With an eye on the prize, this year's crop of would-be Appalachian Trail thru-hikers are getting ready to hit the trail. With that in mind, here are some stats, courtesy of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, to help them stay focused.
* From the 1930s, when just five people are credited with hiking the trail, the tally has grown to 1,008 during the current decade.
* The ATC points out that "in 1948, Earl V. Shaffer became the first to report a thru-hike, walking the entire Trail from Georgia to Maine. He hiked again—this time from Maine to Georgia—in 1965."
* Mildred Norman is the earliest female thru-hiker on record, having reported a flip-flop hike in 1952, according to the ATC.
* The first decade of the 21st century was a popular one for hiking the AT, as 5,839 hikers are credited with hiking the entire trail.
* Lee Barry serves as inspiration to many aging Baby Boomers, as he thru-hiked the trail in 2004 at the age of 81. Nancy “Magellan” Gowler become the oldest female thru-hiker in 2007 at age 71, the ATC notes.
* Last year 1,700 backpackers started out from Springer Mountain, Georgia, with their eyes aimed at Mount Katahdin, Maine. Four-hundred-fourteen made it. Fifty-nine who started at Kathadin made it to Springer Mountain.