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[at-l] Wingfoot's guide

Thanks, Pittsburgh, for reminding folks that if they find an error in the
Handbook, they should report it to me so that I can correct the next
edition (and place notices in hostels along the Trail for thru-hikers, if
the nature of the chage warrants; also, now we can put changes on the
internet). I spend about 2000 hours a year on the Handbook. Each autumn I
send out several thousand questionnaires to every business and service
listed in the book, so that I can get accurate information directly from
the sources. I follow that up with hundreds of telephone calls to clarify
details. Prices, hours, services, and so on are all verified each year, and
the information in the Handbook is accurate when in goes to press in late
December. Things do change during the year, however, so any Handbook user
(or user of any other Trail guide, for that matter) will find "errors" in
their book. Also, if you are using a year-old or two-year-old edition, you
cannot expect absolute accuracy. The AT is just to fluid for that (that's
why we all update our books every year!). Many thru-hikers give me feedback
for the Handbook each year, and I find their feedback invaluable.
Unfortunately, in more recent years, the tradition of giving feedback about
changes has diminished. Many thru-hikers are focused only on their own
concerns, and feel no responsibility for passing along things that may help
those who come after them. I'm not the only one who has noticed this. Every
year, as I talk with all of the service providers from Georgia to Maine, I
hear the bemoans of hostel hosts and service providers all up and down the
Trail, lamenting the fact that thru-hikers in the 1990s are more demanding
and self-centered than in past times--more users of the system than
participants who try to make a contribution to the system as they are
enjoying it. If anything is changing the nature of thru-hiking, it is this
almost adversarial attitude that many thru-hikers bring to the Trail. They
feel that the ATC, AT Clubs, guidebook authors, hostel hosts, and everyone
else associated with the Trail exists expressly for the purpose of catering
to their needs. Any failure to do so in exactly the way expected is harshly
criticized. This probably just reflects the change that has happened in
America during the past decade or so, but it is making the Trail a less
pleasant place that it used to be. Fortunately, a majority of the folks who
do long-distance hikes are still caring and sharing people, folks who
realize that something like the AT needs the participation of everyone, and
that those who serve the needs of thru-hikers need the help and cooperation
of those they seek to serve. So, anyone who finds an error in the Handbook,
feel free to tell me so that I check it out, make a correction if
necessary, and continue to do my best to serve those who will come after
you. Thanks--Wingfoot 
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