Despite being able to catch cell service on many mountain tops along the Appalachian Trail these days, there is still one form a communication between hikers that beats out all the others. The shelter registry or logbook is the king of information along the Appalachian Trail. It is nearly like browsing the internet for the latest news in your community. It is also like checking a social media page to see what your friends and acquaintances have been up to lately. It can even be a great source of entertainment as you wait out a rain storm in a shelter or drift off to sleep at night. The logbook is a crucial part of AT culture and can come in handy during your hike.
Logbooks or registers are found in every shelter along the AT. Usually they are in a large zip lock bag with a pen or pencil, tucked away in a corner. They are also sometimes found in other randoms places along the AT, such as tucked away in the stone of the rock on Springer, in the breezeway at Mountain Crossings, or next to the hiker box in the outfitter at the Nantahala Outdoor Center.
Trail registries are a great way for hikers to stay in the loop about a particular area or portion of trail. By reading the logbook at each shelter a hiker can find out about bear activity, trail conditions headed north or south, suspicious people along the trail and even water availability. Not to mention, a hiker can also see that their friends Blue Berry and Freckles are headed into town and surmise that they can catch up with them there.
Because of the sheer amount of people using and handling logbooks, they can sometimes become a hot bed for sickness. Most of the time, checking the logbook is a very smart and fun thing to do while on a hike. But in the event of an outbreak of Noro Virus, a common hiker stomach bug, avoid touching logbooks just as you would avoid sleeping at shelters and using privies. Overall, these little nuggets of thru hiking culture are a fun way to gain all sorts of important information from another. For such an outdated method of indirect communication, the logbooks along the AT are incredibly useful and wonderful tools! Be sure to check out the logbook while on your thru hiker, next section hike or day hike along the Appalachian Trail and help contribute to the colorful culture and information sharing on our beautiful trail!