500 mile road trip

4:40 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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     This summer I would like to complete a trek form WV to southern NC via rural roads.  Some hills at the beginning of the trip then very flat afterwards. I plan to sleep in a light weight tent with minimal gear.  The total mileage is about 490.  I am a fairly fit runner with some marathons under my belt.  Any estimates on how long a trip like this would take?  How many miles per day for a goal?  Any other tips would also be appreciated.  


8:10 p.m. on April 14, 2011 (EDT)
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First, welcome to Trailspace, Mike.

Some questions - why trek along roads, rural or other wise, in that part of the country? Even rural roads have traffic, and some of the roads in that area have large trucks hauling loads of coal moving over them at high rates of speed. On the other hand, some of the rural roads are very scenic and the folks living along them can be pretty friendly, especially to hikers and bicyclists (though some can be pretty hostile). Some will let you camp on their land and even feed you huge, delicious meals, and some will come after you with a shotgun if you dare set a toe on their land. Why not take trails instead of roads? There are some really beautiful trails in that area, though in a 490 mile trek, you would cross roads from time to time.

Have you tried short treks, including day treks, on a variety of rural roads (hilly and flat) with a load like you plan on carrying on this 490 mile excursion? As a "fairly fit runner with some marathons", are you thinking about running along those roads with the pack, and have you tried doing so for a fairly full day?

What kind of support will you have - someone with a car who will carry your camping gear and resupply your water and snacks as you go, purchase food at stores along the way, completely self-supported? If this is point to point, how are you getting to the start and from the finish? Or is it a loop that ends at the start point? What sort of bail-out have you planned, in case something goes wrong?

The answers to your questions are very dependent on you and your experience, as in the answers to the questions I asked. I have friends who have done something like you plan and could keep up 30-40 mile days with no problem, and others who didn't realize that hiking along a road with a pack is very different from running along a road with only water and hydration drinks. Time of year makes a difference as well. July-Aug is pretty hot and humid for that area, with thunderstorms. Nov-Jan can be really cold part of the time, even with snow on some days.

8:58 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for your reply Bill,

I love hiking on trails.  But in this case, rural roads are more practical.  This planned trip is a one way trip from WV to southern NC to visit family.  I am pressed for time so I must make the trip as quickly as possible.  I don't plan to run any of the route since I am carrying a pack.  I have done a few weekend hikes but have never pushed the mileage.  No more than 20 miles a day most days.  I realize that some people do not take kindly to intruders. I plan to ask for permission before camping.  Bail out plan will be family pick up.  Mostly interested in what people have experienced in daily mileage for a trip of that distance.  I do want to "push the limit" a bit and finish the trek as quickly as possible.  I was thinking 35 miles a day as a target.  Less in the hills and possibly more in flat land.  Thanks again.

11:54 a.m. on April 15, 2011 (EDT)
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Sounds like a good start to your plan. It's still cool weather, of course, but you might try a couple of really long day hikes with a load on similar roads, just to see how you feel (and how your feet feel - any hot spots? any blisters?). Although I do a few 35-mile day hikes every year, I do find that they are a bit on the challenging side to do multiple days that way. But then, I am an Old GreyBeard, with many decades under my feet, unlike you young whippersnappers {;=>D - think I will stick with 20 mile days for multiday hikes.

It has been a few years since I hiked and biked in that part of the country. But what I found was that the folks who had been there for generations were, contrary to legend, very open and friendly and quite willing to have you camp on their land. The unfriendly ones were mostly "newcomers" - city folk who had acquired a "house in the country" a day's drive from DC, Philly, Richmond so they would become "farmers" and have an "estate", and were very possessive of "MY land". 

6:45 p.m. on April 17, 2011 (EDT)
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Don't watch a video of the movie, "Deliverance" before you go.

Yogi Robert

April 21, 2018
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