How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to do?

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happycamper0313
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How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to do?

Post by happycamper0313 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:30 pm

I’d like to get some discussion/feedback regarding how much mileage y’all are comfortable with after you get out of the beginner stages of backpacking/backcountry hiking, and how the more experienced hikers deal with pushing themselves beyond their limits.

(I've been backpacking for 4 years and have done many multi-day, solo trips in the backcountry. Female/33 years old)

This weekend I did a 20 mile day with 45 lbs on my back and it totally killed me (I was in the Duck Lake/Purple Lake area). I attempted 20 miles because I did a 16 miler a few weeks back that I was wiped from, and rationalized that longer treks are important for me to work on because as of right now, 15 miles is the most comfortable I can do. I eventually want to thru-hike the JMT on vacation time, and I know that attempting that will require a good pace.

When I did 16 miles, I was wiped and cranky by the end – but slept well and woke up refreshed the next day with no extra hunger or sluggishness. But with 20 miles, setting up camp was done haphazardly; the next morning I slept till 630 am (a first! I’m always up by 5am) and could barely open my eyes. Plus, my appetite was out of control. Never felt so hungry. I could only muster 10 miles as a result the following day. Cut my trip a bit short and felt a bit defeated.








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rlown
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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by rlown » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:58 pm

Hmm. Where to start. For me, it's never been about the miles and "have to be somewhere" by a certain time. It's about finding a nice place, with maybe a layover day to enjoy the spot. I've never shot for miles unless I was in trouble and needed to be out.

As you age, your mileage will drop, as will your goals of the trip and one learns to plan accordingly. I'm 55.5 and I can do about 8 miles with a similar load of 45lbs. Less miles if all uphill. Even less if I don't acclimate first.

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by mkbgdns » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:01 pm

I think everybody's envelope is different, and my limits have changed a lot over 45 years (shrinking fuel tank, transmission won't shift into 4th or 5th anymore, worn tires). not sure what pushing "beyond...limits" means to you, but it sounds like 20 was certainly beyond your comfort limit. 20 will never be comfortable, particularly the last hour., but your state the next day was the sign. you can only keep experimenting and find what works for you. please don't feel defeated--you got some valuable info about yourself that nobody else was going to give you.

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by steiny98 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:06 pm

I find that you will slowly work up to longer mileage days. It's hard to just get in and knock out 20 miles day one, but come day 3 or 4 of a trip (in my experience) I am able to crank up the miles to that range. Probably has to do with getting acclimatized. Also helps to throw in a zero or nero day for day 3. I've found that has helped me increase the mileage for the following days.

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by wildhiker » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:17 pm

I've never felt the need to push myself to my limits. I'm out in the wilderness to enjoy being in nature, not as some kind of competition. The longest day I have done backpacking was 15 miles all downhill, at the end of a week trip - and that was at age 62. Even as a young man, I never did more than that and rarely more than 10 miles in a day. I like to arrive at camp with enough energy to explore the surrounding area. I must say that my ability to carry weight has declined with age. I wouldn't even try to carry 45 pounds anymore, although that (or higher) was my standard weight on longer trips when I was younger.

I've been reading lately about cases of "rhabdomyolysis" in endurance athletes. This is a serious muscle deterioration that can even be life-threatening. See: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/rhab ... treatments . Seems like the kind of problem (not to mention joint issues) that can crop up from trying to push your limits all at once, instead of gradually building up. Something to think about.

-Phil

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by maverick » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:19 pm

I don't care about mileage, train year round to be able to crank out whatever is needed (have done 30+ miles per day), it is not the goal of my trips, prefer to explore my surroundings, get to know it intimately, witness a couple of sunrises/sunsets at a location (photography), which being obsessed over mileage doesn't allow one to do. Do not want my trips to be a blur, what can one truly experience hiking 20+ mileage days, that is 20 miles of missed opportunities, and needing to carry extra food because of the mountain hunger that sets in after a few days (for some).
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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by happycamper0313 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:31 pm

I appreciate the sentiment and approach to the wilderness you all have - but also realize it comes with a luxury of time :D

My approach is very similar, most of the time. My hope is to do the JMT on 2-3 weeks vacation time; however. So I know that peppered into my 'recreational backcountry backpacking', there are trips where I have to take a more 'training' approach so I can realistically do the thru-hike on vacation time.

I also live in OC and often take weekends up to the Sierras - sometimes I have to crank out some mileage to get deep enough into the areas I want to see. I worry about being hindered by my abilities. Getting onto the JMT from Duck Pass was 6 miles alone (well worth it - Duck lake was spectacular, as was the pass), then I had to be back to the car by 5pm the next day. I have to be fit enough to enjoy the wilderness on the little time that I have! :/

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by rlown » Tue Jul 25, 2017 2:38 pm

You could section hike the JMT over the next few years.. Might be more enjoyable.

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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by giantbrookie » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:32 pm

As others have noted, one's tolerance for hiking distances and degree of difficulty depends not only on a person's conditioning and pain tolerance, but also on their goals. There are some who set goals to cover a lot of ground in a single day and for such people distances covered are an end in themselves. I suspect that a larger number of folks are destination/endpoint/route-oriented and constrained by time. In other words, even though many of us recognize that a nicer trip would mean more days and less time spent hiking each day, we have to deal with some sort of externally imposed time limit for our trips which commonly force us into planning more difficult than optimal trips. I am one of many who have this issue, but I tend more than anything to be destination or location oriented--there are places I'd like to visit and things I'd like to see or experience. For such folks there may be a certain route or destinations they wish to get to within a certain time frame, so the distance covered is a means of reaching those destinations. I am not a hiking for hiking's sake sort of person at least in terms of stats such as distance and elevation gain etc. Rather my hikes fall into two categories: 1. I want to choose the most efficient route to get to certain destinations, but for my more challenging trips it's 2. the route finding and route itself is part of the highlight (but not because of the distance involved). I don't like to spend an enormous portion of any given day hiking--I want to have enough time to enjoy my stay at various destinations (activities commonly include fishing there). For this reason, I figure about 8 hours or so is near the limit of what I'd typically devote to hiking in any day in the High Sierra (this includes rest stops and lunch break). I like to train hard enough so that I'm not suffering during my hike, but, as above, one person's comfort may be another person's suffering, depending on their discomfort tolerance.

How much I am willing to cover in a day seldom depends on me, because I rarely hike solo. The limit of time spent hiking (say 8 hours) that I use for the planning of my most difficult trips, will translate to a maximum distance, depending on the nature of the terrain, elevation gain, etc. On a good trail without an enormous amount of elevation gain, this would translate to about 16 miles with a full pack on (for me). Large amounts of elevation gain (say over 4000') and this mileage limit goes down. If this is off trail, it is likely that the mileage limit decreases further. The bottom line is that I tend to use estimated hiking time rather than mileage and elevation gain numbers to set my single day limits. As the years go on, even if we train hard we will slow down and we have to reduce our personal limits. I will turn 58 in a few days and I don't think I've slowed down too much, but this is difficult to test because I don't get out anywhere near as much as I did in my 20s and 30s. Like many folks, I find that in addition to foundational training back home, the key to hiking conditioning is hiking a lot.
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Re: How many miles are you comfortable pushing yourself to d

Post by sambieni » Tue Jul 25, 2017 3:44 pm

I got back into backpacking last summer. I am now 39. I have demanding job, 2 little kids, and busy life schedule so working out is often hard to squeeze in, etc. But last year was really able to manage successfully, plus some great weight loss. I was doing 10-12 mile days. I could have definitely pushed it up to 15 if I really needed. But given the routes I chose at the time, it didn't make much sense as I was not really thru hiking. And that included usually ~2K up/down in elevation days.
This summer/year has been far more stressful and harder on my body. I have less gym consistency, regained 1/2 my weight loss, and increasingly stressed. I am setting out this summer with goal of 7-8 mile days just to enjoy the outdoors. I am hoping dropping 5 pounds from my pack weight of last summer will assist me as well so that by end summer hoping feel back up to 10-12 mile days and push 15 one day if feasible.

I think the mileage really varies and dependent on your fitness/body, but also goals. I think distance - as I see it - is often a factor of time and trails you're on. The longer miles to me seem more of a thru hiking mindsight- e.g. JMT/PCT types. I do have my goal set one day to do JMT so I envision that year will need the ability to push 14-17 mile days here and there. But overall, I know my body and needs and as much as I wantto keep walking, I also know pushing much beyond 10-12, I may also be just an exhausted wreck.

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