Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration Department
BS in Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Administration
Hundreds of individuals hike the entire length of the Appalachian Trail each year. Research on place attachment and culture shock served as a basis for this study. Ten phone interviews were conducted during winter of 2011 interviewing hikers from 2009 or 2010. Results indicated that thru-hikers have difficulty with communicating the experience, new routines/structure, meeting social expectations, and loss of community during readjustment. Character development, an increased sense of confidence, and change in personal care, were all life changes from the AT. Hikers miss being outside, the physical exertion, the community of the trail, and the simplicity of life. It was unclear if depression is experienced during readjustment. However, subjects were motivated towards other long term goals from hiking the AT. This study shows that hikers feel a strong connection to the trail, thus more efforts should be taken to protect such an important place to many individuals.