Movie peaking interest in Appalachian Trail

(WHTM) – A new movie is peaking interest in hiking the Appalachian Trail. That raising concerns about what you can and can’t do while backpacking your way through.

“When Bill Bryson’s book ‘A Walk In The Woods’ came out in 1999, we saw something between a 40% to 60% increase,” said Karen Lutz, Director of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s Atlantic Region. “So you can just imagine that a lot more people go to the movies than read books.”

Lutz said with so many extra people on the trail, things could get rocky.

“We’re worried about people that aren’t experienced and aren’t prepared.,” said Lutz. “We’re worried about people that don’t know appropriate use of the trail.”

If you hit the trail, make sure you follow the rules, like picking up your trash. Also, make sure you have a game plan.

“They know where the water sources are. They know where the overnight sites are. They know what features they’re going to see,” Lutz said. “They have proper footwear. Proper clothing. We like to say there’s no such thing as bad weather. There’s only inappropriate clothing,” she said.

A great way to prepare for your hike is to get your hands on the Appalachian Trail Guide and some maps. They’ll tell you what you can expect along the way. You can get that at the Keystone Trails Association or order them online at http://www.kta-hike.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=506&Itemid=104.

Lutz said if hikers are only walking part of the trail, there are certain areas they should avoid.

“Not recognizing that there are areas that can’t take a whole lot of additional visitation,” said Lutz. “Fragile areas be they wetlands or areas with fragile vegetation that can’t take a lot more visitation.”

Lutz also said there are overcrowding concerns at overnight sites.

“Those areas where we have heavy concentration of overnight use, that becomes an issue,” said Lutz.

If you’re looking to find beautiful views and wildlife, the Appalachian Trail won’t disappoint. But if you’re looking to get away from it all, you might be disappointed. The movie “A Walk in the Woods” is making a lot of people want to do just that.

“You know the trail is designed so that people can reconnect with the natural world and get out and have that natural experience,” Lutz said. “When you’re camping with dozens of other people, that’s not the solitude that the AT is intended to provide.”

Abc27 News caught up with Robert McNown, who was in the middle of hiking the entire 2,160 mile trail.

“Lately it’s been about 20 miles average. Some days more,” said, McNown.

Joe Neville, Executive Director for the Keystone Trails Association, said most of us can’t handle that kind of mileage.

“Most people can do a mile and a half an hour. Two miles an hour,” said Neville. “All the guide books have all of the mileage and difficulty ratings in there, too,” he said.

The Appalachian Trail may be the path more travelled, but those who have walked it say the journey is worth it.

“Get after it,” said McNown. “It’s great to get out on the trails. They’re awesome.”

For more information on the Appalachian Trail, visit http://appalachiantrail.org.

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