Many thru-hikers don’t seem to be aware that the number of thru-hikers is infinitesimally small compared to the number of long trail users overall and that many locations have hikers as a small, small part of what they do.

This is more true of the Appalachian Trail north of Damascus but applies to the Smokies, the Shenandoahs, the Whites and where the trail intersects the NOC.

Compared to the PCT outside of some of the few locations, where the Pacific Crest Trail intersects the towns, the AT has a much larger presence in local communities. This is another difference between the AT and the PCT. The easy way to measure trail’s impact is whether there is a good resupply available.

There are places on the PCT where the trail goes right through and no resupply is available.

For specifics, look at some places on the Appalachian Trail.

The NOC is a whitewater kayak and rafting business. For many it is the first major stop where the hikers are a tiny minority of those passing through. And only 25% of the “thru-hikers” going through that location will finish their hikes.

Both times when we went through the NOC had resupply, a list of shuttle drivers and provided printer access for hikers. However, hikers really aren’t the NOCs focus (though I thought they took good care of hikers).

By the time you get to the Whites (which get more visitors than Yellowstone and Yosemite put together each year) of the millions coming through the Thru-hikers are less than a tenth of a tenth of a percent.

Not only that, but from the NOC to the Whites many of the people using the wilderness areas are repeat visitors while the thru-hikers tend to come only once. Thru-hikers are tourists and the others are the residents.

This comes more into focus especially when you realize the Whites and the AMC were around for scores of years before the Appalachian Trail existed.

Often you will meet people who lack that perspective and think that all of these places exist only for or because of them.

(Though it is important to realize that hikers can be an important source of revenue for many communities, it just isn’t universally true).

The PCT has more trail involved small communities. Though places, like Tuolumne Meadows, and any place without a good resupply have thru/hikers as a sideline and not their significant focus, many are significantly impacted by the trail.

The PCT also has a lot of very active trail angels and trail angel groups.

Ideally, some perspective will help a hiker be grateful rather than entitled, though in my experience most hikers are pretty great types.

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