I went on the PCTA website and pulled out some interesting numbers. They only have reliable date from 2013. Prior to that, a single permit could be issued for up to 8 hikers so they really aren’t sure how many people attempted the thru-hike before 2013. The numbers of successful completions are based on self-reports. The incentive for someone to report a successful thru-hike to the PCTA is a nice medallion. So nearly everyone reports their completion to get the medallion, and perhaps some that don’t really complete the hike, as well.
2013: Total thru-hike permits issued: 1,041. Northbound thru-hike permits: 988. Southbound thru-hike permits: 53. Thru hikes successfully completed: 274. Success rate: 26%.
2014: Total thru-hike permits issued: 1,461. Northbound thru-hike permits: 1,367. Southbound thru-hike permits: 94. Thru hikes successfully completed: 482. Success rate: 33%.
2015: Total thru-hike permits issued: 2,808. Northbound thru-hike permits: 2,486. Southbound thru-hike permits: 322. Thru hikes successfully completed: 647. Success rate: 23%.
2016: The official numbers won’t be released until after the first of next year. I counted up northbound permits issued for the Mexican border. There were 3,274 through June 30. These permits are for 500+ miles on the PCT. There is no way to know what percentage of those are thru-hikers, though I’m sure the vast majority are. But some permits are for long section hikers.
There were roughly 2,160 permits issued prior to my start date. If everyone with a permit started and on their permitted date, I was about # 2,160 to start the trail.
At mile 211 was a trail angels’ house – Ziggy and the Bear. It is in the desert and nearly everyone had to stop there for water. They carefully register and photograph everyone that comes through and I was # 1,209. A lot of people dropped out early, I passed a lot of people in the desert, and some may never have started so somehow I moved up about 950 spots.
The PCTA lists all the completers as they self report but they enter the data in batches. When I reported my finish, there were 62 names already on the list. When my name showed up on the list last week, there were 147 names. So I finished roughly in the 62-147 range, though many could have, and probably did, finished before me and not reported in yet.
The PCT is not a race but I feel an extra sense of accomplishment finishing near the front of the pack after starting near the back of the pack.