View Full Version : Need Advice: Break in a Greenhorn quick!

08-23-2009, 19:44
I have three weeks to go before my and my buddy is very new to backpacking head out for a section hike from Franconia to Pinkham Notch. He's only been on four relatively hard weekend section hikes and he's picking things up quickly, but he hasn't gotten into a routine or effective way to pack his pack. He also didn't take the rubber tips off his trekking poles till 13 miles into it because he didn't know they were supposed to come off.

He is frustrated that he can't keep up with me even though he's a 35 year old at 5'8 165 and I'm 24 5'10 148 and in the best shape I've been in a long time. I try explaining that with our age difference and fitness levels that it didn't really surprise me but that it shouldn't discourage him.

What/if anything can I do or say to help him at this point?

Rocket Jones
08-23-2009, 19:48
Pace is different for each hiker. You're not "keeping up", you're hiking your own hike.

The rest comes from experience.

08-23-2009, 19:49
"he's picking things up quickly" Well, that should take care of a lot of problems.
As for keeping up with you, have him lead and don't tread on his heels. This is an old trick for group hikes -- put the slower hikers in front.

Del Q
08-23-2009, 19:52
Its easy, put one foot in front of the other and don't stop. He should be able to handle 10-12 mile days - you just finish earlier or take more time during the day to chill. No need to hike together all of the time.

08-23-2009, 20:13
Through the roller coaster in VA we were 15-20 minutes apart sometimes. I wait at every trail, stream and road crossing like a good dog. He thinks I speed hike when the truth is I only have one speed. I just plod along and never stop.

Wise Old Owl
08-23-2009, 20:28
It doesn't work that way, one must grasp the pepple.... before you can hike Grasshopper!



you are not ready.

08-23-2009, 20:33
That seems to be a major conflict, I'm ready and sharpened. He's not. This is my last fun trip before buckling down and going into the military. I've been planning this trip since March originally as a solo trip. I'm ready for the Prezzies by myself.

Wise Old Owl
08-23-2009, 20:36
Ok part about being a freind is to enjoy the company, He's not ready and cannot keep up. Its Ok! The AT will be here for generations, It's not about covering many miles. Its about building a freindship, he knows he is not up to your speed. Include him on several sections, Include his help in pick up drop offs and don't fear telling him you want to do a section on your own.

Hope that helps/You are not ready for him.

Much like an adult is not ready for a son, The son cannot keep up and the dad knows he has to lead and slow down. Now do you get it?

08-23-2009, 21:14
I get it but theres a little more involved. Its a 12 hour drive for both of us to the trailhead and he will see it as investing a lot of money for nothing. I'm 24, out of college a year and still have no full-time job and still have invested more time and money into this trip (he's very cheap).
His wife is due with their first child in late December and I now see this trip as making sure a father makes it home for his son. I understand that he sees it as his last hurrah. He has got to make a commitment to training during the week doing little things even with work to help his cause.

I don't know when I will ever be in this good of shape again and be able to do something as amazing as this 6 day hike ever again so I want to take advantage of it. We leave September 8th....

Wise Old Owl
08-23-2009, 22:04
Just enjoy the moment and have the best time you can under the circumstances. And keep in mind some of the best hikers are older than me. Keeping in shape is a passion.

Hey you asked for advice, it wasn't what you wanted to hear... was it?

Gray Blazer
08-23-2009, 22:30
You enjoy being in shape. Get in better shape by hiking way ahead of him and then turning around and hiking back to him.

I know that's a moronic answer, but, what do you expect from a moron?

Wise Old Owl
08-23-2009, 22:40
GB that was not the advice of a moron, you obviously downplay your insight.

08-23-2009, 22:50
I wasn't looking for advice I wanted to hear. GB thats a great answer! I work for REI and I enjoy long distance running and being outside backpacking. I don't mind putting my body through hell and quite frankly I don't think anything of it when I do.

Is it time to have a heart to heart talk with him?

08-24-2009, 00:11
I would.
I have a friend who hikes faster than I do but prefers to hike shorter days, take more rest breaks, etc. We don't hike together much, we just agree to meet up at all side trail crossings so we know we're headed the same way. If you think your friend will prevent you from doing a specific hike in a limited amount of time, tell him you want to do it your way but that he's welcome on future hikes.
My friend (above) and I have a mutual hiking buddy who's slow as molasses. When we prepare a hike we tell him the specifics (mileage, time, days out, etc.) and he's learned to simply "opt out" of our more ambitious hikes.

08-24-2009, 00:35
I hiked with my father when I was 21 and could run with the pack on the uphills, at the top I would throw my pack behind a tree run back down and walk up with his pack, this way we mostly hiked together even with the wide variance of pace, met up with 5 women from conn. who wanted to hire me for this service

08-24-2009, 07:00
IMHO, a six day hike from Franconia to Pinkham Notch is hardly a blistering pace. Others may disagree.

That said, sounds like a good pace, given that most hikers like to set things up for the stretch above treeline and use established campsites. In other words, most hikers on that section of Trail tend to know where they will be camping before they set out for the day. You too?

If you are a speedy hiker, you will be sitting on you butt waiting either on the Trail or in camp on a 6-day hike.

Why not just carry all your friends gear and walk at the same pace? :-)

Montana AT05
08-24-2009, 15:43
If he wants to hike with you, then slow down. It ain't a race, though far too many hikers/thru-hikers treat it as such.

And I highly suggest trail runners for your friend if he doesn't backpack alot. I see lot's of infrequent hikers out for a week or so, wearing new 200+ dollar hiking and wondering why they have silver dollar sores on their heels. That'll slow a guy a down.

In any case, it's a pain to walk in-line after a day or two...trying to maintain respectable distance for stumbles, sudden stop, not breathing down a guy's neck...while at the same trying to stay within chat range. So if you don't want to slow down (because you won't win if you do!) then there is no reason to form a trail-chain-gang.

08-24-2009, 15:55
Instead of having him always in the rear, feeling like he's falling behind (which he is), try giving him a 5-10 minute head start. When you catch him, stop and give him another 5-10 minutes and start again. Having him "on point" might improve his morale if nothing else.

Hoop Time
08-24-2009, 17:45
The question is not is he in shape to keep up with your pace. The question is if he is in shape to hike the section you are doing. You don't need to walk every mile in close contact with each other. But he does have to be in shape enough that it is reasonable to expect him to cover the mileage planned each day between camps. If he is, make contact from time to time, either by waiting now and then, or staggering start times as somebody else suggested. Maybe agree on meeting places where you will both take a break, with the caveat you will wait until he arrives before setting out on the next stretch and meet up to camp at night. If he is not in shape to be able to complete that section, then he should not be going, with or without you.

08-24-2009, 19:24
As far as the hiking boots go he has soft girly feet wearing a high cut Merrell boot because he's worried about ankle support so I doubt a trail runner will help. I have my high cut all leather Asolo boots and I've put a lot of work into breaking them in and I love them, but my feet were bone dry and blister free after doing the roller coaster this weekend.