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Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 7:04 am
by AZDigger
My wife and routinely hike in the desert near where we live in Mohave County where there are no managed trails, only sandy washes, rough terrain, and when very fortunate a burro trail. Reading in the forums here, I see that it's common for many of you to cover distances of 8 to 10 miles a day and more with a full load out. With a 18 lb day pack, mostly water, snacks, and a few survival basics, my wife and I are lucky to get 6 miles out of our old bones. Obviously, age, conditioning, and terrain have unlimited variables, but we feel we should be able to cover more ground. We thought we were in good condition for our age, "But" comparing our ability to others, 30 mile hikes over three days in the Supes feels like it's out of our reach. We have never hiked what I would call a nice trail except for my trip into the Sierra Ancha last year and that was a short hike over two days. How does one know when you're in over their head?

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 7:44 am
by chumley
One word: experience.

Sounds like you have a pretty good idea of what you can handle based on your past hikes. There's no better way.

Over the years, I've pushed the limits and learned from it. Getting back to the TH hours after dark, legs that look like they've been through a meat grinder, sunburn on a cloudy day in December, enduring a sleepless night because it was too cold, needing to skip the stairs and take the elevator for three days after a hike -- all things to learn from for next time.

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 8:10 am
by AZDigger
Thank you, so it's sort of like being married, trial & error?

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 8:48 am
by chumley
AZDigger wrote:so it's sort of like being married
I wouldn't know. That's a limit I've never had the :pk: to test! :scared:

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 10:28 am
by The_Dude
I would go with Chumley on this. Only you can know your limits, and the only way to get a good idea is by testing them. I have experienced all the scenarios he described (some within the last week...) to help give a good idea of my usual comfort zone both for dayhikes and backpack trips. Never forget that the effort with 25-35 extra lb's on the back feels like twice what it would with a smaller pack. For me, hydration is key. If I don't have enough water in my system (especially in the winter, since I don't have the usual amount of sweat to tell me I need to keep drinking) the effort becomes greater, and I tend to hit my 'bonk' point sooner. Probably safest to aim for 5-8 miles a day for your first trip and keep the AEG reasonable. I did the Hellsgate #37 trail for my first backpack a few years ago, and I do kind of wish (and my companions that trip for sure) we had picked an easier introduction. ;)

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 10:58 am
by outdoor_lover
A lot of these guys that have been doing these 30 Milers, have been doing so for Years...And a few of them even have Age on their Side too...They have built up an Endurance and they tend to Maintain it by doing "Exercise" Hikes. They'll pick a Short, very Strenuous Hike such as Camelback, Piestawa or Flatiron and do it 1x, 2x, 3x a Week...Or in a lot of Cases Every Day :sweat: ...And although there are a few Exceptions, a lot of those 30 Milers are from Dawn to Dusk or even beyond, depending on whether it's On Trail or Off or a Combination of both...Some of it also has to do with their Speed. Those doing 3+ MPH and can maintain it, can tick off quite a few Miles...The Longest I've done is 20 Miles in a Day with a Day Pack...And I did it, but it's not going to regularly be my Cup of Tea. I take too many Photos for one thing. And I just prefer a more Leisurely Pace most of the Time unless I'm trying to build Endurance for tougher Hikes...If I want to really get back in somewhere that's going to require some Miles, I just go ahead and Backpack it....

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 3:47 pm
by Sredfield
@Outdoor Lover
Yeah, and some of 'em are just show-offs. :)

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 4:34 pm
by RowdyandMe
@AZDigger
So how many trails and errors have you had so far?

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 5:27 pm
by big_load
Unless you have underlying problems, you're too young for age-related decrepitude to limit you to six miles. It may take a while to gradually build capacity, but it's definitely within reach of most people. Mrs. big_load did a 12-mile day at altitude this summer with a fully loaded backpack, and she never did that kind mileage when she was younger, even on a dayhike.

Push your limits a little bit at a time, but consistently enough and before long six miles will seem like you're just warming up.

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 5:56 pm
by AZDigger
Widowmaker wrote:@AZDigger
So how many trails and errors have you had so far?
Talk about a loaded question. After 40 years with my beautiful wife and best friend, I'm afraid there are more trial and errors than I'm going to share here. Oh, you said trails? I digress! I don't intentionally put myself into situations I might regret. A few years in SAR revealed the horrors of what happens when things go very wrong, so I'm probably overly cautious and try not to stray too far from my comfort zone. That's why I ask the question, Knowing your limits because in order to take in the beauty of the outback, I have to climb over that wall of caution. Everybody has been very helpful here and like you've all said, there is no substitute for miles on the trail. Thanks

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 9:29 pm
by outdoor_lover
@AZDigger
It can feel pretty Amazing when you get out of your Comfort Zone...I've been doing that for several Years now and it has been a Phenomenal Ride.... :y:

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 20 2016 9:45 pm
by RowdyandMe
@AZDigger
Ok, Well I will be 62 in March and I spent most of yesterday at the Mayo Clinic to find out that I may not be able to hike let alone walk in two to three years.
So I do plan to get as much in as I can when I can. As far as limits when I look at a hike I plan on 2 miles an hour and I am usally quicker than that but I like having the extra padding. Unlike you my wife does not like to hike so now I have a hiking dog I think I might have posted a picture or two on here :lol: .
From what I read in your post it sounds like you and your wife really don't hike on regular trails. So what I would suggest is for you two to pick out a hike that you both would like to do. Once you do that read what others have posted on this hike it will really help you prepare. And I look for triplog at about the same time I want to go even if its year earlier as I expect about the same temperature and most triplogs will tell you if the trails are overgrown and washout from storms.
and if it is a trail I never been on and don't know the area I upload routes from Route Scout. :)

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 21 2016 6:20 pm
by te_wa
Outdoor Lover wrote:The Longest I've done is 20 Miles in a Day with a Day Pack...And I did it, but it's not going to regularly be my Cup of Tea.
regretfully, i did 34 miles with a full pack, and ended up trying to sleep in a car under a buzzing metal-halide lamp in the payson walmart parking lot. it was a cup of hell. a supersized cup. i did 32 on the mormon lake section of the azt, it was not that bad. translation: the terrain demands respect and dictates mileage.
btw, those miles came from a te-wa prior to discovering homebrewing. hahahaha!

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 21 2016 6:48 pm
by DallinW
te-wa wrote:
Outdoor Lover wrote:The Longest I've done is 20 Miles in a Day with a Day Pack...And I did it, but it's not going to regularly be my Cup of Tea.
regretfully, i did 34 miles with a full pack, and ended up trying to sleep in a car under a buzzing metal-halide lamp in the payson walmart parking lot. it was a cup of hell. a supersized cup. i did 32 on the mormon lake section of the azt, it was not that bad. translation: the terrain demands respect and dictates mileage.
btw, those miles came from a te-wa prior to discovering homebrewing. hahahaha!
Sounds similar to my story, just without the sleeping at a walmart part.

We did Happy Jack in one day (ended up doing 33 miles because of a few missed turns) with full packs. We just kept going because we didn't like the water sources we were looking at, and eventually we just said "screw it" and we finished the segment in a single day.

Had to stop in Payson on the way home to sleep because there was no way either of us could drive home. Got a room, went to Denny's, devoured food.

I remember hurting that entire night even when I was laying down in bed.

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 21 2016 8:13 pm
by Sredfield
And there is another aspect of pushing the mileage. While doing the AZT I marveled at the mileage I was able to do after a week or so. Dam, I can do this! Then approaching Mt Peeley my left tibia started objecting, loudly. Turns out it was a stress fracture, out of the blue. Had to take a month off, healed up and felt fine so started again. But by Grandview after some 25 mile days it squawked again, but I pushed on and finished. Then went to the doc and it was the same bone, but higher up, and was a full break. It healed up so all is well, but the point is, don't rely only what your body tells you, it may be late in raising the alarm. Slow down, take a day off every 4-6 days, it's not a race.

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 22 2016 9:39 pm
by outdoor_lover
DallinW wrote:I remember hurting that entire night even when I was laying down in bed.
That happens to me pretty frequently after a Hard Day...I've learned to take some Ibuprofen before hitting the Sack, otherwise I won't get any Sleep and will be absolutely miserable all night....

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 22 2016 10:54 pm
by big_load
Outdoor Lover wrote:
DallinW wrote:I remember hurting that entire night even when I was laying down in bed.
That happens to me pretty frequently after a Hard Day...I've learned to take some Ibuprofen before hitting the Sack, otherwise I won't get any Sleep and will be absolutely miserable all night....
If you can get out of bed in a single motion and walk down a flight of stairs in a straight line, you didn't hike far enough yesterday.

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 23 2016 6:43 am
by imike
I start completely out of shape... head up a trail for 15 minutes... turn back. After a day of rest, I head up adding 15 minutes. I pick steep trails. Within a month I may be logging 15 miles outings. If the motivation is there, I continue a progressive pattern until I can hit a 12,000' AEG day... mileage is usually secondary.

Two years ago I picked the slowest hiker out of a Meetup group and over five months of twice weekly progressive hiking trained her up to a 6,000' day (16 miles).

If you want to do more... add more on slowly and carefully... but add it on. Going into my 67th year I hope to regain that 12,000' capacity once again (or next year?) ...and, there is still that Finger Rock Quad to do...

Re: Hike Preperation: Knowing your limits

Posted: Jan 23 2016 9:20 am
by outdoor_lover
big_load wrote:If you can get out of bed in a single motion and walk down a flight of stairs in a straight line, you didn't hike far enough yesterday.
It doesn't even have to be that far...If I recall, Flatiron and 5024 combined only comes in at about 6 Miles....But it's Hard Hiking.... :sweat: