View Full Version : Sub 3 month efforts?

07-25-2013, 11:59
Does anyone have an estimation or number of people who have thru-hiked the AT in less than 3 months?

Just Bill
07-25-2013, 12:12
Probably a handful a year, more in recent years, but I doubt you'll find much more detailed info than that. You can check out MapMan's articles on collected data for hiking in the article tab.

07-26-2013, 00:26
Guessing a dozen. By my count, I was the 5th person in 2010, and I started March 20th. I suspect some speedsters started a little later once the weather stabilized or school let out. It's not terribly hard physically if you are youngish and in shape - It's the mental part that's difficult. It requires a willingness to hike alone for 3 months, never seeing the same person twice, hiking all day, every day through rain, cold, heat, and bugs. It helps to have some experience so you have a light pack and know how to manage your needs (food, sleep, resupply planning, etc).

07-26-2013, 09:50
Odd thing is, the amount of MPD on a 90 day AT hike is about the pace many people do on the PCT/CDT (in terms of MPD). Bump it to 100 days, and the pace (22 MPD overall for the 2180 mile long AT) is on the higher side of average for a typical PCT or CDT thru-hiker.

Think the AT is the first long hike for many people and the trail can be a social experience with more/long town stops, so the overall MPD tends to be lower. But that is just a guess.

07-26-2013, 12:05
There are probably a couple per year, maybe a few a year lately. The reason that there aren't more isn't because they can't do it, it's because few are willing to make the sacrifices needed to do the Trail on that timing. I suspect the few that do accomplish a sub three month either are very experienced and used to doing the long days or have a set time window available to do the trail and are willing to give up on town time, sleep time, shelter hangout time, social time etc.

Just Bill
07-26-2013, 12:24
Regardless of the count- if that's your thing- it's a great personal challenge. Not to start a PCT/AT debate, but generally speaking the "distractions" are more limited on the PCT. It's a very do-able hike for the right person, you just need to decide if that's what you want out of your hike. Time & money limits, family commitments, personal accomplishments, massive ego; all reasons to do a 90 day hike. As you can see, not only is the list small- nobody really cares...so it will be a personal accomplishment only, not that that's a bad thing, just something to note. You're more likely to get a slap in the face than a pat on the back for speed hiking.:D Thousands of reasons to slow down and take your time too. The distractions (people, sex, towns, beer, beer, and general travelling adventures) are all excellent reasons to slow it down. FWIW- my personal philosophy- I hope to live a long life- see where the trail and your body take you, you can always come back later and take your time.

08-01-2013, 21:03
Most people I know hiked the second half of the AT averaging 20+ miles per day, and many finished in under 5 months despite having very slow starts with lots of zeros, I know a guy who hiked in 146 days and took 35 zeros, 28 of those zeros were before Waynesboro.

For me, I lose interest, my only shot at a thru would have to be under 100 days, I've done 3 hikes in the 45-60 day range...I was extremely bored at that stage on 2 of the 3.

It's about consistency, not mileage, in 2008 I passed people time and time again, I would take 3 zeros then hike 25's and pass them, then they would pass me while I was in town, etc...

Nothing hard about hiking 20-25 miles per day IMO, but very hard to AVERAGE 20, that's 140 miles a week, so 23.3/week over 6 days with a day off. That takes discipline.

If you like to hike, and are consistent, 90 days is very realistic for some. It's also much cheaper.

08-01-2013, 21:04
Whoops...23.3 per day, not week

08-01-2013, 23:28
Whoops...23.3 per day, not week It's hard to fast hike and still take zeros. I found that if I needed town time, it was easy enough to hike 15 miles before lunch, then spend the rest of the day doing chores and inhaling pizza (Pizza Hut AYCE lunch buffet for the win).

08-02-2013, 06:07
To each their own...I would rather hike 30 miles into town and zero the next day than hike 15 and take the afternoon off.

08-02-2013, 06:56
It's hard to fast hike and still take zeros. I found that if I needed town time, it was easy enough to hike 15 miles before lunch, then spend the rest of the day doing chores and inhaling pizza (Pizza Hut AYCE lunch buffet for the win).

Im not sure that is necessarily true. For the first half of my 98 day thru I took several zeros, a total of seven. Four of those were planned to spend time off with my wife, one at mile 250 and another in the Sierra for pure recovery. Like you I also found that a shorter day followed by the afternoon and evening in town was the ideal setup for me. I did that nero strategy about ten times total. Others may want more time but I suspect there is a high correlation between those who like to hike long days and those who get antsy in town. While I didn't take a true zero in the last 1500 miles I did do a twenty going in to Ashland, take off from noon to noon the next day and finishing that day with twenty leaving AShland. That was 40 miles over two days. The two twenties were better recovery for me than a 40 and a zero.

this summary gives a good feel for what the real daily mileage ranges are for a fast hike. The total trip averages don't really tell the story. With the zeros I averaged 26.9 miles/day. But to get that average I had 54 of 78 full hiking days over 30mpd with 19 days at 35 and above. And an overall full day hiking average of 30.9mpd with the very snowy Sierra pulling that average down considerably. (It would be the same on the AT with NH pulling the overall average down as well.)

http://postholer.com/journal/viewJournal.php?sid=cc54ddf587eb39ca0c2da3eea058b8 f3&entry_id=26640

Just Bill
08-02-2013, 12:04
I have to agree with Malto, the speed hike formula spreadsheet I worked up showed that a 90 day pace on the AT would have a 28.8 MPD average over 76 days. 76 days of hiking divided by 6 gives you roughly 13 weeks, or 13 zeros- 89 total days if you took a full zero every week, a trip average of 25.6 MPD. Obviously you can split the rest days up however you want into a combo of zeros or neros or halves. That pace put you at 20MPD in the whites and a peak of 32.8 around Harpers. Personally, I'd split it up as well, a few true zeros, but several neros as well. The main factor is your MPD WHILE hiking, not your trip pace (as Malto points out) If your Miles per hiking day is lower, you would find taking zeros to not be an option as you fell behind your target pace. Not knocking it one way or the other, just discussing strategy. I think you need to honestly determine your hMPD, balance that against your goal- and then make the call on what fits your overall target. I think as a strategy- Increasing hMPD to allow for more rest time is a more successful strategy. Record breakers run at full throttle, but most speed hikes I've seen appear to incorporate some form of resting strategy.

08-02-2013, 16:20
Im not sure that is necessarily true.

What you say is true. I wasn't clear in my phrasing - More precisely, what I meant to say was that Zeros & Neros aren't an option for someone going after a record. On a personal level, my body never reacted well to time off the trail - Sleep & diet got upset - So zero's were never a good option.

Just Bill
08-02-2013, 16:27
Found about the same myself Frisbee- amazing what a half day will do. And how much a full zero will knock you out of your grove. I like the early afternoon arrival, and late start. Closer to a half and a 3/4 day I suppose... You feel like you get a day though, a lunch, dinner, bar visit, and town breakfast. Catch a shower do the laundry and all that good stuff without getting to stiff and bloated. A full zero tends to end up with a slightly shorter day on either end anyway. But a 1/4 way, midway, and 3/4 way full zero would probably end up in a 90 day schedule for me just for the hell of it. Worse case if you slip the schedule a bit you have some room to play.