These Days

I get a lot of questions on what a typical day on trail is like so I have decided to do a breakdown of my daily routine on trail.

7-7:45 a.m.: Wake up and break down camp.

The first and hardest thing I do on a cold morning is get out of my sleeping bag and change into my hiking clothes. Then I stuff my sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner into their bags and jam them into the trash bag at the bottom of my pack. The next thing I do is put my puffy, or down jacket, into the trash bag and close it. I put my down sleeping bag and puffy jacket in a trash bag because it is an extra layer of protection from rain since down filling becomes useless when it is wet.

I fold and stuff the rest of my clothes (shorts, T-shirt, long underwear that I sleep in, extra socks, and beanie) in their bag and put that on top of my puffy jacket. I put my book, journal, and Appalachian Trail Guide in a gallon ziplock bag and stuff it in the water reservoir slot in my pack. I get out of my tent and take it down and slide it into my pack next to my clothing bag and puffy. Next, I get down my bear bag (food bag hung from a tree limb so animals don’t get into it) and either make a warm breakfast of oatmeal or grits or eat a breakfast bar depending on my mood. I also take fish oil and turmeric in the morning for their natural pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties. My food bag goes on top of the clothes bag and then I jam my pot and fuel into the pack and cinch it up.

 8:30-9 a.m.: Start hiking.

I have been hiking around 15 miles a day and I average about two miles an hour. I have a tramily of three other guys and we decide on a destination the night before that we are all aiming for. We usually hike separately and camp and eat together. Since I am always hungry I keep a bunch of snacks in the pocket on my hip belt so I can snack all day. After an hour or two of hiking I will stop at a stream to filter water.

12:30-1 p.m.: Stop for lunch.

Whoever is first in our group finds a place to stop for lunch and we all join when we reach that spot, or we stop and eat on our own, depending on the day. The great thing about hiking is we get to make our own schedule. If I decide I want to take a break every 15 minutes I can or I can take a two-hour lunch and lie out in the sun reading. The freedom I have on trail is unlike any other time in my life. For lunch I usually have a wrap of either pepperoni, salami, or tuna and cheese (or sometimes all three), and I snack on cookies, trail mix, or fruit snacks. I usually take off my shoes and let my feet breath when I eat lunch. Whenever we are done eating we pack our stuff back up and set out on the trail again to finish our miles for the day.

5-7 p.m.: Arrive at camp and set up.

My arrival time depends on how many miles I am doing that day and the pace I maintained, depending on how my body felt. The first thing I do when I get into camp is eat a handful of snacks and set up my tent. I always enjoy seeing who else is staying at the shelter or campsite we are at. After I set up my tent and unload my pack I grab my pot and food bag and get to making dinner. A typical dinner is either ramen noodles, instant mashed potatoes, Knorr rice or pasta sides, and some form of protein. By the time I am making dinner there is usually a fire started and we all sit around telling stories about today’s hike and joking around with each other. Most shelters have a water source near them so I go and filter water for that night and the next day. My favorite part of the evening is hanging my bear bag because the concept of having to hang my food from a tree like a pinata makes me laugh. Plus, I am not very good at hanging a bear bag so it is an adventure.

8-11:30 p.m.: Go to bed.

Depending on the weather and our moods we hang out until we go to bed. On trail 9 p.m. is referred to as hiker midnight because we are tired from a long day of hiking. My tramily is usually the last up and we try our best to be quiet but we love to sit around the fire until late in the night. We eventually go to bed when it gets too cold to stay out any longer. Once I go to my tent I change into my sleeping clothes, climb into my sleeping bag, and check my trail guide to see the terrain for the next day. I also write in my journal and read every night before I go to bed.

And then I wake up and repeat.

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Comments 2

  • Kamakazee : Apr 19th

    I like that your not speed hiking the AT. So many hikers seem to be just interested in how fast or how far they go in one day, etc. to me that defeats the purpose and enjoyment of hiking especially taking some time to relax and chill out. Going slow and steady has allowed me to see and enjoy many things nature has to offer that I would have missed if I was speeding through the trails I’ve hiked. Thanks for the great article, ang Happy Trails!

  • Michelle : Apr 20th

    The way you pack your pack is interesting, I almost do the opposite….except my bag always goes in the bottom compartment. Do you feel the weight is evenly distributed with your food bag on top of your lighter items? I may try this and see how it works for me!


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