Solution to Appalachian Trail Overcrowding: Trail ID Cards

Published Mar 31, 2015

The future of the Appalachian Trail?

The future of the Appalachian Trail?

Overcrowding on the Appalachian Trail is an issue we can no longer ignore. We've heard that one attempt to manage the crowds will be a Trail ID system.

On one recent night on the Trail, there were reports of more than 135 people camped at a shelter designed for roughly 10% of that number of hikers.

When the Robert Redford movie based on the book A Walk in the Woods is released, there is fear that the "wilderness" of the AT will be more like a visit to a mall around the holidays.

Sources say hikers might not understand or appreciate some of the solutions that are being proposed. For example, concerns over the anonymity of hikers is worrisome. If you follow news of the Trail, one male hiker this month has been accused of harassing women. He is only known by his Trail name. That's one reason why sources tell us Trail names will be banned.

Trail names allow individuals, such as the former governor of the meager State of South Carolina, to escape city life -- and perhaps the law -- because no one knows who they are or their true identity. This is an unpleasant change, especially for Dances with Mice , a former thru-hiker whose identity is unknown but whose Trail name will be forever hailed in the annals of AT history.

Scary critters in the woods.

Scary critters in the woods.

To close that loophole, there are rumors that identification cards will be mandatory for long-distance hikers on trails, such as the Appalachian Trail. At first, the Trail ID cards could be packed along with other gear and personal items. As the Trail ID program progresses, other means might be used to identify People of the Trail.

One source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Trail ID cards will eventually be replaced with an inexpensive Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip that can be painlessly and quickly implanted under the skin on the left hand of thru-hikers.

When asked to confirm or deny these reports, officials would only say, "That's crazy." Which, obviously, doesn't mean it isn't true.

Reports indicate there might be some resistance to RFID chips, however, we're told the impact will be positive for those not arrested for non-compliance.

Will the wait for campsites on the AT look like this?

Will the wait for campsites on the AT look like this?

They say the chips will help track all hikers and help the enforcement teams who will be on hand to validate hikers at Trail Checkpoints (now known as shelters).

If too many people want to camp in one spot, officials can respond and "migrate" the hikers to available and approved sites on or off the Trail.

Also, if individuals are disruptive, their Trail IDs will able to pinpoint their location, making everyone safer on the Trail -- according to our sources.

One high-ranking official close to the situation said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

However, off the record this anonymous source said, "Happy April Fool's Day."

Click Here for "Beards Banned on Appalachian Trail"

Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Safety, and Hikers

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Jberczel on Apr 1, 2015
goodness, this raised my heart beat up!
duncanranger on Apr 2, 2015
Fool today....,.true tomorrow!!
Jim Foster on Apr 4, 2015
Nicely done!! I once proposed a similar story to be posted on this day about a plan to put cell phone towers in the Hundred Mile Wilderness so thru-hikers would never be deprived of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.