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View Full Version : Why a slow thru is better than a fast thru.



Bare Bear
08-29-2008, 23:14
I have sectioned the entire AT, and I have thru hiked it. I plan on going again because I did not listen to Model T and others who told me to "Slow down and enjoy it more". I did many massive 25-30 mile days and regretted it. I wanted to stay with younger hikers and friends who had agendas to keep. In 09' I plan on shorter days, longer camp talks, lingering at views more, going less than 15 mile days and letting myself be OK with going slow. I will Hike My Own Hike this time.
And yes I am OK with no one caring or listening to me too. :-?

the goat
08-29-2008, 23:40
right on man!*

*from a younger hiker who moves fast, but overall, takes his sweet-ass time.

Panzer1
08-29-2008, 23:44
At 56, even 15 miles a day seems a lot.

Panzer

Sly
08-30-2008, 01:12
If you've done the AT twice, it's time for another trail. I suggest the CDT.

Nearly Normal
08-30-2008, 02:10
Have big fun.

fiddlehead
08-30-2008, 02:21
If you've done the AT twice, it's time for another trail. I suggest the CDT.

I second that.
Also the PCT is pretty awesome.
Lots of good trails out there.

Go as fast or as slow as you like on any of them. (why would someone care about that?)

MOWGLI
08-30-2008, 07:21
If you've done the AT twice, it's time for another trail. I suggest the CDT.


I second that.
Also the PCT is pretty awesome.
Lots of good trails out there.

Go as fast or as slow as you like on any of them. (why would someone care about that?)

And now a third. The west is the best!

But it's your hike. Have a good time, whatever you choose to do.

Grumpy
08-30-2008, 07:40
On behalf of the Class of 09 let me be the first to say thanks for choosing the AT again for a third time. I am sure many of us will benefit from those long camp talks. I am sure many of us will be trying to zoom through but it simply means more of us will be able to enjoy your company. Sure hope our paths cross... Grumpy

Homer&Marje
08-30-2008, 07:43
If we make it out there this year we'll be goin slow too:D No need to speed through life unless your on the highway and your on your way to a trail head. Then it's peddle to the metal

bikerscars
08-30-2008, 08:02
hyoh
slow is my preferred speed as well ('cept when i'm on the m/c)
for me it's more a way to fully enjoy the outdoors...
of course to each his own...but i get enough of the (rat)race while at work

MOWGLI
08-30-2008, 08:14
I find the topic of speed and daily mileage to be an interesting one. I cranked miles during my thru-hike when I could. 20 miles/day was my average after Shenandoah. I like that, because I'm more of a hiker than a camper.

During subsequent backpacking trips, I try and take more frequent breaks. Naps. Fish. And whatnot. But I still have this internal drive that wants to go, go, go. On the JMT recently, this nervous energy would manifest itself in different ways, and my daughter would pick up on it and say "what's the hurry?" It's hard to explain, but I like to move when I'm on the trail.

I do think that a lot of folks are mistakenly under the impression that you can't enjoy yourself or see things if you're doing big miles. I respectfully disagree, though on this recent hike of the JMT, we did 10 miles/day and camped at many places that I passed by in 2006, and wanted to stay at.

The biggest downside of doing less miles for me, is that I'm not tired in camp at the end of the day. So I don't sleep as well. I like to leave it all out on the trail, and walk into camp tuckered out from a day of hiking. Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel that way?

Hammock Hanger
08-30-2008, 08:16
BB: I know it is hard sometimes to HYOH as you fall into wanting to stay with a certain group of hikers, but just think of all the new hikers you will get a chance to meet by going slow. The AT is the trail I resonate best with but as a friend of mine told me... for every trail you hike twice there is a trail you have never hiked. Just a thought. Then again there is my friend Stumpknocker... will he ever stop hiking the AT :))??? LOL! He even hikes it while doing other trails and adventures...

Wherever you go, whatever you do, ENJOY it.

Sue

Grumpy
08-30-2008, 08:19
MOWGLI... while I can't attest to the state of your sanity I also feel the need to hike myself tired to sleep well. As they say HYOH

CrumbSnatcher
08-30-2008, 08:38
I have sectioned the entire AT, and I have thru hiked it. I plan on going again because I did not listen to Model T and others who told me to "Slow down and enjoy it more". I did many massive 25-30 mile days and regretted it. I wanted to stay with younger hikers and friends who had agendas to keep. In 09' I plan on shorter days, longer camp talks, lingering at views more, going less than 15 mile days and letting myself be OK with going slow. I will Hike My Own Hike this time.
And yes I am OK with no one caring or listening to me too. :-?
have a great hike BARE BEAR i'll see you out there. i hope its your best hike yet:)

Homer&Marje
08-30-2008, 08:40
The biggest downside of doing less miles for me, is that I'm not tired in camp at the end of the day. So I don't sleep as well. I like to leave it all out on the trail, and walk into camp tuckered out from a day of hiking. Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel that way?

I do agree with that. I find when I hike solo I hike many more miles and sleep much better. Although the slow hikes are good too, not much recovery time when you get back. 5 days at 15 miles a day hurts more than 5 days at 7 miles a day. If you stop early, be the one who does the firewood collecting, water retrieval, and tent setup... it will help you to tire out:D ( or am I just getting suckered into all those things)

Blue Jay
08-30-2008, 08:41
If you've done the AT twice, it's time for another trail. I suggest the CDT.

Well, my friend, using that logic if you've made love the the same women twice it's time for another women?:banana

Blue Jay
08-30-2008, 08:45
By the way, saying fast or slow or where you hike:cool: is better is flat out silly.

MOWGLI
08-30-2008, 08:54
Well, my friend, using that logic if you've made love to the same women twice it's time for another women?:banana

No, it's just time for another position. :p

weary
08-30-2008, 10:08
I measure hikes by hours and days in the woods and mountains, not by miles covered.

Weary

Frosty
08-30-2008, 11:20
I do think that a lot of folks are mistakenly under the impression that you can't enjoy yourself or see things if you're doing big miles. A lot of folks confuse big mile days with walking fast.

Most folks that I know who hike big mile days don't hike any faster than anyone else, they start earlier in the morning and hike later into the afternoon. They pass by the same trees and see the same things as the folks who tell us (like this thread title) that a "slow" thru is better than a "fast" thru.

Generally, those who opt for a slow thru are walking the same speed, but spending more hours lounging in the sack in the morning and puttering around the shelter, and spending many more hours in the afternoon sitting in a shelter.

Nothing wrong with this if that is what you want, but it hardly makes for a better thru for those who would rather be in the woods than in a shelter most of the day.

Not that anyone is in a position to tell others that, "My way is better than your way," anyway.

Many folks cannot walk really long days because they get injured and many are not in good enough physical condition (especially at the beginning) to walk 12 hours a day and enjoy themselves. Physical limitations limit a hiker, no doubt. But the fit hiker has a choice to spend more hours on the trail or more hours in a shelter. It is up to him to decide, not anyone else, that more hours in a shelter is "better."

Blissful
08-30-2008, 11:54
Sounds like a good idea, Bare Bear. And your knees will love you for it. Just ignore the young ones strolling into the shelter area boasting - Oh man, I did thirty today!

Blissful
08-30-2008, 12:01
A lot of folks confuse big mile days with walking fast.

Most folks that I know who hike big mile days don't hike any faster than anyone else, they start earlier in the morning and hike later into the afternoon. They pass by the same trees and see the same things as the folks who tell us (like this thread title) that a "slow" thru is better than a "fast" thru.

Generally, those who opt for a slow thru are walking the same speed, but spending more hours lounging in the sack in the morning and puttering around the shelter, and spending many more hours in the afternoon sitting in a shelter.

Nothing wrong with this if that is what you want, but it hardly makes for a better thru for those who would rather be in the woods than in a shelter most of the day.

Not that anyone is in a position to tell others that, "My way is better than your way," anyway.

Many folks cannot walk really long days because they get injured and many are not in good enough physical condition (especially at the beginning) to walk 12 hours a day and enjoy themselves. Physical limitations limit a hiker, no doubt. But the fit hiker has a choice to spend more hours on the trail or more hours in a shelter. It is up to him to decide, not anyone else, that more hours in a shelter is "better."


I could tell later on the hike when I was walking faster. I would be out the same time and accomplish 14 miles early in the hike for a full day, but later, when I left the same time I did 20. Your legs are stronger, your cardiovascular syustem works more efficiently, you can shed the lactic acid faster so your muscles recover. It all makes for faster walking for longer period of time. But my son loved to lounge around and read a book at road junctions - and why not? He had a great thru doing it the way he wanted. Then he would run down the trail to make it to the shelter before mom worried.

Wolf - 23000
08-30-2008, 13:33
I have done some extremely long days in my time and some very easy days. I find rather than worrying about how many miles to do or not to do, I would just take it one day at a time. If I take it easy, I find myself getting restless and wanting to do more. If I push it to hard, I often feel like Iím missing something.

Instead I suggest taken one day at a time. If you feel like taking some extra time at a view or feel like pushing yourself hard, it all boils down to what feels right and doing it.


Wolf

sloopjonboswell
08-30-2008, 13:47
if i had to pick, i'd say my two favorite days were a zero and a 36. granted there were a lot more zeros than the one 36.

superman
08-30-2008, 14:18
When I was young I was fast. Now I'm only half fast.:)

smaaax
08-30-2008, 14:39
I find the topic of speed and daily mileage to be an interesting one. I cranked miles during my thru-hike when I could. 20 miles/day was my average after Shenandoah. I like that, because I'm more of a hiker than a camper.

I do think that a lot of folks are mistakenly under the impression that you can't enjoy yourself or see things if you're doing big miles. I respectfully disagree, though on this recent hike of the JMT, we did 10 miles/day and camped at many places that I passed by in 2006, and wanted to stay at.


I completely agree with this. I hike fast, and can spend hours at overlooks and take a long lunch break and still have plenty of daylight for 25 miles. I liked to go far, and got bored if I didn't. To each their own.

mrc237
08-30-2008, 16:19
I start off slow then after awhile I slow down! :)

Ender
08-30-2008, 18:04
Everything he said

Frosty's got it... it doesn't matter one way or the other, as long as you're enjoying yourself out there. There is no "better way" to hike the trail.

max patch
08-30-2008, 18:18
So lets recap.

The OP sets up camp at 5:00 and then then chitchats with other hikers and sits on his a$$ the rest of the evening.

I don't stop at 5:00 but instead hike til dusk -- lets say 8:00ish although its later in June -- and then set up camp.

I really don't care what the OP does, but I don't understand why he thinks his way is "better." To each his own.

Quite frankly, if I stopped at 5:00 I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

ed bell
08-30-2008, 18:36
I have done some extremely long days in my time and some very easy days. I find rather than worrying about how many miles to do or not to do, I would just take it one day at a time. If I take it easy, I find myself getting restless and wanting to do more. If I push it to hard, I often feel like Iím missing something.

Instead I suggest taken one day at a time. If you feel like taking some extra time at a view or feel like pushing yourself hard, it all boils down to what feels right and doing it.


WolfGreat advice from someone who has been around the block a few times.

NICKTHEGREEK
08-30-2008, 18:46
I have sectioned the entire AT, and I have thru hiked it. I plan on going again because I did not listen to Model T and others who told me to "Slow down and enjoy it more". I did many massive 25-30 mile days and regretted it. I wanted to stay with younger hikers and friends who had agendas to keep. In 09' I plan on shorter days, longer camp talks, lingering at views more, going less than 15 mile days and letting myself be OK with going slow. I will Hike My Own Hike this time.
And yes I am OK with no one caring or listening to me too. :-?
ok with me, I'll be happy to sign your hall pass;) Enjoy it to the max.

wilconow
08-30-2008, 21:29
The biggest downside of doing less miles for me, is that I'm not tired in camp at the end of the day. So I don't sleep as well. I like to leave it all out on the trail, and walk into camp tuckered out from a day of hiking. Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel that way?

I feel that way as well. My ideal hiking trip is to go all day, but still have time so:

-you don't have to wake up at 530
-you have time to take breaks and check out side trails
-you're not getting to camp right before dark.

This is what happened on my trip out west, due to being too ambitious with daily mile planning. Still, like you, I'm more of a hiker than a camper. Generally I like hiking long days, stumbling in my tent and staring at a book for a few minutes and then passing out. Last trip I got carried away a bit.

smokymtnsteve
08-30-2008, 23:09
Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel that way?

your crazy...escape from NYC;)

smokymtnsteve
08-30-2008, 23:11
Well, my friend, using that logic if you've made love the the same women twice it's time for another women?:banana

another great idea from the BJ:D

smokymtnsteve
08-30-2008, 23:12
I measure hikes by hours and days in the woods and mountains, not by miles covered.

Weary

yes weary,,you are sane;)

smokymtnsteve
08-30-2008, 23:17
A lot of folks confuse big mile days with walking fast.

Most folks that I know who hike big mile days don't hike any faster than anyone else, they start earlier in the morning and hike later into the afternoon. They pass by the same trees and see the same things as the folks who tell us (like this thread title) that a "slow" thru is better than a "fast" thru.

Generally, those who opt for a slow thru are walking the same speed, but spending more hours lounging in the sack in the morning and puttering around the shelter, and spending many more hours in the afternoon sitting in a shelter.

Nothing wrong with this if that is what you want, but it hardly makes for a better thru for those who would rather be in the woods than in a shelter most of the day.

Not that anyone is in a position to tell others that, "My way is better than your way," anyway.

Many folks cannot walk really long days because they get injured and many are not in good enough physical condition (especially at the beginning) to walk 12 hours a day and enjoy themselves. Physical limitations limit a hiker, no doubt. But the fit hiker has a choice to spend more hours on the trail or more hours in a shelter. It is up to him to decide, not anyone else, that more hours in a shelter is "better."



you left out the mountain top naps, and the edward abbey reading at overlooks...

clured
08-31-2008, 00:26
you left out the mountain top naps, and the edward abbey reading at overlooks...

Haha, Edward Abbey would be horrified, horrified, with all this bossy nonsense about how great it is to be lazy in the great outdoors.

weary
08-31-2008, 09:15
Haha, Edward Abbey would be horrified, horrified, with all this bossy nonsense about how great it is to be lazy in the great outdoors.
Slow hikers are not necessarily lazy. Some of us just go as fast as we can, which is slow. Also I like to explore the trail. I try to figure out the names of the flowers and trees, examine the crawly things, try to remember the names of birds and connect a name to their songs.

Weary

Jason of the Woods
08-31-2008, 09:55
I have hiked both ways and prefer hiking slowly any day. Since I hurt my back and had surgery I have slowed drastically and noticed so many things that I missed before. I don't think given the choice that I would ever hike fast again unless I am trying to get off of the ridge during a storm.;)

Tin Man
08-31-2008, 09:55
I just finished Franconia to Pinkham. One NOBO thru-hiker had done 15 miles to Lafayette by noon and planned to go 10 or more for the day. Another NOBO'er was happy to do 10 in the Whites. Most others we met fell in between. To each their own.

For me as a section hiker, I found three 9-10 mile days out of our 8 days trip to be plenty to keep busy and tired for the day. One short day into Lake of the Clouds Hut had us with 4 hours to kill before dinner, so we climbed Washington pack-less for fun before packing over it again in the morning.

Everyone's different and it is pointless to say who's way is better, except to say it's better to be out there than here typing about it.

Bare Bear
09-02-2008, 06:05
I did try the PCT (1000 miles of it) but found it less appealing than the AT. And I have done the Key West to FT road walk which I found so distasteful. The Florida Trail may get finished this winter before I go to the AT again. For me, the biggest advantage of the AT is that I know so many people along the way, it is nice to renew past friendships. I do not think 'going slow' is best for everyone at all, just for me this time. HYOH

Mags
09-02-2008, 17:48
My three rules for the outdoors:

1) Be safe
2) Have fun
3) Make sure your fun does not impede on someone else's fun

Everything else is just details.

There is no such thing as the "best" way to hike.

Marta
09-02-2008, 21:57
There is no such thing as the "best" way to hike.

I'm crushed that you would say this. Over the weekend I was telling my friends they need to order copies of "Hike My Hike Dammit" so they could learn how to hike according to the rules.:rolleyes:

Blue Jay
09-03-2008, 09:01
I'm crushed that you would say this. Over the weekend I was telling my friends they need to order copies of "Hike My Hike Dammit" so they could learn how to hike according to the rules.:rolleyes:

This is Gumby's second book, much better than his first one.

Bare Bear
09-08-2008, 23:37
Nuts, now we have to read books AND hike it? This is getting way too complex for me.

Jim Adams
09-09-2008, 00:05
I did try the PCT (1000 miles of it) but found it less appealing than the AT. And I have done the Key West to FT road walk which I found so distasteful. The Florida Trail may get finished this winter before I go to the AT again. For me, the biggest advantage of the AT is that I know so many people along the way, it is nice to renew past friendships. I do not think 'going slow' is best for everyone at all, just for me this time. HYOH

SO, SO TRUE!
I also did 1000 miles of PCT...my first time out west and although the Sierras blew me away, I didn't care for the trail that much. I do want to go back out west and see what I missed but I'll probably do it from the seat of my motorcycle. Thru hiked the AT twice and can't wait to do it again.
I used to hike fast and take alot of zero days and that was the best system for me. Now I'm a little old fat man and hike slow and take alot of zeros. The key for me isn't longer days or miles...its MORE DAYS!:D
BTW, I always thought that I got to see everything even though I hiked fast because I was not against stopping for awhile everytime that I saw a beautiful place but I found that I was wrong...you miss the little things along the way also. I could not believe how many more snakes that I saw once I slowed down!:eek: but you also notice things like those pretty little yellow flowers now have other really cool colors thrown in. Definitely HYOH...what ever trail, speed, distance or direction that you want but make sure you are smiling out there because if not...you may as well go home.:-?

geek

Bare Bear
09-23-2008, 00:39
I've met a couple folks that hike slower than my 2 mph.
They are few and far between. On the other hand I get to meet a whole lot of folks as they pass me everyday! And since I still go 15 miles per day I'll still see most of em at the camp that night anyway. I start earlier than most and just go until I get there. For me I am sure it will be more comfortable to just keep the mileage down. when I did more than 15 it started hurrting more, and by 17 miles I was wishing I could stop. This time I will stop after 15 or less if it feels like it. Maybe I am listening to my body better now. GEEK, come out and meet me in Pa........I'll be the guy complaining about the rocks, again. :)

bach2112
09-23-2008, 01:27
Slow is good. I say this and I'm going to be a fast thru hiker. I wish I could just slow down and enjoy it to it's fullest extent, but I will still enjoy it all the more. But I agree with you 100%.

RadioFreq
09-23-2008, 16:24
....you might want to rethink stopping to smell the roses.

http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?week=1&date=2008/9/16&name=Non_Sequitur_pan

(See Sept. 19th) :D

wrongway_08
09-23-2008, 16:46
Dont forget to add in zero days, towns are fun! Slow and steady, enjoy your hike :)!

Bare Bear
09-24-2008, 08:49
Zero days and motels are what cost me so much last time :)
Of course it was 100F for about two weeks so we were all desparate to get any relief we could at night.

SunnyWalker
09-26-2008, 17:28
I have done both: "fast" and "slow". I have always regreted hiking "fast". I have arrived at the place where I am going take time to smell the roses. However, there may be days when I go fast (hee, hee). Like make it to a food drop or something. But honestly, just go and have fun. And the concept about "fastness" is really a mirage. 15 vs 25 or 30 when you have 2000+ miles to go and you are walking?!?!?!? It's ALL slow.

JAK
09-26-2008, 17:40
I only wish I had the time to do it at any speed. If I had even 30 days though, I would go at my own pace, whatever that was, and just stop when the time was up. Everyones legs should be just long enough to reach the ground, and everyone pace should be just long enough to get them to where-ever they end up, and no further in my opinion.

Bare Bear
11-11-2008, 00:39
After two long weekends of hiking this summer I am more convinced than ever to slow down and enjoy it more. The few days we did 11 mile days around Clingmans (Sugarland Trail) were a little more than out-of-shape Bear wanted to do. It was easy for me to realize that 8 mile days would have been better but bear activity had closed too many camps so we had to go further than desired.

Nest
11-11-2008, 01:36
Dont forget to add in zero days, towns are fun! Slow and steady, enjoy your hike :)!

Yup. I zeroed in every town except maybe 4 or 5 up to the MD/PA border. Then I pushed through PA with one zero and went back to zeroing in every town again. Plus I took about 10-20 zeroes in the woods, and about 30 neros. 7 months and 1 day to thru hike, yet I average 3-5 miles an hour when I actually do hike. I love being lazy out there, and will try to be lazier on my thru next year.

Serial 07
11-11-2008, 02:02
ah nest, you have caught the bug as well...the second time around comes at you from a different direction...this year, just cause i knew how cool it was gonna be, stayed in roan (which i didn't do last year) and then did the 10 to big hump and cowboyed up there (definitely didn't do that last year)...it was awesome...

anyway, there's a time to move and a time to relax...a good thru hike has both in moderation...unless you want to "live the dream" (which i highly recommend)...then you're talkin' about something a little different... :banana

Nest
11-11-2008, 02:11
ah nest, you have caught the bug as well...the second time around comes at you from a different direction...this year, just cause i knew how cool it was gonna be, stayed in roan (which i didn't do last year) and then did the 10 to big hump and cowboyed up there (definitely didn't do that last year)...it was awesome...

anyway, there's a time to move and a time to relax...a good thru hike has both in moderation...unless you want to "live the dream" (which i highly recommend)...then you're talkin' about something a little different... :banana

I don't know if it's possible to slack off anymore than I did this year, but I will try. Now I know where to go and what to do. Little things like if two towns are just a day apart carry a really good meal and eat like a king that night.

Another nice thing to do on the trail is take side trips. You walk near all kinds of great places, so why not check them out. I went to Asheville, Wachington DC, Montreal Canada, Burlington VT, and dozens of random little towns. Hitch hiked over 4000 miles this year on side trips. Didn't get to go to NYC this year, so that's on the list for next year.

papa john
11-11-2008, 08:48
So lets recap.

The OP sets up camp at 5:00 and then then chitchats with other hikers and sits on his a$$ the rest of the evening.

I don't stop at 5:00 but instead hike til dusk -- lets say 8:00ish although its later in June -- and then set up camp.

I really don't care what the OP does, but I don't understand why he thinks his way is "better." To each his own.

Quite frankly, if I stopped at 5:00 I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

Better for him, not necessarily for everyone.

garlic08
11-11-2008, 09:38
I think we tend to see the extremes. The hikers who like the longer days see the folks huddled in the corner of a dark, infested shelter for 16 hours and wonder why. The hikers enjoying a comfortable camp see the folks rushing by with no time to talk and wonder why. There are perfectly sane moderates, like those who will steadily walk 2 mph for 14 hours a day with few zeros and finish the AT in 100 days, then go on to hike more fine trails that year (Pickle, age 63, has over 3000 miles this year, and counting, planning another AZT section next month). And there are those who make the most of a seven- or eight-month hiking season on the AT and really enjoy every day on one trail.

What's the problem with either way? Why is slow better?

Marta
11-11-2008, 10:57
I think we tend to see the extremes. The hikers who like the longer days see the folks huddled in the corner of a dark, infested shelter for 16 hours and wonder why. The hikers enjoying a comfortable camp see the folks rushing by with no time to talk and wonder why. There are perfectly sane moderates, like those who will steadily walk 2 mph for 14 hours a day with few zeros and finish the AT in 100 days, then go on to hike more fine trails that year (Pickle, age 63, has over 3000 miles this year, and counting, planning another AZT section next month). And there are those who make the most of a seven- or eight-month hiking season on the AT and really enjoy every day on one trail.

What's the problem with either way? Why is slow better?

Very true. Even funnier...both extremes can be done by the same person.:eek:

Good ole Stumpknocker has done a 3-month hike, and he's spent most of a year doing a hike.

Both extremes can be done by the same person on the same hike! My shortest hiking day in '06 was .3 miles; my longest day was 30.4 miles.

As they are saying on the blue-blazing thread...just hike so you won't have any regrets afterwards.

Footslogger
11-11-2008, 12:52
My thoughts (not trying to be a wise guy here) are that if you have to ask the question you might not understand or appreciate the answer.

There is only one reason ...well maybe 2, for doing a FAST thru.

- To attain some personal goal or attempt setting a new record
- Personal time constraints

Other than that, if you are going to commit yourself and your time to a thru-hike you owe to yourself (mind and body) to take your time and truly enjoy the experience.

TunnelvisionGAME09
11-11-2008, 13:34
I like that, because I'm more of a hiker than a camper.

The biggest downside of doing less miles for me, is that I'm not tired in camp at the end of the day. So I don't sleep as well. I like to leave it all out on the trail, and walk into camp tuckered out from a day of hiking. Am I crazy, or does anyone else feel that way?

I know I go stir crazy if I am at camp too long. I don't know what to do with myself and I want to see what's around the next corner.

max patch
11-11-2008, 13:39
Other than that, if you are going to commit yourself and your time to a thru-hike you owe to yourself (mind and body) to take your time and truly enjoy the experience.

But Slogger, how one "enjoys the experience" differs from person to person. For example, what do you mean by "take your time?" I like to hike to just before it gets dark. Many people like to stop at 5ish. If I stopped at 5 I'd go crazy. I hate to sit around.

Footslogger
11-11-2008, 13:53
But Slogger, how one "enjoys the experience" differs from person to person. For example, what do you mean by "take your time?" I like to hike to just before it gets dark. Many people like to stop at 5ish. If I stopped at 5 I'd go crazy. I hate to sit around.
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I hear ya ...and agree with you about the whole definition of "enjoyment". It's all up to the individual. If hiking fast and long makes you smile, then by all means do it. Maybe it comes down to a question of "degree".

The original post (thread starter) posed the question: "Why a slow thru is better than a fast thru". What I know from personal thru-hike experience and sharing experiences with many other thru-hikers is that the faster you go the less you have time to see and experience things along the way and that is what prompted my response.

I get asked questions like this one quite often actually by people contemplating a thru-hike. If they aren't into setting records or under tight time constraints my answer is generally the same as what I posted here.

Truth be told, if I ever got the chance to distance hike the AT again I'd allow even more time than I did in 2003, so that I could stop at those "once in a lifetime" spots and maybe even take a zero there. That's not to say I wouldn't knock out my share of 20+ mile days. When the miles are easy ...I generally take em !!

'Slogger

Nest
11-12-2008, 00:57
I know I go stir crazy if I am at camp too long. I don't know what to do with myself and I want to see what's around the next corner.

Trees, just trees. Sorry:(

Sitting around camp just to sit around can be boring. The company makes it better. There was one point where I would hike half the day, then take a 3 or 4 hour break at a shelter with my hiking buddy. We would do anything from stuff our faces with any extra food we had, sit back and talk, or just sit. At the start of your hike it's easy to want to keep moving and make some miles. Around mid-VA you might start easing back a little and learning to relax just for the sake of relaxing. Then as you near the end you may realize that the trip is coming to an end and you do everything you can not to do miles. I miss being able to sit inside a McDonalds for 14 hours just hanging out and eating.

Zzzzdyd
11-12-2008, 02:27
At 56, even 15 miles a day seems a lot.

Panzer

At 61 even 15 seems even more...lol

Gone are my days of forced field marches of 40 lbs 40 miles in a day.

mrc237
11-12-2008, 07:06
I start off slow, then I slow down.

Lone Wolf
11-12-2008, 08:57
I start off slow then after awhile I slow down! :)

yeah we know

Phreak
11-12-2008, 09:06
I will Hike My Own Hike this time.
And yes I am OK with no one caring or listening to me too. :-?
Hmmm, if you don't care about what others think, why even post about it? :-?

superman
11-12-2008, 09:33
Slow vs. Fast

A young bull and an old bull were standing on a knoll looking down on a whole herd of of cows. The young bull said "let's run down there and get a few?" The old bull said " No, let's take our time and get them all.":D

rafe
11-12-2008, 09:37
At 56, even 15 miles a day seems a lot.

I managed it just fine in 2007 at age 55. It might have been tough in the Whites or southern Maine, but in the middle third of the AT, it was surprisingly easy.

mudhead
11-12-2008, 09:38
Slow vs. Fast
The old bull said " No, let's take our time and get them all.":D

Plus he knew one of them would be good for a ham sandwich at halftime.

jersey joe
11-12-2008, 09:49
A fast thru is better then a slow thru because a fast hiker can hit the end, turn around, and hike it again before the slow hiker finishes once!

Pennsylvania Rose
11-12-2008, 10:20
It's been so long since I've hiked without kids, I don't even know what my preferred hiking rhythm is anymore. And I have no idea how long it would take to set up/break down camp if it was just my gear (it takes forever now - little helpers try, but can be distracting, too). When I finally get to thru, I plan to savor every moment. I've been waiting sooooo long.

Lyle
11-12-2008, 11:14
I like to think that I hike slow and deliberative, smelling the flowers, soaking in the views, listening to the symphony around me, and totally appreciating the NOW.

In actuality, I often find myself ready to move on, anticipating what lies just ahead, feeling a personal satisfaction when my body realizes a strenuous climb or higher than normal mileage day. It just plain feels good to push yourself and have your body respond. Not that what I consider pushing would be considered pushing to many, but to me it is.

A couple of years ago, I felt really good that, on my two-week section, I spent the first night and the last night with some of the same thru-hikers. We didn't hiked together every day, but our overall mileage was the same. I had just come onto the trail, they had been on trail for over 1000 miles and generally were much younger than I. All with no ill effects to my body - made me feel kinda "Invincible" - a good feeling at my age.

Don't get me wrong, I also do low mileage days, 6 or 9 miles, and enjoy them also. When I hike alone, I hike only when and for how long I feel like it. To me this is the great freedom of solo hiking, not having to consider anyone else's schedule.

When I do my Thru of any of the long trails, I will plan at least 6 or 7 months. That way, I will have the total freedom to hike when I want and stop and linger when I want, without worrying about a deadline - the ultimate freedom to my way of thinking.

Lone Wolf
11-12-2008, 11:20
Don't get me wrong, I also do low mileage days, 6 or 9 miles, and enjoy them also.

that's real slackpacking. not that packless walking they do these days

garlic08
11-12-2008, 13:26
When I do my Thru of any of the long trails, I will plan at least 6 or 7 months. That way, I will have the total freedom to hike when I want and stop and linger when I want, without worrying about a deadline - the ultimate freedom to my way of thinking.

That's one issue--the other long trails (PCT, CDT) only have a five-month window, maybe less. And the trails are 500 miles or more longer. Western hikers require a faster pace, 18 mpd or more average. So when a Western hiker does the AT, it's a naturally faster pace almost by default and "training".

Jack Tarlin
11-12-2008, 15:25
The western trails require a faster pace, but then again, hikers take less time off on them as well. There simply aren't towns, facilities, motels, and hostels every two or three days, as there are on the A.T.

The main reason people make better mileage while hiking the western Trails is because they are actually spending more of their time hiking. :rolleyes:

Marta
11-12-2008, 15:32
There is always the money issue hanging overhead... A slow thru means a more expensive thru--more trail food, more lodging in town, more town meals, more time off work...

Pony
11-12-2008, 15:42
I did Springer to Damascus this spring and averaged about 18mpd (with at least 6 20+ mile days). This fall I hiked a 40 mile section of SNP and took a week to do it. I enjoyed hiking through SNP at a snail's pace much more. But that's me, what anyone else does is their business.

Mags
11-12-2008, 15:56
The main reason people make better mileage while hiking the western Trails is because they are actually spending more of their time hiking. :rolleyes:


Odd concept, but true. Many of "the fast hikers" are rather more accurately called "long day hikers". When you hike from just after sunrise to just after sunset at a leisurely 2 MPH, it is very easy to get in 20 MPD.

As Jack said, if you don't spend a lot of time in towns, and mainly hike all day, it is very easy to do a "fast" 4 month hike on the AT.

Nothing superhuman. Hiking all day is not everyone's taste. But some us just like the simple act of walking all day.

I know I do.

Blissful
11-12-2008, 16:00
Hiking all day is not everyone's taste. But some us just like the simple act of walking all day.

I know I do.


Same here. I get bored hanging around camp half the day.

jersey joe
11-12-2008, 16:06
Many of "the fast hikers" are rather more accurately called "long day hikers".
So true...somehow this point is always overlooked.

Pony
11-12-2008, 16:22
Odd concept, but true. Many of "the fast hikers" are rather more accurately called "long day hikers". When you hike from just after sunrise to just after sunset at a leisurely 2 MPH, it is very easy to get in 20 MPD.

Yeah, I hiked with a guy that could not be convinced that you could do 20 miles and didn't have to do 17 of them by noon.

Bare Bear
11-21-2008, 18:38
I admit to always wanting to have less to go by the time I stop for lunch. I used to eat the big breakfast, now I just 16 oz water, trail bar and go, snack every two hours then have my big meal at lunch. If I am going 15 miles for example it just makes me feel better if I get 8 done before stopping. Going slower this time will get me to camp early but as I hike about 2 mph then stops I will still only have about 3 hours before bedtime. If anyone reads the first post then I never said slow was for everyone, just me, this time.

DavidNH
06-29-2011, 12:23
one can hike for 11 hours at 2 miles per hour (very avg hiking speed) and still clear 20 miles a day. The advantage of a "slow" thru hike is that one spends a bit more time at end of day chit chatting or just relaxing at shelter or camp site. I read of one person in this thread who said that if he stopped hiking at 5 pm or so he wouldn't know what to do with himself. How sad. To me.. the whole point of hiking is to be out in the wild.. not to get through it quick as possible. Some of my favorite days were short days. Even just a five mile day.. even if done by mid day.. if you end up by some beautiful lake and can enjoy a nice swim.. that's a pretty awesome day! Who amongst us would actually by pass Little Rock Pond in Vermont just because it's only early afternoon and he could log
a couple more miles????

hikerboy57
06-29-2011, 14:48
Last year I did Grafton Notch back to Gorham and took 5 days to do it. It was great!I know I could have done it in 3. But it wa somewhat pleasing watching the Thrus get up at 5pm to start making miles, while I sat there singing "no particular place to go".But whether you're hiking 2 mph or 5mph, you're still hiking the same trail, see the same things.HYOH.Its the journey, not the destination.

max patch
06-29-2011, 15:39
But it wa somewhat pleasing watching the Thrus get up at 5pm to start making miles, while I sat there singing "no particular place to go"

Man, thats some lazy thru's. I wonder they managed to make it all the way to the Whites.

hikerboy57
06-29-2011, 15:46
Hey I didnt say they were lazy/typeA or otherwise., but they were definitely more concerned with finishing the last state, then hanging around listening to me sing. many thrus that Id spoken to were getting into that mixed feelings about finishing faze. they cant wait to get home, but they dont want it to end.Im doing Springer to DWG next March, and Im sure Im not going to be singing the same song.(im switching to "first there is a mountain, then theer is a mountain, then there is"

solobip
06-29-2011, 17:28
Well if that ain't lazy, then getting up at that time must mean they are hiking the night shift.

hikerboy57
06-29-2011, 17:34
Sorry guys, I meant 5am, didnt even catch it when max patch mentioned it, though I was somehow being critical of thrus making miles.

George
06-29-2011, 17:42
it wa somewhat pleasing watching the Thrus get up at 5pm to start making miles, while I sat there singing "no particular place to go".

were they possibly leaving to get away from your singing?

solobip
06-29-2011, 17:43
Oh. Well, never mind then.

hikerboy57
06-29-2011, 17:47
were they possibly leaving to get away from your singing?it helped speed them along their way.

sbhikes
06-29-2011, 18:55
If I were going to do a slower thru hike, I would not spend my slowed down time sitting around in shelters chit-chatting with people. That really gets on my nerves after a while. Trail gossip *yawn*.

I agree with the OP. When I hiked the PCT I hiked long days and while I got incredible satisfaction from seeing how much my body was capable of, I know I regretted that I walked by things that in retrospect I wish I had stopped to see. Afterward, I said to myself if I did this again, I would do the little side trips.

Like a lot of people who get ragged on for hiking fast, I just like the hiking. I like going 30 miles in a day. I feel great doing it. I love seeing what's around the corner. I like taking pictures, I like identifying flowers, I like to stop and take in an amazing vista. But it doesn't take hours to do these things and I don't like sitting around when there's more to see. I can easily see how taking more side trails and seeing more off-trail scenery can totally be worked in to my high-milage trail lifestyle. I will just add more miles to my total.

I think a lot of people get caught up in the trail culture. They make friends and don't want to leave them behind. They call all that bantering around in shelters "taking it slow", "smelling the roses", "savoring the experience" but that's not the experience I have wanted to have. I've learned to leave any friends behind and go see what I want to see. There are always more friends on the trail. On the trail, friends are just people you haven't met yet.

Rolo
07-13-2012, 14:43
I prefer slow and steady, it's not a race.