View Full Version : speed and enjoyment

01-26-2003, 00:24
is the speed with which one hikes and the enjoyment that one receives from the trail necessarily proportioned inversely?

01-26-2003, 02:30
I don't think so. I've had people whiz by enjoying the hell out of the scenery while I was poking along watching sweat drip off the end of my nose!:D

01-26-2003, 03:20
This whole saying of "they don't see anything" comes entirely from people who don't enjoy long days. If you don't ENJOY doing 25 a day then don't do 25 a day...but if someone enjoys doing 25 a day then please don't give them **** for it. I have never heard another big mileage hiker comment negatively about another hiker who prefers shorter days...BUT I have always heard the opposite.

Basically what I am saying is that everyone says "Hike Your Own Hike" but the majority of them are full of ****, cause big mileage hikers get slack for their choices. Do your own thing and please remember that the more miles you hike per day = the more you see per day...plain and simple.

Don't give people slack for doing 25, cause chances are they aren't giving you slack for doing 12...worry about yourself, nothing else.

01-26-2003, 09:19
IMHO, I beleive it depends a great deal on the individual. I met hikers who could easily knockoff multiple days of 20+ miles. They enjoyed those miles and were able to enjoy the views because their bodies were capable of handling the miles. For me, a 20+ day was a great deal of work. If I hiked a 20, the next day I was totally wasted. So for me to do a 20+ meant I was in haul ass mode all day long. I just had to put my head down and truck. So the days I did 20+'s, we're nearly as enjoyable to me as the days I did 16's.

I have to agree with Stranger on the B.S. in registers and in shelters about those that do big mile days vs those that don't. Never understood that. I had the same problem with those that seemed to get bent out of shape about blue blazers, white blazers, slack packers. Hey.. hike your hike and I'll hike mine. As long as my hike doesn't negatively impact yours or someone elses, chill out and enjoy the miles.

01-26-2003, 10:05
I think there are three issues here.

First, some people's pace is faster than others. If you have a fast pace, then you can do more miles and still stop and see things for just as long as everyone else. Plain and simple.

Second, I think that if you get up and get going in the moring you are going to do more miles than those that sleep in. The choice is yours.

Third, what are your goals for your hike? For some, it's to hike the trail. For others maybe it's to get to the next town.

Forrest Phil
01-26-2003, 10:32
I have hiked both fast and slowly. I enjoy moving quickly and feel that you can see and experience plenty. I also enjoy poking along, looking at lots of things along the way, talking to everyone I come across. Both styles are enjoyable. They are just DIFFERENT. I know folks that hiked very fast and feel like they missed alot. I know folks that hiked slowly and feel that their trip was drudgery. Fast or slow, white or blue, shelter or tent, stay in town or stay on the trail, pack or sack, sneakers or boots. Who cares? We each just need to do what is right for us at the time. We all want enjoy a walk around in the woods. I suggest to go the speed that seems right for you and be open to change so that you can enjoy what you are doing.

01-26-2003, 10:54
If you really want to "see" things on your hike, it usually has very little to do with how far you hike each day. When and with whom you hike each day is far more likely to influence what you see.

If you are interested in seeing wildlife, hiking alone & early is perhaps the best way. Getting up and hiking quietly at daybreak will afford you the best chance to see many different kinds of wildlife.

I also enjoyed stopping at a shelter around 6 or 7 PM to eat dinner. After my meal was done I would sometimes hike 2-3 more miles by myself to find a campsite. I usually saw very few people during that time, and found it a great opportunity for observation & reflection.

Many of the people who complained that people were hiking too fast to "smell the roses" either had terrible observation skils, or were too stoned to notice the obvious anyway.

SGT Rock
01-26-2003, 12:29
To do a 20 mile day may require you to speed hike, or it may be simply hiking 2 miles an hour all day. 2mph isn't hard hiking, as far as I know, most hikers can do that. I would rather get up at dawn, eat and start wlking in the nice cool air. Take a few nice long breaks, even a nap, then get to camp at about night time. You don't have to hike fast to do do. The difference is not spending a lot of time farting around in a camp, hike 10 hours a day at a normal hiker pace, and you can see a lot more per day than the guy that sleeps until 10, and hikes until 6.

Imagine getting up at 0630, be on the trail by 0730. Hike for 2.5 hours at 2mph (average) and take 1 hour break (brunch), at the end of your break it is 1100 and you have nocked off 5 miles. Then hike 2.5 more hours and take another 1 hour break (lunch) and at the end of your break it is only 1430 and you have knocked off 10 miles. Hike another 2.5 hours and take another 1 hour break (my nap) and you have 15 miles done so far and it is only 1800. Hike another 2.5 hours and it is 2030 and you are setting up camp as the sun is going down. These are summertime daylight hours, but you get the point. Chill in camp for two hours setting up, eating, journal writing, or whatever, and you still get 8 hours sleep. I eat 4 big meals a day, take an hour long nap in my hammock, and still get plenty of sleep. Of course I don't always get 20 miles days, I sometimes take 1.5-2 hour breaks LOL. 20 mile days for me also only come if I'm solo, no one I have ever hiked with wants to do 20 mile days.

Another part of doing this (at least for me) is the fact I carry a light load. I don't hink I could do this with a 50 pound load for continuous days, and not until I got my trail legs under me. If you can keep your load below 25 pounds, you will also find your hiking more relaxed while you are doing it. You will have your head up looking around instead of looking at your feet and grunting along. At the end of the day you will still be able to move and only find yourself tired, not stone bruised and worn out.

Of course you don't need to be anal about the times, this is supposed to be an example, not a training schedule.

Forrest Phil
01-26-2003, 13:09
First Sergeant, you make a very good point about starting early each morning. I am always the first person out of camp or away from the shelter. There is much to be seen and experienced at first light. First light and dusk are perhaps my favorite times of day to hike because they seem the most peaceful. Its is easiest to see things and "smell the flowers" if you are in a position to do so. By this I mean out on the trail. If you walk long hours you afford yourself more opportunities for trail experiences. I agree that long miles do not have to mean hiking fast with no down time.

It is also easier to see things if you are happy physically. I mean not beat up by a heavy load, and not out of shape, or malnurished,or sleep and rest deprived. Now, I am not saying that you have to do all these things, but it does work for some of us. :)

01-26-2003, 14:12
many great thoughts.
thank you

SGT Rock
01-26-2003, 14:20
Forest Phil,

I find I go hiking to hike, not to camp. I suppose you feel the same way. Sometimes I'll eat dinner and keep walking until it's time to go to bed because I would rather spend my hiking trips hiking, not camping. On the other hand, sometimes there is fun hiking to a specific spot (like the Falls of Dismal) and staying there extra time, but that is camping, not hiking.

But I think in the end, that many people drag all that gear for camping, not cut back to just what they need for hiking. I just can't see sitting around at a shelter or a camp for hours when there are things to see and do on the trail.

Add to that, I saw a lot of thru-hikers in 1999 (when I was out during the thru-hike season) that would hike until 2300-2400, but sleep unti noon. How can you see much that way? Hiking in the morning when the light is coming up is not to be missed - you can see and it is still cool.

01-26-2003, 14:39
sgt rock writes
"Add to that, I saw a lot of thru-hikers in 1999 (when I was out during the thru-hike season) that would hike until 2300-2400, but sleep unti noon. How can you see much that way? "

Moon. stars, distant lights, Trains..

remembering back to 99 when i walked between peeks corner in the smokies to tri corner knob in the late evening and night ..the big moon coming up over the ridge at tricorner is a sight nit to be missed. also oct of 99 walked from mollies ridge shelter to the birch springs shelter in the late evening and dark beautiful..love to night hike..esp. on nights with big moons..

the ridge coming down into
Erwin TN..and ending at uncle johhnys hostile..(haha) is a Great night hike...even better at night...the choo-choo train comes up the river valley below and you can watch the train lights travel slowly up the gorge...love it.

hike at night..you'll see things that aren't there in the daytime!

In the hills there are ways that are dark!!!

SGT Rock
01-26-2003, 14:46
Maybe, but mostly what I got from them was the saw everthing within the confines of their headlamp. I night hike as well, but not with a light, and that is for the reasons you stated above. But mostly what I got from these guys was the hiking for miles, pounding the brew, and sleeping late. then trying to hike until late at night with a headlamp to make up miles, just to sleep late again, so they have to hike at night again to make up miles.

Forrest Phil
01-26-2003, 15:20
Rock, I too am out to walk not camp. I prefer to do my camping on Trail Work trips. I often induldge my self with luxury items such as a chair, or cooler, or cotton. I like to move with what I need and stop for what I need, eat and sleep. Some conversation at breaks is very nice too, and perhaps that is what the folks who spend a lot of time at the shelter or campsite enjoy.

I think the early morning is great for hearing, seeing, and smelling things that are out when few hikers are. Smokeymtnsteve makes some good points about hiking after dark. I inadvertently walked across Max Patch, twice, in the dark in 99. It was windy and cold but the views were incredible. We do miss some things during the day that the night hikers get to experience. When I do hike after dark I do not use a head lamp. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I hiked the ridge north of Blackburn Trail Center after dark and it was fantastic. We ended up walking towards the moon and the trail was illuminated in front of us. Clouds were speeding past the moon and a neat glow shown through the clouds. There were many stars out as well. Winter is a good time to be out after dark because the light is reflected and improved by snow cover.

steve hiker
01-26-2003, 17:35
From what I've read it seems a lot of people hike from one shelter to another, thus not hiking their natural pace. Their natural pace may be fewer or more miles than the distance between shelters.

I've read several times in journals where someone is really sore toward evening but pushes on X miles to the next shelter, or stops at a shelter when they are really feeling good and in the pace of walking. While there are places where you pretty much have to use the shelter system, such as the White Mts, it's not that way on most of the trail.

Thus I'm thinking of foregoing the shelters and making camp whenever the urge strikes me, wherever that may be. One thing I do not want on my thru-hike is to feel "scheduled." I'll hike ... just whatever the hell I feel like.

01-27-2003, 09:16
I shelter hopped last spring from Springer to Damascus. Doing this does indeed change your daily mileage, at least in the beginning. For the first week or 10 days of my hike, I didn't feel very confident about hiking 20 miles in a day and so had several shortish (12 mile) days, rather than trying to do 20+. By the time I got to the Smokys, I felt comfortable doing 20s and it didn't feel limited in my range or that I was having to push myself harder than I wanted to. However, I did pass places that I would like to have camped at (Max Patch, various Balds), but wasn't sure enough of the weather just to toss down my pad and bag. This, I think, is the main downside in shelter hopping. Of course, if you start with the main pack of thruhikers, you may not be able to shelter hop very effectively.

Another reason why people push for shelters is that there is usually reliable water close by.

01-27-2003, 20:44
Originally posted by stranger
I have never heard another big mileage hiker comment negatively about another hiker who prefers shorter days...BUT I have always heard the opposite.

This past year, I got several people that criticized me for going "slow." (Well, if you did this, this and this could go faster.....Your pack's too heavy, that's why you're going slow.....If you hike more miles per day, you have less days between supply and therefore can carry less food and therefore go faster.....When did you start? Well *I* started two months after you....<well, good for you>) This was when I was going between 15 and 20 miles a day.

Even though there were several people that I got these comments from at different times, there was one guy that said all of them to me in the few minutes I talked to him. I'll tell you, I was sure glad that he WAS going faster then me, cause I sure didn't want have to put up with his Holier Than Thou attitude again. Total ego trippin'.

In total honesty, I think it was cool that these people were hiking the trail the way they wanted. I didn't mind them talking about their mileage (It intrested me to see why they wanted to do those kind of miles. Most answered because they could.), but where I draw the line is when they started to tell me that I should have been doing the same. I didn't want to hiked that way.

Stranger - you might not have had any of these experiences of "high" milers talking down "low" milers, but I know quite a few that did. It does happen everybody.

01-28-2003, 01:26
Well I must say I think it sucks that people gave you slack for doing shorter days, they were probably so hell bent on knocking out miles that they were envious of your style. I guess it does happen both ways...I just have personally never heard it before now. I think these days the whole ultra-light trend is pushing more and more hikers into doing big days. Maybe they feel if they are light they have to do 20's...I don't know? I am not a ultra-light hiker, and I wouldn't consider myself a big mileage hiker in general...but have knocked out the occaisonal 30. I think in general people should worry more about their experiences on the trail, the people they meet, the places they see, and what they take away from the trail...Rather than their pack weight and mileage.

01-28-2003, 08:43
I hope I don't sound critical of anyone's hiking style. But, there are some "givens."

First, most people are competitive to some degree. Anything you can do, I can do better attitude. For most, it's human nature. Take that for what's it's worth.

Second, everyone braggs about their big mileage days. What they don't say is that afterwards, they did a zero or low mileage day or two. In the final analysis, this type of rabbit doesn't get to Katahdin any faster than the turtle who just keeps going and going.

A much better indication of progress is not the daily mileage but rather the weekly mileage.

warren doyle
09-22-2003, 10:22
Great responses to this question.
Thank you whiteblaze.net. This is the way a forum should be.
My meager response would be to quote Emerson "We see only as much as we possess." regardless of our pace and/or daily mileage.