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[pct-l] Hiking Speed

I might add that the fellow who questioned my higher mileage days was
hiking with the typical heavy weight pack, like the 28 pound base weight
"Kelty Super Tioga" pack that I hauled from Georgia to Maine on the AT
in '94. Back then I just didn't have access to all the ultralight
information that the internet has made possible today, but I made it
with a lot more effort nonetheless and you can bet that I didn't have
too many 20-plus mile days.

I attribute the success of my '01 PCT thru-hike completely to going
ultralight... or at least the level of pure enjoyment was dramatically
increased with only having to deal with a base weight of about 10
pounds. That base weight also included 18 ounces of luxury items such as
a nice camera and a AM/FM radio. Through the desert, high Sierra's, or
the North Cascade's I don't feel that I compromised safety whatsoever by
using ultralight gear because I spent nearly a year studying ultralight
gear and camping methods very intensely.

Getting back to hiking speed there were numerous occasions this summer
when I was walking with various day or weekend hiker's and when they
discovered that I was a thru-hiker they almost invariably expected me to
speed off from them at any minute. Actually it was quite the opposite in
reality and as I told them my average hiking pace is only around two and
a half mph... and about exactly the same as any normal day or weekend
hiker. The only reason that I had consistent 30-plus mile days was
because I very rarely stopped walking and an ultralight pack made that
very possible.

Normally I ate my breakfast at wake-up, then filled the outside mesh
pockets of my pack with a lot of finger food, then proceeded to enjoy my
meals while putting the miles behind me. Eating my food is much more
enjoyable and exciting for me as I walk down the trail, while passing a
beautiful lake, then creeping up on a grazing herd of elk. Most folks
seem to completely stop everytime they eat a meal or snack but moving
works best for me most of the time. I'll never forget some of the
strange looks I got when passing some hiker's while I was cheerfully
pouncing down the trail and eating a can of tuna! Great memories!

And yes, I also strongly believe that finding a hiking style that makes
you personally happy is also a key to successful long distance trips and
that varies greatly from hiker to hiker. While some people hike more for
the socialization aspect of the adventure and thus prefer lower mileage
days, others (like me) lean more toward hiking alone and constantly
trying to grasp the total freedom of the trail.

That also reminds me of the big coffee drinking debate that I kept
running into while on the trail this summer. So many times I was warned
about the ill effects of drinking coffee while on the trail, from
dehydration to zapping my energy. Just like having consistent high
mileage days, I also love to have my coffee while on the trail. It's one
of those things that I think about all day, then finally while sitting
under my tarp I'm enjoying that wonderful aroma and flavor. It just
don't get much better than that! Once again, it is my philosophy that if
something like coffee (or high mileage days) can make me "that" happy
then I strongly believe that the benefits to my spirit far, and I mean
FAR, outweigh's any negative effects.

So, there you have it and yes, I just can't wait to be doing my next 30
miler days and looking forward to that wonderful cup of java! Now if I
could only learn to how to cook my meal while walking down the trail.

Dave Brock "Lightningbolt" http://members.tripod.com/gohike


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