person to another. Touching infected surfaces (such as a privy), eating food or water that has been contaminated (such as shared food between hikers), and contact with infected individuals (like a hand shake) or their infected personal items (such as their gear) are all ways to contract Noro.
How do you prevent Norovirus?
When your typical bathroom is nothing more than a mouldering privy, it is difficult to stay clean. Most hikers simply use anti-bacterial gel after using the toilet. THIS WILL NOT KILL NOROVIRUS! The only way to truly kill Noro is to use soap and water to wash your hands. You should wash before eating and after using the toilet. Avoid hikers who you are have Noro or have recently had Noro, as they are still contagious up until two days after having felt better. Also avoid sleeping in shelters, touching largely communal items such as the log book at a shelter and avoid using the privies. If you have or had recently had the Norovirus, try to stay away from large groups of hikers whenever possible to help cut down on the spread of the virus.
What do you do if you get Norovirus?
If you contract Noro, you will quickly dissipate from the strong hiker you were into a weakened ball of vomit and diarrhea. It is a fast coming sickness that lasts for 24 to 48 hours but leaves you depleted of your body’s nutrients and very fatigued for several days afterwards. If you are on trail when the sickness hits you, make every effort to get to a road and get to a motel or another safe place. Be conscientious of the fact that you are very contagious. Let any one who may help you out know that you are sick and try a hard as possible to not pass the sickness along. Avoid hiker hostels and other places hikers gather frequently in an effort to lessen the spread of Noro. If you are unable to make it off of the trail, set up camp somewhere where you can stay far away from people and yet reach help if needed, (such as the far outreaches of a shelter), though far away from a reliable water resource and other hikers. Be sure to drink as much water as possible to resupply the fluid lost in a bout of Norovirus. Be conscientious of where you are being sick. Keep it far away from communal areas, water resources and the trail itself. As soon as possible, wash as many personal items as you can and for several days after feeling better, be mindful that you are still contagious.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW GETS THE NOROVIRUS, CONTACT THE ATC AND REPORT THE INCIDENT BY EMAIL email@example.com!!
Thru hiking the Appalachian Trail changes the way you look at people. Strangers quickly become life long friends after sharing a few days of typical AT trials together. While hiking, you learn that the heart of humanity is still a kind and compassionate thing. And when you are done, you feel as if you’ve lost a family you may never be able to recoup again. It’s a heart sickening feeling to be separated from the brothers and sisters you’ve made on the trail but modern technology makes it simple to reconnect. But what about when you don’t know a hiker’s real name? What if you never exchanged numbers? Sometimes it feels as if these friends have been lost back into the world forever. Thankfully, one hiker has found a fix to that.
Every year, 2013 thru hiker Odie sets out to produce a yearbook of all the hikers he can possibly capture a photograph of in one season! It is a feat that requires incredible patience, strategy and hard work to complete. “This truly is my passion. I believe hikers are empowered people and I believe while they are on trail, they discuss big things,” Odie says. And I believe it to be true! Your thru hiking companions are the sort of friends you can call up any time, on the fly and be back at the same place you last saw them on trail. They are an infinite resource of couches to crash on, cities to visit, hiking partners to explore new places with and adventure partners to plan big with. The ability to get back in contact with them after the trail is invaluable.
As Odie puts it, “The pictures and memories are fun and amazing, sure, but it’s the directory that is never sold or shared that truly matters. This is how hikers find their family after their hike.” Flipping thru the Hiker Yearbook is a trip down memory lane for any hiker who thru hiked the year Odie made one. But more importantly is the ability to hunt down and reconnect to the wonderful faces depicted in the book.
Every thru hiker has seen a scene like this and its so beautiful! The midday siesta under a tree in the summertime is the pinnacle of a lazy thru hiking day!
This year, Odie is looking for funding to take the Hiker Yearbook to the next level and establish it as a yearly tradition on the Appalachian Trail. He has a Kickstarter dedicated to the furthering of his project. Check out this video for more about the Hiker Yearbook.
Odie and his gang will be at Trail Days in Damascus, the Flip Flop Festival in Harper’s Ferry and at 11 other hiker festivals along the AT this year. They will be traveling in a yellow bus, doling out as much trail magic as they can and snapping photos! If you want to insure that your photo makes it into the 2016 Hiker Yearbook, send a photo of yourself with you trail name and real name to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even send summit photos and group shots. Odie and his gang will make sense of the madness and produce a beautiful final product that every thru hiker can cherish!
If you’ve ever been to Western North Carolina, you can probably agree with the statement that it is an absolutely gorgeous part of the Southeast! You can also probably agree that the people who live there are as awesome as the majestic mountains and raging rivers that make up WNC. These great people haven’t failed to notice that they live in one massive outdoor playground and with all their unique heart and soul, many have found a way to both enjoy their environment and foster it within the community at the same time. One such group is Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina.
OGB is a group of outdoor gear companies who are all working out of Western North Carolina. Collectively they are makers of backpacking and camping gear, footwear of all sorts, water sports gear, kayaks, SUPs, bicycles, climbing gear, backcountry foods and more! Companies such as Light Heart Gear, Liquid Logic, Eno, Astral, Defeet, Wasup, Harmony Foods and Misty Mountain, just to name a few, (see them all here!) have banned together as gear makers in WNC to focus on providing quality, local products that help promote the local communities in which they were created. They believe that shopping local goes much further than the grocery store!
The world of specialty outdoor gear can be a tough one. There are a lot of options for customers out there and there are a lot of big box stores who get a lot more press but may be unable to provide the perfect piece of gear for an individual. The specialty outdoor gear industry is working to fill those voids but, as the Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina have found, it is a lot easier of you’ve all got each others back! They are looking to make WNC the hub of gear making on the East Coast, making it an easy and enjoyable environment for companies to move into or build themselves from the ground up.
Outdoor Gear Builders of Western North Carolina is amping up the awesome next weekend during their up coming Get in Gear Fest in Asheville, NC on Saturday, March 19th! From 11am to 5pm in Asheville’s River Arts District, you will be able to demo gear made by these awesome companies. Take a mountain bike for a spin! Jump in a tent and feel it out! Paddle a kayak on the French Broad River! These guys are hands on and understand that checking out a piece of gear is important. Plus, they just like to have fun! There will be local food and beer as well as all the locally made gear! Come hang out in an excellent mountain town and check out the gear companies that keep the heart of the region pumping strong!