My first love is long hiking. Still one of my best summers was a hike from Katadin to Mass, then taking commuter buses up to Burlington, buying a LHT etc, riding back to central Maine, then down the coast, over to DC, then Pitt, back to Harper's Ferry and down Skyline Dr. and BRP while chasing the turning leaves. Is the AT what it used to be? Well a big difference is everyone has a cell phone and it can be quite crowded. But if you go late (or very early) or head south people can be a bit sparse. I have yet to bike tour on a route where I have run into more than the very occasional touring cyclist. I must admit one reason it love long hikes is the community of hikers, not to mention usually clean air (but not on the southern PCT about 3 p.m. when the L.A fog rolls in, or the smell of cow shit on the Colorado trail etc.). I also love the taste of the water on the AT. What I have noticed on my AT thru-hikes is when I get near the big cities (SNP comes to mind) I can smell the air pollution on the day hikers, somewhat like you can smell the smoke on a cigarette smoker. Anyone else notice this? I can only imagine what I must smell like after riding in traffic.