Some interesting statistics have recently been posted regarding the 2013 class of thru-hikers of the Appalachian Trail. The numbers of hikers that attempted the trail during the last calendar year were calculated as of January 19, 2014 and these numbers will most likely increase slightly because some hikers have not yet communicated their completion. The numbers account for NOBO and SOBO hikers as well as section hikers (those taking more than one year to complete the trail).
The facts concerning the NOBO (NorthBound) thru-hikes (Georgia to Maine) record that 2,700 people signed in at Springer Mountain, GA with every intention of standing atop Mt. Katahdin, ME. This is the largest cohort in the history of the trail (2010 = 1460, 2011 = 1700, 2012 = 2500). By the time the hikers checked in at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters in Harpers Ferry, WV (the psychological mid-point of the trail – really mile 1,019), there were only 1,130 left. Over 1,500 hikers had to abandon their dreams and wait for a better day. So then, just under 42% of the original brave-hearts made it to Wild Wonderful West Virginia. After breathing some refreshing mountain air, the faithful continued on. Of these triple-figure, experienced hikers, only 548 have reported a successful climb of Katahdin – that’s a tad over 20% of those who stepped out in Georgia. This graduation rate is the lowest in the past eight years (2006 = 32%; 2007 = 28%; 2008 = 29%; 2009 = 28%; 2010 = 30%; 2011 = 27%; 2012 = 21%) – the odds of completion are not good.
The SOBO hikers, although smaller in number posted a higher success rate. The journey started with 336 individuals heading south from Maine. Harpers Ferry (mile 1,167 for them) found 167 backpackers checking in to get their pictures taken at headquarters (49.7%). Springer Mountain greeted 82 SOBO hikers or 24.4% of those that started at Katahdin.
Another 50 folks reported a completed hike having taken alternative routes but walking the entire trail within one year. There were 132 section hikers who had hiked the trail in sections over several years and completed their journeys during 2013. If my math is correct the graduating class of 2013 was 812. My congratulations and admiration is warmly extended to each and every one of the 2,000 milers. And to the class of 2014 – I’ll see you along the trail!
Springer Plaque http://www.100megsfree3.com/wordsmith/backpacking/atphotos.html
Katahdin Sign: http://www.ericexplores.com/2007/09-01/entry.shtml