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#133687 - 05/13/10 09:31 PM Some Level Headed Opinions, please
JimmyTH Offline
member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Indiana
Here's the link:

http://appalachiantrail2010.blogspot.com/

The three people doing this blogging hike are in their twenties, and according to the post I read they decided they were getting a little behind schedule, so they just did 26 miles a day for two days and then the next morning ran for 12 miles to get to the next post office before it closed. All that with 35 pound packs on their backs.

OK, I'm not twenty something by a long shot, but I'm thinking that would have been a bit of a stretch for me even when I was. I recall doing that in the army with a full pack and a weapon and not wanting to move the day afterward at all. I think the writer said they traveled marathon distance for two days, not saying 26 miles so maybe I misunderstood that, but I don't think so. I've traveled only a few miles of the AT myself, am not familiar with the route (I haven't wanted to stay in the shelters and I understand that's required) but 26 miles a day still seems like a lot.

Anyone have a guess as to whether this is real and I just got born into the wrong species or something? If these people are eating something special I'd like to know about it. I'm all confused now, maybe I should listen to the people who say blue jeans hold you back. Or, if it's that easy, maybe I'll give it a shot in spite of having to shelter up with people.

JimmyTH

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#133689 - 05/13/10 09:46 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
26 miles a day still seems like a lot.

It is a lot. But these types of mileages are pretty common among thru-hikers.

At 2650 miles, with a weather window that starts closing in mid-September for northbound hikers, thru-hiking the PCT cannot be done without averaging something like 20 miles a day for about 150 days. (Yes, I know this adds up to 3000 miles, but there are inevitably many "zero" days on a thru hike, when you make no progress on the trail because you are resupplying).

I also know that PCT thru-hikers who get to Oregon often start logging 35 or even 40 mile days! By then they are in great shape and the Oregon PCT seems like a piece of cake.

BTW, this is one of the reasons I am not considering a thru-hike. I'm just not cut out for that kind of months-long daily marathon. wink

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#133690 - 05/13/10 09:59 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
What's the record for the PCT, 60-70 something days?

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#133691 - 05/13/10 10:13 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
Bearpaw Offline
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Registered: 07/25/04
Posts: 1732
Loc: Tennessee
It's doable for someone who has been hiking most every day for a couple of months like this group, particularly in this part of Virginia. I was doing 15-19 miles a day on this section when I thru-hiked and considered it a casual pace.

Plus this group is pretty well set for creating publicity for themselves, so this is in character for them.


Edited by Bearpaw (05/13/10 10:15 PM)
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#133697 - 05/13/10 10:34 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: Bearpaw]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

I know people my age (41) who can do those kind of miles - with packs - especially in "easier" country like the AT. They also run daily, do marathons, and are hardcore fitness buffs as well as very serious backpackers.

So yes, it is doable, but depends on the person.

I am not such a person smile I don't run in church wink
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#133698 - 05/13/10 10:42 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
ChrisFol Offline
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Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
These types of numbers are not uncommon. I remember Andrew Skurka completing the CT in 15 days, which is an average of 31miles per day.


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#133701 - 05/13/10 11:20 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: ChrisFol]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada

Do most people do those kind of miles?

No.
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#133706 - 05/13/10 11:49 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: phat]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
My appologies.


Edited by ChrisFol (05/14/10 12:31 AM)

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#133707 - 05/13/10 11:49 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: phat]
JimmyTH Offline
member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Indiana
Well, wow, then. I haven't ever hiked long distance on trails that run the crests, for me it's usually been a few days of up and a few days of back down so that's my frame of reference. I've done pieces of the Pacific Crest and I do remember that once I got up there it wasn't too bad.

I don't think I'll put that AT marathon pace on my list of things to do, though. If I get the time to do something like that I can see maybe 15 to 18 miles daily in my future, if the majority of the trail is like the trail I know from the Blue Ridge. Twenty six seems too much like punishment.

Makes me feel old, whatever happened to athletes who smoked cigarettes? I'm from the days when it was a healthy habit.

JimmyTH

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#133708 - 05/14/10 12:15 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: ChrisFol]
phat Offline
Moderator

Registered: 06/24/07
Posts: 4107
Loc: Alberta, Canada
My reply wasn't intended to diss yours Chris, sorry if it looked that way - it was merely a more general warning for the perhaps uninitiated.
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#133709 - 05/14/10 12:30 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: phat]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By phat
My reply wasn't intended to diss yours Chris, sorry if it looked that way - it was merely a more general warning for the perhaps uninitiated.


My mistake. It was just that you clicked "reply" to my post. So it appeared as if you was responding to me.

Consider my last post retracted.


Edited by ChrisFol (05/14/10 12:32 AM)

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#133729 - 05/14/10 11:56 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Even if they did do that kind of miles I remain completely unimpressed. What fun is there in that?

I've driven through Colorado and Denver six or eight times and never stopped for anything but gas, so when people ask me if I've ever been to the Rockies or Denver I answer "No, only passed through".

When I was a teen I did a 23 mile hike in and out to a campsite in the Sequoias. I only carried a light daypack, a helicopter brought in our gear for the 2 week stay. I remember well the campsite, and places I hiked to from there, but the 23 miles of trail I hiked to get there and back I barely remember at all.

Bill



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#133732 - 05/14/10 12:14 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: billstephenson]
JimmyTH Offline
member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 59
Loc: Indiana
I'm in agreement with Bill on this, I was surprised that so many people apparently think it's important to get over the trail on schedule and quickly. Schedules? Setting records? I just don't go hiking for those reasons. How much of the Appalachians do you really get to experience if you're traveling at that rate? I like to look around and stop in nice places to brew a cup of tea, get the feel of things. I go back to the same places over and over just to get to know places better, and learn new things every time. I'd probably never finish the AT, I'd find a nice spot and enjoy it.

JimmyTH

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#133737 - 05/14/10 01:15 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
aimless Offline
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Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
A discussion of thru-hiking is probably more apt to the Long Distance Hiking Forum than here, but I often listen in on thru-hikers and what they say about the experience -- and those who complete the trail (or any very long segment of it) contend that they see and appreciate most of their surroundings as they walk. They just start walking earlier in the morning than most hikers, and walk until much later in the day. Mid-days, they still take breaks and lollygag around.

Mainly, those who don't appreciate being in the wilderness for months on end, quit early on. The finishers are a self-selected group who love to hike. And hike. And hike. wink

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#133740 - 05/14/10 02:05 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
Originally Posted By aimless
They just start walking earlier in the morning than most hikers, and walk until much later in the day. Mid-days, they still take breaks and lollygag around.

Mainly, those who don't appreciate being in the wilderness for months on end, quit early on. The finishers are a self-selected group who love to hike. And hike. And hike. wink


Aimless just nailed it. The people that do this are also driven people and know how to push themselves. I compete in endurance cycling races and it is a mindset of pushing yourself and enjoying it. Eventually you get to the point where what most people consider a radical distance is not a big deal as you've pushed your limits and know that you can easily do that distance. Hiking is the same way.

-Skippy

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#133750 - 05/14/10 04:31 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: skippy]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
With most of my trips, if I went that far I wouldn't even need a pack cause I'd be back home. smile
Jim
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#133755 - 05/14/10 07:04 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By aimless
those who complete the trail (or any very long segment of it) contend that they see and appreciate most of their surroundings as they walk.


Still, it reminds me of when Chevy Chase took the family to the Grand Canyon on their "Vacation".

As a "Sport", I can understand the attraction of long distance endurance backpacking, but that's not what attracts me to getting out. I've always regretted not stopping for a few nights in the Rockies. I'm sure I'd feel no different about racing along a trail in the forest.

You may see and appreciate the view, but you'll never really get to know the place intimately.

Bill
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"You want to go where?"



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#133757 - 05/14/10 08:22 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: billstephenson]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
I regularly do trips which involve days in excess of 20miles. Since I arise usually before the sun, I am often eating breakfast after already hiking 4-5 miles. I usually take long lunches which often include a nice siesta in my hammock. I am not a fast paced hiker by any means, just long hours when the trip calls for it. My body has started to tell me that 20 miles is when I should quit for the day regardless of the hours of daylight left. Thus it doesn't surprise me that others who are likely in better shape than I can do 26+ mile days without issue. I have no doubt they are enjoying the hike and not simply rushing it. HYOH
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#133818 - 05/16/10 02:42 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: billstephenson]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2835
Loc: Portland, OR
You may see and appreciate the view, but you'll never really get to know the place intimately.

I seem to be the sole volunteer to state the thru-hiker's POV, since I do section hikes and therefore seem to be the nearest equivalent to a thru-hiker hanging out here.

Anyway... a thru-hike for most of the folks who do it is a once-in-a-lifetime event. They'll have decades of their lives to devote to knowing some place intimately. I'm pretty certain most of them do (or, in the case of oldster thru-hikers, did) that. So, while they are two different things, they not mutually exclusive in the course of a hiking "career".

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#133844 - 05/17/10 12:27 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Point well made. I can see the attraction.

Bill
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"You want to go where?"



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#133848 - 05/17/10 02:47 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
ChrisFol Offline
member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 387
Loc: Denver, Colordo
Originally Posted By aimless
You may see and appreciate the view, but you'll never really get to know the place intimately.

I seem to be the sole volunteer to state the thru-hiker's POV, since I do section hikes and therefore seem to be the nearest equivalent to a thru-hiker hanging out here.

Anyway... a thru-hike for most of the folks who do it is a once-in-a-lifetime event. They'll have decades of their lives to devote to knowing some place intimately. I'm pretty certain most of them do (or, in the case of oldster thru-hikers, did) that. So, while they are two different things, they not mutually exclusive in the course of a hiking "career".


I agree.

Thru-hikes take weeks and often months to complete, and the majority of people simply don't have such luxury of time and thus are unable to extend their thru-hike any longer than necessary. For example, the CT is 485miles and if I did an average of 10miles per day it would take me almost 7 weeks to complete. That doesn't include any days were I may be tied down due to inclement weather. Even as a college student, I didn't have this amount of time off, even during the summer. So to complete a thru-hike in such a limited amount of time; one needs to hike more miles per day.

I can always come back another time and spend 7-10 days hiking just a few sections of a trail that I loved and get to know it intimately.

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#133895 - 05/18/10 10:44 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
lori Offline
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Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Others have touched on the "speed hiker" mentality - then there is the other kind, the once-in-a-lifetimer who must do it now because there will be no other opportunity, and has only x days to do it in...

I have mentioned (I think) before that people who half kill themselves to get to Half Dome bemuse me. Prolly 95% of the folks who do it are not hikers, just tourists who spent the previous few days of vacation wandering around the valley and riding shuttles up to see the sequoias. They will hike a 16 mile round trip with difficult (even for a hiker) elevation gains over rough (livestock pounded, broken asphalt) trail, in whatever shoes they are wearing. They aren't backpackers or day hikers, just people in dress shoes and slacks, or skirts and sandals... I've seen monks do it, and little mennonite ladies in dresses with Nikes under their skirts. They could easily do the 2 miles to Sentinel Dome and be within spitting distance of the same elevation as Half Dome. They could do the 8 mile round trip with less elevation change to North Dome and get marvelous views. The relatively level hike to Dewey Point or any other point along either rim would be easier. But it's something on everyone's life list, apparently. So it is with the JMT or the PCT or any other generally known landmark trail - they just want to do it, not to hike or enjoy, just say they did it.

Someone asked me if I would do the JMT with them in a week. Why? They have a week off. I rolled my eyes and said no, if you go with me, we do eight mile days and take pictures. I'll catch you a fish for dinner. I've been doing it in sections because I don't want to shortchange myself on the experience. Also, I looked at him, and knew I would outhike him - while I'm reasonably certain I could do a 20 mile day (not happily, not without some soreness, but I could plod that long), I could tell he wouldn't. I don't like hiking with suffering people.
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#133966 - 05/19/10 08:12 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: lori]
balzaccom Offline
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Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1718
Loc: Napa, CA
I do make fun of "speed Hikers" on our website, but I understand the through hiker mentality. When I am not backpacking, I am often on a road bike. Some days I am a tourist, just admiring the view and pedaling along. But when I ride a century, I have the hammer down and don't stop to smell the roses.

If it works for you, and gets you out on the trail, go for it!
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#133976 - 05/19/10 08:53 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
I do not consider myself a "speed hiker". I see a lot of emotional responses above. Let's put some real numbers to this concept. A hiking pace of 2 mph carrying a light to moderate pack is very reasonable for an experienced backpacker. This even includes about 5 minutes per hour for a short rest stop. Now add 1 hour extra for each 1000 feet elevation gain. Once aclimated, nearly everyone can beat this very conservative figure. Thus a 10-mile day on the flat is 5 hours of hiking. A 10-mile day with 3,000 feet elevation gain (really a lot - most days in the mountains are more like 2,000 feet gain). This amounts to an 8-hour day. If you get on the trail by 8AM (really easy to do) you will get into camp at 4PM. In the summer the sun goes down about 8PM or later. That leaves 4 hours of daylight! I really do not agree that a 10-mile day is speed hiking. My average on-trail hiking day is 12 miles and I have plenty of time to relaxe in camp and fish. I also am able to take tons of photos and look around while hiking. (My average difficult off-trail milage day is 7 miles - but I think this post is about trail travel). Most of my hiking is high altitiude, with an average of 2,000+ elevation gain. And I am not any spring chicken- over 60 Grandma, I am. People who backpack a lot and who through-hike are VERY effiecient campers, able to set up and break down camp in less than an hour. Most PCT hikers I have talked to average 20-25 miles per day, and it is not that they "bust butt" to do this - it just is what they do after weeks of hiking. They say it is not that hard. They often get bored doing less!

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#133989 - 05/19/10 11:40 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
I've been a competitor since I was 10. I'm goal oriented. I like a challenge. So when I hike or backpack I "compete" against the terrain. That's what gives me satisfaction. That's what makes me happy. The scenery is just an added bonus. Yes, I suffer and I like the feeling of being totally spent at the end of a hard day. No one will ever make me feel guilty about this.

That being said, I can fully understand how other people feel that they see more by covering less ground. I will never take issue with anyone who does. There is no right or wrong way to backpack, just whatever suits the individual.

Whatever happened to "hike your own hike"?
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#133995 - 05/20/10 12:26 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: Trailrunner]
OregonMouse Offline
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Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6370
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I am a "go slow, stop a lot to admire the view, take pictures and smell the flowers" type of hiker. A 5-6 mile day for a backpack is just fine for me, although I have done more (near the end of the trip when the pack is lighter). I can do 2 mph on a level trail with few rocks, but if it gets rough or is going uphill or downhill (unless only mildly downhill) it's more like 1 mph or even less, with everyone else passing me. At least I do hike a little faster than our famous Oregon banana slugs! That's one reason I hike solo--I don't want anyone to have to slow down to my pace and I don't want to rush trying to keep up with others.

I always used to make fun of those hikers who, to quote the late Harvey Manning, try to get "from Bug Bog to Blister Pass in 4 hours flat." On the other hand, I have a lot of admiration (no longer envy) for those who can do the Mexico-Canada bit in a season. In other words, HYOH--enjoy your own hiking style and don't worry about others are doing. But please try not to mow us slugs down in the process!


Edited by OregonMouse (05/20/10 12:27 AM)
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#134009 - 05/20/10 11:31 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: Trailrunner]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
I think no one's saying any particular motivation is wrong - they're just all different.

I was trying to articulate this to a bunch of folks last night at a meeting for folks in our hiking group (dayhikers mostly) who want to start backpacking. They were all caught up in which tent to buy. I tried to help them understand that there is no wrong way to go, that people will do everything from an elaborate tent with "features" to a tarp and sleeping bag on the ground and everyone enjoys it. Suggested that they all rent for a while and get used to the idea of doing it first. I'm putting an easy overnight on our schedule for them to go play with gear in the sequoias at the end of the month. And then I encouraged them to find people of similar pace within the group to plan trips with.

I think I like that about backpacking. There is something for everyone.
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#134010 - 05/20/10 11:43 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: OregonMouse]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
OM- when I hiked the Lost Coast south of Shelter Cove the trail was literally covered with Banana Slugs. I tiptoed around them. I would never think of mowing down the slugs! (or slower backpackers).

I agree to each his own. I just do not agree with the blanket statement that 10 mile a day is speed hiking or that faster hikers do not "smell the roses". Through-hikers are on a different agenda, but that does not mean that they do not enjoy their surroundings.

To me the ultimate back-country experience is to really live out there - where mentally home is your tent. Unless you have been on extended travel trips, you really do not know what this feels like. When I taught at NOLS, it took my students about 3 weeks to really get to the point where thay felt the "lived" in the moment in the mountains. You no longer think about how many days left, civilized luxuries - you just become one with the environment. Regardless of speed of hiking or distance covered, I think everyone should do this once in their lifetime. Do not break the mood by going into town - have supplies brought to you by horse packers if needed.

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#134014 - 05/20/10 01:14 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: wandering_daisy]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
To me the ultimate back-country experience is to really live out there


I absolutely agree with that. My first real trip provided that experience for me. It only took me about 2-3 days to entirely forget I had to go back to live in the city in a couple weeks and I didn't even think about it at all again until the day before it was time to leave.

I don't think I've ever been more content in my life than I was in those few weeks. Also new to me was the fairly severe depression that set in on the drive back from the Sequoia Forest to Los Angeles. Didn't see that coming at all and it took a few more weeks to shake it off.

But honestly, I'm not sure I'd have really experienced any of that had I been on the trail the entire time, as opposed to the wilderness campsite we stayed at. Had I been hiking everyday on a trail the end of the trip would have been at the forefront of my consciousness the entire time.

But to be frank, I think what has irked me when talking with those who cannot hike without making it a foot race is that air of superiority they project as they make it a point to focus on the number of miles they did, as if it were a measure of their skill as an outdoorsmen, or even worse, their level of fitness, when really, it measures neither.

Consider who's more fit; a marathon runner or a weight lifter?

Could anyone that bench presses 350 pounds beat a competitive marathon runner in a long distance race? Could any competitive marathon runner lift 350lbs over their head?

The answer to both those questions is obviously "No". For me, as far as backpacking into the wilderness goes, the important question has been posed by W_D.

"Did you ever really live out there?"

If you don't know how hard it is to come back, I don't think you have.

Bill
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#134030 - 05/20/10 09:38 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: lori]
Glenn Offline
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Registered: 03/08/06
Posts: 2617
Loc: Ohio
"There is something for everyone."

Wow. That is probably the most succinct explanation I've ever heard of why backpacking is so great. You're dead-on correct, and keep on telling everyone.

Well put, indeed.

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#134263 - 05/26/10 11:07 AM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: aimless]
sarbar Offline
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Registered: 07/15/05
Posts: 1453
Loc: WA
Thru's see hiking a bit different when out there than the weekend hiker does. It is your daily job - to get up and hike to the next place. Your goal is to get done, one day at a time, until you reach it. As you get into the best shape ever of your life you realize you can do more and more. Long days become nothing, more that the more miles you do, the less days out there.
You see it in people's journals - the first month they goof off, doing lower miles, spending time in towns. Then the ones that keep going go inside themselves and buckle down.

I watched my good friends do that last summer. By the time they hit Oregon they were ready to be done and were racing for home. 30 mile days were average for them. They didn't sit well, constantly fidgeting, ready to go.

The most I have done in a day is 20 or so miles. I noticed as I hit the bigger miles it became a mental game - I'd count as I hit halfway and once over the hump it was a race in my mind to get to the end.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. It didn't detract from what I was doing.
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#134589 - 06/02/10 06:38 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: sarbar]
BrianLe Offline
member

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1143
Loc: Washington State, King County
"Did I enjoy it? Yes. It didn't detract from what I was doing. "

Hear Hear. I suggest that folks try it before knocking it. Increasing the daily mileage isn't for everyone, but people can and do enjoy the scenery, get in touch with their surroundings, etc, without having to drop down to some low daily mileage to be able to do so. In fact, being in great shape and spending a lot more continuous time in the outdoors can allow a person to better appreciate this stuff, though of course there's a trade-off in how time gets spent.

I'm also doing the AT this year; I had done about 2/3 (1400 miles or so) as of a week ago but now I'm temporarily home fighting off some, I think, giardia-like cooties that are taking an annoyingly long time to deal with. A couple of older friends and I did a 30+ mile day just to do it in Pennsylvania, but the AT is overall fairly difficult trail (more ups and downs, lower quality trail surface) than the PCT and some other trails I've been on, so 30 there was plenty. But I'm over 50, my friends around 60 years old, and after getting up to speed on the trail and getting through the snow and blowdowns of the early parts our typical day has been in the low 20's.

This is not superhuman stuff, this is just figuring things out, losing weight and getting stronger in the early weeks, getting up early, not (having to) take a lot of breaks. And enjoying the trail and surroundings while walking through it.

I'd also say that some significant parts of any trail (and certainly the AT !) don't have a lot of really scenic or otherwise "I want to hang around here" places. So for a lot of days if a thru-hiker just keeps walking, it's in part because that's about all there is to do. At least some folks certainly do stop and smell the roses when roses there are to smell. On the PCT that's things like doing a side trip to climb Mt. Whitney --- at a point when you're in the best shape of your life to do that. On the AT it's a bit more varied, it might be walking 5 minutes off trail to see the monument to where Audie Murphy's plane crashed or to look at the original Washington Monument. Some places on the AT indeed have too much to look at for a thru-hiker; that's fine by me. I figure it's a kind of a survey, where I can note places I'd like to come back to --- Harper's Ferry historic town, for example.

Bottom line is that if you are willing and able to hike for months on end, you get into good enough shape and figure (or tough) out various things such that the experience is significantly different than for a section or weekend hiker. Sometimes section hikers make comments about how "amazing" thru-hikers are and I'm serious when I tell them that I think that what they're doing is in many ways harder: just when they start to get into shape and get mentally and "process" oriented to the trail, their trip is over, plus they have transportation logistics to worry about for each section.

I do admit to the "fidgeting" part though, I'm fidgeting a lot at home just now, knowing that folks I know are continuing to move north while I'm stopped here waiting to get my strength back!
_________________________
Brian Lewis
http://postholer.com/brianle

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#134662 - 06/03/10 02:22 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: BrianLe]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
Increasing the daily mileage isn't for everyone, but people can and do enjoy the scenery, get in touch with their surroundings, etc, without having to drop down to some low daily mileage to be able to do so.


That's pretty much representative of the attitude I'm referring to in earlier posts. My experience is that it's generally born in the office where the person saying it earns their living.

Most people I know work hard all day. Getting into shape is not an issue for them. Getting two months time to spend speed walking on a trail holds no enticement either, they've got other things to do. So, like them, I don't consider myself as "Having to drop down to some low daily milage". Nor do I consider myself a "Weekend Hiker". I'm in the forest nearly everyday. So are most of my neighbors.

For us, it's more a matter of getting to a quality spot and enjoying the area. And if you've busted your butt working all week long, for weeks on end, getting the chance to hike a few miles to a nice spot and then relax is a welcome change.

I can do that just fine without feeling a need to hike 20 or 30 miles, and I believe I'll be enjoying myself every bit as much as someone who's hiked as far as their feet can carry them that same day.

It's silly to assume that I, or others cannot hike 20 miles in a day, day after day, on the trails you do, just because we choose not too. But it's not so silly to assume that most hikers that do could not keep up with most of my neighbors who labor for a living, day after day.

I've hiked with them from Compton to Hemmed-in-Hollow in the Buffalo River National Park. That's only about six miles. But, as Tim Ernst said in one of his guidebooks, "It's a trail that will humble even the most seasoned of hikers".

Miles are important only if they are important to you personally. And I'll say this and stick by it too, if you come here and hike that Compton to Hemmed-in-Hollow trail, you'll be "dropping down" your milage for the day too. Anyone that comes here thinking they're going to do 20 miles a day on the OHT for 10 days in a row is likely to end up home in bed nursing their busted buns before they're half done. For no good reason, backpackers have even died on these trails trying.

But, "To each his own."

Bill
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#134737 - 06/05/10 12:45 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
CamelMan Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 17
Loc: Chicago, IL
Hi,

I'm new here but I thought I'd chime in since two weeks ago I aborted a thru-hike of the AT at Fontana Dam.

The people on the blog are clearly interested in self-promotion. Drama and challenge help with that. I say Hike Your Own Hike, and get what you want out of it.

That being said, I enjoyed being a thru-hiker for the 18 days that I was one. My longest day was 21.7 miles. This was in the easy part of the Nantahala National Forest before getting to the NOC. It was not as tiring as a 16 mile day I pulled afterward, and the 16 mile day was not as tiring as the 13 mile day I pulled on the steep downhill to Fontana Dam.

I see thru-hiking as an immersion experience. For me it's:

- Mental challenge versus the terrain.
- Physical challenge involving fitness and age.
- Lifestyle immersion in the wilderness environment.
- Lifestyle challenge to retain my principles and values.
- Meeting other people with similar personalities and experiences as myself. This may not happen in the (un)real world.
- The "Zen" experience of a self-imposed Sysiphaean (sp?) task. Also, the letting go of desire for comforts and laziness.
- The "yoga of the thru-hiker" if you will. (I'm not really sure what I mean by that either ;-) but I suppose it's similar to how mountain climbers must feel.)

After quitting the AT (for financial reasons), I recaptured some of this "spirit" on the Laurel Highlands Trail, where I was able to make a 17.5 and ~18-19 mile day back-to-back.

For the reasons mentioned above, I only want to do the AT as a thru-hike, so on my next attempt I will be back at Springer, not at Fontana Dam. I *do* stop and enjoy the environment and views where I want (at least I think so!), but there is nothing to do out there but hike, and I really enjoy pushing myself as well. The views and the natural environment are the reward for the hard work involved in getting there. You can hike the AT to Wayah Bald or you can drive there and walk 100 feet on pavement. I got there the hard way, and because of that, I feel I enjoyed it more than the people I met there who hadn't.

In the short time I was out there, I met great people, had great experiences, and enjoyed myself tremendously. At the same time, I was trying to "bootstrap" myself toward greater fitness and longer mileage. In fact, I miss it terribly and will probably do everything in my power to return as soon as possible (next year or the year after). I need this sort of thing as a challenge in my life, it brings out the best in me. But that is true of other things I do in life, not just hiking.

Peace,
Peter "CamelMan"

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#134809 - 06/07/10 01:27 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: CamelMan]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Great post CamelMan!

As a personal experience, I understand high milage "thru-hiking", and I believe I get much (if not all) of what you're getting out of your experience.

I don't do trails much, it's bushwhacking that I really enjoy, and I don't ever really count miles as a necessary part of the experience.

I just can't think that this preference gives me any real advantages over those that thru-hike, or climb, or even ride horses on a trail. It's just a personal preference, and I believe the benefits you point out can be had by any of these means.

But in my experience, thru-hikers often (not always) use the number of miles they hike as a stick to beat down others so they can feel taller. What bothers me most about this, I suppose, is that it discourages others from hiking by making them feel incompetent when really, as others here have said before, "It's just walking".

I did my firt 25 mile hike when I was 12 years old. It was a "March of Dimes Walk-a-Thon". I did that each year until I was 14 years old, then I did a 23 mile hike in the Sequoia National Forest for several consecutive years in the summer.

So, when I was 14 years old I easily hiked over 100 miles between Late Spring and Mid-Summer, probably closer to 150 miles. And honestly, this is the first time I ever even tried to count them. I have no clue how many miles I've hiked since then, not even the slightest clue. But I know I have loved every moment I have spent on my wanderings.

For years I worked with people in wheelchairs. Most all of them knew I spent as much time as possible hiking around. Over the years I took quite a few of them hiking with me. Malibu Creek State Park was one of my favorite places to take them and these little hikes often opened up doors they thought were closed to them forever.

The great outdoors can be enjoyed by most everyone. That's what I want to impart when I discuss the sport. I believe you do that with your post.

Bill
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#135031 - 06/11/10 07:05 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: billstephenson]
CamelMan Offline
member

Registered: 06/05/10
Posts: 17
Loc: Chicago, IL
Thanks for the complement. I definitely would not use my preference as a way of judging other hikers. We're all different people even though we enjoy the same activity. I've been humbled by much faster hikers than me, and did not question what they were getting out of it. One person was probably 10 days ahead of me when I left the AT, but I know she was working within a limited timeframe, so the choice was either hike 20 mile days right from Springer, or hope that you'll have more time in the future. There's always the problem that deferred dreams may never materialize.

Kudos to you for helping the disabled experience the outdoors. I think accessible trails are a great thing.

Camel Man

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#135313 - 06/19/10 08:32 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: CamelMan]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I section hiked in the smokies in mid April. My second night was on the AT at Ice Water Springs. The place was full of thru hikers. The milage you did from the git go is impresive. I was just getting back int backpacking. I did onle 7 miles a day and was at my destination bye noon. I talked to several thru hikes and most of them staretd out from Springer in the 8 to 12 mile range. They said bye the time you hit the Smokies you get your Legs! I have also been following several hiker blogs one couple I met at ice water and another girl as well. One couple is in there 60s and retired! They all do there own thing and are progressing at about the same rate. It is giving me insite to hike my hike when I retire at 55. Anyway I enjoyed your coments Happy Trail

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#135456 - 06/24/10 01:33 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
ral Offline
member

Registered: 11/30/02
Posts: 123
Loc: San Francisco
I hiked the PCT in 2006--when I was 53------it is certainly possible to do those miles once you are in shape-----we averaged around 20 in areas w/o big mountains. Also note there seems to be alot of new math that goes on with thru hikers that comes from the attitude that huge miles are somehow desirable.
I have to laugh but there was this group of young folks I saw on the second day and then again in Ashland--and they would go on and on about these huge miles but there they were at the same place at the same time----

If I did this again I would not push hard---I would just spend the summer on the trial and be good with wherver I managed to get---after all no one cares where you get

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#135477 - 06/24/10 09:05 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: ral]
Kent W Offline
member

Registered: 10/15/09
Posts: 607
Loc: IL.
I have to agree. There was one hiker tbow who said, I am taking a light day around 9 miles. He said he had already saw too many hikers who push for big days and burn out. My quest will be to finish the AT. Thru would be great but if longer is required, I care Not. I will do it for me and me only. I hope I live long enough to retire and fullfill my quest? Happy Trails

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#136536 - 07/19/10 12:06 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
I think you'd be surprised at our species knack for endurance. We may not run or walk fast, but we can run and walk for a long time. Google "endurance hunting." But yea, 26 miles in a day? That's actually not so rough. If you're doing 2 mph, that's 13 hours of walking. Throw in a few hours for breaks and steeps, so maybe 16 hours a day? It's not a cakewalk, but it's totally doable if you're in decent shape.
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#136537 - 07/19/10 12:10 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: Trailrunner]
gregpphoto Offline
member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 23
Loc: New Jersey
Love it. Indeed, hike your own hike. I'm a lot like you, I look at the terrain as a challenge, and coming back to the same places, I try and beat previous times. But for me at least, the scenery is more than just a bonus. It's the most magical, fascinating place there is. It's a reason for living, for existing, for life and love. I see beauty in every single leaf and water droplet. Or something like that smile

Originally Posted By Trailrunner
I've been a competitor since I was 10. I'm goal oriented. I like a challenge. So when I hike or backpack I "compete" against the terrain. That's what gives me satisfaction. That's what makes me happy. The scenery is just an added bonus. Yes, I suffer and I like the feeling of being totally spent at the end of a hard day. No one will ever make me feel guilty about this.

That being said, I can fully understand how other people feel that they see more by covering less ground. I will never take issue with anyone who does. There is no right or wrong way to backpack, just whatever suits the individual.

Whatever happened to "hike your own hike"?
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www.gregpphoto.com

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#137850 - 08/20/10 04:08 PM Re: Some Level Headed Opinions, please [Re: JimmyTH]
Spock Offline
member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 679
Loc: Central Texas
People on long trails either get into fantastic shape or start to break down somehow. The ones who get into super shape regularly do multiple 26 mile days on the AT. I've hiked with several before dropping behind after a few days. Not to start a controversy, but folks who have done the triple crown say the AT has much harder walking than the others, so I suspect higher mileages are practical on other trails.

My personal experience is that on the AT 70-year-old men and women will do 26 miles now and then and some 60+-year-old men and women do 20 miles almost every single day. Occasionally, someone will to something completely nutsoid such as crossing Maryland in one stretch or 50-60 miles in a day just to have bragging rights.

It is also true that folks who exceed their recovery limits don't do well the next day. But again, long trails can turn people into motor monsters.


Edited by Spock (08/20/10 04:11 PM)

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