Appalachian Trail Histories


Browse Exhibits (3 total)

The Appalachian Trail is under attack.

This attack is largely invisible, yet omnipresent and ubiquitous.

This attack has been spearheaded by a very visible but faceless enemy, the casual hikers and dedicated hikers alike who love the trail. While not a war of malice, it's largely a war of ignorance and even convenience. This war isn't fought with bullets or missiles but with microscopic plastics brought by the masses of nature-loving hikers. 

The explosion of popularity on the trail, as well as the simultaneous increase of reliance on plastics and other disposables on the Appalachian Trail, has done extensive damage to the ecological health of the trail.  The increased foot traffic and destructive consumer culture have left gear, plastics, and other forms of pollution strewn about the trail. This exhibit explores these aforementioned problems through comparative historical analysis, ecological research, and the consequences of ongoing commercialization of the Appalachian Trail.

The future of the trail is determined by how the volunteer groups and government services address the increasing ecological damage that is damaging the trail.  After every book, article, or movie there is a greater increase in hikers alongside the trail that can often bring economic opportunity to locals at the cost of greater foot traffic and ecological damage. Particularly around shelters, the presence of humans has increased brought consequences in the form of increased pollution, littering, and extensive damage.

Thirty-five years ago hikers and backpackers on the Appalachian Trail hiked in jeans and tee-shirts. Today if a backpacker wears jeans they are gently pulled aside by friends who tell them that cotton kills. Cotton increases the chance of getting hypothermia because it absorbs moisture and retains it, cotton socks give people blisters, cotton underwear chaffs, anyone who wears cotton while backpacking is ignorant becuase everyone knows that wool and sythetics are best. What forces drove outdoor enthusiasts to throw off cotton with a rant on its evils? And what other fashion trends hit the Appalachian Trail since its creation.

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The Appalachian Trail is a 2,190 mile long hike that covers fourteen different states stretching from Georgia to Maine. Thru-hikers, the tough backpackers that challenge themselves to completing the A.T in one hiking season are tested mentally, physically, and sometimes spiritually. With their gear strapped on to their backs, they mount up to follow the white blazes marked on trees and surround themselves with nature's blueprints. Well-experienced hikers are known to meticulously count the weight of each item they bring along. Despite careful weight consideration, hikers are still known to bring additional items that add unnecessary weight and take up already limited space.