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Re: [at-l] New hiker services for '98 season

In a message dated 97-12-07 03:05:38 EST, lubitz@alpha.fdu.edu writes:

<< I would imagine hikers may be
 willing to shell out a couple of dollars to shop a large supermarket
 rather than a country store who's only attraction is proximity to the
 trail rather than the selection at a big market. >>

I don't know why but this thread is beginning to bother me.  My experience
with hiking a little close to 900 miles of the trail this past spring is that
I really enjoyed and appreciated a larger supermarket from time to time.  They
had a good selection and variety of what I think of as backpacker foods (stuff
which I don't touch now that I'm back home :-)  But I also appreciated some of
the little country stores along the way.  They may not have had the best
selection but it was nice to meet the local people, support the local economy,
and it was much more convenient to the trail.  

I think one of the attractions of hiking the AT is to leave behind the
trappings of modern life at its fast-paced, consumer driven worst.  Shopping
at a supermarket to me is part of this life.  If we start to organize traffic
to and from the trail in the ways suggested, then pretty soon we won't be able
to escape that part of modern life even if we choose to.  I think the current
system of hitch hiking or walking into towns has proven ideal to me.  While I
enjoyed staying over and doing laundry and eating huge meals in restaurants
and the comforts of a motel or hostel, I got my fill of it in a hurry and
longed to be back on the trail and away from the hustle and bustle. 

Also, shuttling to and from supermarkets can only go forward.  Will people opt
to stay at Mtn Mama's if there's a shuttle waiting to ferry them to a nearby
town and motel?  Multiply this one site times all the local merchants along
the way who now get our support.  Why would we prefer to give our money to a
large faceless corporation rather than to an individual trying to eke out a
living and provide us not only with needed supplies, but often with great

I can't remember who told me the story, but they were with a group of hikers
which arrived at Mtn Mama's after the store/restaurant was closed.  Not only
did she open the store to them, but she also cooked for them and remained
until each and every hiker had what they needed.  This is the kind of local
merchant I want to support along the way.   

I feel very frustrated that I can't say what I want to say in as articulate a
manner as I'd like.  I apologize if my thoughts skip around and aren't exactly
cohesive, but I think many people will understand what I'm trying to get at.
And there will be some who will say that I can just walk by the shuttles and
shop where I want.  My fear is that fewer and fewer people will do that and it
will ultimately lead to the loss of the little people and businesses which, to
me, typify the America I try to get in touch with in my travels.

I welcome further discussion and points of view on this subject, which is one
I think will affect the future of the AT experience.


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