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What is your typical day like?

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What is your typical day like?

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:25 am

I know we all have different backpacking styles. I think all of us tend to establish a routine that we mostly follow, although not all the time. Here is mine.

Up at crack of dawn or before. This is probably a residual of being a climber (oh those alpine starts at 2AM!) and the fact that I have spent so much time in the Rockies were you are guarenteed a thunderstorm by early afternoon so one must "make hay" when the sun shines. My average mileage is 7-8 miles (off-trail) or 10-12 miles (on trail).

Always cook a hot breakfast and pack up fairly quickly. If I am really careful I can do all this in an hour- more usual and liesurly - 1.5 hours from wake-up to foot on the trail. This where I love to use a bivy-sack. I simply wake up and start the stove, and stay in my sleeping bag! I multi-task- cook breakfast while packing, eat brakfast while packing. I am a big breakfast, less trail food person. Must have my hot cup of coffee.

Double check the campsite. Lately I try to only use bright colored stuff. Old eyes and old memory problems. Inevitably, I put on my pack and immediatley have to take it off and pee. Old bladder- too much coffee.

Always take out the map and check the route before I walk an inch. See above- old memory and old eyes. I have to put on my reading glasses. It is amazing what I miss when I do not use my glasses!

I pretty much go at least 2 hours without stopping. I consult the map a lot- keep it in my pocket. I jot notes on my map as I go. Rest breaks are short -5 to 10 minutes. As the day goes on rest breaks become more frequent, but not longer.

I follow a well planned daily route. I am just an obsessive planner by nature. I do explore but explorations are pre-planned most the time. In other words, if I plan on exploring, I add "exploration time".

No lunch - I just nibble whe I feel like it- which is almost never. By about 2PM, I force myself to eat some trail food. Walking really depresses my appatite. I also only carry half a liter of water if I have water sources. Not that I recommend this to others, but I pretty much drink straight out of streams.

I take lots of photos. Lately I make a habit of taking off my pack - get a better picture that way.

I aim to stop before 3-4PM. I put down my pack and immediately jump in a stream or lake to wash off. Then I wash my shirt, collect water for solar heating. THEN I look around for a campsite - an exercise that has taken me up to an hour! I am obsessive about a nice site with a fantastic view. When I find my site I lug my stuff over and set up. Then I take off to explore and photograph for an hour or so, or fish.

Cook dinner - cook from scratch dinner. I take a walk after dinner to warm up before going into the tent or bivy. I wil admit that I am usually in bed by 7PM. I usually look at maps and write trip notes until dark.

I am not muchh for "layover" days - would rather just stop early every day and relax or explore in the late afternoon.

I rarely walk in the rain or foul weather. I rather hunker down when it is bad and get up early and move when the weather is nice. I really keep my eye on the clouds - often it is a race to get to camp before the rain. I am pretty good at squeezing the last bit of dry weather out of each day.

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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby maverick » Tue Mar 29, 2011 12:50 pm

Mine usually starts with a long first day, getting up at 3:30 am or ealier to start
the drive to the trailhead, from where I'll hike to my first destination, like for
example Merced Lake or Washburn Lake from Yosemite Valley.
The following days will be dependent on what area's I plan to visit, but I like getting
up an hour before sunrise to get to the locations I scouted out the day before for that
optimal photo.
Depending on the landscape I may continue on for 2-3 hours after sunrise slowly going
from landscapes and go towards more intimate/macro work.
Breakfast is usually a pemmican bar or pro bar.
After that I may go back and get some shut eye.
Lunch is usually some tortilla & almond butter/gorp/jerky, after which I'll go scouting
for some good sunset, and moon/star trail photo locations.
Dinner is around 6 pm, and then I get ready to head off to my previously scouted
locations where I'll be till maybe 10 pm.
I'll go back get some sleep till 12 am, get up, and be up till 1:30-2am taking photo's.
If I plan on moving I'll take off about an hour after my sunrise shoot, and be on the trail
before 7 am.
I can break camp and be on the trail in 15 min's, but I too do a quick walk around making
sure as not to leave anything, and replace some of the rocks that I may have used for
weighing down my stakes.
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I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby AlmostThere » Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:32 pm

It depends. Sometimes I am with a group instead of someone I'm on the same wavelength with - it doesn't alter my practices much but can leave me standing around waiting...

I usually get up shortly after sunrise and boil water while packing, have a beverage - coffee or tea - and maybe breakfast, hot if the temps are really cold, otherwise a bar or something snackfood. I've been known to eat dinners for breakfast while backpacking.

If the rest of the folks I'm with are up about the same time they are usually slower packers. So unless I am with a few particular people I know are more like me, I anticipate this and have my camera or fishing gear to keep me occupied while they are methodically taking down their tent, making breakfast, etc.

Lunch is usually a break of 20-30 minutes - tho I have hiked straight through and snacked the whole way too.

When I stop is determined partly by who I'm with and what the goal is - if there is a peak or some dayhike destination setting up a base camp and heading back out is entirely probable. If someone gets a gimp knee, more possible every year that passes :rolleyes: for some of us, we might stop sooner than planned... if the weather turns, we might hole up and talk about it... lots of ifs. Usually I just hike. Take pictures. Some trips, fishing is more the thing.

Dinner is the most involved meal - not much to it other than adding hot water type meals, tho sometimes I will take some silicon cups and steam bake muffins or little fudge cakes, which impresses people to no end but takes very little effort and a little clean up. I'll take some cheese sticks when it's going to be really cold, and eat one before bedtime. I take more mixed nut type trail mixes when it's colder, too.
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby oldranger » Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:54 pm


Great topic. The last few weeks I have been wondering why I really like backpacking solo better than with others. The last posts made it clear why. I like to putter. While on a travel day I almost never get out of the tent without first stuffing my sleeping bag and packing up my mattress once that is done I'm not super fast. I don't multi task. I eat breakfast and finish my mocha slowly, savoring the flavor and the beauty surrounding me. The way I drink my mocha probably costs me at least 15 minutes or more. If I am near a lake I might make a couple of last casts if I didn't put my fishing gear away the night before. Then the cooking gear is cleaned and when cooled packed away. If I had a fire I sift thru the ashes making sure there are no bits of foil left. After "everything" is packed I walk around picking up the most minute pieces of litter I might have left. Then I try to remember to look around to find what ever of "everything" I might have missed. When others are with me my old age onset attention deficit disorder makes it difficult to focus on my routine. So last summer when I was leaving to go in one direction and Markskor was staying he asked if I had an extra fly that I could share with him. So when I got it out I forgot to put the lure box back in my tackle sack. Not a good feeling when I discovered that at the start of my next trip a day later! It also makes me uncomfortable to make other people wait for me to get started in the morning.

I generally travel about 6 to 8 miles in a day sometimes substantially less. My goal is to get to my destination by two so I can set up camp, fish, explore, and get cleaned up before it gets cold. I generally hike a pace that I can sustain for long periods and stop only when I get to a water source. I try to carry the least amount of water possible and carefully check out the map to determine where my next water source might be. Since a good portion of my travel is off trail I refer to my topo fairly frequently but am never too concerned about being a little off course. Too much precision takes too much time and think about it, how did people negotiate the Sierra before maps? Only once, as a 15 year old, did I not get to my intended destination in the expected time frame. I'm sure the lake had been moved!

If a lake has decent fish I generally will cook fish for dinner. I like this best where fires are legal because then I can cook the fish in foil on coals. Saves fuel and makes for easier clean up. On a 10 night trip I usually count on fish for about 6 nights. So when the fish are bitin I'm eatin! On shorter trips I don't count on fish as much. When alone I will often eat by 4 so I can go fishing after dinner rather than having to cook in the dark. The problem with this, though, is I usually have to eat something else before I go to bed or I sleep cold. I also sometime in the afternoon have some cheese and a cocktail. I'm thinking that this year I will reduce my daily allotment from 2 ounces of 151 to one ounce on longer hikes, with maybe a couple extra ounces to share if the opportunity occurs.

At any rate I like solo because I can just go with the flow and don't have to tune into anything but myself and my surroundings. I love my wife and my friends, I enjoy my time with them in and out of the backcountry but sometimes a few days or weeks alone is good for my soul. Oh I might add I never really feel alone--my loved ones are always with me, even when they are not!


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby hikerduane » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:08 pm

Nancy, I'm with you on pretty much all of it, although I don't have a bivy. If by myself, I'll get up as soon as I can see, pack up some stuff while having a slug of water to get the body going. Eat a cold breakfast usually while packing gear, gone in little over an hour, take care of #2 nature call and brush my teeth. I'll hike for an hour or more take a break, maybe. Lunch is usually when I have reached my destination for the day, not always, but usually. I would like a layover day to explore, but have found I was disappointed and could have been down the trail, onto more country. I go to bed when it gets dark, eat dinner in time to eat my dessert, dried papaya and brush my teeth just before it gets too dark. I do about the mileage you do, but you do a lot more XC than I. I would hate to keep up with you. I love the early morning start, listening to the birds and all, just a beautiful start to a day and like you said, an important item, beat those afternoon thunder storms. Done that many a time.
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby LMBSGV » Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:44 pm

A great topic. I see why I also prefer going solo or with my wife. When I am in the Sierra or really anywhere in wilderness, it's a conversation with nature and I don't like anything that interferes with that underlying spiritual communication.

For solo trips, on the first day, I get up at 4:00 and do the long drive from West Marin to the trailhead. I hike anywhere from 4 to 5 miles to 8 or 10 depending on how I’m doing with the altitude and how much steep climbing is involved. It’s basically where I can get to by 5:00 or so and is a good spot for views and photos.

After the first day, I generally keep to the same morning routine. I wake at dawn. I spend an hour or two traipsing around taking photos. I love the quiet and peacefulness of sunrise in the Sierra. When I am standing by the tripod waiting for the light to get just right, I watch the birds and take in my surroundings. I return to the campsite between 7:00 and 8:00 and make a breakfast of instant oatmeal. While the water is getting hot, I drink a cup of Tang and begin taking down the tent. After eating the oatmeal, I have a cup of coffee. If I’m traveling a long way that day, I’ll drink the coffee and finish taking down the tent and packing. If it’s a layover day or a shorter hiking day, I’ll have a second cup of coffee and sit and write for awhile. On some mornings, I also have a Luna bar - love the chocolate and macadamia nut ones.

On non-layover days, I generally manage to hit the trail around 8:00 to 9:00 though I don’t pay that much attention to the time. Sometime around 11:00 I’ll eat a Power Bar while hiking. Sometime around noon to 1:00 I’ll stop for lunch at a pretty spot on the water and have peanut butter on a slice or bread, jerky (I make my own) and dried fruit. I take my boots off and soak my feet in the lake or creek. This is maybe the best thing I do to allow me to feel like hiking at a good pace for another 3 to 4 hours.

On layover days I’ll continue writing and enjoying my surroundings until 10:00 or so. Then I will take the camera, a Power Bar and snacks and go exploring. I’ll hike around for 4 to 5 hours and get to know a wide area before returning to the campsite. I just wander around, checking the map if I need to. I love layover days like this. These are usually the best days of the trip.

On regular hiking days, I try to get to a campsite around 4:00 or earlier if possible, though it’s usually a specific destination and dependent on the distance, how fast I walk, and how much time I spend looking and exploring. I’ve usually picked out a place on the map, but once I get there, I scout around for the perfect spot that offers great views and solitude. I generally choose by outlet creeks or inlet creeks at lakes. Once I pick the campsite, I take a quick dip in the lake or creek, then put up the tent. Sometimes, I’ll put up the tent first. It depends on how I’m feeling. Then I find a nice rock to lean against and write and snack on trail mix until 5:30 or 6:00 when I cook dinner. After dinner, I traipse around taking photos and scouting out places for the next morning. When the sun sets, I return to the campsite and write until it’s too dark to see the words on the page. If the sky does something I find interesting after sunset, I will take more photos - that’s why I pick campsite locations that have spectacular views at the campsite or very close by. I love the tranquility of this half hour or so between sunset and darkness.

On a lot of evenings, I’ll wait until the stars appear and cover the night sky. I’ll lie on my back on a slab using my hat as a pillow and watch the universe appear.

When I go with my wife, the routine is basically the same except when I get up at dawn, she sleeps in. When she wakes up, we have breakfast and both of us write for awhile before packing up.
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Mar 29, 2011 10:28 pm

My typical backpacking day will vary greatly, but I usually don't get a super early start. On the last few death marches from the west side I recall getting up a bit before 6 in Fresno and aiming to be hiking by about 8 or so. Days have tended to have quite a bit of hiking packed into them of late because my trip was usually trying to cram a better paced 8 to 10 day trip into 5. Day 1's are commonly rather long because I'm trying to get to a choice camping/fishing destination right out of the gate, but sometimes the first stop isn't that far in, so day 1 can be mellower (say Darwin Cyn via Lamarck Col on day 1, or even easier Dusy 11393 on day 1). I tend to have a game plan that I've drawn up only for feasibility sake, but really like to improvise during the trip according to mood,weather, how I'm feeling physically, how the fishing is going, etc. I really like to call audibles at the line of scrimmage--this is true of just about everything I do outside of backpacking, too. Most days in camp start by getting up about 6-630 ish and having the usual instant oatmeal breakfast, but if I know I have a short hiking or layover day I might sleep in a bit more. Departure from camp to dayhike usually takes place earlier than departure when moving camp, owing to having to pack away more things for the latter situation. To start off a long (backpack) hiking day, I try to hit the trail (from a campsite) by 7 am, but things have tended to run later. I really try to keep the amount of hiking (full pack) time (including rest stops) in a day to 8 hours or less to give me time to fish when I arrive at a destination--ie time to fish and still be able to eat the fish at a reasonable dinner time. On many of the long trips with Judy in the 90's a signature was an enormous last day--this was her preference. This was commonly the result of (1) truncating the planned trip by a day and coming out from one "step" deeper in the backcountry or (2) staying in the deep backcountry a day longer than originally planned. The best(?) dismount of this sort was our last day of the 1993 Dumbbells trip which took us from Amphitheater Lake to the trailhead at South Lake via Barrett Creek and Knapsack Pass (this was because we stayed one extra day in the Dumbbells basin).

The average hiking day with a pack can be quite varied depending on what sort of fishing prospects are between the starting point and the end point. Some days have a lot of places we want to stop and throw in a line, whereas others do not.

Day 1's (or day 0) tend to be a bit different if they are east side versus west side. For westside entry I commonly drive to the trailhead from home on day 1, whereas for east side trips I commonly drive to Bishop (or other town) and spend the night in a motel the evening before the trip kicks off. Way back in the day (60's, 70's mainly) my dad and I had this routine where we'd drive up from the Bay Area and sleep in the back of the 'burb at a turnout just beyond Tioga Pass before driving to an east side trailhead the next morning; this turnout was widened in subsequent years to a vista point sort of parking area. This also helped us (or rather me) with a little altitude adjustment (my dad didn't have altitude problems under any circumstance, but I did).
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby balzaccom » Wed Mar 30, 2011 12:44 am

I am usually the first one up...about 6:30 or so....just like at home. I get the breakfast out and start it cooking. My wife gets up a bit later, so that by the time she leaves the tent, the breakfast is ready. If she gets an early start, she packs up the sleeping bags, etc. If not we do that together right after breakfast. We do like to get out of camp and on the trail in the morning...allowing us the afternoon to recover and enjoy the next campsite, so we are always on the trail by 8:30 or so, sometimes as much as an hour earlier.

We'll stop every hour or so for water and/or a snack, and stop for lunch around noon---usually only 30 minutes or so. After lunch we'll just keep hiking until we get to the destination, although some days we've been known to dawdle at a nice lunch stop and fish, rest, and relax.

Once we get to camp, we set up the tent right away, then take time to fish, bathe, etc, Maybe a nap in the afternoon. Dinner is usually about 6 pm...and then we go for a short day-hike to the top of the nearest hill or peak to see the view. Back in camp by dark...and usually no fire, just watch the shadows grow deeper, sometimes fishing, and when it is dark, we get in the tent and into our bags.

Makes me wish we were there!

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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby quentinc » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:30 pm

I'm with the morning dawdlers, but unlike most of us, I like to hike all day long. The hour or two before sunset is always the loveliest time of day for me, and I like to enjoy it on the move. I hope to get started by 8 or 8:30, have an hour lunch break, and three 15 minute snack breaks (mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late afternoon). I get cranky if I don't eat something every 2 hours or so.

I'm perfectly happy arriving at "camp" and setting up in the dark. That used to be a problem because of bear bagging, but now I'm usually carrying a canister.
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Re: What is your typical day like?

Postby rlown » Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:57 pm

I don't really have a typical day, because, well I go to fish and there are tons of layover days built in.

The first day is always the worst. Try and get out early, and get into a lake that has fish. We always tend to fail at this as I live at sea level, and the drive and the short nap at the trailhead the night before is never restful.

By day 3, we're pretty much hitting our stride and pick a nice lake to fish for a couple to few days. Day hikes to other promising watering holes worked in for good measure.

Breakfast depends. If we're laying up, It can be a feast, especially if someone scores trout before I fire up the stove. Coffee, snacks, then pack up the day pack with goodies for the day out, and work the lakes.

Dinner on hiking days is generally freeze-dried, unless we carry something in special on the first day. Some cocktails, and a nice game of Pai Gow before bed.

We generally fish until the rod guides freeze, or the sun goes down. Headlamps all around. never had a problem with cooking in the dark.

We all have raingear, so we fish regardless. Tents are for sleeping, not for an escape from the weather (my opinion).
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