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Random Group of Hikers Message Board › What does a "2.0 MPH" hike pace mean?

What does a "2.0 MPH" hike pace mean?

Ken D.
user 4332297
Arlington, MA
Post #: 106
Many hikes in the Random Group are posted with a 2.0 MPH pace, the total time for the hike, and the distance of the hike. Given all three values, I'm trying to understand what that actually means because most of the time the values are inconsistent.

Let's take a recent hike up Washington's Huntington Ravine ( http://www.meetup.com...­ ). It says:

"On this moderate pace (~2.0 MPH) round trip we will hike about 9.23 miles and climb about 4800 feet. It should take an average hiker about 7 hours to complete this trip."

There are many other examples, but let's look at this hike.

The first possibility, however unlikely, is that folk hike the 9.23 miles without any breaks, consuming the entire 7 hours for hiking. If you take the total distance and divide it by the time, it is ~1.32 MPH for the average speed a person travels. That doesn't make sense, of course, because it's not even close to the ~2.0 MPH figure. But, that's OK because it's unrealistic.

But, assuming folks hiked at exactly 2.0 MPH the 9.23 miles, that would mean doing the full 9.23 miles in 4.62 hours, with 2.38 hours (7 hours - 4.62 hours) resting on a break...either sleeping, doing a doobee, having a beer/BBQ, etc. That doesn't make any sense either because when I hike alone, I maybe take a five minute break every half hour, with a 15 minute break at the top. Using my estimates, I may take 1 h 25 m for breaks (7 hours * 2 stops per hour * 5 minute per stop + 15 minutes at the top). And that's very very generous for break time. I usually take fewer breaks. But, that still does not approach 2.38 hours!

A third possibility is if the time pre- and post-hiking festivities are included in the 7 hours. For example, 1 hour is taken before the hike to meet with everyone because someone is late. That would mean 6 hours actually doing the hike including breaks. With the extra hour, plus 1.38 hours on breaks (chit-chatting and going to bathroom), the 2.38 hours are account for. But....to wait around for an hour?? Why isn't the hike time then actually posted as 6 hours (4.62 hours hiking + 1.38 hours for breaks)?

Ken
Michael B.
akafuzzjones
Group Organizer
Pepperell, MA
Post #: 255
The information that we use to describe our hikes are all based off of the commonly used "book time" calculations. Book time is used throughout the hiking world to estimate how much time it will take to complete a given hike.

There are two components that make up book time - hiking on the flat and climbing up an incline. The AMC's White Mountain Guide's formula uses 2 MPH as the standard pace for the flats and then adds 30 minutes for each 1,000 feet of climbing. No one is expected to hike 2 MPH over the entire hike since the pace will slow when climbing.

So book time for hike of 9.2 miles and 4,800 feet is 7 hours. The hike is 9.2 miles long, and at 2 MPH this distance would take about 4.5 hours if it were completely flat. It's not though, so we have to add 30 minutes per 1,000 feet of climbing, which means we would add an additional 2.5 hours to get a book time of about 7 hours.

Book time DOESN'T include time for breaks (or festivities before and/or after) and there is no adjustment made for difficult descents - it assumes that going down is easier and faster, which anyone who hikes in the White Mountains realizes isn't always the case. Some descents take MORE time.

While it is not perfect, book times are listed in all of the most popular trail guides and on-line sites. Some use a different pace while others use different ascent times. We model ours off of the AMC since that is the most common source of information that people use in our local area.

Book time provides organizers and participants a way to compare hikes and hikers to see if a group will be able to stick together or if there will be people way out in front (always waiting) and people way behind in the back (always rushing to keep up).

If someone tells me it took them 10 hours to do a hike similar to the one I mentioned earlier in this post, but everyone else on the hike can easily beat book time, then I might suggest the slower person find a different hike with a group more similar to them. The people that would always have to wait won't have fun and the person who is always trying to catch up won't have fun.
A former member
Post #: 31
I think you might be over analyzing things just a bit. };-)

~2 MPH is approximate or wishful thinking 2mph give or take .5 mph. The average hiker time estimate that I usually post on my meetups come from AMC trip estimates.

I always judge the posted pace like this:

easy: ~1mph or less
average: ~1.5
moderate: ~2
advance: ~2.5+

if we just put down "average" pace, people start asking "what does average pace mean?"

basically everything is rough estimates not exact mathematical calculation.

to be exact, you would have to consider the weather, wind velocity and direction of that particular day, I take more pee stops on warm days because I drink more water, if there is a strong head wind you tend to hike slower than expected. you may also want to consider the bug conditions, I tend to travel faster during black fly season.... };-)
Michael B.
akafuzzjones
Group Organizer
Pepperell, MA
Post #: 256

to be exact, you would have to consider the weather, wind velocity and direction of that particular day, I take more pee stops on warm days because I drink more water, if there is a strong head wind you tend to hike slower than expected. you may also want to consider the bug conditions, I tend to travel faster during black fly season.... };-)

You may also move faster now that you are sporting a kilt - less drag and more cooling.
A former member
Post #: 38
Here's how I do. I think a person in good shape, body and mind, can do better than book time. I have seen some people that have a bit of extra weight on them also do better than book time. I guess that's where the mind comes in. Good concentration or allow me to make a joke, "no brain, no pain".

I have done some decent hikes, and many hikes total. Some of the Random hikes posted really flip my mind. Big winter hikes, long routes, before dawn and well after dusk, whoa, and then posted moderate. I am jealous, want to go but...a bit on the top for me and I know I would be thinking difficult every step after 18 miles. 2 mph, 20+ miles, 12-14 hours. My mind asks me questions like, where are we going, why are we going there, etc after several 'extra' hours.

Peace and seek the peak.

As Mike said kilts are cool.
Ken D.
user 4332297
Arlington, MA
Post #: 107
Michael,

Thanks for the explanation!

Perhaps it's over-analyzing the problem, but I am an engineer, and I don't like fudging unless I understand why.

Clearly, the reason to post an estimated pace is to establish prerequisites for people to go on the hike. Other prerequisites are experience, and gear preparedness. Why? As you say, to keep a group together. Group cohesion is very important in order to be safe.

But, one reason I have never hiked with Random is because I could never I could never meet the "2.0 MPH" prerequisite for most interesting hikes using my times, e.g., for hiking the Falling Waters-Old Bridal Path loop (5000 feet gain, 9 miles). By my calculation, for me to do the loop in just 4.5 hours including breaks would require several months of training. Nowadays when I'm alone, I do the entire loop in 6 hours or less with breaks. Paradoxically, a recent event on Random for the loop estimated the total time for the hike at 6.5 hours.

Ken
Michael B.
akafuzzjones
Group Organizer
Pepperell, MA
Post #: 259

But, one reason I have never hiked with Random is because I could never I could never meet the "2.0 MPH" prerequisite for most interesting hikes using my times, e.g., for hiking the Falling Waters-Old Bridal Path loop (5000 feet gain, 9 miles). By my calculation, for me to do the loop in just 4.5 hours including breaks would require several months of training. Nowadays when I'm alone, I do the entire loop in 6 hours or less with breaks. Paradoxically, a recent event on Random for the loop estimated the total time for the hike at 6.5 hours.

Realize that the 2 MPH pace is not going to be maintained for every step over the entire hike. It is just one element of book time. It's 2MPH for the flats and the downs and then there's extra time added (30 minutes for each 1,000 feet of elevation gained) because (most) people won't maintain that pace on the ups.

Book time for the hike you describe (about 9 miles and about 5,000 feet) would be about 7 hours. If you want to think of only the average overall pace on this entire hike it would be more like 1.3 MPH - which would about 2 MPH on the flats and the downs and about 1 MPH on the ups. I confirmed this by looking at a recent GPS track for two different hikes - one to the Tripyramids and the other to the Hancocks. We were moving 2-3 MPH on the flats and the downs and 1-2 MPH on the ups.

While we will linger on summits and enjoy the day, we do like to keep it moving and look to finish in a time faster than book time. If I were to guess, our moderate paced hikes will finish in about 90% of book time while our faster paced hikes will finish in about 80% of book time.

So using the hike you describe our moderate paced group would likely finish in about 6 hours 20 minutes while our fast paced groups would likely finish in about 5 hours 30 minutes. This times would assume about 5 minutes of breaks each hour and about 20 minutes for lunch.

That means your time of 6 hours is right in the ballpark of what it would take our group.

There are only a few in the group who could do that hike in 4hours 30 minutes (and I am not one of them biggrin).
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