Traffic jams on highways are called ... well, traffic jams. Herds of hikers -- especially the hordes who hit the Trail northbound from Georgia in the spring -- comprise the "Bubble." Unless more thru-hikers avoid hitting Springer Mountain at once, it's about to burst.
The reality of the Bubble is inconceivable. Imagine seeking a spot to sit near a shelter built for 10 -- with 50-70 other weary hikers who are trying to find trees to hang hammocks, build campfires, set up tents, stock up on water and pee in privacy.
Forget your vision of a woodsy oasis with 150 trees conveniently spaced for hammocks. You'll probably find a tent rudely erected inside the shelter with a groovy dude playing "world music" on an iSomething. Add in partiers, snorers and stoners, mice and men, and you'll think you're camping at Woodstock. (Ask your grandmother.)
You can avoid crowded conditions almost completely and make an even more positive impact by selecting an alternate start location. Mid-trail thru-hike starts can allow you to avoid weather extremes (if you wait until about mid-April). Starting a hike Georgia after April 15 and then planning to "flip" mid-trail also offers the benefits of avoiding crowds and hiking in milder weather.
Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, Conservation, Hikers, Hiking Safety, flip-flop appalachian trail hike, appalachian trail bubble of hikers, and overcrowding on appalachian trail
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