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  1. #1
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    Default First Time Section Hiker

    Hey Everyone,

    I am planning on section hiking from Dick's Creek Gap to Fontana Dam next year (2020) the week before Labor Day. Because of my work schedule, time off, and potential recovery time, I am looking to try and cover the 95.1 miles in 7 days. That's about 13.5 miles each day.

    My question is, if I train from now until we go which is a little under a year, is 13.5 miles too much each day even with training for this?

    Thanks in advance for your advice and assistance!

    Chris

  2. #2
    GSMNP 900 Miler
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    With just about any consistent training, 13.5 miles shouldn't be a problem.

    Train with a pack on your back... fill it with old jugs of water or some other dead weight that it is as heavy as you expect your pack to weight.

    If you can work up to being able to walk 3 miles in under an hour per day (especially if you can include some hills in your daily walk), then things should be pretty easy when you try your trip next year.

  3. #3
    Registered User Christoph's Avatar
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    I pretty much got off the couch, and completed my thru, even a little overweight. Just listen to your body and do what you can, don't push it too hard, feed yourself, and rest when needed. Don't worry about the 13.5 each day. One day you might do 11 and the next you might do 15. If you start a little leg work (via treadmill, stairs, etc...) you should have no problems. Like HooKoo said, add some weight to you when you work out. You have plenty of time to get in/stay in shape for next year. Just have fun, that'll be 90% of the battle!
    - Trail name: Thumper

  4. #4
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    Consider expanding the concept of "training" to include actual multi-night backpacking somewhere. It's one thing to exercise for 30 minutes. It's a different thing to carry a pack all day long.

    Many people start the trail and quit because it was too hard. Give yourself a headstart by knowing what you're getting into.

    Welcome to WhiteBlaze, and best of luck to you!

  5. #5

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    As a section hiker, I don't think there is much you can do other than get into aerobic shape so you can do the miles without getting winded.

    You should be fine doing the 13-14 miles, but I am always sore the first couple of days no matter what because I'm just using different muscles. Even if you walk around with a pack, you don't simulate the twisting and turning and rock hopping. I always get the soreness out just as the trip is finishing.

    But it's always worth it!
    The older I get, the faster I hiked.

  6. #6
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    That first day after crossing the state line will be a killer...

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by daddytwosticks View Post
    That first day after crossing the state line will be a killer...
    Yep, the "stairway to heaven" leaving Bly gap. Welcome to NC. That's actually kind of a rough section up to Fontana, especially for a first time hike. Since this hike would be near the end of summer, you have time to do a lot of weekend shake down hikes before hand. That's the kind of training you need.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8
    Registered User Turtle-2013's Avatar
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    Chris,

    Some of it is in your head ... what I mean is that if you think you can do it, you probably can. I have quite a few years on you, spent the first 4 months of the year without being able to put weight on my left leg due to a foot injury. But in August did just over 15 mpd in Vermont ... which is about 3 mpd less than I have "normally" managed. It is NOT because I'm in great shape, I don't spend time training, I just stay active working around my "farmette". Mostly I think I do the miles, because I know I can. I'm just suggesting that having your head in the right place is probably as important as having your body in shape.

    Bottom line, get on the trail, enjoy your time hiking, hike your own hike .... and if you can't do the miles just drop back and punt ... section hiking isn't a race ... it is a journey.

    Best of luck,
    Turtyl

  9. #9
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    This section is pretty steep. 13.5 miles a day may be doable, but it will also be a challenge to sustain 13.5 per day for 7 straight days. It may turn out to be "doable" in the same sense the Bataan Death March was doable.

    I would suggest working out logistics for a "Plan B". That might include ending the hike at NOC. By around day 2 or 3 you should decide whether you're up for the full 95 miles or want to cut it shorter. With an option to stop at the NOC, you can take the pressure off yourself and enjoy a shorter hike. On the other hand, if 13.5 per day turn out to be no trouble, you can still do 95 miles. Both places are easily accessible by road.



    Quote Originally Posted by cbreneman View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    I am planning on section hiking from Dick's Creek Gap to Fontana Dam next year (2020) the week before Labor Day. Because of my work schedule, time off, and potential recovery time, I am looking to try and cover the 95.1 miles in 7 days. That's about 13.5 miles each day.

    My question is, if I train from now until we go which is a little under a year, is 13.5 miles too much each day even with training for this?

    Thanks in advance for your advice and assistance!

    Chris

  10. #10
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    My section hiking training regime was make sure my footware was broken in (far more important for boots than for trail runners) and then I would walk everyday at lunch with a day pack on that I gradually loaded up with bricks until I got up to 30 lbs. for a week or two prior to hike.

  11. #11

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    Get out and start doing some walking with weight on your back. Test your gear in a real camping setting overnight. As far as 13 miles a day, yes you can. If you put some prep time in you will be fine. The math is pretty simple, if you get up early and start moving, you don't need any kind of rapid pace. If you were to be moving by 7am, you can walk for 10 or 11 hours and knock out 13. Go a little easy the first day or two.

  12. #12
    Registered User greentick's Avatar
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    I do ruck PT with 70-75# to make up for the total lack of hills where I live. My hiking pack weighs in at ~27# with 3 days of food, 2L of water and winter gear. Feels like nothing especially when the food gets ate up. If you carry weight during your "training" get to a little bit more than what you anticipate carrying if you can. (tho I wouldn't recommend 70!)
    nous défions

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbreneman View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    I am planning on section hiking from Dick's Creek Gap to Fontana Dam next year (2020) the week before Labor Day. Because of my work schedule, time off, and potential recovery time, I am looking to try and cover the 95.1 miles in 7 days. That's about 13.5 miles each day.

    My question is, if I train from now until we go which is a little under a year, is 13.5 miles too much each day even with training for this?

    Thanks in advance for your advice and assistance!

    Chris
    Generally, you should be fine if you're in good shape, you have a reasonable pack weight, and all goes well.
    But there are some variables that can throw you off or the mileage can be more difficult than anticipated day after day. It's a good idea to have some alternate plans if your original route was too tough (or too easy), especially for your first couple hikes.
    If you've done smaller hikes before, even 2 day or 3 day on similar terrain, you'll have a better idea

  14. #14

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    Sounds doable, although I'd rather see a zero day in a 7 day period, just for recovery and enjoyment.
    Section hiking is underrated. Enthusiasm and appreciation is high, and then you can stop before you get sick of it.
    I don't know how old you are, or what condition, but I just did 127 miles on the PCT in 10 days, with no breaks. I'm 63. No real problems, but I've been doing this for 50+ years.

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