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  1. #1
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    Default What is like an average day?

    Hi,
    OK, so I was wondering what is an average day for hikers on the AT...
    Like how many hours a day you hike, how many miles (I guess it depends on the section, but on a average day)...
    What time you start and stop, do you take a break mid day...

    Also, I guess you get better as you go so after how many days do you reach you "cruise" pace?

    Thanks,

    AM

  2. #2
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    Default

    well I'll start by saying I'm much slower then most other thru hikers, it's become an extreme rarity for me to pass anybody (except maybe an old lady or family with there kids). At this point most people pass me and I don't see them again but there's still a few familiar faces at a similar pace. I'm in no rush though, just want to get to Baxter before it closes. Did the math and if I get back on trail Wednesday after a few days home I still need less then a 10mpd average to end by oct. 10th (think Baxter is 22nd weather depending?)

    I'm averaging 10-15 mpd, I start super early trying to start hiking when I just don't need my headlamp anymore. I take small breaks all day with a few big ones, at least every couple miles taking a small one. Anytime I'm hungry I stop and eat, I don't play games with food. I like to stop by 4-6 but like I said I have a no rush, enjoy myself pace. Taking time to see every view/waterfall ect. I can, airing out my feet/socks/shoes a few times a day and just taking it easy and trying to take it all in.

    From what I've seen this is unlike and much slower then what most thru hikers do but hey, HYOH and know that you don't need to push for those 20 mile days if you don't want to, I haven't had one. Had a couple 18's but I don't think I'll do one much over 15 again before finishing. Finish too early and you miss the beautiful fall colors of New England

  3. #3

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    Default

    Get up.
    Walk all day.
    Stop a couple of times to eat and poop.
    You're out there to walk that's literally all there is to do
    So that's what you do.

    That's about it.

    Some people are slower some people are faster but still walk all day

  4. #4

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    Animal noises change throughout the day. The “morning” animals start coming alive about 30 minutes before sunrise. This will become your natural alarm clock. I no longer cook in the mornings so I wake up and break down camp, retrieve my food bag, and hit the trail. I’ll eat two high calorie bars as I get moving. I have my water bottles filled for the day (done the evening before). My first stop for the day is usually my first water source, sometime around mid-morning. Then an hour lunch. Then another stop/snack before I reach camp for the night.

    Generally, I stop 3 times during the day for breaks/water. At camp, I collect all my water and fill my bottles for the next day and put my filter on a dirty water bag and use that to drink out of/cook with. My mileage on a multi day hike ranges between 15-20 miles.

  5. #5

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    Pack your stuff, eat something, walk all day, set up camp, eat something, go to sleep, repeat.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6

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    On a more practical note, you become synced to sunrise and sunset. The birds make reliable alarm clocks. Exactly how you use those hours of daylight varies with season and weather. But it does boil down to "break camp/hike/setup camp" repeated endlessly.

    It doesn't take long to develop a routine. A lot of this is so mindless, it's good to have a routine. A specific order in which you do things. This way your less likely to forget something.

    Weather and terrain provide the day to day challenges.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  7. #7
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    Default

    depends on large part on time of the year, but i generally like to hike for at least 10 hours. sometimes longer if i get an early start and its light out late. i generally am not one to sit idle during daylight.

    i mostly never stop for more than 15 or 20 minutes except when something i come across seems worth stopping for. i dont stop just for the sake of stopping longer than 10 mins very often. every so often, though far from a regular event, i'll sleep for an hour so in the afternoon, but i have to be out on my feet to decide to do this.

    mileage depends on terrain but on most of the AT at most of the time's of year i'm out backpacking it works out at something like 18-22 miles.

  8. #8

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    Two things I do that are a bit different from the norm:
    1/ I almost always eat my main meal around 5 or 6 PM and then go hike another 5 miles or so. (these, along with the first 5 of the day are my most enjoyable miles)
    2/ I dry camp mostly. Don't like camping near springs and streams, they tend to create congestion, between both hikers and animals at night. I'd much rather camp up high with a view to wake up to and away from most other hikers.

    I do take a long lunch (maybe an hour or two) but not a whole lot of breaks in between.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  9. #9
    Registered User Grampie's Avatar
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    Default Average Day

    Quote Originally Posted by YUL-AMB View Post
    Hi,
    OK, so I was wondering what is an average day for hikers on the AT...
    Like how many hours a day you hike, how many miles (I guess it depends on the section, but on a average day)...
    What time you start and stop, do you take a break mid day...

    Also, I guess you get better as you go so after how many days do you reach you "cruise" pace?

    Thanks,

    AM
    Get up around 7 ish. Change into hiking cloths, brush teeth, wash face and hands, boil water for coffee and oatmeal, pack up, chech hiking info for the day, get water, decide my goal and start hiking. Stop for a mid morning snack. Stop for mid day snack. Hike until I reach my destination or i’m Too tiard to continue. Set up camp either the tent or shelter. Get water change into camp cloths, make dinner. Socalize with other hikers. Write my journal. Go to sleep about 8.
    On the ATmost of the time you can get off the trail very 4 to 6 Days. Rresupply food, eat a couple of good meals, wash cloths, take a shower and sleep in a motel or hostel. Do this day after day until you get to the end, get injured or just give it up.
    Grampie-N->2001

  10. #10
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    Michigan
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    Default

    Birds are my alarm clock. If they are singing, I get up, pee, pack and hike. From bed to trail is about 15 min. After an hour or so I will stop for breakfast. I gave up on hot food or drinks for breakfast. I only use my stove for dinner, and sometimes for a hot beverage at beadtime. During the day I will sometimes take minor breaks where I leave my pack on. Taking a pack on and off is a bit of a hassle, so I only do that for a major break, maybe once in mid afternoon, plus lunch and dinner. I will usually hike a little after supper. I don't usually camp where I eat.

  11. #11
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    I used to believe I spent a lot of time on the trail mulling over great and important things. I thought of it as time to, as scripture says, "Be still and know that I am God." To reflect on who I am and where I'm going and what's important. But on a section in June, I paid more attention to my thoughts, to see if they matched up to that ideal. They didn't.

    Most of my time is actually spent thinking about my feet hurting, how long the climb seems, how nice the next break will be, how thirsty I am, etc. Most of my time is thinking about step-by-step living.

    There is time for the grander, more important thoughts. And I do take notice of my surroundings, listening to bird song or noting what trees I'm seeing and what flowers are blooming.

  12. #12
    Registered User evyck da fleet's Avatar
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    Atlanta, GA
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    After a couple weeks it’s wake up with the birds eat breakfast and pack up in an hour. There may be a second breakfast mid morning for about 20 minutes and an early afternoon lunch for 40-60 minutes. I stop about 2-3 hours before sunset to set up, eat and socialize before retiring to my tent to write in a journal and review the days pictures.

    The first two weeks I got up with the birds, lounged for awhile and left around 9. I hiked for three hours, stopped for lunch and hiked another three hours. I usually stayed up socializing until midnight. Each day I’d hike a little longer, get started a little earlier and go to bed earlier until I could hike all day.

  13. #13
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    Default

    Especially during the hot days,up with the birds is the way to go. Since I have a self destructive tobacco habit,I usually hike for an hour,or until a suitable rocky place appears. Sit for 5-10 minutes,burn a cigarette,pee if needed,maybe a snack. Repeat until desired campsite or trailhead is reached.

  14. #14
    Registered User DavidNH's Avatar
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    average day for thru hiker on AT (at least in my case): awake by 6 am if not earlier. Get dressed, packup, cook and eat breakfast, leave camp by 8 am or sooner. Hike all morning. Stop when I want. arrive at next camp by 5pm or so. roll out bak in shelter or set up tent. relax, get and filter water. Cook dinner. in bed by 9 pm or so.

  15. #15

    Default

    Better to look at a frequency distribution for key metrics.

  16. #16

    Default

    The vast majority of AT thru hikers are new hikers, newbie LD backpackers, or those attempting their longest hike to date. Most are LD backpacking infants just beginning to know themselves as LD backpackers, their styles, evolving their kits, un-accustomed to optimizing personal trail logistics, have narrow skill sets, inefficient questionable non ergonomic mechanics and movement, and have a hide dependency on others and the ease of the AT. Most don't begin their LD hikes in appropriate physical, emotional or psychological states for thru hiking...hence the high quit/drop out rate compared to many other LD trails, certainly for the PCT and CDT. For those that succeed at an AT thru hike in this position they learn and observe quickly. They evolve individually appropriately.

    It's not a matter of a few days for the vast majority of AT thrus to know and reach their cruising pace. It's longer. They tend to spend the first two - three wks getting into the right frame of mind and physical and emotional backpacking shape. They tend to struggle immensely during this period. They tend to take another two wks getting into thru-hiking/LD backpacking shape. This scenario does not play out to such a high degree as it does for AT thrus compared to the other two TC trails.

  17. #17

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    Awaken at dawn to chirping birds. Pack up quickly (I have a system where there are 8 "things" that go into my pack). As a result I get started no later than 6:30. I take care of nature's call; retrieve my food bag, eat a breakfast bar spread with peanut butter, (don't carry a stove); drink about 1/2 L of water, refill and go. My goal as an old guy; depending on the terrain and weather, is to do at least 10 miles by lunch; and then shoot for an 18-22 mile day. I drink a lot of H2O during the day, so I stop at many sources, take a short break, eat a bar or a bag of peanuts, drink my fill, and refill the bottle. I don't walk too fast (compared to the younger hikers), so I walk longer hours, and get in decent mileage that way. Sometimes, I'll stop for a dinner break, and then walk another 3-4 miles toward dusk. The long summer days have about 14 hours of daylight so there is plenty of time to get where you are going.

  18. #18
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    Default

    I never sleep at water places, these are reserved for the wildlife.
    In the desert when hiking solo, its always up with the very first light (which might be around 5:30am), pack up and get going while munching a granola bar just to have something in the stomach.
    The early hours are the best ones, usually. Relatively cool air, see some wildlife, watch the sun rise.
    I will take breakfast after one or two hours into the hike, chosing a lovely place that provides sun or shade (whatever I'd prefer) and some views.
    I continue hiking and taking breaks as conditions demand. Usually, I don't take a single big meal over the day. Later in the afternoon I'd fill my bottles where possible and keep on hiking as long as my body holds, sometimes towards dusk, which falls quick down south.
    I usually preselect my campspot on the map during one of the breaks over the day.
    When I get it perfect, I do dinner in the fading evening light and get into the bag quite early, around 7:00 or 8:00pm.

    When doing local multiday hike, I pretty much stick to the same routine, but the daylight is much longer here in summer. so I'd take a long noon break, including a nap.

  19. #19
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    Wake a dawn. Start hiking about an hour later. Take several 5-10 minute breaks, generally on up hill slopes. Hike until about 4:00 p.m. On most parts of the trail, this routine will result in about 15 miles a day for me. Significant variables are terrain, weather, availability of water, and selection of a suitable place to camp overnight.

  20. #20

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    Since conditions change daily and those conditions are experienced differently by different people, the only one who can define the "average day" will be you. Daily life on a long distance trail has some commonailities that have already been pretty well synopsized above, but there are many variables in those commonalities. Basic commonalities include; walking, eating, waste elimination (pooping/peeing), personal hygiene, setting up/breaking down camp, sleeping, and dealing with weather. There are any number of variables within these activities that each of us deal with differently however.

    Mileage usually depends on weather, terrain, and the time you start and stop, not necessarily your walking speed. I know a lot of people who move along at a pokey 2.0 - 2.5 mph on flat ground and slower going uphill, but still make good mileage because they did not wear themselves out and stayed at it. Birds typically wake me just before first light, so I am usually moving along the trail just after first light (hopefully with a taller and more aggressive hiker preceding me to clear spider webs). I take a few breaks during the day and look for a place to camp about an hour, sometimes two hours before sunset depending where I had planned to camp, weather, and how the day went overall.

    Cruising speed is also a variable thing within yourself and is more of a feeling or "zone" you get that may not be the same speed every day. Each day will have a slightly different rhythm to it, uphills, downhills, hot road walking, water in the treadway, which will impact travel speed. After a few days you will get a feel for "cruising speed" and know you are there. For example, I know I am at that day's "cruise" speed when I feel comfortable with whatever terrain I am on regardless of my pace. This feeling and pace can also change during the day and will also change the longer you are walking on a daily basis with a load. Learning to hear your body say "this is good" is probably one of the best things one can learn in this activity.

    When you stop, it's for one of a few basic reasons; a brief rest, conversation, water supply needs, deal with gear or weather, photographs, elimination, food, or sleeping. The more time you spend on a long distance trail, the more efficient you will get performing these activities. As you can see from previous posts, people develop a type of circadian rhythm where waking, eating, elimination, and resting/sleeping occur at or about the same time each day.

    There are a couple of things I consider priority activities, usually near the end of the day. Personal hygiene, assessing resupply needs, planning a route/distance for the following day, eating a good evening meal, "tending to mending" which includes minor repairs/alterations and care of clothing and gear.

    Suffice to say there are many variables that are involved with this seemingly simple activity. All of them however lead to the same end, walking.

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