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DavidNH
09-18-2005, 23:20
Hello,
Tonight I took a look at the ATC web page. They have stats for 2005 thru hikers. It turns out that of 1392 hikers who started at Springer Mountain, most of those who made it to Neels Gap made it to Fontana (which is to say nearly everone.) However, about half droped out by Harpers Ferry. But what I found interesting is that while only 50 percent of those who started at Springer made it to Harpers Ferry (roughly the half waypoint more or less) but in the second half...among those who continued from Harpers Ferrey, only about 13 percent made it all the way. So 1392 down to 680 in the first half and 680 down to 95 in the second half.

OK perhaps it is early enough that some will still get to Katahdin. But here is what gets me. The vast majority got through the Smokies and the high peaks of the South. Many many dropped off in the lower elevations of the mid Atlantic, or so it appears, and still more may have had difficulties with New England mountains.

So.. it these statistics suggest to me that people are aborting there thru hike more from having had enough of hiking than from being to physically challenged.

Could it be that the mental challenge so often spoke off hits especially hard in Viginia and the mid atlantic states.

what do you think? Am I reading in between the lines things that arent there or is this a plausible assessment?

I think that it is especially sad that so many would be thru hikers of the Appalachian trail never even get to New England, my home stomping ground where the scenery is so wonderful!!! Of course it is nice not to have the crowds up here, but what they Miss!!!

DavidNH

TJ aka Teej
09-18-2005, 23:31
OK perhaps it is early enough that some will still get to Katahdin.
Katahdin Stream Campground expects 10-12 a day for the next 30 days.
But those ATC numbers you saw on their web page are only those who have *reported* their hikes to the ATC so far. Many more will do so over the next several months. Only 2/3s of finishing GAMErs will take the offical form when the Ranger offers it them. It's good to remember that not all who qualify as 2000 Milers report to the ATC.

I see you're from NH, and hope you will attend the 2005 ALDHA Gathering Columbus Day weekend at Dartmouth College. www.aldha.org (http://www.aldha.org)

LIVESTRONG
09-18-2005, 23:34
I was at the birches 9-14 and the #'s were up in the 240's of nobo thruhikers so far and there are going to be a lot more probably.

RedneckRye
09-18-2005, 23:50
There is still something like 27 hiking days till Katahdin "closes" and still lots of NOBO's out there. In '99 I finished on October 13 along with 34 other's. I know folks that summmited a full 2 weeks after I did.

A-Train
09-19-2005, 00:40
Don't read too into the numbers. They;re innacurate and silly. It's impossible to get an accurate count of real thru-hikers. Not everyone signs in at Neels GAP, not everyone registers in the smokies, not everyone signs in at springer or Amicalola. Not everyone even registers at the Birches/Baxter when they finish. Then there are folks who say they are thru-hikers who aren't. The numbers aren't accurate.

Don't get preocuppied with statistics. If you want it bad enough you;ll walk from one end to the other.

Blue Jay
09-19-2005, 07:54
I think that it is especially sad that so many would be thru hikers of the Appalachian trail never even get to New England, my home stomping ground where the scenery is so wonderful!!! Of course it is nice not to have the crowds up here, but what they Miss!!!

DavidNH

What A-Train said is exactly correct. If someone could be at a road crossing 24 hours a day for the entire summer, they MIGHT get an accurate count. As far as I know this does not happen. As for why people call off a thru, I believe the reasons are as varied as the reasons they started in the first place. Somehow I also believe that possibly missing out on some scenery is not a factor in the decision to continue.

Lone Wolf
09-19-2005, 07:55
A thru-hike is a marathon. Not everyone finishes one.

Peaks
09-19-2005, 08:06
Like A-Train says, the numbers have always been highly suspect. Truth is, three is no accurate count of how many thru-hikers pass through any particular place along the AT.

However, the numbers do point out trends. And, you do ask a valid question about drop out rates, especially after the first month or so when people get into physical shape.

So, why do people drop out after say, Fontana? Yes, it's frequently the mental game. Short answer, they loose interest. And, IMHO, one reason why thru-hikers frequently loose interest is poor eating habits. By not eating enough calories every day, the hiker does not have the energy to continue. They get tired, and loose interest. Loose interest, and next thing you know, they are off the trail. So, if you want to increase your chances of finishing, try to eat right and eat enough.

TJ aka Teej
09-19-2005, 13:07
Truth is, there is no accurate count of how many thru-hikers pass through any particular place along the AT.
Very true, Peaks. Steve Longley's ferry service at the Kennebec is about as complete a count as there is. http://www.riversandtrails.com/2004kennebecferry.html. He only misses the foolhardy few and those who fear small watercraft. He usually knows how many have forded, too.
Second best would be the stats collected by Baxter State Park by the Rangers at Katahdin Stream. They only miss the hikers who don't stay inside the Park.
A close third, I suppose, would be the count of Poloroid People passing thru Harpers Ferry. Most ATers seem to try to swing by if the office is open.

Peaks
09-19-2005, 16:59
TJ:

From what I've heard, the 3 sources you cited probably have the best count on how many thru-hikers pass by that location. But, as I recall, Steve Longely's figures do not go into the AT statistics, and I don't think that the Baxter State Park count goes in also. Too bad.

TJ aka Teej
09-19-2005, 19:37
...as I recall, Steve Longely's figures do not go into the AT statistics, and I don't think that the Baxter State Park count goes in also.
Ayup. The ATC collects the data from Steve & Baxter, but only seems to use the number of 2000 Miler reports they get. I'm going to contact Laurie of the ATC and Jean Hoekwater at Baxter and ask what they do with the data. I think the Baxter numbers end up in the BSP annual report, but I'm not sure.

swift
09-19-2005, 21:01
I summited september 2nd officially as #171 northbound. I did not recognize ANYONE but MAYBE 10 out of 100 of the folk who signed in before me as completing. When yer on the trail you know everyone around you... most of the people who signed in as thru-hikers before i did, i have never heard of?? The ranger there TOBY (can i say he is an idiot here??)WAS @$*#$#$&$&$ OKAY MAYBE THATS ANOTHER POST! The numbers are not accurate...people lie so they can stay atThe Birches, etc

Blue Jay
09-19-2005, 22:27
I summited september 2nd officially as #171 northbound. I did not recognize ANYONE but MAYBE 10 out of 100 of the folk who signed in before me as completing. When yer on the trail you know everyone around you... most of the people who signed in as thru-hikers before i did, i have never heard of?? The ranger there TOBY (can i say he is an idiot here??)WAS @$*#$#$&$&$ OKAY MAYBE THATS ANOTHER POST! The numbers are not accurate...people lie so they can stay atThe Birches, etc

You buddy TOBY there is another reason why the numbers are almost random and completely worthless. If you are smart you never let the rangers there, or any where else, know you even exist. I also think there are more people fording the Kennebeck than anyone knows about.

MacGyver2005
09-20-2005, 09:47
Although I agree that you cannot really take a whole lot from the numbers, they do seem to fit in with the weather this year. The first part of the hike NOBO was rather pleasant for most, even those of us who got caught in the blizzard. The weather stayed pretty nice until the heat kicked in, and that heat wave took a strong toll on EVERYONE out there. The heat started for most in Northern VA, maybe for a smaller percentage still in Central VA. So, the weather was conducive for more hikers to push on to Harpers Ferry, but PA wore down a lot of hikers, and the heat made it multiples worse. So I can see how a lot more hikers threw in the towel after Harpers Ferry but long before Katahdin, as the heat was quite unbearable.

As for the comments of swift and Blue Jay, although somewhat off topic, they are not safe suggestions. The rangers check you in at the base of the mountain for safety, not to give you a hard time. It is a tough, technical hike, and it would not take much for someone to become injured and end up in a seriously dangerous situation. This way at least the rangers know, and if someone does get caught up there they might have a glimmer of hope of getting off the mountain. If you are smart you definately let the rangers know you are there. And the ranger I spoke with was quite friendly, although I did not catch his name.

Regards,
-MacGyver
GA-->ME

TJ aka Teej
09-20-2005, 12:51
Swift: You don't have to be an AT thru-hiker to stay at the Birches. All you need do is have hiked in from Monson. And I know Toby - hardworking, smart, and generous. Finest Kind. The main Katahdin Stream Ranger is Bruce White, a long-time Park employee who always goes the extra mile for all the campers, hikers, and the ATers too. Did you use a day pack to summit? Bruce bought all of them himself.

All: You know, after a record rescue summer, cleaning up after thru-hiker beer partys, trucking out load after load of trash from the Birches (not mention cleaning that privy twice a day), finding campsites for *every* ATer when the Birches fill up, and enforcing the rules that keep Baxter's Gift such a special place, those two gents deserve our thanks, imo.

soulrebel
09-20-2005, 14:38
3-6 months of camping and hiking is a lot for any westernized city dweller...

I'm probably going to wanna move thru it quickly to prevent the doldrums, b/c sometimes you can have too much of a good thing...

swift
09-21-2005, 00:12
Teej, We had 16 inches of rain fall as Katrina reformed and rolled over us at Baxter State Park. Toby himself said it was the first time he'd ever seen all trailheads to the mountain closed because of rain. He had me walk back to Abol Bridge in running water up to my waist to re-register and walk back to the Birches before he allowed me to stay there a second night, despite the fact I was the only person at either Katadhin Stream Campground or the Birches. That doesn't compute as being interested in my safety

TJ aka Teej
09-21-2005, 07:39
He had me walk back to Abol Bridge in running water up to my waist to re-register and walk back to the Birches before he allowed me to stay there a second night, despite the fact I was the only person at either Katadhin Stream Campground or the Birches.
OK, I see why you said what you did! I knew you must've had a good reason for posting that way. That was a very poor decision by the Ranger. He should have just let you hunker down where you were and stay at one of the KSC lean-tos that were sure to have been left vacant by campers who had them reserved but stayed away due to the weather. I'm surprised he didn't just radio out to the Trail Runner to see if the 12 spots at the Birches were taken. You walked out via the AT and not the Blueberry Ledges Trail? Yikes.

warren doyle
09-21-2005, 15:06
In my eight thru-hikes, this summer was the most humid ever. It seemed that although the temperature wasn't that hot (80's to low 90's), there was almost unending humidity for 1.5 months (June 1st-mid-July). Many thru-hikers were in the area of the trail where this kind of weather would have the most impact on them due to low elevations and/or lack of swimming/bathing places (i.e. from Pearisburg, VA to Delaware Water Gap and some sections of trail in NY/NJ.

My recommendation for climbing Katahdin at the end of your northbound:

If you don't want to deal with the rules and regulations of Baxter State Park (after being relatively 'free' since SNP) and/or if you don't want to pay $8-9 (?) to stay in a shelter after camping for free almost, or all, of the entire way, this is what you do:
Camp just outside of the park boundary in the gravel-pit area between the private Abol Bridge CG and the trail crossing at Abol Stream (great view of Katahdin when clear).
1) Get up pre-dawn, stash your camping gear, and night-hike the first 3.5 miles (make sure you register after you cross Abol Stream) to Pine Point getting there at dawn (this 3.5 mile section is flat with a good footway - most NOBO's can do this section in 1.5-2 hours).
2) It is then 5.8 miles to Katahdin Stream CG at the foot of Katahdin. This section isn't too difficult for the northbound thru-hiker. Allow three hours for this section (arriving at KS CG at 9-9:30am).
3) It is then 5.2 miles to the summit with the most difficult section ( approx.3 miles) between the first mile and the last 1.3 miles. (4 hours to the summit arriving between 1-1:30pm).
4) Descend to Abol CG by the Hunt Trail (1 mile) and then on the Abol Trail (2.8 miles). (3.8 miles total - 2 hours; getting to the park perimeter road by 4:30pm).
5) Get a ride approximately 3.5 miles on the perimeter road until you are dropped off at the gravel road that goes to Abol Beach/Pond.
6) Walk back on an easy, almost flat, tote road for 1.9 miles to your camping gear. (45 minutes by 6:30pm)
7) Hitch to Millinocket or camp there and hitch in the morning.
Total walking miles: 20.2 miles (but hey, you don't have to walk the next day)
Cost: nothing
Rules & regulations: minimal

If you are getting picked up at Katahdin by family/friend (s) and you don't want them to pay $ to ride on a road that is gravel, dusty, narrow and potentially 'wheel-alignment' rough in places:

5a) From Abol CG, get a ride out of the park and meet your transportation just outside the gatehouse at the Togue Pond Beach Area (to the right for you and to the left for your transportation). Good parking, scenic, picnic tables, swimming/wading - a nice place to wait for your arrival.
Total walking miles: 18.3 miles
Cost: nothing
Rules & regulations: minimal

Happy, free trails!

Sparkplug
09-21-2005, 21:49
I'd always been interested in the numbers too... I don't know if they're accurate, but my husband (Snowman) and I definitely felt that after Harper's Ferry this year, there were just not as many thru-hikers out there. The ranks thinned considerably. Of cource, we then added to the thinning ourselves when we made the decision to stop our journey north in Great Barrington, MA. Snowman had seriously hurt his back, and despite several zero days, a chiropractor, masseuse, etc., he could not continue.

Personally, I feel that once you get up in New England, most hikers would only stop due to injury. We didn't hear of many who stopped that far north for another reason.

As for us, we plan to finish up our 660+ miles over the next few years :-)

Nightwalker
01-22-2006, 19:46
Teej, We had 16 inches of rain fall as Katrina reformed and rolled over us at Baxter State Park. Toby himself said it was the first time he'd ever seen all trailheads to the mountain closed because of rain. He had me walk back to Abol Bridge in running water up to my waist to re-register and walk back to the Birches before he allowed me to stay there a second night, despite the fact I was the only person at either Katadhin Stream Campground or the Birches. That doesn't compute as being interested in my safety
Maybe he just thought you were a jerk?

:D

Mr. Fusion
01-23-2006, 00:41
It seemed that in the stretch from Harpers to, say, Vermont, many hikers contracted Lyme. I'm not sure what "a bad year for Lyme" is, but several experienced folks referred to 2005 using that term. Most folks that contracted Lyme were able to return to the trail on medication with no ill effects; some needed a few days off; some were in no state to go back or didn't want to return.

mweinstone
01-31-2006, 19:44
we learn in this thread of the importance of pase. our AT marathon has its wall. it generaly is in the same state or two ,but it is a wall. and to get over it we must conserve and fuel and pase ourselves. lance and the tour de france are such important lessons for AT thru hikers.only the AT can demand as much as a tour de france ,and only dedicated style or tecnique or whatever you call it,only our effort guided by our concience can make katadin.any less than a tru meld of bodly effort and spiritual guidence only gets the average shmo to about halfway.and thats how we tell the fakes.people aspire to share what some of us posses so much that they are taken by the dark side and untruth.matthewski explains.

Frosty
01-31-2006, 20:02
He only misses the foolhardy few and those who fear small watercraft. Ha ha. I know who owns you! He's your daddy, the Pavlov to your puppy :D