It was a full house at the Appalachian Trail Lodge in Millinocket, Maine, Aug. 19, but that was no surprise to the establishment’s co-owner Paul Renaud. The lodge, which holds about 30 hikers, has been packed for weeks, the Bangor Daily News reported.

To the north of the lodge looms Katahdin, Maine’s tallest mountain and the northern end of the famous 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail.

“For me, this is a very important place on the trail,” said Paul Renaud, who owns the lodge, as well as the cafe down the road, with his wife, Jaime. “It’s not just the end of the trail, it’s the beginning.”

At the lodge, Paul Renaud goes by “Ole Man,” the trail name he acquired while hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2006. He purchased the lodge directly after completing the trail and has been an integral part of the Appalachian Trail community ever since.

This year, an all-time high of more than 3,000 people attempted to hike the entire Appalachian Trail, and next year, the number is predicted to climb even higher.

“With a bigger number of hikers, there’s going to be more damage to the trail … more of everything,” Renaud said. “There’s not enough room on the trail as it is. The lean-tos and shelters are too small, the camping areas around the trail aren’t big enough. We don’t have enough privies to provide for the hikers coming through. There are some major obstacles that we have to address.”

For the full story, click here.