Where in the world do thru-hikers come from? The answer to that question is, yes!
The thru-hiker class of 2014 hailed from 47 out the 50 states of the union. The rebellious rouge states were Hawaii (this is a little understandable), Nevada, and Wyoming. To counter the absentee trio, Washington D.C. was represented by three delegates.
The world invaded the trail too, as the AT welcomed ambassadors from 11 different countries outside of its national borders. Germany led the invasion with 17 pilgrims; the UK sent 11 redcoats and bluebloods; Canada and Switzerland arrived with a glove full (5) of participants; Australia, Austria, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and Taiwan rounded out the world-wide entourage with one or two participants per country.
The amazing delegation from the USA represented a true melting pot of American accents and state mascots. The top spot falls to the state with the most miles on the trail, the state of Virginia, with 75 hikers. The silver medal, with 55 thru-hikers, is awarded to the tar heels of North Carolina. A close photo-finish for third is another trail state, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania (52 rock lovers). In fact, 8 of the top 10 states help house the trail through the Appalachians Mountains. In addition to Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, the great states of Tennessee, Massachusetts, New York, Georgia, and Maine fall in the top ten. The two states that claim no property on the AT but sent a large contingent were Florida with 48 suntanned beachcombers (ranked #4) and the Buckeye state of Ohio boasting 37 thru-hikers, most dressed in scarlet and gray (ranked #9).
The Garden State, New Jersey, was represented with 31 hikers (ranked #11). Five states (CA, CT, MI, NH, TX) had over 20 participants; ten other states (AL, CO, IL, IN, KY, MD, MN, SC, VT, WA) fell into the hands-and-toes category (between 10-19). The remaining 22 states sent less than ten brave souls that eventually conquered the AT challenge. Only one cornhusker carried the flag of Nebraska to Katahdin and a trio of mountaineers from West Virginia formed the smallest group from a state that embraces the trail within its borders.
Let’s take a quick census of the trail states (from south to north) and the number of successful thru-hikers involved:
North Carolina 55
West Virginia 3
New Jersey 31
New York 38
New Hampshire 21
The Appalachian Trail truly is a national trail with a world-wide impact. May it live long, provide adventure for many, and find protection from its travelers.