How far is it? Tips on mileage and time on the Appalachian Trail


Photo courtesy Nicholas_T at Flickr

Photo courtesy Nicholas_T at Flickr

Not long into my hike on the Appalachian Trail I met day-hikers and southbounders asking me a common question: how far is it to _____?  (campsite, shelter, road crossing, etc.)  I would provide my best estimate, they’d be on their way, but I was left feeling a bit incomplete about the encounter, as if the information I had given was not of much use.  Later on I learned that a mile is an easy hike for one person and a grueling trek for another.  In those cases, distance has less meaning that time.  As a result, I would tell someone “how far” based on how long it had taken me to leave that particular point.  For instance, I would say “It’s about half an hour,” if it had taken me that long to walk from the requested landmark.  I would modify this advice depending on what the person carried.  If they had a full pack like myself I would say 30 minutes; if they had a light daypack I might say 20 minutes.  Also, when I asked someone about a destination I was walking to I would ask “How long since you left _____?”  I found that the time estimates were more accurate and useful to me than a statement of mileage distance.

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Filed under Appalachian Trail, Backpacking, Timothy J. Hodges

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