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View Full Version : Nobo Thru-Hike Start Date Graph - and a plea



Lauriep
01-18-2015, 05:00
Class of 2015:

I've created a graph from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy's 2,000-miler database to show the starting dates of thru-hikers over a 5-year period.

The data is compiled from northbounders who successfully completed their hikes and reported them to ATC from 2010-2014. It includes all of the finishers for the last 5 years (except for those who reported in the last few weeks). That number is almost exactly thundefinede same as the number of estimate starters in 2014 (2500).

In other words, the last five years of finishers about equals the number of starters in 2014.

You'll see April 1 is the most popular date, with about 100 thru-hikers starting that day. March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) is the second most popular day. It's human nature to pick dates that are easy to remember, and it's good so many people have a sense of humor about their big adventure. That quality will serve you well on the Trail. But this is a little education so you can be more thoughtful about picking your start date. If you pick these or other popular days, that means the shelters and campsites will be overwhelmed with people The campsites expand at the edges, so more vegetation gets trampled and the compacted area increases. Needless to say, those camping spots are not very pleasant either. Instead of fellowship with the wilderness, you get tent city, and a noisy one at that. Think about what it will be like waiting in line for the privy. Think of what happens when someone can't wait or gets impatient and is not trained in Leave No Trace. Think of everyone brushing their teeth in the morning. Think of the conditions at the spring. Don't you agree it's better to have hikers more evenly spaces out?

So please reconsider if you were thinking of starting March 1, March 17, April 1. Also, if you can start mid-week instead of the weekend, that will help even out the flow of hikers too.

29611

Or think about an alternative itinerary. There are lots of ways to thru-hike. The A.T. can welcome even more thru-hikers than we've had in the past--but not all in the same place at the same time.

Starting in Harpers Ferry in late April or the first half of May has lots of benefits. But there are a lot of options (almost infinate, really) with quite a few outlined at www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/thru-section-hiking/when-where-to-start (http://http://www.appalachiantrail.org/hiking/thru-section-hiking/when-where-to-start) (I've just revised this page, if you've been here before).


If you really love the A.T. and want others to enjoy this amazing resource that allows anyone to spend time in immersed in nature, at almost no cost, with a minimum of regulation, please consider voluntarily following these suggestions.

ATC is working on a voluntary registration, but it won't be ready for a little while, and we want you to have time to think about your start date before you have a chance to go online and pick a date.

The Appalachian Trail is one of the truly great and unique things that America has to offer. Aside from providing a great experience, it is a symbol of what is great about America. Is there any place in the world where people have such freedom to go and just spend time in nature, roam the mountains and countryside, and and enjoy meeting people of all walks of life from around the globe? Is there any place more free and more welcoming?

On your thru-hike you will meet trail angels who will give you food and drink and rides and maybe even open their homes to you. But perhaps even more amazing, on your hike, you will cross the borders of 14 states. There will be no passports required, no checkpoints, no visas. No men with guns to threaten you or protect you from people with bombs.

As you walk through the woods and farmland and across balds and rivers and small towns, you will benefit from the work of more than 80 federal, state, and local agencies working together. You will benefit from the work of more than 6000 volunteers who work on the trail and on the corridor boundary maybe just out of sight. Other volunteers will be going to planning meetings and drafting budgets and trying to hash out a policy that a slew of different entities that will be protect the spirit of the A.T. You will also benefit from the work of ATC, the non-profit organization that oversees and coordinates the work of all those government agencies, the volunteers, runs the trail crews and the skills training for volunteers and the Kennebec Ferry and works to make those small towns you visit more hiker friendly. Many people are doing things behind the scenes that you will never see to make your hike possible.

Cherish the freedom you enjoy on your hike, and enjoy your hike in a way that helps keep the A.T. experience available for others.

Laurie Potteiger
ATC

semicolon
01-18-2015, 07:23
Laurie, thank you for putting this information together!

Demeter
01-18-2015, 07:52
Excellent information. The graph is a great visual tool for prospective thru hikers. Since this is based on those hikers that completed the trail, the number of starters could easily be triple this amount; I can't imagine starting April 1st with 3 or 400 others!!!

ericmack
01-18-2015, 10:04
Everything in life is a normal curve. Really good data and as a statistician- I would love to play with that data:)
Thanks

Emerson Bigills
01-18-2015, 10:11
Thanks, Laurie. Really good information for all.

Carbo
01-18-2015, 10:28
Laurie, good job! You convinced me that my 2015 thru will be a flip starting at Harpers Ferry. Thank you for the info.

swjohnsey
01-18-2015, 10:45
It also shows that your odds of completing might be improved by choosing a later start date. A vote for mid-week.

map man
01-18-2015, 12:45
The information Laurie provides in this thread is so valuable that I hope the moderators will make this a sticky that will appear permanently at the top of this forum, and perhaps at the top of the forum titled "Thru-Hiker Specific Topics" as well.

The graph shows some things very clearly:

1) Starts really spike on March 1, April 1 and May 1, compared to just before or after (people, stay away from the first of the month!).

2) Heavy NOBO start season runs from March 1 through April 7.

3) The absolute heart of NOBO start season, with the highest traffic, runs from March 12 through March 20.

Thru-hiker hopefuls, please take ATC's suggestions to heart about avoiding high traffic times before this upcoming voluntary registration system becomes more than voluntary some time in the future. We have this in our power.

mountain squid
01-18-2015, 13:00
1 April is always a very busy day on Springer. Last year, at Forest Service Rd 42, I counted 65 long distance hikers, but since it was on a Tuesday, there were only 11 section hikers. The weekends are usually busier overall because they include more section hikers. In my section hiker total, I include church groups, college groups, scout groups and everyone else who is not planning to do the entire trail. Some of the groups are very large and they tend to start on the weekends. In 2011, on 2 Apr (Sat) I counted 55 long distance hikers and 94 sectioners (the day before, 1 Apr 2011, there were 50 and 35). . . That is alot of hikers on the trail and the vast majority of them will camp between Stover Creek Shelter and Hawk Mountain Shelter.

(read my 'observations (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php/14493-observations-from-fs42-(advice-for-first-week-on-trail))' thread for more stats from the last several years)

This years WhiteBlaze spreadsheet (http://www.whiteblaze.net/cmps.php?page=2015thruhikers) appears to have lower overall numbers than the past several. The key dates that Laurie mentioned so far:

1 Mar (Sunday) - 9 hikers scheduled to start
17 Mar (Tue) - 5
1 Apr (Wed) - 8

So far the busiest day is 15 Mar (Sun) with 16 hikers scheduled to start.

I agree with Laurie to start during the week (Tue, Wed or Thu). I would also suggest to start the second week of Apr. There is usually a sharp drop off of starters after the first weekend in Apr. Also, the weather is likely to be a little better (don't forget some sunscreen, regardless of when you start!)

Good Luck and Have Fun!

See you on the trail,
mt squid

(http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?100363-2014-Norovirus-Awareness)maintenance videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/mountainsquid04/videos)
how to hike (http://www.whiteblaze.net/forum/showthread.php?73587-how-to-hike)

Lauriep
01-18-2015, 13:38
Squid,

Thanks for your excellent information too. Your registration has been helpful to me--I have been in communication with land managers in Maryland to let them know we are promoting flip-flops starting in Harpers Ferry. They were concerned that there would be hordes of thru-hikers descending on Maryland in May. I was able to tell them, "No worries. Only 3 out of 209 have that plan so far." When ATC roles out it's voluntary registration for nobos, I hope we can all work together, and folks won't mind "registering" twice, for the good of the trail.

I do remember the last time I made similar charts maybe 10 or 15 years ago, March 15 and the first day of spring were higher than St. Patrick's Day. They may have been based on one year, though, when those dates fell on weekend days. The day of the week upon which a calendar event falls definitely has an impact on how many choose it.

Carbo,

Great to hear that are considering a flip from Harpers Ferry!

Map Man,

Thanks for your comments. It was so great to have your help with the 2,000-miler database and the 2014 hiker data. This reminds me I want to go back and look at the additional follow up you suggested--although I won't get to that anytime soon. Send me a reminder in a month or two.


Thanks to others who commented and helped raise the visibility of this thread. And thanks to the person on another thread who said a graph like this would be helpful (I've been meaning to get to it for a while but squeaky wheels can sometimes be very helpful).

Dogwood
01-18-2015, 14:00
Excellent Laurie. Thanks so much for the ATC's, and specifically your, input on WB. Yeah.

Dogwood
01-18-2015, 14:02
Like Map Man's great Sticky idea for this info and your entire comment Laurie.

Starchild
01-18-2015, 14:11
Thanks Laurie, well stated.



It also shows that your odds of completing might be improved by choosing a later start date. A vote for mid-week.

I don't see how you can get that from this graph as it does not show how many start but don't complete.

But with that info you should be able to pick a date with the highest %age of completions.

Slo-go'en
01-18-2015, 14:51
Looks like no one who starts in January finishes and only a few who start in early February finish, but of course, we don't know how many actually started in those months.

Mid March to mid April is definitely the idea time to start a NOBO so I don't see anyway to change that. It might be possible to flatten out the curve some by encouraging more non April 1 and weekend starts, but those days are popular for logistical reasons. I'm guessing a May, H.F. flip flop has a poor completion rate, but maybe that would improve if more did it.

Lauriep
01-18-2015, 15:03
One of the reasons a northbound voluntary registration (and a high rate of participation) would be valuable is we would have good data on starters. The best we've had in the past is piecemeal data--what's collected and what's available to ATC varies with the individuals in certain roles as well as the leadership in various organizations, ranging from Amicalola Falls State Park, GATC, ATC, and the USFS.

Jim Burson, a 1959 thru-hiker who started out as a volunteer ranger at Amicalola Falls state park after he retired, was incredibly helpful by getting the Amicalola Falls thru-hike rosters faxed to ATC while he was there. But he passed away a few years ago. Ron Brown at AFSP continued the practice for a few years while he was working there, but with all the changes at the park and budget cuts, that stopped. Many Sleeps used to collect data on thru-hikers at Fontana Dam as a full-time volunteer for three years after his 1998 sobo thru-hike, during thru-hiker season. Then he moved to Springer and became the paid caretaker there, and collected numbers (but not names) for me. Then, reasonably enough, the GATC wanted the caretaker to focus more on Leave No Trace education than counting, and the numbers no long came to me consistently. For the record, the good folks at Neels Gap/Mountain Crossings really made a effort to get us numbers, especially when we had none coming from Amicalola and/or Neels Gap. That was Jeff and Dorothy Hansen first, then Winton Porter and his staff. I'm sure Georgianna would help now if we asked.

Giving ATC, the body who has consistently tracked thru-hiker numbers over decades, the ability to collect data on starters would help us tremendously. But we would probably need help from the brainy guys on this thread who have time to really work with these numbers to make the most use of such numbers.

My own personal theory is that April 1 starters have no higher success rate than other dates, and in fact, may have a lower rate because the crowds right at the start could be so discouraging. And while some may choose April 1 because they have a good sense of humor, I think some choose April 1 because they view the whole endeavor as something of a lark. Now, there certainly are those who've had success with that approach and have turned into really great hikers. After all, most thru-hikers have no backpacking experience when they start. But overall, I think those hikers who view the endeavor as something just to give a try without being really committed are of the "I'll keep walking until it stops being fun" mindset. If "fun" equates with "lack of pain," then you're not going to get far if you're inexperienced and out of shape.

semicolon
01-18-2015, 16:48
Well, this is another fabulous example of the great work that the ATC and its members do for the benefit of all ATC hikers. If you are reading this and are not a member of ATC, then please consider joining ATC today. If you hike the AT and are not a member of the ATC, then please make an ATC membership your next piece of gear.
(I hope I'm preaching the the choir here on WB)

sympathetic joy
01-18-2015, 18:10
My own personal theory is that April 1 starters have no higher success rate than other dates, and in fact, may have a lower rate because the crowds right at the start could be so discouraging. And while some may choose April 1 because they have a good sense of humor, I think some choose April 1 because they view the whole endeavor as something of a lark.

Or maybe the crowds are encouraging, especially to hikers with little experience. There can be conform knowing others are around if you need help. And maybe April 1st is chosen because psychologically April is a 'spring' month while March is the end of winter.

Without the denominator of how many people start on each day its impossible to determine success rate. Also, although X number of people start on a particular day that doesn't mean that group stays together through the entire hike.

Data is good. More data is better.

I think a possible method to data collection is to ask hikers to email/tweet the ATC along the way with actual numbers at each shelter. Then the ATC could monitor the 'flow' in real time. You can do all sort of interesting stuff with this type of data. Best part? It would be free to collect.

Lauriep
01-19-2015, 11:50
Or maybe the crowds are encouraging, especially to hikers with little experience. There can be conform knowing others are around if you need help. And maybe April 1st is chosen because psychologically April is a 'spring' month while March is the end of winter.

Without the denominator of how many people start on each day its impossible to determine success rate. Also, although X number of people start on a particular day that doesn't mean that group stays together through the entire hike.


Sympathetic Joy,

Thanks for your comments. You are absolutely right in that most hikers seem to find the companionship of other hikers encouraging, and we recognize that. You'll note on our "where and when to start a thru-hike page" we talk a lot about companionship. However, it's one thing to have companionship and moral support, and another to have overcrowded conditions. A survey of 2014 northbound thru-hikers revealed many thought that Georgia (or the first 30 miles or 100 miles or 500 miles) was crowded. The group we know very little about are the 75% who quit.

And, of course, ATC has to manage the Appalachian Trail for many concerns other than what beginning thu-hikers would like. While that is an important consideration, we must also consider day-hikers, overnight hikers, volunteers, land-managers, the protection of flora, fauna and water quality, among other things.

Also, there are many factors that influence a thru-hiker's success rate. I suspect the actual starting date isn't a big factor day to day or week to week. If that start date is very crowded, or there are so few people that it is lonely, that could be a factor. Starting early in the season when it's really cold, snowy, or icy, could be a factor; I'm almost certain that the drop-out rate in January is higher than in other months, as there are years when we say a dozen people on WhiteBlaze or TrailPlace.com planning to start the first week of January, and we didn't see any in Harpers Ferry. Starting late can have a number of negatives. I do have another version of the chart above that shows January 1 through June, but I need to make some modifications I can only do in the office before I can post that.

One of the reasons we are having a Flip-Flop Kick-Off in Harpers Ferry on May 2 is to enable/encourage a small group of flip-floppers to start together so they have each other as well as nobos for support, and to forge a stronger connection with them so we learn more about their experience.

Having a voluntary registration system with high participation rate would allow us to collect more data and survey hikers at the beginning to have a better understanding of what factors influence success.

Great idea having hikers report on hikers numbers at shelters. Right now we are in discussions with someone who hopes to develop an app that will allow hikers to do that very thing. It may not be ready this hiker season though.

Driftwood-1
01-19-2015, 20:08
Thanks for the post, great information.

tf bear
01-20-2015, 11:10
How about little chips like they use in 5K races. The hiker puts up $20 and gets $10 back when they mail it back from Big K along with their 2000 mile cert. this way you would have a pure count of the hikers on trail. You could place resources where needed. Places where registration is needed could monitor very easy. The tag is super light weight. Instead Of the passport places along the way could scan the tag. The hiker could log in and check their progress and be advised of their ETA to the next location based on current rate of travel. It is a little big brotherish but if sold with the proper spin you might get some buy in.

Seatbelt
01-20-2015, 11:20
The graph even looks like a "bubble".:)

RED-DOG
01-20-2015, 11:23
Theirs absolutely no WAY to know exactly how many people hike the AT, theirs to many road crossing that a lot of people starts at and at least half the people don't even apply for the 2000 miler status so everything on this thread is just SPECULATION not TRUTH.

Theirs a lot more people that start In Feb and finishes than what's on Laurie P table thingy.

MrGonzalo
01-20-2015, 11:52
Fantastic information...
Does anybody know whether there is any statistical information regarding shelter occupancy during the season? While the kick-off information is good, the idea of lessening the impact and avoiding shelter crowding relies on the assumption that all hikers are traveling at a constant and uniform pace.

For example, a 5-monther that decided to wait a week to avoid the March 1st crowd would undoubtedly be dealing with the same crowd just days later. In this situation, would she (and the trail) be better served by starting with the crowd and quickly separating from it? Food for thought.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

full conditions
01-20-2015, 11:56
Theirs absolutely no WAY to know exactly how many people hike the AT, theirs to many road crossing that a lot of people starts at and at least half the people don't even apply for the 2000 miler status so everything on this thread is just SPECULATION not TRUTH.

Theirs a lot more people that start In Feb and finishes than what's on Laurie P table thingy.
At least half the people don't eve n apply for 2000 miler status? Any actual data support this claim or is this just SPECULATION not TRUTH?

Slo-go'en
01-20-2015, 13:28
At least half the people don't eve n apply for 2000 miler status? Any actual data support this claim or is this just SPECULATION not TRUTH?

I like to make up statics too, but that's true speculation. I would venture to guess a few more start in Feb and finish then the data Laurie presented shows, but not a lot more.

If an electronic counter were to be set up on the trial near Springer, it would give a reasonably accurate number of NOBO hikers during the prime time of March and April as it would be safe to assume that the majority of those passing by are wannabe thru's

full conditions
01-20-2015, 13:42
Laurip has the compiled average of five years worth of data. Unquestionably some folks fell through the cracks along the way but that does not in any way substantially lessen the quality of her data - the graphs speak volumes about when peak travel times are for aspiring thrus on Springer Mountain and, by extension, for most of the AT in Georgia.

mountain squid
01-20-2015, 15:49
If an electronic counter were to be set up on the trial near Springer, it would give a reasonably accurate number of NOBO hikers during the prime time of March and April as it would be safe to assume that the majority of those passing by are wannabe thru'sNo, I don't think that it would. In addition to the groups and other sectioners that I mentioned in my post, there are also numerous dayhikers. How could an electronic counter determine who was who?

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Alligator
01-20-2015, 16:43
The graph says average 2010-2014. LaurieP I think based on your explanation you are saying you have totaled the number of starts by start day based on response from completions and that the total number of completions is similar to 2014. So the number on the graph, say for 4/1, represents the total number of people reporting that start day in your completion records and is based roughly on the total from 2014? That number will be higher or lower depending on the number of starts. (Might be better to use frequencies).

The assumption being made though is that completions are not dependent on start date. Start dates are being extrapolated out to the non-completion group. This is not necessarily supported. The dates for the completions could be in the sweet spot for timing a hike. There are likely fewer completions percentage-wise for earlier months of the year and late starts due to cold and arriving late to BSP. This is not necessarily the correct shape for the graph. I'm not saying it is incorrect but it might be flatter.

Also mentioned is the day of the week. While first of the month and 3/15 may be significant specifically, it would be interesting to see the data evaluated simply as day of the week regardless of month and then by month, what week, what day. For instance starts on the first Sat in March. Anecdotal evidence suggests that weekend days are prime days to start. However, in the data you present, each day of the year can at most represent just one Saturday and Sunday out of five possible days of the week (even with the Leap Year;)). There might be spikes of starts on weekends that rival the first of the month or 3/15.

Alligator
01-20-2015, 17:18
Fantastic information...
Does anybody know whether there is any statistical information regarding shelter occupancy during the season? While the kick-off information is good, the idea of lessening the impact and avoiding shelter crowding relies on the assumption that all hikers are traveling at a constant and uniform pace.

For example, a 5-monther that decided to wait a week to avoid the March 1st crowd would undoubtedly be dealing with the same crowd just days later. In this situation, would she (and the trail) be better served by starting with the crowd and quickly separating from it? Food for thought.


Sent from my iPhone using TapatalkAre you addressing the idea of getting hikers to choose less used dates? I think so.

A good many people don't really know how fast they can hike when they get their trail legs. Each start date would have a mix of people of different speeds leaving that day. Faster hikers will catch slower hikers from an earlier date. Slower hikers will fall behind and be caught be faster hikers. However, for any two given start days, the hikers from each day are separated by a lag of X days. If it is a random separation of hikers by start date, the graphs of the completion times would most likely be bell-shaped for each of the two groups but separated between the two means by the lag time. (Roughly) Using your 5-monther example the 5 monthers from Date 2 would be about 7 days behind the 5-monthers that started on Date 1 if Date 2 is 7 days after Date 1. Spreading start dates out can reduce peak days. It would also increase minimum number of hiker days at a location, not so much an issue necessarily.

Another way to think of it is thinking waves. Say you have 100 hikers to start. You could send out three waves of hikers-25 on 3/1, 50 on 4/1, and 25 on 5/1. If the wave represents the hikers, the 3/1 starts will spread out so many days apart, the 4/1 so many, etc. Always a big wave for the middle group. Spread it out over 8 weeks and the waves will be relatively uniform. Spreading out the starts evenly reduces the peak heights of the waves, but it does increase troughs. Then attrition dampens the wave the further out it goes.

RED-DOG
01-20-2015, 17:27
Why is it only march and April for a more ACCURATE count it should be JAN/FEB through MAY.

Alligator
01-20-2015, 17:48
Why is it only march and April for a more ACCURATE count it should be JAN/FEB through MAY.Are you responding to my post or to another?

mountain squid
01-20-2015, 18:11
Why is it only march and April for a more ACCURATE count it should be JAN/FEB through MAY.?!?!?

I believe the point of the thread is to encourage hikers to start on dates that are not consistently busy, thereby reducing congestion and impact at shelters and campsites in GA. There are not as many hikers that begin in Jan/Feb. There might be more hikers that start on 1 Apr than all of Jan/Feb . . . .


So please reconsider if you were thinking of starting March 1, March 17, April 1. Also, if you can start mid-week instead of the weekend, that will help even out the flow of hikers too.

See you on the trail,
mt squid

Speakeasy TN
01-20-2015, 19:30
This year will be my second attempt. I started on 3/17 in '11 because it was "lucky" and mid-week. This year it falls on Tuesday. I'd bet that the Saturday before or after would be busier. I'd love to think that a mid-week start would flatten the spike. That graph shifted to day of week spikes would be fascinating. I'd bet anything that the "key date" starts are MUCH less of an issue when they fall mid-week.

chris.ault.37
01-22-2015, 22:01
We're starting April 14 (Tuesday) in Atkins, Va. Figured we'd really break from the crowd!

Lauriep
01-23-2015, 02:41
OK, finally! The January through June chart.

29669


This is the data drawn from 2,000-milers, who represent about quarter of the people who started. I'm sure it does not mirror the actual boots on the ground precisely, but I think it's the best or perhaps most useful and accessible data available. A significant part of the reason we have our 2,000-miler recognition program is so that we can collect data for this just this kind of use.

As a couple of you have said, the number of starters in January and February are no doubt higher than are reflected in this chart. And the drop-out rate in those winter months is higher. And yes, the whole issue of days of the week adds another layer of complexity and nuance this graph doesn't address. Someone smarter and more patient than me would have to calculate that.

As imperfect as these graphs are at representing the absolute true picture, I think they convey something of the large number of hikers starting at Springer in a fairly compressed time frame, with sharp peaks on some days that causes crowding that is detrimental to campsites and to the type of experience the A.T. is intended to provide.

These graphs are meant to be a wake-up call about the situation now, and to help all of us in the A.T. community think about what things will be like if A Walk in the Woods movie causes the number of thru-hiker starters to climb like it did after the book came out almost 20 years ago.

ATC has been working on a voluntary registration system for thru-hikers these last few months and hopes to have a test version available soon. The registration will be free.

We're taking many of the ideas we heard at our discussion at The ALDHA Gathering in Williamstown, MA and have been posted on various threads at WhiteBlaze. Some we didn't have the time, expertise, or funds to implement this year. We have a group comprised of ATC staff and volunteers, trail clubs, agency partners, service providers and hikers working on this, as well as a representatives from the PCTA and Leave No Trace, Inc.

This year's version is essentially a trial run. We'll be welcoming feedback (constructive is always the most helpful, for us anyway). Some small or easy tweaks we might be able to implement this year, but other things will probably we'll have to till next year to implement.

The more hikers who participate this year, the better. We hope all those folks who have signed up here, on Appalachian Trials, various Facebook groups and elsewhere will be willing to take a few moments to register with ATC.

Then next year we'll have graphs that reflect a higher percentage of the actual thru-hike starters.

The voluntary registration is just one part of what we're doing to get ready for the expected increases:


hiring/training more ridgerunners and caretakers
promoting alternative thru-hikes (flip-flops)
Expanding Leave No Trace education
Working with guidebook editors and app developers to remove listings of unsustainable non-designated hiker-created sites that were heavily impacted



One app developer is hoping to be able to create a feature that will enable hikers to report how many hikers are at a campsite each night.

atraildreamer
02-04-2015, 16:26
At Laurie's request, I converted the chart to pdf format if you want to download it and print it out.

Kerosene
02-04-2015, 16:53
I "stuck" this thread in the Class of 2015 forum.

JeremyB
02-11-2015, 12:41
This is the data drawn from 2,000-milers, who represent about quarter of the people who started. I'm sure it does not mirror the actual boots on the ground precisely, but I think it's the best or perhaps most useful and accessible data available. A significant part of the reason we have our 2,000-miler recognition program is so that we can collect data for this just this kind of use.

As a couple of you have said, the number of starters in January and February are no doubt higher than are reflected in this chart. And the drop-out rate in those winter months is higher. And yes, the whole issue of days of the week adds another layer of complexity and nuance this graph doesn't address. Someone smarter and more patient than me would have to calculate that.

As imperfect as these graphs are at representing the absolute true picture, I think they convey something of the large number of hikers starting at Springer in a fairly compressed time frame, with sharp peaks on some days that causes crowding that is detrimental to campsites and to the type of experience the A.T. is intended to provide.

I spent entirely too much time going over every trailjournals.com journal for the 2014 AT class. 288 data points. This dataset is also biased, as I think people who are journaling on TJ.com are better prepared than the general thru-hiker population. That being said, the average and median start dates for thru-hikers and people who didn't complete is very similar.

Thru hiker start date
Average Ė March 17
Median Ė March 19

Noncompletion hikes
Average Ė March 20
Median Ė March 22

Only 1 person started in January and 3 in the first two weeks of February, so I think your data is reasonably accurate even though only thru-hikers are the sample in your data.

Hereís the same chart for 1 year for all TJ.com entries. My data is sloppy because I didnít differentiate between starting at Springer and Amicalola, so there is some fuzziness there.
29898
29897

map man
02-11-2015, 20:20
JeremyB, thank you for compiling the data, crunching the numbers, and creating the illustrations. The comparison of completing thru-hikers and non-completing thru-wannabes was particularly instructive, as a lot of people over the years have mentioned that would be nice to know, but this is the first time I can remember seeing a quantitative attempt to figure it out. You mention concern about trailjournals users being more savvy than the average hiker, and that could be right but I wouldn't think there would be a dramatic difference. I also wonder about the difficulty in figuring out who quit the trail and who kept hiking but just quit journaling, when you were separating the completers from the non-completers.

I also think grouping the starting times by week in a couple of the histograms, instead of by day, really helped filter out some of the noise you get from the daily counts and is really useful.

I know first-hand how much work this project must have been and I for one am truly grateful that you did it.

Edit: I have heard people speculate over the years that the early starters cut down on their chances of completing, but this one year TJ sample doesn't seem to support that -- completers start three days earlier, on average, than non-completers. You wouldn't care to add more years to the database would you?:p;)

Alligator
02-11-2015, 23:00
I spent entirely too much time going over every trailjournals.com journal for the 2014 AT class. 288 data points. This dataset is also biased, as I think people who are journaling on TJ.com are better prepared than the general thru-hiker population. That being said, the average and median start dates for thru-hikers and people who didn't complete is very similar.

Thru hiker start date
Average – March 17
Median – March 19

Noncompletion hikes
Average – March 20
Median – March 22

Only 1 person started in January and 3 in the first two weeks of February, so I think your data is reasonably accurate even though only thru-hikers are the sample in your data.

Here’s the same chart for 1 year for all TJ.com entries. My data is sloppy because I didn’t differentiate between starting at Springer and Amicalola, so there is some fuzziness there.
29898
29897That the means (and the medians) are close does not mean that the thruhiker and non-completion distributions are the same. One could be flatter than the other or possibly skewed. Smoothing by week was helpful though. Plotting the two groups side by side in the same chart would potentially illustrate any differences if they exist.

ericmack
02-12-2015, 07:19
Well done Alligator

JeremyB
02-12-2015, 13:41
That the means (and the medians) are close does not mean that the thruhiker and non-completion distributions are the same. One could be flatter than the other or possibly skewed. Smoothing by week was helpful though. Plotting the two groups side by side in the same chart would potentially illustrate any differences if they exist.
Very true. Iíll do this in another post (donít want to poop up this one too much)

You wouldn't care to add more years to the database would you?
No way Jose! Iím an engineer and thought doing this would give me a night tidy answer of the completion percentage for TJ users, among other things. Definitely not the case. It also took forever and a day as I started the database before the thru-hiker season was over and kept finding things I missed or should have included and had to go through the entire list again and again(>400 journals).
Iíve got to go over the data some more to illustrate exactly how I came up with my numbers before I make a post about it. Example: A hiker journals for 1865 miles and then stops cold. However, theyíre on the ATC registry. Do you count them? (I did).

Lauriep
03-01-2015, 15:38
Here is the latest chart of north bounders who have registered. This version starts with today, since at the moment I'm posting it for thru-hikers who haven't registered yet. And here's a pdf of that chart:

http://appalachiantrail.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2015-northbound-thru-hikers-registered-as-of-2-28.pdf?sfvrsn=0 (http://http://appalachiantrail.org/docs/default-source/default-document-library/2015-northbound-thru-hikers-registered-as-of-2-28.pdf?sfvrsn=0).

The latest we have for other categories is 2-20; both jogs and pdfs are now posted on the thru-hiker voluntary registration page at www.appalachiantrail.org/thruhikeregistration (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/thruhikeregistration).

BillyGr
03-07-2015, 20:40
https://www.facebook.com/FreshGroundLeapfrogCafe - Might want to check this page to see the numbers he posts, as another source to compare usage at certain points.

Lauriep
03-11-2015, 18:23
We have updated the voluntary thru-hiker registration charts at www.appalachiantrail.org/thruhikeregistration (http://www.appalachiantrail.org/thruhikeregistration). The charts are now bigger and a little cleaner.

Here are the number of those who have registered so far:

Northbound 1023
Southbound 34
Flip Flop from HF northbound 42
Other Flip Flop 42

On-the-ground reports indicate about half of people showing up have registered and that most of those who did not register hadn't heard about the registration.

Is that what others are observing?

Laurie P.
ATC

zepphead80
03-11-2015, 20:25
Thanks Laurie! The number of NOBO's sure makes the SOBO's and flip floppers look pretty insignificant.

Lauriep
03-11-2015, 23:40
The numbers of flip-floppers is tiny compared to the nobos, but the growth in flip-floppers this year is phenomenal. As I've said before, it's hard to get a grasp on the number of flip-flop starters, even those who start in Harpers Ferry, but even without knowing the numbers I can say this could be the biggest single increase in any category of thru-hikers from one year to the next, ever.

Flip-floppers, please get your photos taken at ATC and fill out your photos as completely as possible.