This is my 6th year hiking the AT. The posers and such used to bother me but I could care less now. I hike for the adventure of walking from Georgia To Maine. One time Im setting in the bar at the Doyle Hotel and this hiker comes in to pick up their mail drop. I say " hey long time no see." they tell me they are skipping the "Pennsylvania Rocks" for you new hikers the Penn rocks is an experience you will not soon forget. lol. This hiker then says "after I finish the AT and summit Katahdin Im going to come back and do the Penn rocks." I get up and look out the window as this hiker drives off in a car. lol lol lol
"penn rocks" not a problem. big hype. just walkin'
"It is easy to lie with statistics. But it is easier to lie without them."
For the record, here's some info from ATC:
Thru-hikers represent 80% of 2,000-milers. Section-hikers are the minority.
In recent years, we have arrived at our Springer northbound thru-hiker start numbers by analyzing the Amicalola Falls State Park thru-hiker register (which usually represents about 50-55% of starters--keep in mind some sign in there but go on the Springer to start) and the data collected by the Springer caretaker/ridgerunner. We know the Springer ridgerunner captures only a percentage, and he's only there 10 days out of 14 for part of the season. Since we've had both these sources available to us, we do not rely much on numbers from Neels Gap. But, Neels Gap was, for many years, the best source of info for us, and may again be someday if the situations change again on Springer or AFSP.
In 2011, we estimated that 1700 northbound thru-hikers started at Springer. Of those, 54% signed in at Amicalola Falls. 910 prospective thru-hikers signed in at Amicalola Falls. If the 54/46% Amicalola/Springer split is also representative of those who did not report completions, that would tell us that 1685 northbounders started. Seems to me the 1700 count is pretty darn close.
In addition to the Springer caretaker (Jonathan Lemberg), the following entities and individuals make our thru-hiker stats possible: the Georgia A.T. Club, the U.S.F.S., Amicalola Falls State Park (Ron Brown in particular), ATC HQ volunteer Greg Stover, and ATC staff and volunteers here at HQ and in our Asheville, NC office (Andrew Downs). ATC currently funds the Springer caretaker/ridgerunner position.
A final note: we base our northbound completion numbers on the 2,000-miler reports we receive, not the numbers from Baxter. Baxter northbound thru-hiker numbers are typically almost 50% higher than ours.
I recall meeting quite a few hikers at sheltes in 2010 that boasted loudly of being prior "thru hikers", immediately upon the beginning of a conversation. It kind of established a kind of "seniority" at the shelter, like "mine is bigger than yours". Being a novice, of course I deferred to such individuals on any and all opinions and subjects. In talking with friends back home who have never hiked the AT, one question came up frequently ... "how do they verify if someone is a true thru hiker?" These folks really did believe there were ways along the trail to validate the progress. (e.g. trail runners maintaining hiker logsheets) My only answer was "it's an honor system". I agree with most here that I always felt in order to call yourself a thru hiker, you must hike the entire white blaze. Unfortunately as others have oberved, there are many who yellow-blaze or take other shortcuts on the trail.
If 414 reported, and Baxter's numbers are ~50% higher, that suggests that 616 may have completed, or 37%?
Seems odd that you would use a factor to estimate departures, but not do the same for completions ...
The Laughing Dog Blog
"The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness." - John Muir
It doesn't seem to me that any of this should be a factor. They should either do away with the rockers or hand them out along the trail to everyone. If, and the chances are against me, I make it from Springer to Katahdin, it's not going to matter to anyone but me. I will be very proud of myself for succeeding and if I don't make it, I'll be proud that I tried. I'm just going to squeeze as much joy out of every day I have that I can. Today was a good day! I have a lot of respect for the 2000 milers here. If you are lying about it, thats something you have to live with. It is all about honor...
LDog -Thanks so much for this. Very cool!
I can't say I'm a thru-hiker ....
But I always considered the journey to be important, not the goal. It's like a personal pilgrimage. At least, that is my perspective. When I go next year (barring severe injury) I will complete the journey. I may aqua, blue or yellow blaze along the way. It's a possibility, as I intend to go with the flow. But I will traverse from GA to ME and get my picture taken at the end terminus. Regardless of how I get there, I'll get my certificate!
Ultimately, all thru-hikers (regardless if their route is not 'pure') have more in common than people stuck in cubicles over the duration of that calendar year.
Ultimately I think all of the people posting on this site will eventually have to come to the realization that the "thru-hiker" label is flexible. Everyone has their own definition of "completion," and you can't really put a hard and fast definition that would cover everyone in all situations. When I thru-hiked last year, I made every effort not to skip any sections. I never yellow-blazed or blue-blazed, and I walked through every state.
This does not mean, however, that I hiked every inch of the trail. No one ever has. EVER. Consider: almost all shelters off of the trail contain two blue-blazed trails linking to the A.T. Literally 100% of the hikers I met last year -- including myself -- would take one blue blazed trail into the shelter and the other one out of the shelter, thus skipping the twenty or so feet of the A.T. between the two blue blazed trails. Also: when you get back on the trail after you've been in town, do you return to precisely the spot at which you were picked up, even crossing over to the other side of the road and then crossing back, if necessary? Again, I've never seen someone do that on the A.T.
If you want to tell me that I'm not a thru-hiker because I consistently skipped ten feet or so every time I went into a shelter and came back out again, more power to you. But don't expect anyone else to listen to your crazy ideas about "purity." If someone skipped a bunch of miles and still wants to call him/herself a thru-hiker, I don't have a problem, because I recognize that the thru-hiker label is flexible and can be earned in many different ways. EVERYBODY SKIPS. DEAL WITH IT.
The only one that knows if you thru-hiked or net is you. If you want to lie about having done the deed, go ahead and do so. Only you will know. If you want to write a letter to the ATC and tell them you thru-hiked, even you never left home. Thst's O.K. too. Only you will know and you will still get the certificate. Does all this bull realy matter. To most it doesn't except for those who didn't do the walk and want others to think they did.
DCramer1: There's a huge difference between skipping a few yards and skipping a State or two. It is about HONOR. However, obviously honor means different things to different people.
Thinking it and saying it = doesn't make it so.
GA - NJ 2001; GA - ME 2003; GA - ME 2005; GA - ME 2007; PCT 2006
A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will.
If only we could eliminate the "slack packers" and yellow blazers, I bet the thru hike completion percentage would take quite a dive.
Me.. I hiked every mile northward with a pack.