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[at-l] 1,545 "zero" days

I started my "thru-hike" on May 4, 1998 and plan to end it sometime in Augu=
st of 2005.  So far I have covered 1,502 miles in 125 hiking days, for an a=
verage of 12 miles per day of hiking.  I guess you could say I have taken 1=
,545 "zero" days from May 4, 1998 until today, and still counting.

More seriously, I have only taken one true "zero" day in the 1,502 miles.  =
That was a day I got off the trail to visit my son in Manassas, VA when I w=
as passing just east of Front Royal.  My 1999 hike had some off trail days =
when I thought I was going home, but couldn't find my car, and then kept hi=
king, but that is another story.  I don't find "zero" days to be particular=
ly helpful to maintaining my health or motivation for my hikes.  However, m=
ost of my hikes have lasted less than a month, so a true thru-hike might pr=
esent a different set of needs.

I do find that getting into a town in the middle of the afternoon and spend=
ing the rest of the day refreshing, resupplying, doing laundry, enjoying a =
motel room with pizza delivered to my door, etc., is enough R&R for me to b=
e replenished in mind and body to go on for the next few days.  My observat=
ion of other hikers' styles has been that the harder they push with big mil=
eage days, etc., the more likely they are to start slackpacking, and to tak=
e more zero days in town.  My legs are short and my mind is weak, and that =
translates into a slow hiking style.  I'm am, however, a "plodder" who tend=
s to get to the finish line with the other tortoises, just ahead of the har=

The question is, "So What?"  I have my own goals, and my own motivation for=
 hiking the AT.  I have come to know my style and abilities, and am very co=
mfortable with doing it my way.  I like the challenge of long term, stick i=
t out, goals, and what they teach me about myself and others and the enviro=
nment.  I guess I would just say to those who are planning for their long d=
istance or thru-hike, or overnighter, or weekender, or whatever, to just le=
arn as much as you can theoretically about hiking and then adjust it to you=
r own needs, motivations, style, and goals.  Learn all you can from others,=
 but take all their advice with a grain of salt, be flexible, and then Hike=
 Your Own Hike.