In addition to overseeing the many volunteers and Trail Mainentance clubs and groups along the AT, they also teaches hikers from how to best enjoy and protect the trail.
And for my interests, they also keep up with all the statistics every year. On White Blaze, Leantree peaked my interest in the stats when he posted that The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), published some new information in their Sept./Oct. 2012 issue of AT Journey on the number of thru-hikers who made it about half way on their thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail this year. This year the ATC in Harper's Ferry registered a record number of thru-hikers passing through their long awaited doorway... 1,012 hikers made it that far, beating the 2011 number of 849. However, on the ATC website as of Sept. 12th they had upped that number to 1,016.
They also posted on the website that 2,500 NOBO thru-hikers registered in 2012 at either Amicalola Falls (A blue blaze or approach trail) or Springer Mtn in Georgia for the start of their trek. These numbers do not include the 500 or so Southbound hikers, flip floppers or section hikers which also start the trail.
Even though the Appalchian Trail was envisioned by Benton Mv\cKay in 1921, at first it was put together in sections and it didn't open until 1937 from Georgia to Maine, but it wasn't until 1948 when the first northbound thru hike was accomplished by only one hiker, Earl Shaffer of York, PA, who also later set the records for the first southbound thru hike and the oldest thru-hiker when he did it again when he was 80- years old, fifty years later.
Since then 12,000 completions have been registered of those who thru-hiked. But the rates are growing in large numbers.
The ATC office at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia, considered the main mid-section, is where every thru hiker reaches a welcome milestone. Here one of the staff takes their photo in front of the building and it's get in yearly logbook. Each hiker is also given a new hiker number, reflecting their new placement, since y now usually 50% of thru-hikers have dropped off the trail.
Loner was the 801st NOBO thru-hiker to check in at Amicalola Falls/Springer Mtn., Georgia and he was the 529th hiker to pass through West Virginia. Once he reaches Katahdin, he'll receive a new number representing his place among those 2012 thru hikers who will complete the Appalachia Trail as they summit Mt. Katahdin in Baxter Maine State Park. .