For the last few months my days were near identical except for the scenery, weather, or towns. They began often with a chittering critter either a bird or squirrel waking me around 5:45 am, my eyes pry open somewhere underneath my quilt to bark at them. Then I sought benefits to change clothes, hit the privy, and pack. Packing would include taking down the hammock, tarp, and stuffing my variety of sacks into the pack generally with the clothes and quilt bags on the bottom and food bags near the top. Somewhere along the line I'd mix up cold instead coffee and swallow two packs of oatmeal. Why not boil water for breakfast? It came down to time and fuel. I didn't want to take the time nor did I carry that much fuel.
Once all packed, I'd pull on the shoes. Normally, I'd save what ever was wet from the day before to put on last. As I began to hike, I'd grab a selfie, a couple of white blaze, and trail photos. Typically, I'd finish the cold chug around a view point. My snacks were within reach in either a side shorts pocket or pack pocket. I'd eat two 500 calorie snacks before lunch.
In the South, I often skipped lunch but, found that when I did eat lunch my energy levels would remain high. When I recognized this I began scheduling lunch and making larger miles per day. Lunch would generally be at a shelter or view in or around noon. I'd pull out my blue dry sack which held peanut butter and flour tortillas. Not much for lunch but two or three rolls. Occasionally, I'd have an extra power bar, shake on cinamon, or cut a chunk of cheese. The harder cheeses last longer then the soft cheeses without refrigeration.
A snack sometime in the afternoon would happen around 3 ish and I'd be good until camp. In the North, I lost my evening hunger so I made sure my last snack happened well before an hour I made supper thus ensuring I'd be sufficiently hungry to choke down what I prepared.
At camp, I'd first locate two trees about 12 feet a part for the hammock by holding out my hiking sticks. Anything closer wouldn't do, much beyond not either. The closest I hanged wad 8 feet and the farthest stretch close to 25 feet. I'd then start either by putting up the tarp or hammock, weather depending. Once this is set, I'd gather water and clean up. Finally, out came dinner.
Dinner, oh no! This is one thing I will plan out a lot better. Dinner is a Knorr pasta, rice, or potato side. Occasionally, mac and cheese. I preferred to cook in the bag and add stuff to it. My most common add in is tuna packet and garlic. For the mac and cheese I add a small amount of instant potatoes to thicken and help cook the noodles. Cooking in the bag eases clean up, there isn't any besides licking the spork. With boiling my water, I filled my pot to the brim. I always made tea. My tea got first dibs on the water. My tea of treat is Egyptian licorice herb tea. My least favorite is chai and green teas. I used untreated water so bringing my water to a boil, essential. My fear with mashed potatoes was creating Albert potatoes. Albert was a cook of mine on the Caribbean Mercy who once served dry & lumpy instant potatoes for dinner just before I left in '01. My other dinner fear was noodle soup. Since I cooked in the bag I didn't pour off the excess water and would add instant potatoes to thicken. At the end of the hike, I stopped carrying extra potatoes and just drank the slurry.
After supper, I'd start to write in my journal. Chatting around the shelters happens around supper time, at a campfire, and my favorite, breakfast. The more involved with conversation the more chaotic my journal entries are. I read a recent issue of Backpacker Magazine that stated quiet time is 10pm. I'm sorry to report they are wrong. It's hiker midnight or whenever it gets dark be it 6:30pm or 9pm or whenever hikers start to bed down. Headlamps are often donned around the same tim as dinner prep is underway. If you want to cut conversation short keep shining it in someone's face. I ended many a conversation when someone put their lamp in my eyes. Please wear it around you neck and dim it. You'll be surprised with how little light is needed to move about.
When I stayed in the shelters my daily routine was the same. As I passed shelters I photo logged the shelter books. I began this when I looped back.through the NOC and wanted to record what my friends wrote about the experience of cold wet days from there to Fontana Dam.
In town for resupply I started off with just buying stuff hopping I got what I needed. I found myself over purchasing. Tim, another thru-hiker, who also had another long distance hike under his feet, introduced me to the gallon bag system. It uses a bag for every day. It worked. I'd place a dinner, all my snacks, breakfasts, and drink mixes for the day including the instant coffee. Only once under this method did I run out of anything and happened to be coffee packets when I got out of sync. I left out lunch as it never changed. If I had less then half a package of peanut butter or tortillas I got an extra. I did at one time carry pb over a hundred miles without so much as taking a spoon full to eat.Once I figured my meal plan out I stopped over spending and leaving so much behind in hiker boxes.
I found my daily routines an essential part of the hiking experience. They helped me cut time in leaving for the day, forgetting/loosing things, and falling into sync with other hikers. With the amount of stuff I carried, the systematic approach worked.
I will say my time from wake to gone, less privy and breakfast, was close to half an hour if applied. I'd like to cut it to 15 minutes. To do that means for me to cut comfort somewhere. The shorter time to gone translates to less exposure to bugs, cold, or adverse weather. When I'm moving these things are less irritating.