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Poll: Can it be done?

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Thread: Can it be done?

  1. #1

    Question Can it be done?

    So among all the hardcore hiking enthusiasts on this site, I'd like to seek your opinions.

    So I'm 18 and besides once at Mt. Desert Island in Maine, I've never hiked a day in my life (mostly due to living in an area of almost endless suburbs). But I do runcross country and track, which trains me physically and mentally to some extent. So my question is this: do I stand any chance of making the appalachian trail in 2.5 months, at 30 miles a day? Now I'm running on the assumptions that hiking training could be replaced by long-distance, fairly intense runs, and that hiking etiquette and techniques can be learned rather quickly. I was hoping that if I were able to comfortably log 8-10 miles consecutive days in jogging, I would be able to handle the appalachian trail.

    I realize that most people who will set off on the AT won't make it, the majority failing because they can't handle the mental rigor. I think I can take care of the psychological challenges. I'm a thinker and just walking down the trail I wouldn't have any trouble occupying myself with something. I wanted to fundraise for charity on a "dollars per mile" basis that would keep me motivated by adding some responsibility to completeing the hike.

    So here's some logistics. If I hike for approximately 12 hours a day at a pace of 2.5 mph or a pace of 24:00 per mile, I can cover 30 miles a day. It's like Andrew Askurka said, it's about how long you walk, not how fast. I have had previous over-use injuries from running before, and in fact I had to leave my cross country team because of it. But I never did prevention or strengthening exercises that I am willing to do now to get ready for the hike. Can I hear some advice about knee injuries and pain?

    So does this plan sound capable of working given that I put in the work and I train for the next 3 months or do I just sound like a fool? I appreciate any advice and/or criticism.

  2. #2
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    i say no. not at your age and inexperience. prove me wrong

  3. #3

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    Sure why not!....all depends on you, literally!

  4. #4

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    Sorry, don't have any advice to offer other than to ask if you've ever read Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis? If not, google her name. She has done what you are trying to do.

    Good Luck!

  5. #5
    Registered User Storm's Avatar
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    I think you show a lot by just thinking about doing something of this magnatude. Most people you age would only have girls (or boys, don't know which you are) and cars on their mind. I say if you can afford it, go for it. The worst that can happen is that you don't make it. By trying you won't be sitting at home thinking "should have".
    "The difficult can be done immediately, the impossible takes a little longer"

  6. #6
    ME => GA 19AT3 rickb's Avatar
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    Your question is sort of like asking if shooting under 5 under par at Augusta can be done. The answer is yes. But it's highly I likely for a pro, much less fo an specific amateur who tries very hard.

    ignore the cheerleaders and pick a realistic goal, and go for that.

    Don!t be the guy who ends up doing nothing because you discover too late that you can't do everything. No one can.

  7. #7
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    You won't even make it out of Maine. At the pace you need you won't last 10 days.

  8. #8

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    Sorry, nope not a chance. Hiking long distance days with a pack, up and down mountains, all day, every day in all kinds of weather is NOTHING like running track. It requires a level of stamina few can achive. Those that have done it have spent a lot of time training and gaining the experiance needed.

    But that doesn't mean you shouldn't go out and get some of that training and experiance by going on a long hike. Start out with the only goal of surviving a month or two on the trail. Once you do that, you will know if you can or even want to try and do what is know as a speed hike.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  9. #9

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    Expereince means a LOT!
    Get out there now and start hiking.
    Easy to say that you can do a mile in 24 minutes but, how about that 29th mile on day 12? (with sore feet, legs, and an empty stomach) (going up Mt Wash.)
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  10. #10
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    I've been a boy scout leader and backpacker my whole life. My son ran cross country and track. I've lead many scouts on day hikes, weekend hikes and week long section hikes...I'm also a runner. Running is not hiking. You use different muscles. For one thing you are moving your feet all day. The boys I have lead on section hikes (all in good shape, athletic) usually average 1 to 1.5 miles per hour on AT terrain.

    I would first challenge you to find a trail near you, on level ground and try hiking 30 miles. Don't use a pack.(that would be almost impossible for you)...try it.
    (no running allowed).

    You think you will also find hiking "techniques" will be learned rather quickly. Hiking "techniques" are what keeps you warm, dry, and fed. They also keep you from getting lost. I've been camping/backpacking my whole life and I'm still learning new "techniques". There is more to it than you think. Everything from hanging a bear bag to fixing your blisters. Read the forums here, there are many things to master. Can you fix a stove? In the rain? In the dark??

    I always encourage people to hike, but take some baby steps first. Next rainy night...sleep outside. Try some long day hikes. Part of the problem with inexperienced people is that they don't know their limits and they get into trouble.

    so... TAKE A HIKE!!!

  11. #11
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    Before I tell you why I don't think you have a chance let me start by saying that I did exactly what you are proposing. Here's my per hike story:
    1) I had been backpacking for years prior and LOVE the outdoors.
    2) I trained specifically for the task for a year and a half.
    3) I had hiked over 57 miles in a day prior to leaving, and that was with over 15000' elevation gain. I believe you need to be able to do 150% of your desired average and be able to walk the next day.
    4) I got my base weight down to 8 lb. And I knew my gear, having used it exactly in the same high mile scenario as I was proposing. I could setup camp in under 15 minutes and tear down in the same.
    5) one goal of my training was to make sure that none of my five hardest days of hiking occurred on my trip.
    6) I completely understood how to fuel, hydrate and what my electrolyte limitations were.
    7) I had my resupplies completely dialed in. I spent very little time in town.
    8) I LOVE walking. There is nothing more relaxing for me.
    9) I hiked thousands of miles solo. I knew I could spend time with myself.
    10) I trained in all conditions I expected to hit of my hike. Rain, snow, darkness, desert, high elevation etc.
    11) I had the money to buy my way into efficiency. I was able to anticipate gear failures and have items like new shoes ready before they were needed.

    These are just off the top of my head. Are you ready? I suspect you have no idea because you don't have the experience to know. Here is a link to my journal, it was written for folks looking to do what you are contemplating.
    http://postholer.com/journal/viewJou...entry_id=20018

    if you want the cliff notes read this:
    http://postholer.com/journal/viewJou...entry_id=27590

    by no means am I trying to discourage you. I just laugh when I see "skurka said that its just 12 hours at 2.5mph". Go out and do it once and see if you even like it. When your done just remember, on your hike you need to go it the next day and the next day and...... Go for it, the average thru hiker only has a 1:5 chance of finishing a thruhike. The worst that can happen is you spend a week in the woods and have a humbling experience. Good luck.

  12. #12
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    Unfortunately, the time you are allotting yourself is not realistic, particularly for someone who is new to hiking and has not hiked the A.T. before.

    Even the speed demon hikers that eventually do begin to do 25-30 mile days consistently all had to start off doing lower mileage to get used to the unique rigors of the trail. Folks that think they are going to do 30 mile days right out of the gate are fooling themselves.

    Just to give you an idea, you are talking about two and a half months, or approximately 75 days. While there are no official speed records of the A.T., the widely accepted fastest times for an unsupported (traditional trip where you carry your own gear and hike the way most hikers do) thru hike is about 60 days for men set by Ward Leonard and 80 days for women set by Snorkel. Both of these people had hiked the entire trail at least once before and both had extensive backpacking experience going into their record breaking hikes.
    More discussion about A.T. records can be found here: http://fastestknowntime.proboards.co...splay&thread=6

    Now all that said, I can assure you that as long as you don't get injured or quit, you can still absolutely do two and a half months of worth of hiking in two and a half months. Sticking with the trail for 75 days is a heck of an accomplishment for most people, regardless of how far they get and it's entirely likely that a person your age can complete more than half of the trail in this amount of time. As long as you adjust your expectations, you can still have a memorable trip within your time constraints.

    Plus, honestly if you're trying to do this as a fund raiser, most people won't see much of a difference between you claiming that you are going to "hike the entire A.T." or you claiming that you are "going to hike 1,000 miles". To most folks, both of these goals seem equally awe inspiring.
    Last edited by Sarcasm the elf; 03-22-2013 at 22:17.
    Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

  13. #13

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    You got this. Dont let someone tell you, you cant do something, esp on the internet

  14. #14
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    Give it a go. I really don't think you have a realistic shot, but you won't know unless you try. I would suggest though, that if you find you're falling short of your original goal that you slow down, relax and just enjoy the hike.

  15. #15
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    Well 8-10 miles could be 60-90 minutes a day of running to prepare for being on your feet for 12 hours a day of hiking? If running and hiking were that similar would you expect someone who hikes 20-30 miles per day to be able to run a marathon pretty easily after being home from their thru hike for a few weeks? If you plan on building up to 8-10 miles of running what do you think your daily average will be about? Apply that to building up your hiking mileage. Will you be hiking several 40 mile days to make up for the build up time? Will that be at 2.5 mph? Not saying it can't be done just giving a few things to think about to get started.

  16. #16
    Registered User twilight's Avatar
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    If you hike the trail in 2.5 months, how long would you allow for staying at Max Patch Bald, or The Humps or the Beauty Spot, McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs, the ponies at Grayson Highlands, Clingman's Dome, the Pinnicles, DWG, Harpers Ferry, the Ironmaster's Hostel, Angel's Rest, Charles Bunion, Dragontooth, Laurel Fork Falls, Trail Days, Sunfish Pond, etc, etc, etc,. Take the time to smell the roses. It's a hiking adventure that most people won't get to do twice in their lifetime.

    Twilight

  17. #17
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    I will give you credit for one thing. The typical pattern is that an novice hiker posts that he is going to hike the AT in 2 months. Then half the experts on this site tell him he's crazy. Then the other half the experts whine at the other experts for being so negative. At least by asking for everyone's opinion, you made all the experts less grumpy (yeah). I don't know if you will make it but I hope you have a great hike. With luck you will get to the end are not care anymore how long it took.

  18. #18
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    You can get to Harriman state Park, in NY, by rail from Edison. A section of the AT, and a couple of hundred miles of other trails await you there. In summer you can get by with minimal gear (see the endless discussions of gear here) and find out what you can do for yourself. Good luck.
    "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how." ---Dr. Seuss

  19. #19
    Registered User prain4u's Avatar
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    It is VERY unlikely that you could complete an unsupported thru hike in 2.5 months. Frankly, yours odds of shooting a hole-in-one while golfing --or making a half-court shot in basketball ON THE FIRST SHOT--are probably better than the likelihood of you completing a thru hike that fast.

    I used to be a track and cross country runner. Running is a VERY different thing than backpacking or even speed hiking. Different muscles are being used--and being used in different ways. Putting in 12 hour days backpacking (especially at a 2.5 mph pace) puts a type of wear and tear on the body which is probably unlike anything that you have ever experienced while running. (Most "in shape" distance runners can complete a marathon in 2-4 hours. Although backpacking may be at a SLOWER pace than a typical marathon, a 12 hour hiking "workout" is still three times longer IN DURATION than a 4 hour marathon. And, you are proposing doing this almost daily for 2.5 months in all kinds of terrain and all kinds of weather conditions.

    In addition to that 12 hour daily workout, you also have to prepare all of your own meals and obtain all of your own water each day. You must also set up and tear down your camp daily. (Even if you are just staying in a shelter, you still have to unpack and pack your stuff each day). Every few days you also have to get into town for things like resupply--and maybe laundry and showers. This time spent in town cuts into your hiking time on the trail.

    So, you are talking about 12 hours of fast walking EACH DAY (with weight on your back). This is followed by having to complete a bunch of "household chores" each day AND you will essentially be outside 24/7--in all kinds of weather for 75 consecutive days.

    I say, slow down the pace. Enjoy the hike--and get as far as you can comfortably get in 2.5 months.
    "A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world." - Paul Dudley White

  20. #20
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    Why not just go Springer to harpers ferry this summer, than finish it up the next summer ?? Hiking the AT to me is more about the people you meet and place you get to see... and you're not going to be able to do either going 30 miles a day...slow down and enjoy the trip!

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