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  1. #1

    Default Average Daily Mileage?

    Let's assume you are going NOBO. What is the "average daily mileage" of a "normally fit" hiker with a pack of 28lbs loaded with water and 2 Liters of water? It "appears" from the things I have seen that for the "average hiker" the PCT will allow more miles per day from the "get go" than that same hiker would manage on the AT. If 10MPD is what you are capable of starting at Springer, what, for planning purposes, might one expect on the PCT?

    I realize there are many variables and this is highly speculative but just looking for some experienced input.
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    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

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    I've hiked the southern ~1/3 of the PCT (Mexican border to Tuolumne Meadows) but my experience on the AT is mostly limited to central/northern Virginia, MD, and southern PA. Based on comparing the trails for the sections I'm familiar with, I can say that I can cover around 20-25% more miles on the PCT than on the AT, on average, due mainly to the fact that the PCT tends to utilize switchbacks more effectively. I was doing 20-25 mile days on the PCT from day one leaving Campo in 2015. I was fit and carrying about what you refer to - on average 22-30 pound pack including food and water depending on days to resupply. On the AT, I can comfortably do 20 miles, more in the Shenandoah NP, but generally I wouldn't hit mid 20s on the AT sections I'm familiar with. The PCT is by no means "easy" but I think that it is generally true that you can plan on higher miles than on the AT.

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    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Only hike tahoe-whitney on pct
    But i would say 25% more.

    The vertical isnt relentless, long easy downhills follow uphills, trail is graded better, in summer, long daylight hrs lend to more miles, more open terrain stays light longer than tight green tunnel on AT.

    A few on here have said they thought jmt portion was harder...i dont know how they possibly could think that....but lots of variables....including psychological
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 04-07-2019 at 10:48.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    I would say you can boost your milage by almost 50%. The main factor being how well graded the PCT is compared to the AT. I also think lack of shelters help some. I believe hiker will continue longer ion the day if there's no "set" camp sites. Rainfall, or more the lack of it,also play a role. You're not packing up a wet camp & slogging along day after day. It also forces a hiker to cover higher miles to water sources in the dry sections. On the flip side the snow will slow most hikers down in the Sierra.

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    The JMT can be harder for an unacclimated hiker or if snow is a factor, but on clear trail for an acclimated hiker, the trail is well graded and conducive to making big miles. The past few summers I have given myself a few days to acclimate before planning on higher mileage.

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    Registered User lonehiker's Avatar
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    First 7 days of AT vs PCT

    AT 2008
    1- 12, 2- 12, 3- 12, 4- 14, 5-14, 6- 13, 7-12

    PCT 2014
    1- 20, 2- 16, 3- 18, 4- 19, 5- 19, 6- 16, 7- 8.5 (into resupply)

    I most definitely could have hiked longer mileage on the AT than I did but was fairly inexperienced when it comes to LONG distance hiking. Had done a few 175-225 miles trips but was easing into it to prevent over-use injury. The tread and grade of the PCT is much easier than the AT and is much more conducive to bigger mileage, especially early.
    Lonehiker

  7. #7

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    thanks y'all. that was kind of what I was seeing by watching vlogs, etc
    https://tinyurl.com/MyFDresults

    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

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    As a guesstimate, only from a trail conditions perspective, starting NOBO's from each trail's southern terminus, with similar late March starting dates, 25-50 % higher avg MPD. Those averages and differences occur due to other reasons though too! AND, they're not set in stone. For example, I know of several serial LD backpackers who, as Newbs, did the PCT NOBO as their first really LD hike with very similar starting MPD avgs as 1-4 yrs later doing their AT NOBO's with similar starting dates. Historically, PCT NOBO's have LD hiking experience, success at it, and are more embracing of the life. Whereas AT NOBO's are typically, and still are, Newbie - more raw - LD hikers.


    If you looked at the bigger picture of how Lonehiker evolved as a hiker between his 08 AT NOBO and 14 PCT NOBO you'd see development that likely played into those higher MPD avg as well.


    Same here. In 06 doing that first truly LD hike on the AT NOBO I was a toddler stumbling to find balance, a fumbling inept first timer losing their virginity in GA, NC, and TN. I hiked myself into hiking, then backpacking, and then LD backpacking shape. 14 m first day I was sore for a wk. I did one 11 mile long 12 hr day(that was a long day back then) that first wk because I could barely walk. Another day I did 13 with a ton of pain. Another day 11.7. Another day not even 10 miles. All during that first wk. I look back and read that 06 AT Journal to see where I was...and, where I have gone. By northern VA, WV, MD an easy day was doing 22-24. By 08, as I ascended the curve exceptionally quickly, on a PCT NOBO hit the trail running doing a first day 29 miler easily able to do 35, 35, 35, 30, 30,... a 33 day if counting the wrong trail turn. First day out 4 mile redo. LOL. And it wasn't just because the trail was easier at the start! It wasn't just because fitness level was higher and more organized. It was a larger development fully embracing and absorbing all I could logistically, mentally, for me, spiritually, physically, etc. On the PCT was where I belonged at that time in that moment doing the right thing at the right time. To every season there is a time. When you know that you know this in your hear of hearts without any doubt many things conspire to lead to success.

    This was evident in those in 08 who were doing the PCT as their first LD hike compared to those already experienced with 1-10 LD hikes. The PCT Newbs or LASHers were doing 1/3 - 1/2 the MPD avgs at the start compared to the more experienced backpackers... even if kit wts were within 20%. It's evident in the eyes, fitness, kits, load outs, the determination in achievement, level of self maintenance, resupply, walking and movement ergonomics, etc.

    Serial LD backpackers rarely plod. They almost glide lightly touching the earth with a freedom of non wasted energy and motion. Experienced LD hikers tend to "flow." That plays into MPD avgs and getting injured less often.

  9. #9

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    Data point: Last year on the PCT I averaged just under 18 mpd, including 10 zeros and many neros. Half the days were above 20, and twice I broke 30.

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    The raw elevation data for the first 100 miles:

    PCT - CA Sec A Campo to Warner Springs - Gain = 16,452 ft, Loss = 16,335 ft, Distance 109.5 miles

    AT - Springer Mtn, GA to US 64 Winding Stair Gap NC - Gain = 29,760 ft, Loss = 29,840 ft, Distance 109.4 miles

    A lot less ups and downs and better footing (graded for pack animals) is easier on bodies that aren't in LD hiking shape.

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    Great info and to me, validation of a plan to do the AT first and even if its years later the PCT as the relative "ease" can cancel some of the age related slow down.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    A lot less ups and downs and better footing (graded for pack animals) is easier on bodies that aren't in LD hiking shape.
    On any body.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    The raw elevation data for the first 100 miles:

    PCT - CA Sec A Campo to Warner Springs - Gain = 16,452 ft, Loss = 16,335 ft, Distance 109.5 miles

    AT - Springer Mtn, GA to US 64 Winding Stair Gap NC - Gain = 29,760 ft, Loss = 29,840 ft, Distance 109.4 miles

    A lot less ups and downs and better footing (graded for pack animals) is easier on bodies that aren't in LD hiking shape.
    Yup. But now factor in the late Mar Mojave heat, blazing sun, often lack of shade, and lack of water on those 109 miles compared to the AT's first 109 hike by the blazes miles in late Mar weather where shelters, water, greater road crossings and "outs", and greater overall infrastructure exists. Of course, you might get dumped on with a spring wet snowfall on the AT. Rain, cooler weather, a green tunnel experience, 165,000 white blazes according to the NPS(that equates with some 75 blazes per mile!) and who knows how many signs, and uber anal-yzed known logistics make the AT for an easier Newb experience IMO. The AT offers a ton of comfort and convenience. The PCT 2/3 - 3/4 of a ton.


    Tipi Walter is right! The minute foul weather hits on the AT many thrus head for the more abundant in town infrastructure through routine ease in getting there, and on trail shelters compared to what the PCT offers.

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    Echoing what Dogwood says, I also think part of the typical increase in daily mileage on the PCT is due to the fact that hikers usually have more hiking experience before they tackle the PCT.

    I did things backward. I hiked the PCT first and averaged 18 mpd. On the AT a few years later, I averaged 20 mpd. I thought the AT was easier than the PCT--it was certainly faster for me.

    The challenge of the AT hills was offset by the ease of resupply, I thought. Water load is a big factor on the PCT, nearly nonexistent on the AT.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

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    You're post was what I was patiently awaiting. From the fire hose's mouth.

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    Here is a table showing miles per day and miles per hiking day for PCT NOBO completers keeping a thorough journal at trailjournals.com:


    • MPD~~~~~~~MPHD~~~~~SECTION
      16.7 miles.........(17.5 miles).........Mexico to Warner Springs
      15.6 miles.........(18.1 miles).........Warner Springs to Big Bear
      16.6 miles.........(19.1 miles).........Big Bear to Aqua Dulce
      17.2 miles.........(20.7 miles).........Aqua Dulce to Kennedy Meadows
      13.8 miles.........(17.0 miles).........Kennedy Meadows to Echo Lake
      20.1 miles.........(22.7 miles).........Echo Lake to Saied Valley
      21.4 miles.........(24.3 miles).........Saied Valley to Cascade Locks
      20.0 miles.........(22.7 miles).........Cascade Locks to Canada
      18.1 miles.........(20.9 miles).........Entire PCT


      These are averages, of course. Your miles may vary. Here is the url for the article this table was taken from:
    • https://whiteblaze.net/forum/content.php/982-PCT-Northbound-Hiking-Rates


    Last edited by map man; 04-07-2019 at 20:31.
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    What yr(s) do PCT those avgs represent? It matters because if we go back to MPD avgs pre Wild releases(book and movie), and A Walk In the Woods(movie), and pre PCT quota permit system AGAIN PCT thrus were traditionally embarked upon by a greater percentage of those with LD hikes already under their belt compared to not only AT NOBO's but also current PCT NOBOs. More folks are now choosing to do the PCT as their first and maybe only LD hike or LD attempt or LASH or beginning backpacking experience. Some are even doing the CDT as their only or first LD hiking experience. The CDT was traditionally, and still is to large extent, more often done later in one's backpacking/hiking career. This correlates with a lesser evolved lesser advanced LD PCT hiker compared to that traditionally in the recent past. I'd wager 90% of my chips the PCTA, NPS, WArea, USFS, and other PCT land managers new this statistic which is one reason that factored into establishment of the PCT quota permit system. Most were well aware of the negative impacts occurring on the AT from it's super popular high usage managed with a, just as Baxter SP Superintendent Jensen Bissel said, was a come one come all management approach.

    It also factors into why more than ever we witness routine cookie cutter LD hikes. This is what the guidebook or so and so's apps or some YT guru, or as Tipi says self appointed 'experts' holding court, say how to hike so it contributes to not only deeply rutted trails, more impacted environments and trail towns, and mindsets.


    FWIW, I did it too blabbing about how to get JMT thru permits working around the systems put in place to protect these environments and maintain some standards of experiences.
    Last edited by Dogwood; 04-07-2019 at 22:04.

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    AT = as the crow flies
    PCT = as the pack animal walks

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    MuddyWaters's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post

    FWIW, I did it too blabbing about how to get JMT thru permits working around the systems put in place to protect these environments and maintain some standards of experiences.
    All reservable permits are gone now for trailheads near whitney as soon as they open. Even the horrible Shepherd pass. Anything to post they put foot on some part of jmt on facebook.
    "Inevitably, a long distance hiker must choose between travelling light, and not travelling at all." - Earl V. Shaffer

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    All reservable permits are gone now for trailheads near whitney as soon as they open. Even the horrible Shepherd pass. Anything to post they put foot on some part of jmt on facebook.
    Certainly seems to be the case that most permits are snapped up quickly. A few years ago, it was much easier to secure Inyo permits. The number of Nobo JMTers is increasing. This year I got my Nobo permit from Inyo the minute permits were released for my start date.

    Having descended Shepherd pass, I wish good luck to those using it as a workaround! A hell of a way to start a hike!

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