The fear is growing that after the release of the film “A Walk in the Woods,” we will see unprecedented numbers of hikers attempting thru-hikes in 2016. I disagree. Here’s five reasons that I do not expect a crowded trail on my 2016 thru-hike.
1. 6 months !!!
Mortgage, credit card debt, kids, spouse, car payment, school, student loans, and on, and on and on…. Be honest, how many people can really just pack it all up and leave for 6 months…6 months !!! Unlike some fads, like running with the bulls, one has to quit their job, not use two weeks vacation time.
2. “I was hoping for a sleeping bag in the $50 price range”
It’s expensive. After the first trip to REI, and realizing the backpack and sleeping bag will set folks back over $400, expect the excitement to wane a bit.
3. Let’s Do A Practice Hike!
A favorite phase I have coined is simple: “The trail is easier on paper, than on foot.” The glamour of hiking wears off pretty quick after the first “hill” or two on the AT. A 600-foot hill on paper looks like child’s play in the guide. After moviegoers actually toss on a pack and hit the trail, their excitement will be, shall we say, “tempered.”
4. “I can’t find anyone who wants to do it with me.”
There are many excuses that can, and will, be used to explain why someone cannot do the trail. And that’s understandable. It’s a very daunting thing to walk into the woods for six months, or one night, if you are inexperienced.
5. IT’S JUST A MOVIE !
People go to the movies to escape. To laugh, and cry, and everything in between. Sure, a few people will be inspired to start hiking, but just a few. My guess, from watching the movie trailer, will be that people get a few laughs, and watch as the movie turns to a rekindling of a “bromance,” (did I really just use the term “Bromance?) where the value of friends becomes the main storyline of the movie. I’m expecting the climax to be a renewed friendship, not an inspirational climb up Mt. Katahdin, after 2,186 miles.
There’s a big part of me that actually wants the movie to lead a large increase in potential thru-hikers. I believe the attrition rate of these movie-inspired hikers will be quite high, meaning the percentage of those who actually complete their thru-hike will be much lower next year.
That way I can brag that I thru-hiked the AT on the toughest year ever !!!!