Scott Jurek broke the record for completing the Appalachian Trail by hiking it in 46 days, 8 hours, and 8 minutes. Jurek made the 2,180 mile trek from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Mount Katahdin in Maine by traveling about 47 miles a day.
While this record-breaking feat might seem like a good thing, Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell gave three citations to Jurek after the excitement had ended. He was cited for consuming alcohol within the park, littering – which happened from the spray of the champagne – and hiking with more than 12 people.
Bissell was concerned about the corporate sponsorship of the run as evinced by the race vehicle and Jurek’s headband and gear. The Game Changers, LLC of Laguna Beach, California filmed Jurek’s triumph. However, Bissell also cited this company. It had a license to film in the park, but it was barred from shooting within 500-feet of the summit. The company ignored this provision and filmed there anyway.
While between two and three million people hike parts of the Appalachian Trail each year, only about 2,000 people complete the entire trail in one attempt. Trail hiking has become more popular in recent years. Along with this popularity has come commercial sponsors that use the trail as a backdrop to make a profit.
Bissell lamented the commercialization of the natural resource on the park’s Facebook page and suggested that Baxter State Park might reconsider its relationship with the Appalachian Trail. He said that Jurek and his corporate sponsorship violated the vision of the park. Former Governor Percival Baxter donated the land and funding in 1931 to make the park what it is today.
While the Appalachian Trail is recognized by the federal government, no central entity operates it. The trail spans 14 states and is managed by a combination of public and private groups made up mostly of volunteers.