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View Full Version : How many miles to plan a day?



Spiritual Pillgrim
12-08-2005, 22:35
If things go as planned, I want to kick off northbound in early to mid march in order to beat the spring rush:jump . I would expect my early milaeage will be shorter do to limited daylight, snow, a heavier pack and not having trail legs. As time goes on I would expect my daily mileage to increase. I don't want to have many 20 mile days and would like to average 12-15 miles a day. My paper plan has about a 6 month time frame. I don't feel like rushing or trying to break any speed records. So what might I "average" each day/month as I walk north. My biggest problem is :datz trying to figure out where to send mail drops (and how many). I will need to have them pretty much set to go for my trail support team (that is, my wife) when I take off.

TooTall
12-09-2005, 00:23
Maybe 8 miles to start, 12 miles a day in a couple weeks then in a few more weeks about 15 miles a day average the rest of the hike. You'll do more that 15 miles some days but you'll also be taking days off so it'll average out.

If you can't decide just go with the lower mileage (extra food in the mail drop). Take what you need until the next drop based on your current mileage. Toss the rest of the food into a hiker box. Or you could mail the food ahead in a bounce box. You could supplement your mail drops with some food purchases along the trail. Your might be doing that anyways as your food preferences can change drastically once you start the hike.

Too Tall Paul

saimyoji
12-09-2005, 01:35
...........

Peaks
12-09-2005, 10:37
There have been several threads on mileage and time required for a thru-hike. Also, the subject is covered in several books that deal with planning. Do some reading and research.

The Solemates
12-09-2005, 10:39
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]If things go as planned, I want to kick off northbound in early to mid march in order to beat the spring rush:jump

HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:bse

Lone Wolf
12-09-2005, 10:42
Mid-March you ain't gonna beat no rush. Plans get tossed aside after day 1. Let it all happen.

Skyline
12-09-2005, 11:29
Mid-March you ain't gonna beat no rush. Plans get tossed aside after day 1. Let it all happen.

Damn Wolf I was just about to post those exact words. I can't believe we agree 100% on something! :-)

If you want to avoid the spring crowds, leave earlier than March 1 or beyond late April. But other than that, your thought re: daily mileage is a good one. Six months total is a good plan, and you could do that April 15 > October 15. If you could drop it to 5-1/2 months, late April to early October would be even better.

Lone Wolf
12-09-2005, 11:32
Ain't that somethin!:D

Kerosene
12-09-2005, 11:37
I wouldn't bother trying to pack up all your re-supply boxes and trying to figure out when and where to send them before you leave. As L. Wolf suggests, whatever plans you start with will very quickly change enough that you will have wasted a lot of time, food, and postage.

Too Tall gives a good approximation of how your miles may build up over time, which is probably pretty good for most 40-something American males. Don't let yourself get sucked into big mileage days early on, even if your body feels just fine. After a month you will have a much better sense for what you're capable of, with many people easily walking consecutive 20-mile days in Virginia when the days are longer, their packs are lighter, and their joints are used to it. Other consistent advice is that you should plan to cut back your average daily mileage by perhaps 30% once you reach the Whites, as the terrain is tougher and the views are incredible.

Rather than try to pre-plan all your mail drops, consider creating a "standard box" that you can have shipped up the trail a few weeks before you get to a town. Also, use a bounce box to ship other items ahead of you. Finally, supplement your mail drops with other food from the local grocery store so you don't get bored to tears of oatmeal/ramen/mac&cheese/whatever.

Singe03
12-09-2005, 11:57
No plan is going to last more than a couple of days, there are just too many variables to make any sort of detailed pre-planning work. Besides, who needs the stress of hiking to an itenery when virtually everything will conspire to thwart it.

It may seem like alot now, but the 20 mile days a bit later in the hike are nothing, they will feel natural, in fact more natural than 15 will feel early on. I only planned two 20+ days on my entire trip (by plan I mean deciding to do a 20+ tomorrow as I go to bed), yet I wound up doing quite a few. Usually when I had a long day it was because I planned a 16 or so mile day, got to where I planned to stop early and decided to keep moving for a whole variety of reasons. I felt good, wanted to take advantage of good weather, weather sucked and I'm soaked already so why stop now, wanted to be alone, wanted to be with company, wanted to catch up with someone in particular, wanted to get away from someone, looked like a good view ahead, another 5 will set me up for an early town stop tomorrow, all reasons I chose to keep going at one time or another (many of those also served as good excuses to stop early on some days).

Big mileage days are not stressful if you let them happen naturally, and the knowledge that you can do them occasionally frees your mind up to not stress over taking a low mileage day when your not feeling it. Your body will tell you the best pace, just always keep a couple of light weight emergency meals in your bag and you are in good shape to let your body tell you how far to go on any given day.

chris
12-09-2005, 11:57
If you do not know the answer to this question already, it means you should plan on about 8-10 miles a day at the start, which is about what most people plan on and do.

Lone Wolf
12-09-2005, 12:01
If things go as planned, I want to kick off northbound in early to mid march in order to beat the spring rush:jump . I would expect my early milaeage will be shorter do to limited daylight, snow, a heavier pack and not having trail legs. As time goes on I would expect my daily mileage to increase. I don't want to have many 20 mile days and would like to average 12-15 miles a day. My paper plan has about a 6 month time frame. I don't feel like rushing or trying to break any speed records. So what might I "average" each day/month as I walk north. My biggest problem is :datz trying to figure out where to send mail drops (and how many). I will need to have them pretty much set to go for my trail support team (that is, my wife) when I take off.
The only PLAN I would stick to is taking 6 months to do the trail. MOST hike it way too fast. 6 months is comfortable.

rickb
12-09-2005, 12:43
Is that for the whole thing, or only as far as Gorham?

BTW, you ever take time out to golf on a long hike, Wolf? Gorham has a course.

I have head a bunch of golfers talk about playing thru, so figured that must be a popular stop.

rickb
12-09-2005, 12:46
Warren Doyle suggests these paces at www.warrendoyle.com. They seem reasonable to me:


southern 421 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill.
Springer to Watauga Dam Road
6 months = 8-12 miles per day 5 months = 10-15 miles per day

The next 1,340 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.
Watauga Dam Road to Glencliff, NH
6 months = 14-18 miles per day 5 months = 15-20 miles per day

The next 215 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill
Glencliff, NH to Flagstaff Lake
6 months = 8-12 miles per day 5 months = 10-15 miles per day

The northern 170 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.
Flagstaff Lake to Katahdin
6 months = 12 15 miles per day 5 months = 15-20 miles per day

Lone Wolf
12-09-2005, 12:50
Is that for the whole thing, or only as far as Gorham?

BTW, you ever take time out to golf on a long hike, Wolf? Gorham has a course.

I have head a bunch of golfers talk about playing thru, so figured that must be a popular stop.
No. Never played a full round but found a wedge on Cheoah bald one year and carried it for awhile hitting stones. Another year I carried a driver up Katahdin and sliced a ball towards Millinocket.:D

hammock engineer
12-09-2005, 13:01
Taz1, I was originally thinking as you where. Planning food drops, estimating milage (something about the engineer in me). But after reading a lot of people's experience and advice, both here and on trail journals, I decided not to plan anything out. I am just going to start in Maine and leave myself 6 months to get to Springer. I'll just pick up enough food along the way to get me to the next stop.

The more I think about it, the not planning and carefree part of the hike is part of the overall enjoyment. How often can you forget about what day or time it is and just do and go where ever you want to.

Mouse
12-09-2005, 13:09
I gave up any fixed schedule and just let my housemate know a few weeks in advance when and where to send something, guessing on the best PO based on how I was doing at the time.

So many unexpected things happened that destroyed any firm planning. Repeatedly I had an injury of one sort or another slow me down and those simply cannot be anticipated. Other times I sped along unexpectedly quickly. A lot can happen in six months!

Nean
12-09-2005, 13:35
You don't state your fitness level, that has a lot to do with it. You've got some great answers so far, as WB is a good place to do some reading and research. I like starting earlier, really. No crowd, great views. March 1 has become a popular start date. Do not do mail drops unless you have to. This takes away from so much flexablity and is such a hassel it should be banned!! Towns have stores! and their hours are MUCH better than the P.O. I'll bounce a box to my next zero, 1o days up the trail- town clothes, guides, grinder,etc. Plan as you go. Its much better IMHO, to plan mostly for the next town, 4-6 days at a time instead of all at once. Some people do the grand plan and it works well for them. I guess it depends on what you enjoy.:o It cost more to do maildrops, but I'm sure there might be an exception, there always is...
BTW, I hooked one towards Boise off Borah:)

Brock
12-09-2005, 15:34
Warren Doyle suggests these paces at www.warrendoyle.com (http://www.warrendoyle.com). They seem reasonable to me:


southern 421 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill.
Springer to Watauga Dam Road
6 months = 8-12 miles per day 5 months = 10-15 miles per day

The next 1,340 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.
Watauga Dam Road to Glencliff, NH
6 months = 14-18 miles per day 5 months = 15-20 miles per day

The next 215 miles of the AT are 50% uphill and 50% downhill
Glencliff, NH to Flagstaff Lake
6 months = 8-12 miles per day 5 months = 10-15 miles per day

The northern 170 miles of the AT are 33% uphill, 33% downhill, and 33% level.
Flagstaff Lake to Katahdin
6 months = 12 15 miles per day 5 months = 15-20 miles per day

I ran into Warren Doyles group heading North in Georgia. Their first planned zero day was in Monson ME! Not my type of hiking.

Skyline
12-10-2005, 11:22
Generally it is true that maildrops usually make less sense, and cost more, than buying food and most expendables in town. There are probably three or four AT towns where the opposite is true. Somewhere on here I recall reading what those towns were but can't recall for sure right now--and since I sectioned my logistics were different than a thru-hiker's so they probably didn't apply. Wouldn't be surprised if Delaware Water Gap and Andover might be two. If you search WB I bet you'll find it. Seems to me it was written by Baltimore Jack, Weathercarrot, or someone else who shares freely of their considerable knowledge.

Some hikers including me have done maildrops because they have special medical needs, dietary needs, or they pre-assemble their own home-dehydrated meals. My thought was: If I was going to be relying on a small package anyway, why not just do the whole resupply as a maildrop? But of course I still bought a few fresh items when I could in towns.

Skyline
12-10-2005, 11:24
I ran into Warren Doyles group heading North in Georgia. Their first planned zero day was in Monson ME! Not my type of hiking.

Man that's more like a forced march! Not for me either, but I've had the pleasure of meeting a few Doylies over the years and it didn't seem to bother the majority of them. There were some on the 2000 expedition who definitely didn't care for it, though.

Colter
12-10-2005, 11:44
My biggest problem is :datz trying to figure out where to send mail drops (and how many). I will need to have them pretty much set to go for my trail support team (that is, my wife) when I take off.

My best advice would be to seriously consider doing very few mail drops.

Here's one version of my usual speech on the topic...

The more you want to pick up "snail mail," special food items, or other items from home such as prescriptions, the more mail/food drops you'll want. The advantages of mail drops are obvious; it's fun to get packages and mail from friends and relatives. You can also get food items that may be hard to find on the road, and may be able to get them cheaper. For me though, the disadvantages outweighed the advantages in almost every case:


To me, the trail is largely about freedom. Mail drops tend to make you speed up or slow down so you arrive at the right place at the right time.
Before you start your hike, you don't know which foods you'll get tired of. And you WILL get tired of some foods. Also, MOST folks who buy a summer's worth of backpacking food end up not completing their hike.
Often a food drop is missed, and there's lots of hassles for everyone involved to get the package to where you'll be next.
There's a certain burden placed on your support crew back home.
Mailing food has grown more expensive. Saving on your grocery bill is usually not a sufficient reason to do a food drop.
Usually you have food left when you get your food drop, forcing you to give away, throw out, or carry the extra.


Some common places for mail drops, where getting good food might be difficult, are (or have been in the past) Fontana Dam, Delaware Water Gap, Port Clinton, and Bear Mountain. Perhaps other people can list some others.

As far as hiking speed goes, Warren Doyle's advice is probably as good as anyone's. Listen to your body. Realize that hiking the whole AT is a whole lot of hard work at times, but don't push if you're hurt.

sleeveless
12-10-2005, 13:41
I used the info that Baltimore Jack did on resupply here on white blaze. I took tht with another former thru hikers mail drop list and created my own. I had the first few sent and then I called my husband and told him to send out boxes as I anticipated need. I tried to have them sent to places other than the post office so that I didn't have to be concerned about when I could pick them up. The flat rate boxes from the post office are free and usually were big enough. You don't want to much sent because you have to carry it.

Once in a while I would get my mail drop and really not need much so I would bounce that ahead and supplement with town food. You will get a better feeling for your food needs as you go along. I found that I way over bought food before I left and now have a lot left at home.

Don't bother with a bounce box. They are a pain and I got rid of mine real soon. I realized very quickly that the things I was bouncing I could buy if needed almost as cheap as the postage and more conviently. I packed the charger for my cell phone and sent my camera battery charger home. I had extra batteries and charged them all When my family visited and could easily mail them home for recharging. Yes I carried a cell phone. I know it was more weight but made my husband happy to hear from me and was a big help many times in getting rides, especially up in Maine on some of those dirt roads where the pickup trucks never stopped for you.

Anyway, as has already been said, don't make plans just let it happen and you will have a wonderful hike.

Sleeveless '05

general
12-10-2005, 13:43
You don't state your fitness level, that has a lot to do with it. You've got some great answers so far, as WB is a good place to do some reading and research. I like starting earlier, really. No crowd, great views. March 1 has become a popular start date. Do not do mail drops unless you have to. This takes away from so much flexablity and is such a hassel it should be banned!! Towns have stores! and their hours are MUCH better than the P.O. I'll bounce a box to my next zero, 1o days up the trail- town clothes, guides, grinder,etc. Plan as you go. Its much better IMHO, to plan mostly for the next town, 4-6 days at a time instead of all at once. Some people do the grand plan and it works well for them. I guess it depends on what you enjoy.:o It cost more to do maildrops, but I'm sure there might be an exception, there always is...
BTW, I hooked one towards Boise off Borah:)

no need for mail drops in most towns except places where buying groceries isn't cost effective. for example, you might not want to fill your food sack if mountain house is the only thing available at over $5 a pop.

po is closed sundays, most of the day saturday and every day past 5 or so.

if you do blow a mail drop by a day or so, just hitch it and get it from the best available road crossing. you can figure out how to get back when your belly is full.

sleeveless
12-10-2005, 13:49
Colter, I loved being around when other hikers went through their food boxes because they often gave away good stuff. And didn't you just love the hiker boxes when you found a special treat.

Nean
12-11-2005, 03:53
I'll admit a bounce box doesn't work for everyone, but it sure does for some. Depends;)

Lone Wolf
12-11-2005, 09:10
I depend on Depends at my advanced age.

gumby
12-11-2005, 14:36
I depend on Depends at my advanced age.

I turned 49 this past October, planning on making a thru for my 52 or 53rd birthday, guess at my advanced age then I'll need Depends:eek:

I guess I need to add those to my spreadsheet and figure how much they weigh.:-?

Yikes, gumby

Burn
12-11-2005, 22:00
if you did 12 miles a day, you'll get there in time....cause some days yer gonna blow out 25 and 30's cause you feel like it, wether it's tough or easy, you'll still do it. 8-15....i guess i agree with warren

stag3
12-12-2005, 20:13
Come on man...learn to p**s and s**t in the woods and leave the Depends at home!!! Don't know how much they weigh, but packing them out would be:-? :-? ..what do you think?

Stag

Frosty
12-12-2005, 21:21
MOST folks who buy a summer's worth of backpacking food end up not completing their hike. Probably true, but then:
MOST folks who use few mail drops end up not completing their hike.
MOST folks who buy from supermarkets end up not completing their hike.
MOST folks who blueblaze end up not completing their hike.
MOST folks who don't blueblaze end up not completing their hike.
MOST women end up not completing their hike.
MOST men end up not completing their hike.

In fact, given the current completin percentages, it is probably safe to say that MOST folks who whatever end up not completing their hike.

Colter
12-12-2005, 23:22
In fact, given the current completin percentages, it is probably safe to say that MOST folks who whatever end up not completing their hike.

Very true. I'm not saying lots of food drops will reduce your odds of completing a thru, only that you may end up with crates of mac and cheese and gorp and ramen IF you don't complete your hike, something that won't be a problem if you shop on the way. Know what I mean?

Frosty
12-13-2005, 00:31
Very true. I'm not saying lots of food drops will reduce your odds of completing a thru, only that you may end up with crates of mac and cheese and gorp and ramen IF you don't complete your hike, something that won't be a problem if you shop on the way. Know what I mean?I knew what you meant, and agree with you that buying a lot of food ahead of time isn't a good idea if you haven't backpacked a lot and know that you will eat that food. Besides, there are so many places to buy food, there isn't need for very many food drops anyway.

i have staples I always eat, though. I like oatmeal (two packets) for breakfast when it is cold, and cereal (w/powdered milk) in warm weather. It never varies from that. I like pop-tart for morning snack, tuna in foil and maybe crackers for lunch, and granola bar for afternoon snack. Dinner varies greatly, but always, always, a snickers bar for desert.

Footslogger
12-13-2005, 11:15
I'll admit a bounce box doesn't work for everyone, but it sure does for some. Depends;)
=====================================
Same here ...I made good use out of mine and would definitely use one again on the AT. Knew plenty of hikers in 2003 who did not use a bounce box and were happy. Definitely not a good/bad thing ...just one more decision.

'Slogger

Johnny Swank
12-19-2005, 19:04
I had something like 20 maildrops and a bounce box. I'd hang onto the bounce box and have minimal food drops, mostly for mail and homemade cookies from home though. It's just not that big of a deal to get ahold of food if you don't have any special dietary needs.

neo
12-20-2005, 16:54
20 to 25 miles a day very doable from ga to early nh:cool: neo

neo
12-20-2005, 16:55
20 to 25 miles a day very doable from ga to early nh:cool: neo


just go lite as possible:cool: neo

Peaks
12-21-2005, 09:34
20 to 25 miles a day very doable from ga to early nh:cool: neo

Not for most hikers.