Friday, February 15, 2008

Where HAVE All the Backpackers Gone? out of New London, CT has a column by regular columnist Steve Fagin titled "Where Have All the Backpackers Gone?" on 14 February 2008. He is mainly reacting to the recent study of outdoor use that shows declines in numbers all across the board.

Specifically, Fagin writes:
"Statistics on people trekking the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail support their findings. The number of hikers surged through the 1970s and 1980s, but then began tailing off. In 2001, 2,375 northbounders started the trail in Georgia and 622 finished in Maine; in 2002, 1,875 started and 589 finished; in 2003, 1,750 started and 600 finished; in 2004, 1,535 started and 578 finished; in 2005, 1,392 started and 546 finished; and in 2006, 1,150 started and 488 finished.

"So, will backpacking one day be remembered as a quaint fad of a bygone era, like dancing the Macarena or playing with a hula-hoop? While I have no specific demographic data to report, I can say in recent years I’ve seen far more Baby Boomers on the trail than Gen-Xers, which does not bode well for the future."
Fagin and I both hope that it's no passing fad.

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