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On-Trail Time Management

Your alarm clock wakes you 4 A.M. and it is still pitch black outside. There is nothing in front of you besides miles, miles and more miles. The mountain is going to continue to be there, the ridgelines are not moving, the sun will rise as it always rises. So, why the need to get out of camp so early? There are no meetings to attend, no prior time commitments that are spoken for, your schedule is your own and your time is your own. Yet, again time is an interesting commodity even more so on trail when you are out hiking. Even though the main concept of what you are doing is hiking day in and day out, time plays a critical role. Anyone looking outside in would only see a hiker that is unburdened, free, and has all the time in the world. In a sense this is very true, you are free, you are "unburdened" and you do have much time ahead of you on a multiple month long trail. Yet, if you zoom in on this same hiker, you will see them checking their watch frequently, you will see them increasing or decreasing their pace accordingly, and you will see them again be the subject as well as the master of time. If you could zoom in and watch their brain work as their feet tread ever forward you would see much more. You would see them weighing time against food in their pack, you would see them weighing MPH pace and making sure they are on "schedule" to hit their camp, you would see them in town doing all of their chores and having time spoken for again and again. Time does not discriminate. Whether you are on trail or off, time will continue to create a path ahead. You do not have a choice to move through this path because it is a universal law that time must continue. Yet you have choice in how you will move through this path ahead. Make time your own.



Time to laugh, love, smile. It is your time use it for happiness.


The more that we have continued to do talks and meetings outside of the niche thru-hiker community that we are so proud to be apart of, the more questions continue to stop us short in our tracks. We have been asked over and over again, why we push so hard, why when we have all the time in the world, do we set a schedule, why do we need to? We try to explain that it is not us setting the day to day schedule, the trail dictates this, yet we still always have to be conscious of time. We wanted to dispel the notion that hikers are free from the construct of time. Free from its demands, free from its burdens, and free from its laws. Yes we feel free out on trail, but it is a mental shift that we touched back on in the first Time Management article. Hikers still very much are within its grips albeit in a different way then "regular life." That is a major factor we wanted to touch on in this article, that yes we may have multiple months of time on trail, yet that does not mean it is not spoken for. Spoken for in the concept of resupplies, town laundry, getting over a mountain before a storm, getting on top of snow before it begins to melt, waking for a sunrise, getting to camp before dark, getting to camp in the dark, making sure we cover enough miles each day for our food supply, the list only continues to go on and on. Like our last article, taking apart one of these items could take an entire article on how it demands time from us, but we will use our time wisely as well as yours and try to condense them into this single article.

Let us begin as any hiker begins. Fresh pack loaded with food and resupply looking down the barrel of the section ahead. It could be 50 miles, 100 miles, 150 miles. Whatever it may be the hiker in their head already has a set day goal to reach. They packed out the necessary amount of food for 3 days, 4 days, 5 days. This means they could stretch their miles longer, but it would be quite uncomfortable because they would run out of food...yes we have done this...yes our body is weird and thrives on No Food, No Problem, but take us out of this equation, leave our weird body to ourselves and our hiker family, let us look more at hikers in general. As soon as you begin a section the clock of time begins its count. Every footstep, every break, every camp, becomes a conscious decision that is being weighed against the larger goal of the section. Did you go enough miles today to still reach the next resupply in time? What will your new average each day have to become if you stopped short? Can your body handle this average comfortably without straining and getting hurt? Time continues onwards, and you continue with it, in it, a part of it, and have to work with it.