ATC says about one in four attempts are successful
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) announces that it has received more than 12,000 reported 2,000 mile hikers applications. Each year, thousands of hikers attempt a thru-hike the Appalachian Trail (A.T.) but only about one in four make it all the way.
To qualify as a 2,000 miler, hikers must walk the entire estimated 2,180 miles of the A.T. This journey travels through fourteen states ranging from the southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia, to the Trail’s northern terminus at Katahdin, Maine.
Jamie Richard of New Brunswick, Canada, submitted the ATC’s 12,000th application.
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited to have reached this milestone,” said Laurie Potteiger, Information Services Manager at the ATC. “Walking the entire Appalachian Trail is an extraordinary, unforgettable adventure. We are glad all these people have been able to experience the beauty and majesty of the diverse landscapes protected by the Appalachian Trail.”
Hikers predominately complete the Trail one of two ways. Thru-hikers walk the entire Trail in one trip. They represent more than 80 percent of all 2,000 milers. The majority of thru-hikers start their six month journey in Spring Mountain, Georgia in late February/early March and end in Katahdin, Maine. Section hikers walk the entire Trail over the span of multiple trips; some taking a few years and others taking decades. Section hikers represent about 20 percent of 2,000 milers. The remaining 2,000 milers are known as “flip-floppers”. These hikers complete a thru-hike in a 12 month span but do not take the traditional route from Georgia to Maine.
Completing the entire A.T. requires a great deal of mental discipline and determination. Becoming a “2,000-miler” is a feat that can be accomplished by anyone who can walk, although sections in almost every state require some scrambling up and down steep, rocky slopes. Successful 2,000- milers include hikers aged 6 to 86, from all 50 states and more than 30 other countries, bringing challenges with them, such as blindness and muscular dystrophy which requires hiking with crutches. Female hikers comprise slightly more than 20 percent of 2,000-milers.
The number of people hiking the entire Trail has also risen dramatically over the years. From 1936 to 1969, only 61 completions are recorded. In 1970 ten people completed the Trail, including Ed Garvey, whose thru-hike was well-publicized. The trend was further fueled by the release of Garvey's popular book, Appalachian Hiker: Adventure of a Lifetime. The term “2,000-miler” was coined in the late 1970s to help identify this growing group of hikers.
By 1980, the total number of 2,000-milers had increased more than ten-fold. The total had doubled by 1990 and again by 2000. More hike completions were reported for the year 2000 alone than in the first 40 years combined. The 10,000th hike completion was recorded in 2008.
All Trail-completion reports have been held at the ATC headquarters since the Trail’s completion in the 1930s. They can be found today at its Harpers Ferry, WV, Visitors Center, along with a collection of photographs dating back to 1979 of those attempting to become 2,000-milers.
The ATC has received several 2,000-miler reports for 2011 already, and those names will be posted on the Web site within the next few weeks.
For more information on 2,000 milers, visit www.appalachiantrail.org/2000milers.
About the Appalachian Trail Conservancy
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy mission is to preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow, and for centuries to come. For more information visit http://www.appalachiantrail.org/.