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Blaze66

Day Hike/ Backpacking Mileage

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Ok here is one for all our scouting friends who love to quote BSA regulations.

 

Where in BSA policy does it limit or suggest mileage per day, for hikes and backpacking trips? If there is a limit what is it?

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In my experience this has never been a problem. Every trek we've done has been limited by one or more out-of-shape leaders. The boys have always been up to anything we've dished out. Good argument against smoking and obesity.

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I believe, and I could be wrong, but any hike 500 miles or longer requires a National Tour Permit.

 

Barry

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Good thinking Eagledad. :)

 

Ours is just the other way around. Our troop is delayed by lazy scouts who dont want to do it.

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I think you miss understand the question. The question is not how many miles a day can the boys do, ours have easily done anywhere from 8 to 14 miles a day. The question is does BSA policy limit daily mileage or suggest a daily mileage?

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I don't know of any BSA offical doc. that restricts a hiking distance. However, a local camp or wilderness area or Park might. I once heard of a troop trying to do a 50 mile hike (without pack) in one day and a lot of people were looking for something offical to prevent it. They couldn't find anything.

 

Barry

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I believe the Hiking Merit Badge has a requirement for a 20 mile hike to give an idea of where the upper limit might be, if there is one. I've never heard or read of one. For me personally, even on flat ground, this would be an upper limit.

 

This reminds me of a friend of mine that once coached a high school girls cross country team. He would frequently take the girls on 5, 10 and 15 mile training runs. Every season he would get calls from Dads of new girls complaining that his little girl shouldn't run that far. That girls couldn't take that kind of training. Funny, he never got any complaints from the girls. By the way they were prennial conference and county champ contenders and won several championships. SA

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I don't know about BSA restrictions,but an Adult leader in our troop who is an EAgle, told me about doing a 24 hour hike from one rim of the Grand Canyon to the other and then back to the other side. He noted that they had lots of support from adults at the second side with food, water and rest, but they did do it in just 24 hours. I don't know though what milage that entailed or where in the park that they did this, but I would say its more than I would ever want to attempt.

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I have never seen any published limits or guidelines. However, there are some things that must be kept in mind when planning hikes or backpacking trips.

 

The physical condition of both the youth and adult participants must be taken into account. Nothing should be done that would endanger the health or safety of any participant. Also, consider not just the single day mileage, but also the mileage for other days of the trek. Someone may be able to handle a 20 mile single day trek, but may only be able to handle 10 miles per day for a week long trek. Keep in mind that if someone gets hurt or otherwise is unable to go on you have to find a way to get them out.

 

Terrain, climate, and weather are also limiting factors. Higher elevations mean more energy is expended in breathing and pumping oxygenated blood. This limits both endurance and speed. Extremes of temperature or humidity can also be serious issues.

 

Further, keep in mind hiking at night is more dangerous than day hikes. If hiking is to be done at night everyone needs to understand the extra demands that places on them and come prepared for it. This is an extra problem if hiking on trails of poor condition or moving cross country without trails.

 

Finally, keep in mind the event should be fun. There is no need for a forced march.

 

Putting all of this together, it is best to plan conservatively. Be prepared for the worst possible weather conditions. Give yourself an extra bit of time to get to that next destination. It is better to have extra time at the end then to get stuck doing something like cooking a trail side dinner in the dark, then hiking on for hours more in the dark, and finally having to set up camp in the dark.

 

All this being said, I would not exceed 20 miles on a day hike in moderate terrain at low altitude, or 10 miles per day with full packs on a multi-day trek in similarly easy terrain and altitude. For any increase in altitude, any increase in the ruggedness of the terrain, or for extremes of temperature you will need to cut those numbers considerably. Now this is just an estimate of what sort of capabilities your average troop may have. If all you are taking is older, more experienced Scouts, you could perhaps do considerably more. If you have a very young group with very little experience, you may want to do even less. You really need to have a few day hikes in a local park or something of that nature that lets you gage the abilities of the group in question. This will tell you far more than any book will likely be able to do.

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All for conservative goals and contingency planning - and is it really the PLC thats proposing this Death March? We find lots of kids that don't necessarily want to just lug a pack around for its own sake but are gung ho to get to a prime fishing spot or a new climbing area... Eventually they'll get around to enjoying their freedom and independence but to strictly focus on mileage doesn't strike me as a good way to build Troop (or even Patrol) integrity

A handy (and yes conservative) rule of thumb for backpacking is 1 mile an hour and an additional 1/2 hour for each 1000 feet in elevation change. Might be worth taking(This message has been edited by buffalo2)

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At the risk of being known as a "nit picker" I need to correct Eagledad. A National Tour Permit is not for treks over 500 miles. It is for trips (National Jambo or for most of us treks to any of the National High Adventure Bases come to mind) that take place more than 500 miles from home. You could travel on a regular tour permit 250 miles north of your home, walk the 500 miles to 250 miles south of your home and nobody (other than your fellow campers) would saw anything.

 

That last sentence brings up images of awful Algebra word problems, so I guess I should ask about what direction the smoke from the electic train will be traveling, or what time the trains meet, or ????

 

I think your idea of a huge backpack could be fun for your older guys, for the younger ones, it may be a totally different situation.

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