Seven years ago if you had asked me to go for a 5 mile hike, I would have said, “not interested”, much less consider hikes of 28, 41, and 50 miles . In 2004 we spent a week in the Canadian Rockies at a back-country lodge, Mount Assiniboine Lodge. Each day we would hike to the tops of surrounding mountains. I have been hooked on hiking ever since that trip. Mt Assiniboine is the one to the right and referred to as the Matterhorn of the Rockies.
I have hiked all over Virginia since returning home. I am a contributor to my friend Tony’s hiking website, hikingupward. Tony gave me a promotion this year to CTO of HikingUpward (Chief Trails Officer), it doubled my salary but 2 x 0 is still not much!! A usual hike for me is in the 8-15 mile range. This past year I have done some extra long hikes of 28 and 41 miles in a day, some places online refer to these types of hikes as “ultra long distance day hikes”. No real good definition explains what an ultra long distance day hike is. I propose that it is at least 15 miles + and done in the course of 24 hours or less
Prior to hiking the 28 mile Catoctin Trail in Maryland in March 2011, my longest day hike was 20 miles.
I did the Catoctin Trail as a Benefit hike with 1 Voice Trekking, a group that hikes to raise money and support for groups that help abused and under privileged children. It took about 11.5 hours to hike the 28 miles.
My second ultra long distance day hike in May 2011 was also a benefit hike. We hiked 41 miles on the Appalachian Trail from the Mason-Dixon Line in PA through MD and ended at Harpers Ferry WV in 17.5 hours, referred to as the MD Challenge. We did this hike on behalf of the The Blue Sky Fund in Richmond VA. Their goal is to “get inner city youth into the great outdoors.” We raised $1300 for them.
My last ultra hike in 2011 will be a 5o miler in Sept on the Appalachian Trail, once again with 1 Voice Trekking. This hike will benefit the Diakon Wilderness Center in Boiling Springs PA. This center helps disadvantaged youth become productive members of society, many of them have been referred here by the state. Some of the kids in the program will hike the last 10 miles with us to the Center, our end point. I am looking forward to this hike and I am starting to put in more miles on my morning walks in preparation.
Update 10/22/2011: We did complete the 50 mile hike, in fact we did 52.2 miles in 23.5 hours. Started at Noon Sept 30 and finished at 11:30am on Oct 1, 2011. What a great group to hike with, 1 Voice Trekking. Here is the team prior to the hike:
If you are a hiker and are considering longer hikes here is a little advice:
1. Train: walk, bike, run, put in the miles. Decide what works best for you but don’t go unprepared.
2. On the hike: eat and drink often. You need to eat and drink every 15-20 minutes. Do not wait until you are thirsty and hungry. You will need tons of calories for a long hike. Once you start feeling hungry, thirsty, and weak, it is too late, game over! Eat and drink well before you are even hungry or thirsty.
3. Take care of your feet. If you feel a hotspot on your feet, stop and take care of it. Some people use moleskin, I prefer duct tape. See the Backpacker Magazine slideshow for more information. I have used it a couple of times and I am sold!!
Have fun out there. Like any other hike, check the weather, do it with someone else and let someone else know your plans. Enjoy the great views God has blessed us with and and be safe out there.