“Walking The App Trail”…The Movie

Appa Trial
August23/ 2015

On my “Sure, I still could, but I won’t” Bucket List is Trek The Appalachian Trail.   If I was serious I could also “learn to play the harmonica” and “memorize The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner” while trekking The AT…. but I won’t…. but I could.

The author of A Walk In The Woods is Bill Bryson.  Bill Bryson, along with David Sedaris, are THE two funniest guys who write books that I know.

Blondie, Kid and I once listened to Bryson’s book Down Under about Traveling Across Australia while we were traveling somewhere.  His line “standing Bill Brysonbuck nekkid holding a plate of cookies” stuck with me.   Sometimes Bryson tries too hard to cram too much cleverness in one paragraph but usually he is terrific.

I wonder if Bryson knows “Pastor Fennigan and Naomi”?

David Sedaris is similar but different.  Sedaris’ account of being one of Santa’s elf at Macy’s is part of BobLee Family Lore.  The simple phrase “Little Elf… Little Elf”  gets a Pavlovian reaction in our family.   Sedaris is “a little gay guy from Raleigh” who lives in Paris and goes around America and Europe reading his books on-stage for appreciative fans.

I hope your family has some “we listened together” memories.

Both Bryson and Sedaris are VERY self-effacing which is why I enjoy them so.  I seriously appreciate people who do NOT “take themselves seriously”. …. I will definitely go see this movie with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte walking the AT.



National Park prepares for influx of Appalachian Trail hikers after ‘A Walk in the Woods’ movie is released

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is preparing for an influx of new Appalachian Trail hikers after the movie “A Walk in the Woods” is released Sept. 2.

The comedy adventure starring Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as old friends who decide to hike the 2,190-mile trail is based on the book “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on The Appalachian Trail” by Bill Bryson. The book was published in 1998.

“There was a 60 percent increase in thru-hikers when the book came out,” said Christine Hoyer, backcountry management specialist for GreatAppalachian Trail Smoky Mountains National Park. “We knew this movie was coming. There’s been quite a large group working on this for a year.”

Hoyer said all the land managers with responsibility for The Appalachian Trail — including the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service and some state parks — have been working with The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) on how best to prepare for an increase in use of the A.T.

“The movie coming out is great, but it’s challenging because The Appalachian Trail already is so used,” Hoyer said. “The 71 miles of the A.T. is, hands down, the highest used corridor of the 848 maintained trails in the Park.”

Although Hoyer said she does not expect to see a huge influx in thru-hikers until March, when those hiking the trail from south to north typically travel through the Smokies, she does expect to see new hikers in the National Park after the movie is released, just as states out West saw an influx of hikers after the movie “Wild” hit theaters in 2014.

“An increase in use doesn’t just mean thru-hikers, but also day hikers who are just getting on the A.T. to hike sections,” Hoyer said. “You can imagine that if a movie is going to spur you to be a hiker, that’s great, but we could see an increase in folks who don’t necessarily carry around a good background in backpacking.”

Leave No Trace

Volunteers and staff at The Appalachian Trail Conservancy have created a series of videos that will teach visitors how to reduce their imprint on the trail. The first of the videos, titled “Don’t Be That Guy — Appalachian Trail — Leave No Trace,” was released Aug. 1.

The video series is one way the ATC is preparing for a surge in trail use following the release of “A Walk in the Woods,” according to a press release dated Aug. 5. The ATC acted as a consulting organization during production and assisted with the film’s environmental messaging.

“Effort will be necessary to keep The Appalachian Trail in its natural state, especially given the increased attention that the trail is receiving,” said Javier Folgar, ATC’s director of Marketing and Communications. “Whether you are new to hiking or are an experienced 2,000-miler on The Appalachian Trail, everyone can benefit from watching these videos as a reminder of how to reduce impact.”

Filmed by professional videographer and former thru-hiker Tara Roberts with support from the U.S. Forest Service, the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics, the ATC’s Tennessee License Plate Fund, and ATC volunteers, the series illustrates the proper practices for hiking and camping that minimize impacts on the trail.

“There are a lot of folks who come here with some Leave No Trace experience, but some don’t,” Hoyer said. “If you come across trash in a campsite or shelter, you might think that’s the standard, to leave it there. That’s why with Leave No Trace, the earlier you get the info out to them, the better off they’ll be.”

The video series features a clip on each of the seven principles of Leave No Trace:

“Leave No Trace is about respecting the land, the animals and plants, and the people who come behind you,” Hoyer said. “It’s a balancing act. We want to get more people out there, but we also want people to do that in a way that honors the experience.”

Hoyer said the Park would use its reservation system to send Leave No Trace information to hikers before they arrive in the Park.

“All our sites in the backcountry require a reservation and a permit to camp there,” she explained. “And before they get a permit, they have to read and click through all this information about how they should engage with the backcountry.

“This also allows us to get better information to folks before they get on the ground,” Hoyer added. “We want to get the info to them before they get there because that’s the best way to have a quality experience.”

Hoyer also said she wants thru-hikers to have all the information they need early in their journey, as a majority of thru-hikers start in Georgia and work their way north.

“Part of the reason I’ve been so involved is that they may not make it all the way, but they will make it through the Park because we’re on the south end of the Trail,” she said. “Whatever they learn here carries them all the way through to Maine.”

Planning your hike

Hoyer still is looking at other options for handling the expected influx of hikers next spring, including increasing the number of “ridge runners” who check permits and answer questions along The Appalachian Trail.

Still, she encourages hikers to “know as much as they can know” before their trips.

“They can research their trip on our website or call in and talk to the backcountry staff,” Hoyer said. “I also encourage new hikers not to start in a wilderness area. Testing your gear in a more front-country setting is safer than deciding your first trek is going to be 20 miles from a road.”

The Appalachian Trail traverses Great Smoky Mountains National Park from Fontana Dam to Davenport Gap, which Hoyer calls “a pretty out there backcountry experience.”

“It is one of the best hikes in the Park, in my opinion,” said Hoyer, who has hiked the entire 71.6-mile stretch several times. “It’s popular because it provides extraordinary views and a remote wilderness feel.”



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