Long Distance Walking

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Jun 03, 2013 7:30 am

jgb wrote:I've walked about 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail (about 650 miles in one shot), and went to Ireland planning to walk the Dingle/Kerry Ways but ended up really sick instead.
Was the illness related to walking, or it was something different?
jgb wrote:After I finish the AT (next year maybe), the Camino de Santiago, the West Highland Way, and the High Route Pyrenees are on my list. The Camino and the West Highland Way would be a B&B to B&B style walk, while the HRP would require a little more planning and is more traditional backpacking.
Is the High Route Pyrenees along French GR routes?

Victoria
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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:21 am

If you want a slightly different type of adventure:

In the UK there is much more access to the countryside than is normal in much of the US. The entire country is covered by a network of public footpaths* with a spacing of a kilometer or two. You can pick two points at random and figure out a reasonable route between them. If you stay in the more settled areas pubs, B&Bs, etc. will be only a few k apart. So you can get by with carrying only a couple of changes of clothing, a rain coat, credit cards and a smart phone (loaded with maps, GPS and B&B guides). In most areas you won't meet many tourists, but you may meet locals out for a walk or going about their business.

* These can follow farm tracks, canal towpaths, old Roman roads or cross common land. Long distance footpaths such as the the Cotswold Way and West Highland Way were laid out mostly using the existing paths.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 04, 2013 7:54 am

Epsilon Delta wrote:If you want a slightly different type of adventure:

In the UK there is much more access to the countryside than is normal in much of the US. The entire country is covered by a network of public footpaths* with a spacing of a kilometer or two. You can pick two points at random and figure out a reasonable route between them. If you stay in the more settled areas pubs, B&Bs, etc. will be only a few k apart. So you can get by with carrying only a couple of changes of clothing, a rain coat, credit cards and a smart phone (loaded with maps, GPS and B&B guides). In most areas you won't meet many tourists, but you may meet locals out for a walk or going about their business.

* These can follow farm tracks, canal towpaths, old Roman roads or cross common land. Long distance footpaths such as the the Cotswold Way and West Highland Way were laid out mostly using the existing paths.
What does it mean "a spacing of a kilometer or two"? Does it mean that there are 1-2 km discontinuities between established walking paths or something else? And if one wants to string footpaths together for a relatively long total distance, is it easy to bridge these 1-2 km gaps?

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:05 am

VictoriaF wrote: What does it mean "a spacing of a kilometer or two"? Does it mean that there are 1-2 km discontinuities between established walking paths or something else? And if one wants to string footpaths together for a relatively long total distance, is it easy to bridge these 1-2 km gaps?
Victoria

The "one or two kilometer" is an estimate of density of the mesh. Roughly, draw a (random) straight line across a map and count how often it crosses the type of right of way in question. In much of the UK it will cross a motorway (expressway) every 50-100km, an A road (arterial) every 10km, some sort of public road every 1-5km and public foot paths somewhat more often.

Most of the footpaths are historical accidents rather than a planned network, so there are gaps. But you can string them together and keep perhaps 95% of your route off road, with most of the rest on quite minor roads. You really only need to venture on main roads to get to services, such as pubs, stores or bus stops, which for some strange reason tend to be located on main roads.

The best way to view this is to get an Ordnance Survey Landranger Map. These have a scale of 1:50,000 and show almost all footpaths. Here's a random example. The blue grid is at 1km spacing. The tiny red dotted lines are public footpaths, you can see they blanket the map. The big red dots show that some of the footpaths have been designated as part of a longer route, possibly the Wayfarer's Walk. The advantage of following the big red dots is that somebody has probably written a guide book and it's better marked. The advantage of following the other footpaths is that they are off the beaten track and go everywhere.

I believe that a similar situation exists in at least some other European countries but I am not up on the details.

Image

Edited to correct spelling.
Last edited by Epsilon Delta on Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:14 am

Epsilon Delta wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: What does it mean "a spacing of a kilometer or two"? Does it mean that there are 1-2 km discontinuities between established walking paths or something else? And if one wants to string footpaths together for a relatively long total distance, is it easy to bridge these 1-2 km gaps?
Victoria
The "one or two kilometer" is an estimate of density of the mesh. Roughly, draw a (random) straight line across a map and count how often it crosses the type of right of way in question. In much of the UK it will cross a motorway (expressway) every 50-100km, an A road (arterial) every 10km, some sort of public road every 1-5km and public foot paths somewhat more often.
...
Fantastic information; thank you very much!

Are Ordinance Survey Landranger Maps available as applications?

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:43 am

I believe so. I prefer tyvex or paper for my maps but you can checkout the website. The Ordnance Survey is a government agency, their maps are used as the base map for most mapping in the UK so there may also be commercial apps that have the same information.

http://www.shop.ordnancesurveyleisure.c ... gital-maps

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by White Coat Investor » Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:42 pm

Why not the "King's Way" (El Camino Del Rey) in Spain? :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmDhRvvs5Xw

Looks like a nice walk. Maybe not long distance enough though.

This one in China looks good too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCfVvmjf95s
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 04, 2013 11:06 pm

EmergDoc wrote:Why not the "King's Way" (El Camino Del Rey) in Spain? :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmDhRvvs5Xw

Looks like a nice walk. Maybe not long distance enough though.
It's nerve–racking even to watch, particularly the hole bypasses. Have you done it?

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by White Coat Investor » Wed Jun 05, 2013 12:42 am

No, but it's on the bucket list.
1) Invest you must 2) Time is your friend 3) Impulse is your enemy | 4) Basic arithmetic works 5) Stick to simplicity 6) Stay the course

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Ignis » Wed Jun 05, 2013 3:34 am

VictoriaF wrote:
jgb wrote:I've walked about 1000 miles of the Appalachian Trail (about 650 miles in one shot), and went to Ireland planning to walk the Dingle/Kerry Ways but ended up really sick instead.
Was the illness related to walking, or it was something different?
jgb wrote:After I finish the AT (next year maybe), the Camino de Santiago, the West Highland Way, and the High Route Pyrenees are on my list. The Camino and the West Highland Way would be a B&B to B&B style walk, while the HRP would require a little more planning and is more traditional backpacking.
Is the High Route Pyrenees along French GR routes?

Victoria
Sorry I should have been more clear. I got sick while en route to Ireland from Afghanistan. Got the Kandahar crud on my way through. Ireland was still awesome, and I still saw a lot of historical spots, etc. I just got there by way of vehicle instead of my own two feet.

I am not 100% sure on this, but my understanding is the HRP uses/intersects some of the French GR routes, but the HRP is its own trail that straddles the border.

The Camino del Ray looks interesting too.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:26 am

EmergDoc wrote:No, but it's on the bucket list.
jgb wrote:The Camino del Ray looks interesting too.
It does. But I'd put it on the bottom of my bucket in case it will terminate my opportunity to do anything else {morbid smile}.

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:22 am

VictoriaF wrote: But I'd put it on the bottom of my bucket in case it will terminate my opportunity to do anything else {morbid smile}.

Victoria
Notice the cable on the left of most of the pictures. A sane person* can be clipped in at all times.

* which apparently does not include the cameraman, but does include a couple of the people he passes.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by hsv_climber » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:16 am

wikipedia page says:
n June 2011, the regional government of Andalusia and the local government of Málaga agreed to share costs of restoration (including car parking and a museum) of €9 million. The project will take approximately three years to complete.[3] Many of the original features will remain in place and the new materials that are used will be in keeping with the old design.[4]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caminito_del_Rey

In other words, they will repair it before any of us will get there.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by halfnine » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:55 pm

Epsilon Delta wrote:I believe so. I prefer tyvex or paper for my maps but you can checkout the website. The Ordnance Survey is a government agency, their maps are used as the base map for most mapping in the UK so there may also be commercial apps that have the same information.

http://www.shop.ordnancesurveyleisure.c ... gital-maps
Also via Alastair Humpreys
If you know roughly where you want to go, buy an Ordnance Survey map (or you can browse for free on their painfully un-intuitive website and take a few cheeky screengrabs). (EDIT – thanks to Jack who says this: Bing maps has the OS 1:25k maps, and much easier to use than the clunky OS site. From the map menu just select Road & Ordnance Survey Maps and once you zoom in sufficiently, you’ll be in 1:25k.) In this digital age nothing beats unfolding a giant paper map and dreaming big whilst spilling biscuit crumbs and tea. Use this alongside a map of train routes (assuming you need a train to get you out of the city).

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by halfnine » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:57 pm

EmergDoc wrote:No, but it's on the bucket list.
Any of the Via Ferrata on the bucket list?

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Bylo Selhi » Fri Jun 07, 2013 1:21 pm

For those who think pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela run only through France and Spain, see Way of St. James (route descriptions) and Jakobsweg in Salzburg and Tyrol
Jakobsweg? But that's in Spain, and not in Tyrol!

Where does the Way of St James actually start? Did St James the Apostle make a pilgrimage along this Way? Why should I go on this Way?

This website was created for you, dear visitors.

This website will tell you all about the origins, the history and the significance of the Way of St James, and its role in Europe's historical evolution.

This website will give you detailed information about the Way of St James in the Austrian Tyrol. During the thousand-year history of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, pilgrims in the Tyrol have left many traces behind. Even stones can testify to the constant stream of pilgrims just as much as works of art, written documents, the patronage of saints in churches, coats of arms and place names. The history of the Way of St James is also the history of the Tyrol...
As it happens I'll be hiking along a short segment of this stage tomorrow.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by bowes11217 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:19 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
bowes11217 wrote:This thread is so timely for me - I'm planning to walk half of the West Highland Way in Scotland next week! This will be my first trip like this, and I'm very excited (and hoping I've done a good enough job breaking in my boots for them to get me through). I am traveling with a friend, no group, but we are using a baggage transfer service and staying at B&Bs for three nights along the route.
When you return please tell us how it went.

Victoria
Just reporting back with an update on my walk, which was a fantastic experience. We got lucky and only had rain for one morning; the rest of the time it was in the low 60s, and the scenery was really beautiful. We took 3 days to walk about 40 miles, from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William.

I thought parts of the walk were challenging but not at all hard; the roughest part was actually that a lot of the trail was very rocky, so even with thick soles, you could really feel every step. (Well, that and my knee is still sore from the downhill parts, but I think that's normal.) But the actual hiking was a lot of fun, and so was celebrating the end of every day in Highland pubs. :) I'd love to do this kind of trip again.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:21 pm

bowes11217 wrote:Just reporting back with an update on my walk, which was a fantastic experience. We got lucky and only had rain for one morning; the rest of the time it was in the low 60s, and the scenery was really beautiful. We took 3 days to walk about 40 miles, from Bridge of Orchy to Fort William.

I thought parts of the walk were challenging but not at all hard; the roughest part was actually that a lot of the trail was very rocky, so even with thick soles, you could really feel every step. (Well, that and my knee is still sore from the downhill parts, but I think that's normal.) But the actual hiking was a lot of fun, and so was celebrating the end of every day in Highland pubs. :) I'd love to do this kind of trip again.
Excellent report, thank you. How much of elevation change did you have on your daily walks?

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Bylo Selhi » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:33 pm

bowes11217 wrote:the roughest part was actually that a lot of the trail was very rocky, so even with thick soles, you could really feel every step. (Well, that and my knee is still sore from the downhill parts, but I think that's normal.)
Good hiking boots with leather uppers, good ankle support and stiff Vibram soles are a must for walking in rocky/mountainous areas. IMO they're the most important piece of gear you need for hiking.

Hiking poles are highly recommended both for letting you use your arms to help get up hill and for taking weight off your knees on the way back down. The poles should be collapsible down to a length that will fit your checked in baggage because they're not allowed in carry-on.

I hope you had a chance to get to the top of Ben Nevis. It's a long slog but the views from the top are worth every bit of the effort.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 12, 2013 9:20 am

Hi Bylo,

You are a fountain of information. Looking forward to discussing long-distance hiking with you in October,

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by bowes11217 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:25 am

Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to climb Ben Nevis - I would have loved to, but we had a limited amount of time and really wanted two full days in Edinburgh, plus my friend was feeling a little under the weather towards the end. The view of the mountain coming out of the Nevis woods was one of my favorite moments of the walk!

I had to check this, but it looks like the largest elevation change for the part we did was 735 meters up and then down during the last stage. (Sort of related to that, one thing I wish I'd brought was a pedometer. There were definitely times when it would have been nice to have more than a very rough sense of how much further we had to go that day.)

Bylo, I wanted to thank you for your link to HF Holidays - I have a few other (non-walking) trips on my radar for the next few years, but I think I'd love to do a walk in the Lake District at one point, and I'm enjoying reading their information about it!

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by oxothuk » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:18 am

Bylo Selhi wrote:
bowes11217 wrote: The poles should be collapsible down to a length that will fit your checked in baggage because they're not allowed in carry-on.
Really? My wife and I took ours in carry-on for a recent trip to Hawaii.

We have the Diamond Z poles (http://www.rei.com/product/839641/black ... poles-pair), which fold into three sections. The regular telescoping type of poles are still a bit too long for a carry-on bag.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Bylo Selhi » Wed Jun 12, 2013 2:32 pm

oxothuk wrote:
Bylo Selhi wrote:The poles should be collapsible down to a length that will fit your checked in baggage because they're not allowed in carry-on.
Really? My wife and I took ours in carry-on for a recent trip to Hawaii.
The Canadian version of TSA explicitly says on their website that hiking poles can't be taken on board flights as carry-on. Maybe TSA is different. In any case I've never put my poles to the test out of fear that they'd be confiscated.
We have the Diamond Z poles (http://www.rei.com/product/839641/black ... poles-pair), which fold into three sections. The regular telescoping type of poles are still a bit too long for a carry-on bag.
After years of using Leki poles I switched to the same Z-poles you linked to. They're fantastically light compared to Leki's metal ones and seem to be just as strong. If these are the poles you got into the cabin, perhaps it's because the carbon fibre shafts didn't draw the same attention as metal in the X-ray machine.

P.S. to anyone who wants to buy these poles, wait for REI to hold a "30% off one regular priced item" sale. They usually have one in October just before and and during the annual Bogleheads meeting.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by detroitbabu » Sun Jul 07, 2013 9:42 am

Just coming back from my planned hike to Pikes Peak via Barr trail. Needed 8.5 hours
Fantastic experience!!! Hiked up and took the train down.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:11 am

I did several long distance walking trips coordinated through different tour companies. The one in the Cotswolds was an Inn-to-Inn walking tour by the Wayfarers. Think of any calendar you have seen of English villages - thatched roofs, stone walls, and profusions of flowers in window boxes. Except for the day we hit one village the same time as a tour bus, we rarely saw more than a handful of people at the same time. One afternoon, we went through a small village that was totally uninhabitated (think Brigadoon) because it was a Wednesday afternoon and that was market day in the next town over.

The walking in the Cotswolds is fairly easy - mostly rolling hills. We had a walk leader who showed us the trail and a walk manager who picked up and delivered luggage, showed up at morning break with the menu from our lunch pub so that we could pre-order our lunch and at afternoon break to pick up anyone who had had enough walking. If you DIY, be sure and get a detailed map showing the public footpaths. You end up having to cross lots of farmers fields - seriously! They are obligated to let you through and to provide a means to do so - either a "kissing gate" or a series of steps over the fence. Some of them aren't too happy though - one farmer had posted a "Beware of Bull" sign that our walk leader said was not true - but we did go across quite a few fields with cows and horses.

I also did a tour of the Cornish Coast with Country Walkers. For this trip we had to do short drives to the trail heads, but basically walked all day. The walking was a lot more up and down than the Cotswolds. There were no public footpaths through people's farms, but instead a coastal trail. People treated this trail like we do the Appalachian - doing smaller sections of it on each vacation so that in the end you could claim that you walked the whole trail.

I would recommend either tour company for those who don't want to DIY but want the experience of a great outdoor vacation .

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by cherijoh » Sun Jul 07, 2013 10:34 am

FrugalInvestor wrote:
Bylo Selhi wrote:
FWIW I've done a lot of hiking in the Alps, ranging from day hikes to 2 to 3 week treks, over the past 30-odd years. I'm heading back for more next week and planning to come back again in August.
michaelsieg wrote:There is a company in Switzerland that specializes in long distance hiking vacations/trips. Their website is http://www.baumeler.ch
A similar company located in the UK is http://www.hfholidays.co.uk/. There are other operators in the UK but HF is the best by far. They specialize in guided tours/treks however they also offer self-guided ones.

What is your experience with tours vs. going it on your own? I tend to shy away from tours and away from the 'crowd' whenever possible.

What particularly interests me is seeing the countryside, meeting the locals and learning about the culture first hand and up close. Both my wife and I like to be active - but we're not out for bragging rights - just a relaxing time. My wife is not into camping so going from village to village - and having luggage transported ahead - sounds like a great option.

What might you suggest based on your experience that would meet these criteria?
Hi Frugal Investor -

I just posted about my experience using a tour company, but I thought I'd add an addendum to address your question about being part of a group. The tours I took were all small groups - either 12 or 15 people max and the tour guides were locals who either grew up in that area or retired there. You get a lot of history and stop and see some cultural stuff (churches, castles, etc.) along the way. I think I had a better experience with this than I would have on my own. You also have time to strike up a conversation with some locals in the pubs at lunch and in the evenings. This is totally different than the typical bus tour - which I do my darndest to avoid. BTW, this was one the most relaxing vacations I ever took - the biggest think I had to "worry" about was what to order for dinner :wink:

Feel free to PM me if you want more specifics. In addition to the tours I mentioned in the UK, I have also done walking tours in Cape Breton (Nova Scota), Maine and the Grand Canyon. I have used 4 different tour companies for the 5 trips - 2 international, one strictly US, and one limited to Eastern Canada.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by SPG8 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:47 am

duplicate
Last edited by SPG8 on Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by SPG8 » Sun Jul 07, 2013 11:47 am

detroitbabu wrote:Appalachian Trail in the US. It is on my bucket list.

http://www.appalachiantrail.org/
I walked all of PA and NJ, but that was many years ago. I have considered completing the entire trail, but have ruled it out due to the risk of tick-bourne diseases. It's an individual decision that I don't expect anyone else to agree with. However, the risk requires some due diligence, and there are many easy entry points, such as the article in the July 1 New Yorker. Reading personal accounts can be helpful as well.

1. Most thru-hikers rely, at least in part, on the shelter system, and these areas are infested with mice.

2. The primary defenses are surveillance and barrier clothing, both of which are difficult to implement successfully.

3. A responsible plan would probably rely on chemicals through the mid-atlantic states onward.

The best I could get was carrying a hammock tent to avoid camps and stay off the ground, bring single-dose-doxy as a prophylactic in the event of a bite, and to soak gear in permethrin and me in DEET. Just doesn't add up to a go for me. As it stands in PA, I've become a reverse-season walker...will go into backcountry from late August through early April to avoid nymph season.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:49 am

Back to long distance walking. Here is a VERY long distance walk.
Paul Salopek seeks to retrace the path of modern mankind wrote:Paul Salopek is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and National Geographic fellow who is one year into an epic seven-year project to walk around the world, retracing the ancient footsteps of modern mankind.
Has anyone done interesting walks lately?

Victoria
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Raybo » Fri Dec 06, 2013 11:35 am

In September, 2013, my wife and I walked 72 miles in 6 days in England's Lake District. I believe the route we did is called the Lakeland Round.

We hired a company to provide us maps, book our B&Bs, and transfer our luggage. It was still a hard walk. Each day had, at least, one serious climb and an elevation of, at least, 1000 meters. We also saw, at least, two large lakes every day, often more, passed many gills and becks (creeks), a tarn or two, and hundreds of sheep.

It was hard but memorable.

I posted a set of uncaptioned photos, should anyone want to see them.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by btenny » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:15 pm

Here are some good western US based hiking trails that I know are great. Most can be done via multiple single day hikes or done in big chunks with camping overnight.

People hike the California Rim trail around Lake Tahoe over a week with overnight stays in town or all at once by backpack camping. The trail is 168 miles total. I have hiked parts of it and the views and sites are spectacular. Do these in the summer. See below. http://www.tahoerimtrail.org/index.php? ... Itemid=202

Some prefer to go further south and hike all around Yosemite and still have nice accomodations. Do these in summer. See below.
http://www.yosemitepark.com/high-sierra-camps.aspx

Super hikers and adventurous types can tackle the Pacific Crest trail that goes across all of California and Oregon and Washington. I undestand teh trip is amazing. Many people do parts of it during a month long summer trip. See here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_Crest_Trail

I have also done several Grand Canyon based hikes. The views are wonderful and the hiking is fun. Go in the spring or fall. The Havasupai Canyon hike and falls is amazing. It takes 2-4 days and you must back pack and camp but it is worth it. Same for the rim to rim hike of the Grand Canyon. Or you can go for long day hikes around south rim and or the north rim. See below. http://www.kaibab.org/kaibab.org/supai/gc_supai.htm
http://www.naturalbornhikers.com/RimtoRim/RimtoRim.htm
http://www.rei.com/adventures/trips/namer/gcr.html
http://www.nps.gov/grca/planyourvisit/day-hiking.htm

saver65
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by saver65 » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:15 pm

We are getting serious about El Camino and starting our walks (5-8 miles uphill a day) in January. Tickets are bought and the walk starts on April 24th.

After reading many blogs and tripadvisor's reviews on El Camino, we decided to utilize taxi service to transport our bags and walk Camino with day packs. There are ways to walk El Camino luxuriously, staying in hotels, riding a bus part of the way, and having meals three times a day prepared for you. Many agencies advertise Camino as easy walks and charge a lot of money. Also, many people choose to walk the last 100 km just to get a pilgrim's passport and certificate.

We decided to walk all the way and stay in hostels, with an occasional stay in 1 or 2 star hotels.

Victoria, have you started your training yet?

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Dec 24, 2013 2:31 pm

saver65 wrote:We are getting serious about El Camino and starting our walks (5-8 miles uphill a day) in January. Tickets are bought and the walk starts on April 24th.
...
Victoria, have you started your training yet?
Hi saver65,

I have been training for about seven months now. "Training" is probably an overstatement, but I can now carry a 30-lb backpack for 3 hours non-stop over a slightly hilly terrain. On El Camino I will carry a lighter pack, but the terrain, especially in the Pyrenees, will be more difficult.

My initial plan was to do El Camino between March and May 2014. However, I will probably delay my retirement by a few months and miss this Spring. I have other plans between end of May and August, and can't consider it until either Fall or the next Spring. I don't like to change my plans, but in this case I have to make some hard choices.

I am envious that you will be walking El Camino so soon. Please keep us posted about your progress!

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

tbradnc
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by tbradnc » Tue Dec 24, 2013 4:07 pm

Hiking is my passion.

I've hiked all of the AT once, most of it twice and parts of the southern half several times. I can get out of my recliner, walk 1 mile through town on a sidewalk, cut up a side street to a forest road and be standing on the AT in about 30 minutes.

I've also hiked The Long Trail, The Sheltowee Trace Trail, Foothills Trail, AL/GA Pinhoti Trail and many others here in the east.

This April I'll be thru hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, starting at the Mexican border going to Canada.

I'm woefully out of my league in Boglehead savvy but I can talk about hiking.. :)

My little toy business: [OT link removed by admin LadyGeek]

saver65
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by saver65 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:25 pm

We finished 790 km of Camino de Santiago! What an experience! The Way has changed many aspects of my life. Walking was not easy as we had to walk 16-22 miles a day every day. Everything hurt at the beginning. Oy! Various terrain, the dreaded Meseta almost killed my feet, Galicia was easy but crowded, and Santiago Cathedral a magical experience. We stayed in albergues and hostels, shared community meals and went to church services. Saw people 80 years old and older walking Camino. Trekking poles are necessary but you cannot bring them on a plane. Survival skills will come naturally as you navigate rural Spain and learn about the rhythm and customs of villages and small towns. I am now interested in Camino del Norte, which is less known and more difficult, with fewer accommodations for pilgrims but amazing coastal and mountain walks.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:35 pm

saver65 wrote:We finished 790 km of Camino de Santiago! What an experience! The Way has changed many aspects of my life. Walking was not easy as we had to walk 16-22 miles a day every day. Everything hurt at the beginning. Oy! Various terrain, the dreaded Meseta almost killed my feet, Galicia was easy but crowded, and Santiago Cathedral a magical experience. We stayed in albergues and hostels, shared community meals and went to church services. Saw people 80 years old and older walking Camino. Trekking poles are necessary but you cannot bring them on a plane. Survival skills will come naturally as you navigate rural Spain and learn about the rhythm and customs of villages and small towns. I am now interested in Camino del Norte, which is less known and more difficult, with fewer accommodations for pilgrims but amazing coastal and mountain walks.
C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S

This is a great achievement! Did you have to walk 16-22 miles every day? I am thinking of walking more slowly, perhaps up to 10 miles/16 kilometers per day. I have collapsible trekking poles, are these also not allowed on airplanes? Is it possible to buy poles on the way? If everything else fails, one can just find some sticks and use them instead.

You mean social survival, not wilderness survival, right?

Please share some stories from your trip!

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

saver65
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by saver65 » Wed Jun 18, 2014 10:08 pm

Victoria, we followed the 34-day walking itinerary from the book by Brierly. We stayed extra days in Logronio, Burgos, and Leon because those cities were large and beautiful and we wanted some extra time to explore museums and just hang out in town squares with other pilgrims. There is a very strict rule about trekking poles on a plane. You can buy them anywhere (15-20 euros per a pole), even in pharmacies, but most of the time you can get poles for free in albergues. People just leave stuff and some simply forget poles and walking sticks. I left my collapsible Diamond trekking poles in Finisterra. I would not recommend those poles for walking El Camino because they get stuck in thick mud and it's raining a lot in Spain.

About your plan to walk 16 km a day - yes, if you have time. We met many people who were doing only 20 km a day. However, there will be times when you wouldn't find accommodations for long stretches. Study the book and maps, ask for information in pilgrims' offices because they have a list of functioning albergues with distances between them. Also you might want to call and reserve a bed in advance if you walk slowly. You don't want to come to a full (COMPLETO) albergue and then walk another 8-12 km to the next one. Some people get up at 5 AM and start walking in a dark to make sure they have a bed in the next destination. And walking 15 miles a day has become very easy as we gained strength and endurance. It feels so strange now not to walk for 5-8 hours a day.

We started on April 22nd so until the last two weeks of May there weren't that many pilgrims and we were lucky with accommodations. However, we had to reserve beds during the last two weeks. Otherwise, you have to stay in hostels and pensions but you would pay triple and miss out on being a pilgrim and getting to know others.

Survival skills for pilgrims. Yes, you learned very fast that you have to run to an albergue to grab a lower bank bed (important!), run to take a shower while there is still hot water left, you have to wash your clothes pretty fast and hope it would be dry by morning, you have to run to a supermarket before it closes for a long siesta, you learn that nothing, absolutely nothing works on Sundays and you have to make sure you have food and water for two days, you have to pick albergues with kitchens because you get sick and tired of pilgrims meal (but never of cheap Spanish wine that is served with pilgrim's meal). There is no wholegrain bread sold on Camino, and most of the time it's only white bread, no veggies, lots of jamon, and you become addicted to cafe con leche in the morning. The route takes you through tiny dying villages with a few intact houses but giant albergues that might host up to 100 pilgrims and three or four bars to feed those pilgrims. You learn how to say hello in many languages and you share pain, laughter, meals, and drinks with people from many walks of life and many, many countries.

Buen Camino!

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Jun 19, 2014 5:29 am

saver65, thanks a lot!

I have the same book at the one you used, John Brierley's Maps-Mapas-Cartes that provides the itinerary for 32 days to Santiago and 3 more days to Finisterre. I am planning to use it for reference rather than to follow it precisely. If I went in 2014, it would have been from mid-March to mid-May to be back to the U.S. in time for a commitment at the end of May. In 2015, El Camino is my most important "commitment." I am thinking of going from 5 April to 5 June. I've read somewhere that some auberges and refugios are closed for the winter and open in April. I would like lodging to be relatively closely spaced during the first few weeks of walking, and thus starting in early April seems optimal. By middle May, I will be in a much better shape and at that time I will have the flexibility to walk more or to start earlier or to pay for private accommodations if everything else fails.

10mi/16km per day is a conservative estimate based on what I do now. 2-3 times per week I walk for 3 hours on a local hill with a 30-lb backpack. On El Camino, I will carry smaller load, but the road will be more challenging. If I finish early, I will just travel in Spain, perhaps to Madrid or Barcelona.

You were traveling with a group of friends. Did you also interact with other pilgrims? Were any of them particularly interesting? For me, a huge motivation for walking el Camino is to see the life and meet the people that I can't possibly encounter in my normal life. I had such experiences when trekking in Nepal and traveling around Ecuador and Peru, and want to have them again.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

cathyr
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by cathyr » Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:55 am

This has been a fantastic thread to read! I've always enjoyed hiking, but mostly just day hikes. My sister and I have often talked about trying to do the Appalachian trail someday, but I agree with what someone said earlier - having to camp the whole way would not thrill me. However, if anyone's interested, there's a great movie that talks about the experience - Southbounders (kind of a pseudo documentary). It used to be available on Netflix, but doesn't look like it is any more - it is on Amazon, though.

All this talk about The Way is really intriguing/inspiring. Once I retire I think this is definitely something I want to look into. Like Victoria, I'd probably be looking at doing this alone, and El Camino Santiago sounds like a great experience. Some of the opportunities in the UK sound great also.

Thanks all for sharing your ideas/experiences.

Cathy

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by curmudgeon » Thu Jun 19, 2014 7:17 pm

I too found this thread very interesting. I've been using this year to work on my weight and conditioning with some of these types of walks as potential options when retired. We'll see how this pans out. For now, the immediate goal is to be able to enjoy more local backpacking and skiing.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:28 am

cathyr wrote:All this talk about The Way is really intriguing/inspiring. Once I retire I think this is definitely something I want to look into. Like Victoria, I'd probably be looking at doing this alone, and El Camino Santiago sounds like a great experience.
Hi Cathy,

I think there are two distinct attitudes towards long-distance hiking. The first one, epitomized by the Appalachian Trail, is focused on seeking solitude, getting away from the civilization, and toughing it out. The other one is living on the move while being exposed to a lot of different people and avoiding physical hardships. El Camino is the second type, and it's the one I prefer.

I had a similar experience when trekking in the Annapurna region of Nepal. Over there, I hired a guide and a porter, and we were walking along a busy trail from village to village, staying at tea houses. In every tea house and on the path, I was meeting a lot of people, many of whom I found fascinating. Paradoxically, when you travel by yourself, you are far more social than when you travel with companions.

For me, it's important to treat it as an enjoyable experience rather than an athletic feat. If I can walk only 10-12 miles per day, so be it. If I have to wait over a thunderstorm, I will. I will minimize the weight of my pack (it will be much lighter than what I am practicing now), which means that I will be spending more money on replacement items. On the other hand, I will try to stay in auberges and refugios rather than hotels, because sharing lodging with other travelers is a part of el Camino's attraction.

My main point is that it's possible to have wonderful experiences when one stops looking at them as athletic achievements and starts seeking adventure.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

cathyr
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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by cathyr » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:03 am

Victoria -

Thanks for your thoughts! I'll definitely be interested in your experiences doing el camino next year!

Cathy

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by lululu » Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:08 am

VictoriaF wrote: Paradoxically, when you travel by yourself, you are far more social than when you travel with companions.
Local people are far more likely to strike up conversations with individuals. Being part of a pack seems to discourage this. Also, you get invited to gatherings, which a pack does not.

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Re: Long Distance Walking

Post by Bylo Selhi » Sat Jun 21, 2014 2:38 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I have collapsible trekking poles, are these also not allowed on airplanes?
They are but they have to be in checked baggage, not carry-on. We've done it without incident across the Atlantic on a couple dozen of trips, as recently as last week.

Added: This suggests that the carry-on restriction was relaxed three years ago. TSA Prohibited Items List Changing - Small Pocket Knives and Some Sporting Goods Items to be Permitted

Image

Note that while the caption says "ski poles" the photo shows collapsible poles. Still, I'd rather err on the side of caution and put them in checked baggage in case the rules are different in Europe.

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