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Background info: For environment, it is southwestern British Columbia and the weather is fair and there is plenty of water around.

Pace wise, on level terrain, with or without water I have sometimes been able to travel 20-30km (~15mi) with no break but feel quite sore and dead in the end beyond my lingering endurance. Going on 10-15km with breaks seems to be nice, and recoverable.

How should I go about my first week long trip in terms of distance, each day?

My draft plan:

  1. Wake up and do my morning routine
  2. Hike from 7-noon (5hrs = ~20km with my ~40lb pack big pack)
  3. Take an hour or two break for a main meal
  4. Hike until 5pm or so (~4 hours = ~10-15km)
  5. Set up camp, small nightly meal for energy and soak in the sunset.

The journey is roughly 150km in a valley route by the way, which if I do that routine each day without falter can be done in ~4 1/2 days, but I plan to give myself lenience and visit small towns/and interesting things along the way giving 7 a good margin.

How's my routine sound? should something like every second day be half the distance, to help preserve my legs from lugging 40lbs or as felt is needed? (I tend to overdo it.) Any tips or hints on sustaining long distance travels for journeys many weeks long if I were to above this relatively simple starting trek, that I can practise?

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A few things to consider. When you have walked before was that with a pack or without and was that the entire distance you did in a day/ have you done multiple days of 20km in a row? –  nivag Jul 28 at 9:04
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40 lb is a crazy amount of weight. A more reasonable pack weight would be 15 lb plus 1.5 lb/day of food. (Since there's plentiful water, there's no need to carry it on your back.) –  Ben Crowell Jul 28 at 15:45
    
@nivag, with 10-20lb pack before, be it a masochistic traverse to somewhere interesting or someone's house, but usually without break. I've done 20km going to a backcountry camp spot and back, usually up vast altitudes, but not just linear and level like this valley trek I wish to do. –  Alexander Jul 28 at 21:47
    
@BenCrowell, you're right, I don't need to set up a storm shelter and 20lbs will make more sense with everything I need (exped. hammock, first aid, backup food/clothing, tarp, ...) and food can be a pile'o rice mixed in with spices and natural flora. –  Alexander Jul 28 at 21:49

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

My personal opinion is you may be being a little bit optimistic on your speed. I would probably aim for 20-30km per day (~15 miles) if you have not done such a long trip before and are reasonably fit. Although there are several factors to consider:

  • Hiking with a 40lb pack is significantly different and more tiring than hiking with just a day pack, especially if you get sore knees. This is a good reason to get hiking poles, although I know some people don't like them.

  • Doing a week long hike is not just doing a day hike seven times. You don't get a chance to recover fully in between each day, especially if didn't sleep particularly well because you're in your tent and rain/wildlife/whatever.

  • Terrain is also a significant factor. 20km on the flat != 20km with 6000ft of climb. As a rough guide Naismith's rule adds 1 hour (~5km distance) for every 2000 ft of ascent. If your route involves any bushwacking/river crossings these can take a significant amount of time too.

  • Your camping arrangement is also a concern. If you are wild camping distance is not too important. You can just go at your own pace and are only limited by the availability of suitable camping spots. However, if you are camping at a fixed campsite/campgrounds or otherwise have limited camping options it is better to be conservative on the distance you need to travel. There are few things worse than having some unforeseen detour/delay and then having to navigate to you camp in the dark.

  • This is more personal preference but I prefer to have several more regular stops than have one big stop for lunch. This may be because I mostly walk in the UK where it is often raining so stopping for long is grim. Also when it is nice regular stops are good for admiring the scenery and stuff.

  • Hiking is generally more enjoyable if you don't push yourself too hard. On one hand completing a challenging hike is very rewarding in its own right. However, speed and distance aren't everything. If you're hiking for a week you probably want to actually enjoy it while its happening. It is therefore important to not be completely exhausted/in pain because you've tried to do too long a walk. Some people I know may disagree with this idea. They also run mountain marathons for fun so....

In conclusion 5 days would be a reasonable time to do your walk in, although it is definitely good to leave a couple of days extra in case there are any unforeseen issues/interesting detours/you're not as fit as you thought.

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for pt. 1, I tend to find hiking staffs and enjoy that. I tend to abuse, lose or break any of my hiking poles :) Terrain is valley with footbridges across the river, if it were many ascents, especially over poor terrain i'd be going 1-2km/hr at points and would have to triple my time. Camping is back-country on an expedition (Hennessey) hammock and it's on crown land/provincial parks so anywhere is good. I do like to see you mention the "week long hike isn't a day hike 7x" - glad I am clever enough to think of more rest time every second day or so. –  Alexander Jul 28 at 21:53

Making 30-35 km every day is perfectly sound, if only you're used to making such distance. The famous Polish hiker, Łukasz Supergan have written to made 30 km a day on average on his 4000 km long trip to Santiago de Compostella.

The trained hiker can made 30-50 km a day without days off. This is confirmed in the memories of wandering workers, partisants, historical sources about marching troops etc. So such tempo can be surely kept for much longer than a week.

However, it may be hard if you've never hiked so long. But with proper training, everyone who's not disabled should be able to keep such tempo (note that the ability to walk the long distances is our genetic adaptation, whoever wasn't able to keep up, died and left no genes to that day).

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This is encouraging, as if I pushed myself, 30-50 would be easy. But as it is more a self-adventure and some sight-seeing along the way, and it is a test-trek beyond the little (but daring) hikes and camps I've done, scaling that down to see if I get through it fine seems the thing I will do. –  Alexander Jul 28 at 22:01
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@Lukasz Then I could say "there are lots of people who can do a marathon in under 2h30m so everyone who isn't disabled should do it". There is just anything between the pros and a physically affected. It may be in our genes and of course it's a matter what you understand of "proper training" and for how long you are training. But still, everyone has very different abilities and in the end doing that trip should be fun for the hiker and not only pain/stress. –  EverythingRightPlace Jul 31 at 13:26

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