View Full Version : Sample Itinerary for Thru-hike?

12-04-2011, 10:08
Hey guys. I'm currently planing the average miles per day for my 2012 thru-hike. I plan to start Mid march and end mid april. I'm using my A.T. thru-hike planner book and they give a sample for a 6 month thru-hike. I took this sample and altered it to make a 5 month thru hike (basically adding two miles to the average for each section so I have a 14 miles/ per day overall average. Here is my chart: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GE9OMLA1utUQXxLtDDt3NN2vvmQfBlmjzUXeaY3Ppdg/edit

From former thru-hikers, are there any alterations you would suggest such as more average miles in one section and less in another?

12-04-2011, 10:23
I couldn't access the file.

Having a general plan and a goal is good, but remember, no plan survives a day on the trail.

In general, if you don't have long trail experience, start slowly. Some say to start slowly, then slow down. You're out there for five months--don't blow it on the first three days forcing yourself to keep to an arbitrary schedule on an office spreadsheet.

Most new hikers find GA to be pretty tough, and the AT stays pretty tough until VA. Not that VA is easy, but some hikers start to pick up the pace after Damascus. The pace typically stays good until you get into VT (except some rocky stretches in PA). The Whites and Mahoosucs in NH and ME will slow most hikers way down. Sorry no numbers, it varies for everyone, but just generalities. You'll probably figure out your performance in the first month or so, and you'll be able to plan ahead better then.

bamboo bob
12-04-2011, 10:38
How is starting mid march and ending mid april a thruhike? You be very fast!

12-04-2011, 10:49
How is starting mid march and ending mid april a thruhike? You be very fast!

I'm guessing he meant August, not April.

Jim Adams
12-04-2011, 10:53
Just go walk...once you hit Springer the only thing that your itinerary will be good for is starting a fire. It is very rare that things on the trail happen as planned...too much to do...too much to see. It you want things scheduled then just go back to work.


12-04-2011, 11:37
The plan is only good when sitting around your kitchen table. I agonized with mileage spreadsheets and putting together a planning guide that filled a three ring binder. It was useless after the first day on the trail. Why? Too many variables to factor. Got blisters? Running low on food? Lazy? Cold beer and pizza in town? Your new trail family decides to go into Gatlinburg and talks you into going too. You get the picture......

That said, an itenerary will give you solice as thru hiking is all an unknown for you right now. I will say plan on New Hampshire and Maine slowing you down considerably.

Good luck.

Mountain Mike
12-04-2011, 11:38
Your plan looks good for hiking days, just don't force yourself to do your quota every day especially at the start. Let your body build up & the miles will come to you. But what about rest days? I saw no provisions in them on your plan. You need to add days to rest, resupply, do laundry etc. Very few hikers can hike 5-6 months without time off. Most hikers do it on resupply days & develope a routine.

Stir Fry
12-04-2011, 11:48
Very good general itenerary does not tie you to a day to day plan, just a general time frame. I think you have a good plan. It may change a little as you go along. I think a lot of those that have negative coments did not bother to look at what you have.

12-04-2011, 11:51
Sorry meant, meant mid AUGUST...Of course I couldn't do a thru in a month.
And I altered it so hopefully everyone can see it!

12-04-2011, 11:53
And this is average miles per day, not everyday. Meaning I'll hike more one day, less another, and take into account a handful of zero or nero days. This is just a general plan, just wondering if my average miles a day per section is accurate.

Stir Fry
12-04-2011, 11:56
I can only speak intelligently through VA. But it looks like you are on track.

Mountain Mike
12-04-2011, 12:10
Yes, you MPD looks pretty well planned out.

Don H
12-04-2011, 12:42
The only planning I did was how many days food did I need to get from one resupply point to the next.

12-04-2011, 13:35
Heres a link to a 15 mile per day average itinerary from the A.T. Guide if it helps.

12-04-2011, 14:41
The thing is, although you need to "average" 15 MPD, you actual daily milage will be all over the place.

For the first couple of weeks, just going shelter to shelter will likely be the best you can do, or 7-8 miles a day. Once you get through the Smokies, then the pace will start to pick up and doing 15's will be the norm - basically every other shelter. Starting in Virginia and contiuning all the way to Vermont, 20's will be the norm. This 1000 mile "middle streach" will be where you do the big miles and makes up for the slow start and slow finish when you get to New England, where 10 mile days become more typical.

So, don't get too wrapped up in where you'll be on any specific day, there are just too many variables to do that. Just start out at a reasonable pace for your physical condition and build up from there. Once you finish in 150 days, you will have "averaged" 15 MPD, but have rarely actually done many 15 mile days.

Lemni Skate
12-04-2011, 14:44
Few people on here seem to understand that for some us, planning the hike is as much fun as hiking it. We KNOW when we plan it out we'll never stick to it, but it gives us some security to see how it could be done.

Mountain Mike
12-04-2011, 14:55
Few people on here seem to understand that for some us, planning the hike is as much fun as hiking it. We KNOW when we plan it out we'll never stick to it, but it gives us some security to see how it could be done.

+1 Not so much plannang as it is dreaming about it.

Old Hiker
12-12-2011, 16:38
Few people on here seem to understand that for some us, planning the hike is as much fun as hiking it. We KNOW when we plan it out we'll never stick to it, but it gives us some security to see how it could be done.

Plus, it's fun to try out gear, recipes, etc. while we plan! Sitting and arguing over which part of the AT is the worst when we haven't even done 1 thru hike yet is great as well!

12-12-2011, 19:05
I've never thru-hiked, but I've done three long-distance hikes (multi-month) on the AT, in the south and mid-atlantic, can't speak accurately for New England. In 2008 I averaged 17 miles per day right from Springer, I was 33 at the time, smoking cigarettes, and in pretty good 'trail shape'. I trained by hiking a tough 3.6 mile trail, with a pack on, 3-4 times per week for about 7 weeks. I was comfortably doing 20's in my first week. Saying that I had alot of experience, decent weather and my pack was around 25lbs all up including food and water. Back in 1995 on my first AT hike, I think I averaged around 8 miles a day through GA, I was relatively experienced back then (1 LT thru-hike) but had about 45lbs and shocking weather through Georgia. I personally think mileage is all in the head, with some basic assumptions:

- Hiking is never 'easy'
- Hiking means climbing mountains
- Hiking means rain and sweat
- Hiking is uncomfortable at some level

Sometimes in this day and age you will see hikers take zeros due to 'bad weather', which means it's raining! In my experience rain is the best time to make miles, there isn't much else to do...might as well put your head down and do some miles.

But I don't think anyone NEEDS to start out doing 8 mile days, but if you lack the experience, and fitness, then yes...it makes sense to start out slow. If you don't lack those things, there is not reason you can't be out of Georgia on day 5 or in the Smokies on day 9-10.

12-12-2011, 19:38
There's no way I could stick to an itinerary. Between my body being less than 100% reliable, there's also the weather to contend with. As far as planning goes, I would only plan which places I'm going to stop at and then I'd get there when I get there.