2014 Thru Hikers by Terry Coyle
Econintersect: The Appalachian Trail runs the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from Georgia to Maine. It is 2,180 miles which has become the focal point of an American sub-culture which attracts outdoors and hiking enthusiasts from all over the world. It is estimated that 2-3 million people visit some portion of the AT each year. Somewhere around 2,000 (+/- 10%) of those attempt a "thru-hike" each year, trying to make the full length of the trail on one season. Approximately 1/4 of those who attempt a thru hike complete it.
About 220,000 volunteer hours each year (about 6,200 individuals) are responsible for physical maintenance of the AT. The Econintersect Managing Editor was sole maintainer of a 2 mile section in New York near the Connecticut line for a few years. The highlights of the work sessions were talking to the occasional through-hikers while working on one or another project. This summer we had the pleasure of following a family friend who completed a successful through-hike with cellphone video reports every 1-3 days on Facebook.
This posting marks the at time when most south-to-north through-hikers will have completed the adventure by summiting Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Within a few weeks the risk of encountering winter mountaineering conditions at the highest altitudes in the northeastern U.S. starts to increase and many long distance hikers are lacking those skills. Most who attempt a through hike starting after May will start at the north terminus and hike south to Springer Mountain in Georgia. September and October are much safer months to be at higher altitudes in the south.
If this video does not satisfy your wilderness hunger or your curiosity about the "cult" of the AT, there is also a video