Modern hikers look for adventure and service
Hikers can be divided into two groups – one group looks for silence, peace and quiet and the other wants adventurous activities, helicopter traffic and service in the mountain lodges. There is an increasing conflict between the groups, concludes Sandra Wall-Reinius, researcher at Mid Sweden University, in a recently published article.
Together with her colleague, Lennart Bäck, she has compared hikers in the years 1980 and 2003 and they have found both similarities and differences.
– What is stable over time is the fact that hikers seek to explore nature, that they mostly come from the Stockholm area and that they have a high educational level and similar professions, mainly doctors and teachers.
The differences are that the average age has increased by more than ten years, more people hike alone and the stays are shorter. Nowadays, a comfortable accommodation, existing mountain trails and transport to the mountains are more important to the hikers.
– They are looking for an adjusted environment and easy accessible nature and they also accept more people in the mountains. We think of it as an attitude change. Hikers of the 21st century have a more urban approach, says Sandra Wall-Reinius.
She sees a challenge both in attracting new groups to hiking and in dealing with the increasing conflicts between the traditional hikers and the group looking for comfort, adventure and parties in the mountain lodges.
– Many hikers who come here to relax are irritated by the helicopter traffic and the crowds in the mountain lodges. We note an increased demand for different facilities at the same time as there is a group of hikers who wants restrictions and stricter rules in the development of hiking tourism.
The study is based on two larger surveys among Swedish hikers in the northern Norrbotten mountains. The results are also supported by later studies in Norway and in North America.