A Day in the Life of NoNa
Although there isn’t too much of a strict schedule out on the trail, most hikers naturally fall into their own routine that helps make sure they get the most out of their hike and enjoy the experience to the fullest. Some people sleep late, others wake up early. Some people night hike, and others set up camp early in the afternoon.
There really is no right or wrong way to go about thru hiking, but here is what I have found works for me! Hopefully this will give you some insight on how life is on the trail really is:
7:00 am – Get out of bed
I usually wake up with the sun around 5:30, and press snooze until around 7 because I love my sleep…
8:00 am – Leave camp
After retrieving my bear bag, eating breakfast, breaking down my tent, and packing up all my gear, I am off to the trail!
10:00 am – Break #1: Second breakfast
If I keep my average pace of around 2.5 mph, then I should have completed almost 5 miles at this point. I usually stop at a viewpoint or a nice spot along the trail for what I call “second breakfast” to eat a granola bar and make sure I am hydrated for the next part of the day. I have found that waking up and telling myself “today you are hiking 20 miles” is a little but overwhelming, so instead I try to think of my days in smaller chunks. I just focus on what I need to do in order to get to the next break I will be taking instead of focusing on the big giant picture of all 2,189.5 miles of the trail.
12:00 pm – Break #2: Boots off
By mid day, my feet are usually getting pretty tired. I take a nice long break about halfway through my daily milage to take off my boots and socks so that I can air out my feet. This is also usually when I have a chance to call my parents, James, or anyone else that I’d like to catch up with.
2:00 pm – Break #3: Out of the sun
I try to time this break with a nice viewpoint as well, but I can’t control the terrain so unfortunately this can’t always be the case. Regardless, I try to find a comfy spot out of the afternoon sun where I can sit down and eat some crackers or a salty snack.
5:00 pm – Break #4: The final push
This is usually my last break of the day, so I keep it short and sweet. I usually eat a candy bar (the more calories, the better!) so that I can get a burst of energy and get to the shelter as fast as I can.
7:00 pm – Arrive at Shelter
Although it really does vary what time I finish out my day based on how many miles I was aiming for and how the terrain was, I would consider 7 to be when I shoot to be at camp. When arriving, I usually chat with the other hikers at the shelter for a little bit, then immediately go find a spot to set up my tent. I unpack my bag, take off my boots, set up my sleeping bag, and change out of my sweaty clothes.
8:00 pm – Dinner
Usually by this point in the day I am starving, so dinner can’t come soon enough. I start cooking dinner after visiting the water source and filtering my water for dinner, and the next day. I usually cook some sort of carb that is lightweight in my pack (mac and cheese, pasta sides, rice), and fish for protein (usually the Starkist tuna or salmon pouches).
9:00 pm – Wrap everything up
After washing my dishes, I need to find a tree to hang my bear bag so that animals don’t eat all my food while I am sleeping, or get attracted to my tent. Finally, after all of this, it’s time to lay down. I usually stay up for a little bit and map out my plan for the next day, as well as journal about what happened that day.
9:30 pm – Goodnight
Finally it’s time to get some much needed sleep and rest up to do it all again tomorrow!
Although this is what the majority of my days are like on the trail, sometimes things vary. That’s the beauty of life on the trail – it’s never the same. Sometimes I will take a short day so that I can take the afternoon and go swimming in a lake, or sometimes I will push myself and cram in so many miles that I am arriving at camp just as the sun is going down. There really is no set schedule out here, but sometimes having a routine to base your daily plans around makes everything much more manageable.
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It sounds like you’re hiking your own hike and that’s great! You’re young so take your time and enjoy life at your pace, old age will sneak up on you soon enough. Be safe and good luck!