Karen Berger 0-393-31769-2 © 1998
The mileage-elevation connection
* How many miles should you plan to hike in a day? That depends on (1) the kind of miles and (2) how hard you want to work. This chart rates the difficulty of different combinations of mileage and elevation * Level 1: A couple of days like this will help you break in and remain comfortable * Level 2: Faster hikers should bring a book -- they'll be done by midafternoon. If you're a little slower, don't worry: You'll be in camp in plenty of time for dinner. If you've adhered to the 50-mile rule, you can start at this level. * Level 3: Veteran hikers find this range a nice balance for smelling the flowers while covering some distance. Newer hikers can do the mileage without hating themselves for overreaching -- once they are in shape. But you'll want to break in at Level 1 or 2 before you start covering this kind of distance. * Level 4: You're not a fanatic, but you are in good aerobic shape. You don't mind pushing a bit. You don't smell too many flowers. * Level 5: No lollygagging for you. You're a serious backpacker, a regular exerciser, and you're broken in to the trail. Make sure you know what you're getting into: These kinds of days aren't for everyone. * Level 6: You are a marathon runner, a long-distance hiker, or a masochist. Maybe all three. * Mileage (Miles) Elevation Gain (Feet) Less than 8 8-10 11-13 14-17 More than 17 Less than 1,000 1 1 2 3 4 1000-2000 1 2 3 4 4 2000-3000 2 3 3 4 5 3000-4000 3 4 4 5 5 4000-5000 4 5 5 6 6 More than 5,000 5 5 6 6 6 * "A master's degree study by Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Karen Lutz concluded that hikers need between 4,000-6,000 calories a day to put back in what they work off. ... Lutz also concluded that it was impossible to carry this amount of food over the long haul. Carrying additional food means burning more calories, which requires even more food, and so on." * Figure about 2 lb. per person per day (2.5lbs for high mileage hikers, high metabolism hikers, or winter hiking) * Suggested food o Breakfast + Coffee (coffee bags are best -- they give a precise measure, they don't spill, and they taste more like the real thing than instant) and tea (bags of course). Cocoa. Instant cereal (oatmeal, farina, Cream of Wheat, and so on; take two packets per hiker per day). Boxed cereal (granola, muesli, and the like are a little heavier than instant, but add variety; add some powdered milk, and hot or cold water; figure on 2-3 ounces per hiker per day). Ramen noodle soup (the Japanese eat soup for breakfast; some hikers do, too). o Lunch + Cheese lasts outdoors for a long time than you would expect. So does salami. Crackers don't go moldy; bread can. (Crackers keep better if stored in their original boxes.) Mustard lasts (get packets from fast food places). Peanut butter is a favorite. Some hikers swear by sardines. Alternatives: Just-add-water mikes for refried beans, hummus, and tabbouleh are popular with the health-food crowd (they're light to carry, but low in fat). o Beverages + Coffee and tea. Powdered beverages like Kool-Aid and Crystal Light. Electrolyte replacement beverages like Gatorade are excellent, particularly in hot weather, but mixes are surprisingly heavy. Crystal light is excellent for camouflaging the taste of chemically purified water. Hot chocolate is a nighttime favorite. another choice: hot liquid Jell-O. o Snacks + Depending on how many miles you cover, you'll need two to six snacks per person per day. Most hikers find that it's important to keep eating small amounts throughout the day to keep their energy and blood sugar up. Some suggestions: + Nuts (check out your local food co-op). GORP (the ubiquitous "good old raisins 'n' peanuts" plus whatever else you ad: fruit chunks, coconut, M&Ms, chocolate chips). Beef jerky (also try chicken or turkey jerky; if you have a dehydrator, you can make your own). Granola bars, Snickers, Kudos, Fibars, fruit leather: trade with your hiking partners. Power bars and pemmican bars (expensive but great for an energy boost; they're available at your local outfitter). Fresh fruits like apples and oranges last well but are heavy. If you can carry the extra weigh, they make a delicious treat. o Staples + Dried milk, sugar, honey, Parmesan cheese (makes everything taste better). Spices (suggestions: salt, pepper, Louisiana hot sauce, dried garlic, oregano, onion flakes, lemon-pepper mix, soy sauce; pack them in tiny bags or plastic containers available from outdoor shops). Packets of clarified butter (they don't need refrigeration). Sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms. For fresh flavor and variety, an onion, several carrots, and a clove of garlic last well. o Soups + Most hikers start dinner with instant soup. In fact, some consider soup the best part of dinner, especially on a cold day. It's easy to make, easy to clean up, and it helps fill the empty spot at the bottom of your stomach. Ramen noodles are a big favorite. I ate them for 200 days in a row on the Appalachian Trail and -- this is not an exaggeration -- never got sick of them. Salt replenishment is important, and packaged soups are high in sodium. Knorr and Lipton offer a wide selection; make sure you buy the no-cook, just-add-water selections. Miso soup (available at your local health-food store or co-op) is another good choice. o Dinner + Freeze-dried meals, Lipton side dishes, macaroni and cheese, home-dehydrated meals. Or concoct your own on the spot by using what I call the Chinese-menu approach: A carbohydrate from Column A + a meat and/or vegetable from Column B + a sauce or flavoring from Column C, and you've got yourself a meal. (But pay attention -- not everything goes with everything.) + Base (A) Protein & Veggies (B) Flavoring (C) Instant Potatoes Small cans of: Tomato Paste Rice tuna Tomato sauce mix Pasta (1/4-1/3lb/person, angel hair is quickest) turkey gravy mix stovetop stuffing mix chicken Onion/Mushroom soup mix Couscous Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) Parmesan Cheese * Food-Drop Tips o Try before you buy. Make sure you really and truly like something you're going to buy in bulk o Throw in a treat. Add something that isn't part of your daily diet o Stay away from thicker noodles. They take too long to cook. Use angel hair pasta instead. o Clarified butter is available from backcountry food distributors in plastic packages o Bouillon cubes make a quick pick me up on cold days. o Read directions before you buy something. o Finally a use for fruitcake. It doesn't dry out, it lasts, and it is very nutritious. * Shoes/Boots o a pair of running shoes lasts about 700 miles o lightweight fabric-and-leather boots lasts 1000 miles o midweight (all leather or reinforced fabric) lasted 1,050 miles o heavyweight full grain leather boots lasted 1600 miles * The Rest Step o Variation 1 1. Take a step up with your right leg. 2. Do not shift your weight to the uphill leg. Leave it on the downhill (left) leg. Pause for the "rest". 3. Now shift the weight to the uphill (right) leg and simultaneously take a step with the left leg. 4. Leave the weight on the downhill (right) leg and take a momentary rest. o Variation 2 1. Your right leg moves forward and up; your weight stays on the downhill (left) leg. 2. As your weight is transferred to your right (uphill) leg, lock your right knee. This momentarily transfers weight from your muscles to your bones. Here's where you rest. Your left leg dangles around doing nothing. If you need to put it somewhere for balance, set the toe down somewhere in the vicinity of your right foot. 3. Move the left leg forward and up. * Planning for water o water is 2lbs/quart o need 6-8 quarts per hiker/day for drinking and cooking. More for strenuous hikes and high temps.