Over the past few months, most of the thru hikers have established their daily routine on trail. By now most hikers know how to get the most miles out of each day. I've realized that I have a pretty precise hiking window for each day. I try to be on trail by six in the morning and I shoot to setup camp near seven in the evening. If I hike outside of these hours my performance will inevitably suffer the following day, so I try to make the best out of my thirteen hour hiking window.
While recovering from a leg injury, which occurred in the first fifty miles of trail, I maintained a slower hiking pace for nearly two months, but over the course of the past 800 miles I have slowly started to push my pace in order to maximize my daily mileage. Shortly after the High Sierra I hiked about twenty-four miles a day on average, and in Northern California I slowly increased my mileage to the high twenties. I had my eyes set on hiking thirty miles within my hiking window.
On four different occasions on the PCT I've hiked more than thirty miles but each experience left me exhausted the following day. On each occasion I either started hiking extra early or extend into the night. Sometimes I hike late because the terrain isn't suitable for camping. At times I hike outside of my hiking window to get to town before the post office closes, and other times I hike longer into the evening when the daytime temperatures skyrocket and water sources are few and far between.
On day 100 of my PCT adventure, I finally hit a thirty-mile day within my sustainable hiking window. I look forward to ending more days with the satisfying feeling of hiking thirty plus miles in a single day.