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Average Walking Speeds?

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Average Walking Speeds?

Postby tigfour » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:09 pm

As I begin to plan the trip, I was wondering how far you guys would expect a group of 5 to hike in a day. Keeping a pretty relaxed pace and hiking say from 7am - 5 or 6pm.



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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby Buck Forester » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:24 pm

Depends if you're a fisherman or photographer who has to cast in every sweet pool or take a photo of every flower or each change of light on the peak, ha!

Depending on elevation gained, on average I give myself about 1.5 - 2 miles per hour in determining how far I expect to get, which includes rest stops. That's just hiking. If I'm serious about taking photos along the way then there is no formula for me.
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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:29 pm

Without specifying more conditions, the question is too vague to have meaning.

It is always faster down a gradual downhill on a smooth wide forest duff horse trail than hiking up a steep uphill rocky little maintained trail. And much is affected by how much weight one is carrying for their body size. Of course a person on a weekend backpack will be carrying far less food weight than someone on a week plus long journey. And what time of day and weather can make a huge difference if one is hiking uphill. Best conditions are cool mornings through shady forest and worst are midday in harsh sun across dark rock geology that has absorbed heat and tortures the backpacker with baking radiation up from the ground.

Thus an ultralight backpacker doing a weekend trip on a gradual wide horse trail can probably go nearly as fast as they can walk without a pack at all. On the other hand a person with a traditionaL backpacking load going up a long steep trail, say like over Taboose Pass in hot midday sun is likely to move up the trail like a snail.

So some more info about the nature of what your group will be doing.
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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby SPeacock » Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:55 am

A 9mm Pentil pencil's worth on a TomHarrisonMaps.com map could be roughly a day's walk considering you are asking.

About 10 miles in the Sierra could include a 12,000+ pass with 2000' gain. 10 miles gives you most of your mileage in the morning if you can work up steam for an early start. This should afford a nice stop for a hot lunch and enough time to get to a camp before late afternoon thunder showers.

If you manage to go faster, then add a couple of miles that day so you don't have to do them the next day and plan a day off someplace to take advantage of your good fitness while sprinting.

Most visitors of ok fitness can manage over 1 mph even on a strenuous incline if there are not many luxurious stops to reduce the heart rate.
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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby TehipiteTom » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:52 am

All else being equal, five will travel much more slowly than one. Overall travel speed diminishes as group size increases:
  • You'll move exactly as quickly as the slowest member of the group;
  • The time it takes to get a group moving (in the morning, or any time the group stops on the trail--lunch, e.g.) is the time it takes the slowest person to get ready;
  • If the group needs to make any decisions, the time required for this increases exponentially with group size (if you have a single undisputed leader, this is less of a factor).
In groups of, say, 12 or more, travel speed approaches 0 mph. At least, that's how it seemed to me. ;) In any case, don't plan on covering as many miles with five people as you would on your own.
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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby giantbrookie » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:08 am

TehipiteTom wrote:In any case, don't plan on covering as many miles with five people as you would on your own.

I think this is the bottom line. Everyone is different, so there is no set formula given the wide range in people's hiking fitness. In order to keep everyone happy it is always best to err on the side of conservatism. That is, you gauge what you THINK is the reasonble hiking range (ie maximum distance and elevation gain) of the slowest member in your group and trim your hardest day to be significantly less than that. If you have done multiple trips with the same group, you will have a very good idea on what a day's hiking maximum should be, but lacking that prior knowledge, conservatism is the best course.
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Re: Average Walking Speeds?

Postby caddis » Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:01 am

On the long easy sections like Kerrick Canyon or Bear creek you can average 3-3 1/2 mph. Regardless of uphill or downhill. On the steep uphill, we plan on 1mph and anything in-between seems to be about 2 mph. But it always varies depending on the trail or if you are xcountry (plan 1mph), load on the shoulders, physical shape and uphill downhill.

I know of one short hike that's only 3.25 miles but it gains 1000ft per miles and it's all off trail.....that's a 4+ hour hike
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