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[pct-l] Re: {pct-l] Northbound headcount?

>Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 23:01:35 -0500 (EST)
>From: BLISTERFREE@delphi.com
>Subject: [pct-l] Northbound headcount?
>(snip)  However, he doesn't include
>this past year's info.  Perhaps if anyone has that figure, we could make
>a best guess for '98.
>A PCT mailing list headcount might be useful in figuring this out, or
>perhaps not.  But its worth a check?  My intuition tells me that the
>majority of (maybe 60-70%) of thru-hiker wanna-be's are wired to the
>internet, and have likely found this site, or will, before May.  (snip)

Last year approximately 140 people started a through hike and an estimated
60-70 people finished. Out of this perhaps ten were on this list prior to
departure and some of these same people, myself included, seem to still be
hanging around.

I think we will see a population explosion on the trail in the years to
come. A good portion of last year's through hikers ( I'm guessing about 40%
of the finishers) had previously hiked the Appalachian Trail and were
forced out here by that trail's over popularity. I have heard that as many
as 3000 people are attempting the AT each year now, although their success
rate is much lower, something on the order of 10%. In fact the hikers
beginning around their traditional  start date (April 1st) have come to be
known as The Herd. Also there are many more dayhikers, weekenders, and
section hikers on the AT than the PCT.

It is only a matter of time before many of them escape west to hike the
PCT. Other factors such as Ray's book and the recent completion of the
trail also contribute more usage as time goes on. I have heard the rumor
that because the trail's number is 2000 that there will be many people
attempting a through hike in the year 2000. Unfortunately, the PCT is has a
much more fragile ecosystem, especially in the southern half and will not
ever be able to support as much use as it's eastern counterpart.

Last year the number of through hikers seemed to me to be about right,
enough that you always ran into a few at every town stop to compare notes
with, but not so many to make the trail feel crowded. I feel that the trail
is in prime condition now, with enough people hiking it to make the way
clear but still relatively little overuse, except maybe here and there by
horses not withstanding. Probably the Class of 1998 will have a similar
experience. I felt privileged to hike it when I did, before the inevitable
onslaught that is sure to come as our population continues to grow and our
wilderness areas continue to shrink.

The point I'm making I guess, is that this experience is still a relatively
rare and elite one. It may not always be quite so, but never the less I
hope it will always remain a place where seekers can find the solitude,
personal challenge, and beauty in nature that they come looking for.


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