Pacing

Today we went hiking in Muir Woods which happens to be in our back yard. It is “The best tree lover’s monument that could possibly be found in all the forests of the world”, according to John Muir. Apparently in the 1850’s lumber was in high demand for the booming new cities around San Francisco. However because of inaccessibility caused by the steep slopes around it the ancient redwood grove survived.

We did a 6.5 mile loop starting from the grove and continuing up Boot Jack Trail. The trees are so tall and branchless for the first hundred feet that they create a perfect cathedral as you walk under them. The light shines through the stained glass leaves and gives the whole place a luminous sacred glow. Everyone walking through did not speak above a church whisper.

Now only 10 months away the Pacific Crest Trail dominates our hiking conversation. There is so much to think about when planning a hike of this magnitude. What are we gonna do with our apartment? What are we gonna  eat? Where are we gonna get it? How do we avoid getting eaten by bears? How much money will we need to be away from work for 6 months and get a new apartment when we get back? How do we plan for unreliable water sources on the trail? Is Eleni even tall enough to ford raging rivers? Where are we going to get insurance? What bills need to be paid? Why doesn’t Brian like tortillas? Who is going to call the cable guy? Should we bring a tarp or tent? Do we need practice self arresting with our ice axes? How many squares of toilet paper do we need to each use per day?…. And on and on. Hopefully many of these issues will be addressed in this blog. At the beginning it is all very overwhelming so I will start with what we were talking about on our hike today, pace.

We have 2,650 miles to cover in about 5 months. If we leave any earlier than mid April the snow in the sierras is likely to be impassible. If we leave any later the dessert is likely to frizzle us like fritters. If we get to the northern cascades after September we are likely to hit winter storms and the cascades and be stranded like the Donner party . This means we have to hike at least 6 days a week with a zero day (no miles covered) every 7th day. We have to cover an average of 22 miles on every hiking day. (A little under a marathon a day). Let it be known that as hiking savvy as Brian and I pretend to be we have never hiked a twenty mile day. Not once.

Hiking 22 miles a day is no problem! According to thru hiking guru Ray Jardine (much more on this man later) anyone can do it , even your grandmother! It is just all about pacing. You simply take the hours you will be hiking and monitor yourself at various half way points during the day. So if we need to hike 22 miles today and we will be hiking from 6 am to 8 pm with a fifteen minute break every hour. Minus breaks that is 10.5 hours of hiking. At 1 o’ clock we need to have covered eleven miles because this is our half way point during the day. Which means by 9:00 am we should have covered around 5.5 miles and by 5pm 16.5 miles ect ect. All of these miles will be at a very modest pace of 2miles per hour (which is about the speed of any day hiker). According to Jardine by monitoring your self like this you will never have to push your pace to make the miles, which is bound to cause injury and exhaustion, and you are able to hike all day (sun up to sun down ) without major fatigue. This theory sounds fool proof while I sit here on my couch sipping my cold beer, we should make it to Canada no problem!

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~ by elenimonos on June 9, 2010.

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