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[pct-l] RE: More Hikers for 2003

"Serious" training for a thru-hike, especially for those without recent
experience and conditioning on par with a thru-hiker, should begin about 5
months before the hike. Of course, the earlier the better, but most hikers
consider even 5 months to be a painfully burdensome amount of time to train,
especially since this might be longer than the hike itself!

Appalachian Trail hikers often start their hikes "cold," without much
training. Many of them drop off the trail not far beyond Springer Mountain.
Of course, some of them manage to make Katahdin anyway, having "used the
journey as the training hike." But what kind of mileage were these hikers
doing out of the gate? Many of them just hike shelter to shelter, 8 - 12
miles per day. And when sidelined by injury or fatigue, "waysides" with food
and good cheer abound; Katahdin is a long way off, but the season is
likewise long and relatively kind.

The PCT thru-hiker, by contrast, must make serious tracks if he or she
wishes to finish in-season. Being sidelined by injury for a week on the PCT
can not only be lonely and disheartening, it also can mean the difference
between finishing the trail in late-summer heat or an early-fall snowstorm,
if at all. And beginning the hike early to compensate for a slow starting
pace may not be the solution, especially in a heavy snow year. Snowpack
lingers in southern California often into May, and an early arrival in the
Sierras can be tantamount to a roadblock and a weeks-long waiting game.
Better to invest that time and money training, so that one can handle a 20+
mpd itinerary straight from the border. (Some people feel that the ADZ event
encourages a too-early start among thru-hikers, especially if So Cal should
ever see a heavy and long snow season.)

However far one hikes while training, and with whatever weight, it's
important to take a rest day for each training day, to allow for recovery.
Conditioning for a thru-hike means training the body to conform to the
extreme demands of an all-day / day-after-day hiking schedule, and to avoid
the injuries often associated with these demands. One of the shortest paths
to injury on a long journey is to overdo it at the start, and then get up
the following morning and expect to do it all over again. The training hikes
reduce the chances of this happening, by conditioning the hiker gradually.

Marathon runners don't train for marathons by running marathons every day.
So many running concepts are analogous to long distance hiking. This is yet
another. :)

Happy trails,
- Brett Tucker, editor "Beyond Backpacking"

> Hi All,
> Really enjoying all the information passing back and forth. My sister and
> boyfriend and I are planning to through hike in 2003. We aren't the most
> experienced of hikers, lots of weekend jaunts under our belts but nothing
> long term yet, but we've been talking about this for a while and are
> determined to go for next season.
> I was hoping for some insight on good physical fitness preparation... I am
> sure that after a few sore and slow days at the beginning things pick-up,
> and by the end we are in better shape than ever... but if anyone has tips
> for what preparation we can do, it would be much appreciated.
> Also, we love to read the gear recommendations, we're starting to save up
> and research... so keep them coming!!
> We are also trying to decide on whether to bring our dog, so we'd love to
> hear peoples thoughts.
> Thanks and Happy Hikings!
> Omayya