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Talking to the 30 Mile a Day Club

Yesterday the through hikers were the only people I met on the PCT.  Many go by now at 3 mph and don't even look up.  "Hello" and they are gone. 

I was sitting with 3 people from the East Coast and a sprinter came by.  He had the faded pack cover, small pack, and the gait of someone walking to British Columbia. 

He said "Hi" and was gone. 

"Do you speak Canadian?" I asked. 

He did not slow down, but turned and shouted "I speak French."

"Au revoir mon ami." was the best I could muster. 

This gets me thinking.  When I am backpacking, so far my longest days are ~25 miles, and on these I still like to stop and chat and just consign that I will be walking 12-13 hours.  On the other hand, when I am out on some "ultra" like dayhike such as Rim2Rim2Rim, or Great Range Traverse I am heads down jam no distractions allowed.  

If I were to thru hike the PCT, which I aspire to, I'd really need some self discipline as I can see my risk of turning it into a series of "heads down jams no distractions" and losing the joy and point of doing it in the first place.  

Note to self:  don't become one

Good words stevet.  It is much easier to lose your spiritual path when go fast and hard. 

Well, if doing Big Miles, sometimes you have to run a tight schedule.  Most of my trips, however, allocate plenty of time to smell the flowers, rarely going more than ten miles a day.

Some won't hike with me because I dally too much talking to strangers, and don't make the destiny until late in the day.  I suggest to them if they want to get to camp quicker by all means hike at their own pace.  Don't wait for me!  By the time I reach our destiny, get my camp set and washed up, I am cooking as it turns dark, under a camp light.  These folks don't like cooking in the dark is their lament, but I am the one doing all the cooking and cleaning, their personal eating wares included.  I have come to realize these are "punctual" type folks, who like to run everything on a schedule, wake up to alarms even in the wilderness, if for no other reason than to start early for the sake of starting early.  They get bent out of shape when they can't operate under their set rituals.  The funny thing is I am always the last to bed, and among the first to rise in the morning.  Someone has to hang the food and trash before bed,  and get the morning coffee started...  We always get where we are going and I have yet to determine there was any activity they missed due to my pace.  So their rush seems almost neurotic.  I thought backpacking was a place you go to make the world slow down a bit.  Apparently it is hard for some to unwind.  The folks I am mentioning also happen to be bucket listers to a fault, but I may be connecting dots with this comment that are coincidental.


Hard workers are my favorite kind of hiking partners.  People that understand sharing the work load.  The slow pace is the only pace.  I like no schedule at all, unless their is an important goal like meeting an airplane or boat shuttle.  What is the point of going out there if you are in a hurry?  

The trend is to keep going faster.  That suggests that some people are being chased by demons.  I wish them nothing but success in out running them. 

Some of the responses remind me why I mostly hike alone...walk as fast or slow as I, sleep, wake when I feel like it (although mostly I wake before sunrise automatically).  Some days it ends up with some long miles and days while others it doesn't - just depends on what I want to see and do.  My one exception to that was last year's crossing of Scotland on the TGO Challenge.  I ended up with several big days to reach the goal.  Next Scotland hike will be wandering with no real goals - looking forward to that one much more!

They may also be younger and faster.  I used to hike at over 2.5 miles an hour.  That was my normal hiking speed.  Now it's between 2 and 1.75. not because I am more thoughtful, careful or observant.  I'm just older.

ppine said:

"Hard workers are my favorite kind of hiking partners..."

My reasons for cooking and cleaning dishes are I can assure no one doesn't gets sick from a cook with poor personal and kitchen hygiene habits, contaminating food and wares.   As for all the other chores: I think many don't realize even the simple life requires significant effort.  Most struggle with pitching an effective cooking rain fly.  Most don't bother suspending an overhead cooking/camp light, quenching and dispersing camp fire ashes, setting effective bear hangs, or taking the extra effort to utilize truly potable water, versus the close at hand lake or stream subject to human activities.  Those who usually those who camp with me over time pick up these habits and assume some of these duties.


Amen Brother. 

I have camped with plenty of people once.  A lot of people two or three times. 

A few people more than 10x.

No whiners, no quitters, no freeloaders, no obssessive/compulsive people.  I welcome nearly everyone else that doesn't get too loaded. 

I’m a literature junky as well as a wilderness junky and indulge in both to a constant and high degree. Though my style of hiking, wilderness travel and outdoor living is far different than long trail hiking I still enjoy reading about it from time to time. I understand big, long range goals, staying deeply focused and discipline as well as the free spirit kind of life that takes a bit of social indifference. Adventurous and innovative people are fascinating and inspiring but the narcissistic freeloaders and the drama queens not so much. The sense of accomplishment is completely understandable but the lost souls who are trying to find or transform themselves and their place in the world…some of them have no further direction and were completely controlled by a trail, end up feeling so empty and lost when it’s over.

As for speed, it might be good for someone’s goals but I get the feeling a lot was missed. Here in canyon country where we inquisitively vier off the trail we count by hours, not miles.

when i'm training, i sometimes move pretty fast. trips, which I never do alone, we try to be conservative about how much we can handle in a day. i guess that if a person is through-hiking, going for weeks on end, that might influence how they view the endeavor.  

Though it doesn't always work out that way, when backpacking I prefer long days to tight schedules.  Nothing wrong with hiking into the dusk, sometimes the best miles come after a late afternoon swim and early dinner.  Sometimes the best miles come after spending an hour with someone you just met even if it means hiking into the dark and having dinner at 9pm.  And always the best miles happen sometime between the start and finish of the day.  It just depends...

August 13, 2020
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