Dayhiking w/ Full Pack | High Sierra Topix  

Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby rlown » Sat Mar 18, 2017 8:02 pm

At 30, maybe. At 50, I was good to 75lbs once, but my legs melted after 10 miles. At 55, I aim for a max of 45lbs. I'm sure it'll be less soon.



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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby Tom_H » Sat Mar 18, 2017 9:17 pm

flown wrote:Wow. 90lbs isn't normal. :eek:


I worked as a guide for a church affiliated outfitter. Our director was a NOLS graduate and he trained all of us who worked for him exactly according to NOLS methodology. We didn't carry other peoples' stuff for them, except when they couldn't manage. Sometimes I had to take other people's food bag for them. One day a girl was sick and I put her pack on my front with mine on my back. It was about 125 lb. total.

So what added up to 90 lb? Food and fuel for 18 days, Peak I stove, frying pan, Optimus oven, fishing gear, climbing rope, rack of climbing hardware, climbing helmet, ice axe, crampons, gear repair kit for 16 people, first aid kit for 16 people. Storm gear and wool clothing for temp. down to about 20 degrees. And this was back in the days when gear was heavy, there was no such thing as lightweight yet, much less ultralite or SUL. The meat was freeze dried, but a lot of food was only dehydrated. Foods like butter, flour etc. are heavy. We did some pretty exotic cooking. The Optimus oven for baking weighed a pound all by itself.

We did new staff training in CO in early June while everything was still in deep snow, As summer wore on, we shed the snow gear and did shorter trips that were more leisurely. When you are in your mid-20s the body can seem indestructible. All I can do now is day hike. One of my supervisors is 75 and still day hikes over 300 days a year in the Appalachians. I admire those older than myself like Wandering Daisy and Old Ranger who still manage to backpack. Sleeping on the ground puts my back in spasms now. I had a great run, though and my nighttime dreams are often of meadows full of wildflowers, bubbling brooks, rappelling cliffs, and quietly following elk herds. I was lucky to do all the packing I was able to do.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby rlown » Sun Mar 19, 2017 10:46 am

I thoroughly respect anyone who ever could carry that much weight.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby Tom_H » Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:41 am

flown wrote:I thoroughly respect anyone who ever could carry that much weight.


Well, that is kind to say. Of course, you cannot go as fast. Using the Rest Step and correct breathing technique helps a lot.

Wandering Daisy is a petite small woman. She was a NOLS instructor and they have to be very strong. I have met several other NOLS instructors and all were built like NFL linebackers. Knowing that she was out there doing the same tough hiking inspires awe in me. And in her later 60s she still spends a lot of time on the trail. That is amazing.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby Wandering Daisy » Sun Mar 19, 2017 7:14 pm

Once you add serious technical climbing gear your pack weight goes way up! The "backpacking" gear I carried when climbing was pretty minimal. We reduced this type of weight by eliminating anything not absolutely necessary (before the days of UL equipment). So far, nobody has made a UL rope, or ice axe, or crampons (but they ARE getting a bit lighter) . But the heaviest pack I ever carried was elk meat, it actually broke my pack frame. LOL.

If you go out for a long time (say 2 weeks ) and if you do this all summer, like the PCT hikers you need to eat an enormous amount of food but unlike the PCT hikers, you do not stop into town to chow down regularly. The good thing about food is that you eat it up! Not so with climbing gear. But looking at the JMT, a good look at your gear and reducing weight is one of the best things you can do. I see no need for base weight to be more than 16-20 pounds. UL guys go down to 10 pounds. Pare down food - you should not be carrying out ANY extra. (I am never too proud to beg a bit of food off others on the last day of a long trip! or simply go without.)

Back to the training for JMT. If you are not down to your lean ideal weight, loosing that extra body weight will do as much as hauling around a full pack. One reason to "train" is to loose body fat and increase muscle. There are many ways to do that than carrying a pack - and something you can do every day is probably better than a weekend trip to Yosemite.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby sgenise » Sun Mar 19, 2017 9:20 pm

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies everyone! The reason I go with my actual gear instead of just rocks or books is because it also helps me become more efficient in packing and to try out different ways to pack, so while I appreciate everyone offering me alternative options for what to hold in the pack to convince the rangers, that's not exactly what I'm looking for haha
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:57 am

OK. Then why not just get a permit? Walk-in permits are generally available for just one person and free. Nothing says you have to stay overnight. I get my permits at the park entrance (you can get them at 7AM if going to Hetch Hetchy) and then just am on my way. I never reserve and nearly always get the first-come permit with no waiting.

A bit of a jest, but you could also offer to carry someone else's pack. Just think if someone came up to me as I started up the trail from Happy Isles and some dude said, "may I carry your pack?" LOL I would be thrilled! And on your way back, some burned out backpacker would just love to have you carry his pack back. You would be an instant hero! Put on a Superman costume, and you would become a backpacker legend! :D

But I think the best answer is to hike where permits are not required. Good Luck on your JMT journey.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:39 am

I dunno, I would take the fine pretty seriously... it used to be fifty or seventy bucks. I think it's up in the hundreds now for being caught out without a permit. And if you didn't pack the bear can the ranger can slap down a $5000 fine. Of course, it all depends on the ranger you run into. But I've been checked three consecutive times on the same day by three different rangers on the trail to Rancheria Falls, and I'm glad I had both canister and permit - would have been ugly.

I get permits and do single night trips to train, or take a day pack, myself.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby Jimr » Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:04 am

Sounds like you have a solution. Permit.

When I was in my 20's, I used to do day hikes every weekend. As I got closer to a Sierra trip, I'd wear a 22lb diving weight belt to add a bit of weight.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Mar 31, 2017 9:29 pm

I can't but be reminded of my dad. That guy would carry so much stuff on dayhikes. He did in fact dayhike with a full external frame pack on many occasions. On two occasions the top-heavy nature of this rig led to scary falls--once descending Mt Banner and another time coming back from a failed ascent of Mt Sill. I didn't see the latter, but the first one was scary, although there was no injury. The 2nd time he didn't break anything but he had a lot of surface damage and bled a lot (the spiral blood path down his walking stick reminded me of the barber pole).

As for training he would do Black Mtn above Palo Alto as his off season training with quite a bit of load but he throttled back after he took a head over heels tumble on one of those training hikes.

I can't help but think of my dad's biggest dayhike epic, though, which was when he climbed Shasta with some much younger co-workers. He told me in advance he didn't think they were his equals and he felt he needed to carry a bigger load to slow himself down so he wouldn't have to wait so long for his buddies, so he waffled between carrying a 5-gallon collapsible water container (filled) in his external frame pack (for the super long dayhike) or whether he'd throw a full watermelon in there. Now the water weighed more and that's what he ended up carrying, but I still wished he had taken the watermelon to the summit of Shasta because that would have made for better theater.

As for me I do not prefer to carry super big loads on my conditioning dayhikes. When I did Mission Peak above Fremont as my off season conditioning hike I'd carry a regular rucksack, I would take extra water for weight--sometimes up to 5L--but I sure didn't carry a full pack up there.
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby fishmonger » Sat Apr 01, 2017 10:34 am

sgenise wrote:Training for the JMT this summer, and I'd love to do some long dayhikes with a full pack. Last year I frequented Clouds Rest from Happy Isles as my go-to training hike, and always with a full pack, but I read recently that if a ranger catches you in the wilderness with a full pack they're going to assume you're backpacking, and that if you don't have a permit they'll cite you.

Has anyone had experience with this? I'd like to continue dayhiking with my full pack, but I'd also like to avoid any conflicts with rangers. Thanks!


Other than in Yosemite, I don't recall ever having to show my permit to any ranger, except on Whitney exit. The permit checks seem to focus on the high demand trailheads, and Half Dome/Clouds Rest Tenaya pretty much are at the top of that list next to Lyell Canyon and Whitney main trail.

I rarely do anything in terms of training or warmup hikes, as I live where the world is pretty flat and private property surrounds me. I stay fit on a bicycle so cardio and strength and all that other good stuff are close to where I need it to be when I arrive in the mountains

Once at elevation, I use my first two or three days on the trail to re-acclimate to my pack, the altitude and everything else. The schedule usually begins with a half day slowish start, high elevation overnight camps, and then distances and duration increase each day. I do the training part at home, so when I get out in the mountains, I spend minimal time prepping my trip logistics prior to the actual hike,
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Re: Dayhiking w/ Full Pack

Postby sambieni » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:45 pm

I get the need to grab permit to avoid the fine, but isn't that also a potential permit away from someone who really will need it for an overnight?
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