Eating Your Weight in Food and Other Zero Day Activities
To see my previous post about the Long Trail click here.
Over the course of the entire thru-hike I took two zero days and two nero days, when I hiked nearly zero miles to get into town.
Read on to discover my personal guide to the perfect zero (or nero) day.
1. Sleep In
There will be no ten hours of hiking today. You have all day to get where you’re going, and wherever you’re staying most likely has a check-in time in the afternoon. A few places I stayed (The Hyde Away Inn and Killington Motel) let me check in early after I called and explained I was a thru-hiker.
If you’re waking up in a bed, stay there as long as you can, until the weight of your town to-do list is too heavy on your conscience to remain horizontal.
So roll over, hit the metaphorical snooze button. Make or eat breakfast slowly. Do it from the comfort of your sleeping bag/bed. Take a glorious morning poop.
2. Take a Shower
One of the best parts of a zero day; the wash cloth provided by the hotel will never look the same. Scrubbing your body from head to toe feels amazing. You will find that after so much time smelling the subtle scents of the forest, the smells of soaps and shampoos can be almost overpowering. Multiple rinse and repeat cycles with the soap bar may be necessary.
3. Eat All the Food
No explanation necessary.
You will inevitably lose weight on a long-distance hike. Make up for lost calories while you’re relaxing in town. If you get delivery you can eat and watch TV without even leaving your bed.
Once you’ve decided how many days you will be back on trail once you leave town, visit a grocery store and buy all the food. Keep in mind that whatever you buy will leave town on your back. Look for lightweight but calorie-dense options. A good rule to go by is to purchase food that has at least 100 calories per ounce (about 30 grams).
If there is not a decent grocery store nearby, sometimes adequate supplies can be found in a large gas station or deli. The deli in Killington had enough hiker-friendly food to tide someone over for a few days.
If you plan in advance to stop in a town that does not have adequate resupply options, you can send yourself a box of supplies. The post office or some businesses that accept hiker boxes could be your resupply stop.
For more information on my Long Trail resupplies, click here.
5. Purchase/Replace Gear
Maybe you need a new pair of socks or to replace that broken trekking pole. Maybe the weather has turned and now you’re in need of warmer clothing. Whatever the case may be, a day in town is a perfect time to visit an outfitter or big box store to perfect your pack.
Clean laundry is not only refreshing but healthier for you. The accumulation of sweat and dirt is a breeding ground for bacteria. Plus who wants to put dirty clothes on a now-clean body? Treat yo’self to a rinse cycle at the hotel (if they offer it) or the local laundromat. Try to stop yourself from burying your face in the sweet-smelling laundry that is now twice as soft/fluffy after being cleaned. You can’t.
7. Organize Your Pack
Whether it’s new gear you just bought or the fact that you’ve been stuffing your belongings every which way into your pack for days, your hotel room will inevitably become a war zone of exploded gear. There will be gear on every surface. Even if you are only staying one night in a hotel your pack will inexplicably have emptied all over the room.
8. Tip Your Housekeeper
I stink. You stink. When we come to a hotel, we all stink after days in the woods. Be kind to your housekeeper, who has to deal with the smelly destruction we leave in our wake. Hikers making a habit of forgetting to tip in a hotel leads to fewer hiker-friendly hotels. They deal with us and our mess all season; don’t be the reason a hotel stops offering services to hikers.
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