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  1. #1

    Default 2022 Flip Flop Festival: April 23

    The Harpers Ferry-Bolivar Trail & Town Alliance, which has been the lead on organizing the Flip Flop Festival for the last several years, has set the date for a 2022 Flip Flop Festival in Harpers Ferry:

    Saturday, April 23 in Harpers Ferry.

    Details are expected to be posted at www.flipflopfestival.org when they become available. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy will be supporting the event.

  2. #2

    Default

    Are there statistics of the percentage of thru hikers who are choosing to do the flip flop route? And what are the various starting points? I'm leaning towards doing a 2023 flip flop starting in Harpers Ferry but see references to a Rockfish Gap starting point as well.

  3. #3

    Default

    You can see the ATC-recorded registrations for the past four years (2018+) and current registrations for 2022 (2022 data will keep changing as more hikers register) on the ATC website at

    https://atcamp.org/atthruhikerreports.cfm

    Scroll down a bit, you will see a box to select a month & year. You can view 3 months on the graphs at a time - if you select May 20xx, the graphs will show you April, May & June data for that year. Scroll down further for the actual graphs. The Top graph is hikers reporting start location at Springer; second graph is for Harpers Ferry; third is for Katahdin (those are the only options that they provide data for).

  4. #4

    Default Stats on Flip Floppers and Starting Points

    FollowMrMuir,

    Quote Originally Posted by FollowMrMuir View Post
    Are there statistics of the percentage of thru hikers who are choosing to do the flip flop route? And what are the various starting points? I'm leaning towards doing a 2023 flip flop starting in Harpers Ferry but see references to a Rockfish Gap starting point as well.
    Stats on 2021 thru-hikers can be found at thetrek.co/appalachian-trail/the-2021-at-hiker-survey-general-information. It indicates 11% of surveyed 2021 long-distance hikers were flip-floppers who started mid-trail, 2% were those who started in Georgia and flipped later. (Only 4% were southbound.sobo). However, flip floppers and especially sobos are no doubt underrepresented because the survey was published December 10. The survey was announced October 26; I'm not sure when the survey ended but many flip floppers finish in November and a few in December so they may not have seen the survey (sobos even more so). Nobos start and end earlier.

    Harpers Ferry, West Virginia is the most popular starting point for a flip-flop thru-hike. In theory a hiker could start at any one of more than 500 access points. Other popular start locations are Rockfish Gap at the southern end of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia; and Roanoke, Virginia. Later in the season flip floppers might start at Delaware Water Gap (DWG), Pennsylvania or Pawling, New York/the A.T. Train Stop.

    Unless you are already adept at the rocky terrain of Pennsylvania, and are a strong, agile hiker, it would be wise not to start much further north than Harpers Ferry until the northern end of Pennsylvania, as the notorious Pennsylvania rocks can be challenging if you don't have your "trail legs." The worst of the rocks start at about Duncannon, 120 miles north of Harpers Ferry. (There are rocks in Maryland too, and a few rocky spots in southern PA) but not nearly as taxing and annoying as those between Duncannon and Wolf Rocks (about 17 miles south of DWG.

    More tips on thru-hiking flip-flop, sobo, and nobo thru-hike styles can be found at appalachiantrail.org/thru-hiking.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks much

  6. #6

    Default

    Good stuff, thanks. And I appreciate the analysis of the survey data collection. Always look twice at data results, step back and ask a few questions. Having said that, it is still probably true that flip-floppers are still in a small minority. When I was a much younger man (geezer alert!) I would have started at Springer mountain, no question. However, these days I have no desire to join the masses in Georgia in the spring. Back in 1971 (owwouga! double geezer alert!) there were a total of 57 people in the history of the AT would had done the whole trail (source: Ed Garvey's Appalachian Hiker. Ed was a personal mentor of mine). Today there are thousands, thousands who start the trail each spring and yes, many quit before completion but that is still way too many on the southern end. This is euphemistically referred to as "a bubble". Bubble? That's a Washington DC beltway backup, son.

  7. #7

    Default

    PA does take a toll on the flippers who start at HF.

    The festival does create a small hiker bubble, as many start the Sunday morning after the event. But it's nothing like at the southern end and it thins out quickly. If you can get ahead of the bulk of the crowd in the first day or two, you'll likely stay in front.

    There's probably a larger group leaving Sunday these days then it was the year I started. Only about 25 of us left Sunday morning and I didn't see too many of them after the first couple of days. I was planning on hiking home and not doing an actual flip flop. I got to Glencliff and decided I had enough and was close enough to home to hitch hike the rest of the way. Managed to get home well before dark
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  8. #8

    Default More on flip flopper stats

    FollowMeMuir,

    Yes, you are right about the data. There are often very meaningful nuances that can get lost along the way.

    A couple of examples.

    Ten years ago, flip floppers starting mid-Trail were extremely rare. I'd guess fewer than 5 or 10 a year, maybe even only 1 or 2. Probably less than 1% of thru-hikers. Most flip floppers were the unintentional kind that started in Georgia, ran late, and flipped because they ran out of time to reach Katahdin.

    Now, most flip-floppers are the kind that intentionally start somewhere mid-Trail, and the number of "accidental' Georgia-start flip floppers has actually decreased. So, the increase in those starting mid-Trail really is remarkable.

    Another "data" thing: a few years ago someone wrote a blog on TheTrek about flip floppers, misinterpreting the data on ATC's website, and concluding that 57% of flip floppers were successful. That's completely erroneous. It's much harder to track flip floppers and their completion rate, because they can start anywhere on the Trail and there is no system to record those who start anywhere other than Harpers Ferry. It gets quite complicated with flip floppers. If they do get counted in Harpers Ferry at ATC, they could have walked 0 miles or 2193 by the time they are counted. I suspect the success rate for them is not dramatically different that for nobos or sobos.

    In some ways, a flip flop thru-hike is "easier" in terms of weather encountered and the progression of terrain, but psychologically doing something more unconventional and not as well known can be harder. Also, for some folks, not finishing at Katahdin can be hard too, both the idea of it as well as continuing the hike after such an epic and dramatic climb, when nobos around them are finished and going home. But, I've noticed flip floppers who can adopt a positive mindset about these things have found ways to turn these into plusses rather than minuses.

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