[pct-l] regarding low mileage days

ned at mountaineducation.org ned at mountaineducation.org
Wed Aug 18 15:00:47 CDT 2010

I realize that we are proponents of low-mileage days, in order to have enough time to "smell the roses," but I don't think that I've even gone slow enough, until now! On both of my thru hikes ('74 and '80) I averaged about 17mpd with zeros every fifth day or so. Once in shape, it became "natural" to cruise along at 24mpd without even thinking about it. Not only was the body able but the mind was simply "in gear" to walk sun-up to sun-down without stopping, really. I "saw" and smelled things about me as I hiked along, but just wasn't comfortable stopping for very long. The daily habit of getting up and walking over ridge and creek became such a rhythm that it was difficult to change (hence re-entry shock and depression), even to stop long enough to appreciate the changing world around me.

However, on our recent video documentary trip where we scheduled 4 to 8mpd in order to "see" and film as much as possible, I began to really enjoy taking lots of time in camp, frequent stops of long durations along the trail, in meadows, and beside creeks, enjoying multiple, large lunches while watching the ants try to carry off my crumbs, and coming into camp early enough to set up, get water, cook dinner and desert, read the guide book about the next day, and look at the topos all before it got dark. This may seem stupid, but I began to appreciate such things as why bugs (at low elevations where there were bugs) swarm the way they do, why gophers and moles make those mud tunnels under the snowpack, and the sound marmots make when eating grass. 

I realize that you can't go from Mexico to Canada at this pace, but 17mpd worked fine for me. Just try not to get caught up in the social comparison of "how far did you go from Point A to Point B" high-mileage achievement challenge" thing that thru hikers tend to get into. But, of course, all this depends on why you're out there in the first place....

Ned Tibbits, Director
Mountain Education
1106A Ski Run Blvd
South Lake Tahoe, Ca. 96150
    P: 888-996-8333
    F: 530-541-1456
    C: 530-721-1551

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