View Full Version : Longing for the trail....

Trail Yeti
09-24-2003, 22:00
God, I haven't been hiking all summer. I have been climbing a lot this summer/fall and the most hiking I have done is lugging my crash pad to the boulderfields.
I need to get out and hike.
I wonder if I could thru again over summer break.....3 and 1/2 months....doable......more important....could I afford it? I reckon i could always live out of hiker boxes.

Lone Wolf
09-24-2003, 23:39
I'll help ya Yeti. I'm the ultimate support dude! Won't cost ya nothin. Seriously. Talk to me.

09-25-2003, 00:40
Bas*ards Bas*ards Bas*ards Bas*ards

Just to be able to pick up sticks and do the trail because you just felt like it!

Mongo The Very Jelous!:-?

Blue Jay
09-25-2003, 07:45
You can do it Mongo, your cage door is always open because you hold it shut.

09-25-2003, 08:40
3.5 months is plenty of time to hike the AT. That is how long it took me to hike the PCT, which is about 500 miles longer. Cost? Well, you could look on it as a challenge. Try to do a thruhike on less than $500. Hiker boxes would be well stocked if you do a summer hike.

As far as longing goes, I finished my summer hike, had to adjust to not eating anything and everything, and quit smoking all at the same time. Withdrawl? Yeah, I've got it in spades.

max patch
09-25-2003, 09:09
Originally posted by chris
3.5 months is plenty of time to hike the AT.

Plenty of time? Lets analyze this a bit.

2,170 miles over 14 weeks (3.5 months) works out to 155 miles per week. Hiking 6 days per week (1 day a week for rest and resupply) means an average of 25.8 miles per day. Every day. Starting on day 1.

26 mile days every day for 3.5 months is not "plenty of time" for the average hiker. Perhaps you should actually hike the AT and then revisit your recommendation.

09-25-2003, 09:19
3.5 months is 105 days. 2170 miles divided by 105 days is 20.67 miles per day. Doable? Highly. Particularly for someone like Yeti who already knows a thing or two about long distance hiking.

Trail Yeti
09-25-2003, 11:11
L. Wolf, thanks for the offer, I might take you up on it. My roommate (pigchicken 02) offered the suggestion that I just do a big section, say HF to Katahdin.....I have to think about it. Maybe I'll just do the LT, maybe I'll just day hike. The 3 1/2 month thruhike is definately gonna be in the back of my mind though.....
Life is Good, Wear a KIlt!
Trail Yeti

Oh, and Max Patch....I am NOT your "average Hiker"....I hike like a bat out of hell....continuous twenties are fun...

Lone Wolf
09-25-2003, 11:14
Hell, go for the AT record! 48 days.
Or Springer to Trail Daze. That's my plan.

09-25-2003, 11:42
hey yeti....

where have you been climbing? i'm going to assume that it is in the boone area. i'm going to be up there sometime in the next few weeks to do one last climb (probably up on shiprock) before i hit the trail.

drop me a line.

grizzly adam

09-25-2003, 11:57
Hey Trail Yeti - I went to ASU, Class of 98 - lived in Boone for 4.5 years. that place is near and dear to me. still have close friends there. bouldered every nook I could fave spots beacon heights, howards knob....linville still crowded?

max patch
09-25-2003, 12:27
Trail Yeti; I wasn't offering you advice. You've thru'd before and you know better than anyone if you could complete another one in 3 1/2 months or not.

My advice was meant for those comtemplating or planning their first thru. Its irresponsible for someone who hasn't thru hiked the AT to glibly state that someone with 3 1/2 months has "plenty" of time to complete their hike. This is 26 miles per day...every day...from day 1 to day 105 with 1 day off per week to rest and take care of town business. Some can. Most can't.

09-25-2003, 12:41
I was responding to Yeti's reply, not giving advice to a prospective thru hiker with no experience. I should have qualified my remark with: ...plenty of time (for you). I have not hiked the entire AT. On the AT I have hiked from Springer to Damascus and in the Whites. I've thru hiked the PCT (500 miles longer, in 105 days) and have around 500 miles of backpacking in the Smokys, so I have some idea of what I am talking about here. Oh, yeah, and there are various trips in actually hard mountain ranges out west, extended exploratory alpine treks in northern BC, walking in Nepal....I'm not an armchair hiker making irresponsible recommendations.

People hike the AT during an academic summer with some frequency. While this is certainly not a common length of time in which to hike the AT, neither would it be a terribly difficult feat to accomplish. The $500 thru hike would be much more difficult.

09-25-2003, 13:13
i'd love to get an idea of what a $500 thru hike of the AT would be w/r/t gear and supply.

09-25-2003, 16:06
Rice+Beans $1/day = $180 over 6 months
Army Surplus Gear = $200
Dictionary to look up meaning of w/r/t = $120

Total $500

09-25-2003, 16:08
with regards to = w / r / t

business lingo. hiker trash need not apply. lo siento

(lo siento = I'm sorry en Espanol)

(Espanol = spanish for Spanish)

09-25-2003, 16:22
Hiking the PCT is a great accomplishment, especially in the speed that you did Chris, but I don't think those miles translate the same on the AT. I've heard from triple crowners and pcters i met that the AT had way more rigorous terrain than the PCT. I've heard its easy to bang out 20-30 mile days for the average hikers. Some aspects of PCT life are much harder than the AT (social, space between resupply, heat etc.) but the up and downs of the AT making it very difficult to hike the trail in 105 days. Its certainly doable but your hiking an awful lot.
I hiked the AT in 150 days, coulda hiked it faster, but didn't see the point. No one cares about records. I certainly don't..

09-25-2003, 16:26
Thanks. :)

09-25-2003, 16:42
If AT is so much tougher than the PCT, why is the average miles per day for the speed record on the AT so much higher than that for the PCT? That is, I think the speed record for the AT is 48 days, which translates to about 45 miles per day. The PCT speed record is now 83 days, which translates to a about 30 miles per day.

It is true that the average thru hiker on the AT averages fewer miles per day than the average PCT thru hiker. Part of this is due to a shorter hiking season, part due to a faster start that PCT hikers must get (water shortages in the south).
Part is due to lighter loads on the PCT. You just don't see people carrying 45 lb loads on the PCT. How common is it on the AT?

The AT has a lot of ups and downs in the south, but the total elevation climbed usually isn't that much. There is one 3,000 ft. climb south of Damascus and, I think, one or two in Virginia (the Priest and ?). Any others before NH and Maine? 3,000 ft climbs are routine on the PCT, and there are plenty of climbs over 5,000 ft. Most climbs outside the Sierra and Washington (so, outside an 800 mile stretch) are graded a little less steep than the climb up Shuckstack or Roan. Some are easier and only a few are steeper. Where the AT gets difficult is in the steepness of some of the shorter climbs. Going up, these are not that big of a deal, but going down people tend to blow apart their knees and ankles. This tends not to happen on the PCT due to an easier grade and lighter packs. Hikers on the AT tend, I believe, to take more time off to heal from injuries and stresses than the sharp downhills put on their bodies.

Which is harder? I don't think you can really tell, nor does it really matter. Average hikers on the PCT are faster than the average hiker on the AT, but the AT is faster for top end hikers (i.e, speed people) than the PCT.

09-25-2003, 16:59
Not having hiked the PCT, I'm not sure I can knowledgeably compare and contrast. But, since this is an interactive bulletin board, I'll share a few observations:
The fastest AT thru-hikes are held by ultra-marathon runners with a support team. Not sure about the PCT. [Corrected by Lone Wolf in later post: Only one of top 4 times was for a runner (I did know that Maineak and Ward walked it, but had forgotten.]
I thought that the grade and footbed of the PCT was better than much of the AT. It's not the vertical ascent that slows me down as much as the steepness of the grade and the rocks I have to clamber over.
A surprising number of AT hikers start out with 45-pound packs (or more!), but the faster ones certainly end up in the 15-25 pound range with food. With more distance between water and food on the PCT, you have to start with a lighter base weight and hike longer days with more miles or else you'll run out of supplies.
The mental aspect of a long distance hike outweighs the physical challenges in most cases, although I think PCT hikers will face greater extremes of weather and temperature that they need to be prepared for.

09-25-2003, 18:20
An Idea for the $500 thru-hike:

A fellow I met on the AT in 98 had solved a big expense issue. He had friends and family sponsor him via his mail drops. He set his MD schedule, then handed out assignments to those who wanted to help. Each person or group was responsible for one drop. They got an address, an estimated date of arrival, mailing instructions, and a list of foods and items. This way, his drops were never exactly the same, he always had surprises, he spent nothing on food, and friends and family were an integral part of his hike without any one person having too much responsibility.

At the end of his hike he threw a big thank-you/celebration party for all the folks who helped him.

Brilliant Idea. Wish I could remember his name. Fish, perhaps? Or somerthing Fish oriented, I think.


09-25-2003, 19:29
If you where going for the under $500 thru hike you would do it in a very fast time! You just couldn't afford town stops! No town stops no money spent....no money spent cheap and no time spent lazing about in town. You could do it in 4 onths with ease. Trail Yeti is a complete Norwegian Racing Saradine so would have no problems with huge mileage every day! Personally if I was you Yeti I would pack you and your Kilt of the PCT and knock a large section of the PCT off. Get people to send you maildrops of food...few towns! Just do it!

The triple crown is awaiting you!


p.s For those who know her Buddah has just finished the PCT!

Trail Yeti
09-26-2003, 00:29
Hmmmm...PCT...there's a thought, I was gonna save that for after graduation. MP- didn't mean to be so abrupt on my post about the "average " hiker.
As for climbing, I boulder more than anything else, Beacon, Blowing Rock, Grandmother....Howards Knob is no access, and I haven't yet been to Lost Cove. I am however, going to Hound Ears next weekend for the comp. And yes, Linville can get pretty crowded!!!
I never thought this thread would take off the way it has......
LW- even I'm not that crazy....48 days, no way..... I would like to enjoy it a little bit!!!

09-26-2003, 00:41
The CDT it what you save for graduation dude!!!!


Lone Wolf
09-26-2003, 00:54
Kerosene, only 1 out of the fastest 4 times are held by an ultamarathoner. David Horton ran. Ward, Maineak, and Pete walked. Pete runs ultras but he walked to his record.

09-26-2003, 08:34
The current PCT speed record is held by Wall, an ultramarathoner. He was unsupported. Before that, it was held by Brian Robinson, another ultramarathoner, who set it during his calendar triple crown hike (also unsupported). Before that, it was held by Ray Jardine. I don't think Jardine or Robinson ran any of the trail and am not sure about Wall. Wall didn't put up too ridiculous numbers (okay, so 300 miles in a week is pretty far out), so I don't think he ran much, if at all.

The PCT is great Yeti and you can do it in an academic summer. I'll be putting up more pics soon. There were two others this summer who finished in about the time I did, one of which, Will Tarantino, is a student at William and Marry. An academic summer hike of the PCT is very possible if you show up in shape and it is something you want to do. I'm trying to figure out if I can hike the CDT in an academic summer. Else, who knows?

Trail Yeti
09-26-2003, 19:36
All this long distance hiking talk is quickly killing any thoughts I had about summer school. I still ahve some other options, but PCT or AT are looking better by the day!!! I guess time will tell.

09-26-2003, 21:45
hey Trail Yeti,

Saw many of your entries in registers that were still hanging around in 2003. Your ruined now, ya got pine sap and maple syrup for blood. Oh well, time to log some more miles, hope to see ya on the trail one day.

"hike your own hike"

Trail Yeti
09-27-2003, 23:29
Magic, i live in Boone, even though I haven't been hiking, doesn't mean that I "pine sap for blood"....
A new development has occured, I just found out that I can go to New Zealand for about 3 weeks this summer, get college credit and do some backpacking there!!! Sounds awesome, but I have to check on the financial aspect of it. The people I know that went last year loved it....
so maybe this summer I will go see Mongo!!(and Mrs Mongo)!!!:banana :banana

Trail Yeti
09-27-2003, 23:30
also, Rennaissance man, that is a great idea, I might use that in the future as I have an extremely large family!!

09-28-2003, 07:01
I'm convinced. Guess I'll thru hike the A.T. or the PCT this summer. Leaning more towards the PCT since I've hiked the AT. Could Chris or anyone else tell me what parts of the PCT are an absolute must maildrop? Thanks

09-28-2003, 17:37
Oh Yeti

Would love to see you down this way. It is hiking paradise.

The weather at the moment is just so wet being spring that it would pointless hiking as you never be able to cross all the streams!

However in summer you will just love it.


09-28-2003, 18:10
Hey Yeti:
You should go to New Zealand. THey have a kick-ass trail down there called the Milford Track. I can't remember how long it is though, but i did a couple day hikes on it that were great.

I'm not sure how they feel about kilts in new zealand though.

09-28-2003, 18:19
Originally posted by chris
3.5 months is plenty of time to hike the AT.

I realize that everyone hikes at their own pace. But, according to a survey done by Roland Mueser and published in his book Long Distance Hiker, All of the hikers in his survey needed at least 17 weeks. 80% of the hikers in his survey required between 21 and 27 weeks. So, on that basis, 3.5 months (15 weeks) is not enough time for a conventional thru-hike. But, it is about the length of time for a Warren Doyle type supported thru-hike.

max patch
09-28-2003, 18:30
Peaks, after your post I looked at my copy and noted another statistic. Of those ultimately successfull thru-hikers, only 2% hiked 22 or more miles per day. The percentage that averaged 26 miles per day (an additional 1.5 to 2 extra hours of hiking per day) would have to be much less than 1%.

09-29-2003, 09:11
Originally posted by bulldog
I'm convinced. Guess I'll thru hike the A.T. or the PCT this summer. Leaning more towards the PCT since I've hiked the AT. Could Chris or anyone else tell me what parts of the PCT are an absolute must maildrop? Thanks

One great aspect of the PCT is that maildrops are not necessary. There are a couple of places where it might be a good idea, depending on your relation to the main pack. I was in front after the first month, so the shelves were always stocked.
If people really want to know, I can post something about resupplying on the PCT or the John Muir Trail. Here are the mail drops I did.

In the south, Warner Springs, which about mile 110, has a very small gas station that you can resupply at (a little tough). I sent a mail drop here from Indiana. Postage was $20 (for 3 days of food) or so from Indiana.

Kennedy Meadows, mile 700, is the start of the Sierra. It is 175 miles to the next viable resupply poiint, Vermillion Valley Resort. You can buy out of the store, but you are looking at 9 fairly hard days (with a climb of Mt. Whitney). I sent a mail drop here from Agua Dulce, 250 miles before. Postage was $7.

VVR, around mile 871, was really well stocked with reasonably priced food. I sent myself a maildrop here with 3 days of food. Postage (from Agua Dulce) was $7 and there is a $10 fee to pick up the package (they are really far out in the woods). I would buy out of the store next time. Even if the store was cleaned out, you could get enough food to get to Red's Meadow, which is about 40 miles down trail, where you can buy food. Or, catch a bus into Mammoth Lakes, which has mega stores.

Burney Falls State Park, which is at mile 1419, is a good place for a maildrop, though not necessary. Plenty of food in the camp store, but very expensive. You could also hitch into the town of Burney, which has big stores. I sent a maildrop from Sierra City (about mile 1200).

That was it for me and maildrops. Unless you have a special dietary need or don't like things like Mac and Cheese, Liptons, Ramen, etc, you can get by with only a couple of mail drops. Some people send mail drops to a variety of places in Oregon and Washington. No reason to do so, although in Oregon it would save a trip off trail into Sisters and would make resupply stretches shorter. I had a 155 followed by 166 mile stretch in Oregon. Not a big deal, as this was 4 days and a morning of hiking for me. I'd probably still send one to Warner Springs (from home), Kennedy Meadows (from the trail), and Burney Falls (from the trail).

09-29-2003, 09:16
Originally posted by max patch
Peaks, after your post I looked at my copy and noted another statistic. Of those ultimately successfull thru-hikers, only 2% hiked 22 or more miles per day. The percentage that averaged 26 miles per day (an additional 1.5 to 2 extra hours of hiking per day) would have to be much less than 1%.

Again, though, the miles work out to be a little over 20 miles per day to complete an AT hike in 105 days. How much time is taken off is up to the hiker. Sure, it is a lot faster than most AT hikers, but academic summer hikes are not that unusual.

Blue Jay
09-29-2003, 10:18
Roland Mueser's book is not only dated, it is also flawed because he only interviewed the most extremely boring hikers. Please stop quoting this book like it is some sort of AT Gospel. Even the Headless Thompson Gunner himself said that the statistics for his sample size do not lend themselves to drawing conclusions about individual thruhikers. Why don't you pull out an old Garvey book and quote that, it would be just as relevant.

09-29-2003, 10:59

Did you use an ice axe on the PCT? Did you have any training with regard to proper use before hitting the trail?

09-29-2003, 11:25
Yes on both accounts. People made it through using just hiking poles or some with nothing at all. I think that is rather foolish, but it is their life. Some people show up with no knowlege of using an axe and learn from people who do. Incidently, I carried my axe from Kennedy Meadows (mile 697) to Chester, CA (mile 1329), although the last bad snow was just before Sierra City, at mile 1191.

I agree that 1) Mueser's book is outdated and
2) It wasn't statistically valid even when he first published it.

warren doyle
09-29-2003, 11:53
Hello Trail Yeti,
Let me know if you want to get together in Boone to talk trail and school. Your prof, Dr. Doyle.

Trail Yeti
09-29-2003, 14:26
hey warren whats up? get another section done this summer?

09-29-2003, 16:22
Originally posted by Blue Jay
Roland Mueser's book is not only dated, it is also flawed because he only interviewed the most extremely boring hikers. Please stop quoting this book like it is some sort of AT Gospel. Even the Headless Thompson Gunner himself said that the statistics for his sample size do not lend themselves to drawing conclusions about individual thruhikers. Why don't you pull out an old Garvey book and quote that, it would be just as relevant.

I frequently quote that book because it's the best set of statistics on typical thru-hiker questions that I know of. I realize that it certainly has it's limitations. However, I think that everyone else just gives replies based on their own single experience, assuming that they have actually thru-hiked.

Do you have a better source of information about the trail?

09-29-2003, 17:51
Originally posted by Peaks
Do you have a better source of information about the trail?

How about no source? Bryson's book may be just as accurate as Mueser's surveys. Well, that may be going a bit far.

The point is, from a statistical viewpoint, Mueser's book is worse than nothing: Because of the sample size and the method of sampling and the year-to-year specialization needed, the data presented cannot be used to make viable predications about hikers _other_ than those he surveyed. However, because it is in print, people tend to give it more weight than it is due. This is misleading, and hence worse than nothing.

As far as a better source of info goes, think up a couple of basic questions. Go to the Gathering. Ask people there the questions. While the Gathering does draw hikers of a certain vein, I believe it is a larger cross section of hikers (i.e, more hiking styles) than is found here or on the AT-L or on www.trailjournals.com. Best yet, get some gear together and go for an extended hike.

Blue Jay
09-29-2003, 18:54
Actually Peaks, it is very clear your individual knowledge (when you do not quote Roland) is a vastly superior source of information.

09-29-2003, 19:51
You guys have got me seriously interested and intrigued. I'm almost up for the challenge of a school summer thru-hike. I'd have somewhere between 3 and 3.5 months to hike the Trail. I hiked the trail this year in a day less than 5 months. 11 days i took off to go home/wedding/sick and 6 more were town zeros on the trail for a total of 17 zero's. So walking time I took 4 months and 13 days. I started off pretty slow and had 2 4-mile days in georgia as well as a couple 7's down south as well. I easily see where I could gain some days.
But what else could I do to help speed up? I invited Warren or Wolf or anyone else to help give input.
Obviously the pack weight is a biggy, but mine was pretty reasonable, usual keeping it around 25-30 pounds. Im switching to a hammoock which will save me a pound and change and could go from a ghost to a vapor trail saving another 6 oz's. Everything else is pretty cut down (titanium pot, soda can stove, ridgerest, gatoraid bottles, aquamira etc..) Any other areas that you can see that would help? Thanks
A-Train 03

09-29-2003, 20:11
on my recent section hike (davenport to wallace gap)I meet SQUEAGY who hiked the entire GSMNP in 22 hours ..that could save you a couple or three days.

meet the guy at NOC....it was hard for me to believe too..but the guy seemed sincere!

09-30-2003, 08:10
You asked what you might do to speed up your second thru-hike.

First, I'd go to the Gathering and talk with Flying Brian. I think he is still going to be there. (Don't know for sure. Check the ALDHA web site.) He's a guy that was unsupported and did the big miles every day.

At the Gathering, I would also spend time with Warren Doyle. Here's another guy who done numerous thru-hikes in about 3 1/2 months.

As I recall, Brian was (is) an ultra marathoner, who trained for about a year before starting is triple crown. So, peak physical conditioning is a must for doing long miles at a fast pace.

Obviously, limit the weight of what you carry. Find out what Flying Brian carried, and figure out if he was too much a minimalist for your preferences.

Try to slack pack as much as possible.

Another obvious was to reduce the duration is no zero days and no nero days.

Along with all this there is a single quest of getting to Katahdin. No socializing along the way because you will be out pacing everyone else.

09-30-2003, 08:39
How to reduce duration? Simple. You will want to walk most of the day. Get up with dawn and start hiking with the sun. Take breaks, cook a hot meal in the afternoon, and then hike until 8 or 9. I took 7 or 8 zero days and about 6 half days off this summer on the PCT. Time off is important for me to recharge. In order to do this and not hurt yourself, you'll want to do some running to toughen your body. Nothing outrageous. I ran about 20 miles a week for the year before I hiked the PCT. Reduce weight of your pack and your body. Try for a 12 lb base load. You don't want to walk fast, just long. Lowering weight helps you do this without getting too tired.