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CherokeeScouter

Good way to train for Philmont, AT treks

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Our Scoutmaster came up with a good way to get in some leg training and backpacking treks for us flatlanders who may not have many weekends to devote to skakedown hikes in preparations for Philmont and the AT.  

He did this weekend's 15K with a full  pack. And we have a slew of 15K and 5K race/walks coming up between now and summer sponsored by various nonprofits. Excellent way for the Scouts - and the adults - to break in boots, get used to carrying weight, etc. - without having to devote a full weekend to shakedown treks (although there is no substitute for that). Plus, if the troop is involved, it can count as a troop activity and maybe  count for certain day hikes needed for MB or rank. 

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I see 2 problems with this idea.

The minor problem is these races aren't free so for a crew to use this approach there will be a non-negligible cost... maybe that is worthwhile if it is enough of a motivator <shrug>

The major problem is these tend to be road events.Running or backpacking on pavement is way more taxing joints and muscles. If my wife trains for road marathons she is injury prone and yet she can train for 50 mile trail ultras and be fine. Her races  are places like the Superior Hiking Trail, so rocky, rooty, hilly like the AT or Philmont. I think training solely on roads raises the risk of injury and doesn't train all those small stabilizer muscles used on uneven terrain.

In addition to shakedown weekends, why not just do your own 5-10-15 mile day hikes with packs at your local park with decent trails... free and more functional training to boot. 

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A South Jersey (flatlander) BSA Troop 26 (Germania,NJ) preparing for Philmont 2019 hired a mountain guide from Synnott Mountain Guides and summited Mt. Washington (NH) in Feb. Impressive.

http://www.shorenewstoday.com/galloway_township/news/boy-scout-troop-climbs-mount-washington/article_8ed3d0b0-bc06-5dcc-88a8-9086536d1e37.html

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A 5, 10 or 15k road march is no substitution for shakedown hikes and does little to prepare for the AT (my knowledge is limited, but I'd say the same for Philmont).  Elevation change is the name of the game for AT, and walking a road isn't going to cut it.

Shakedown hikes and followon camp activities are designed not only to break in boots and accustom one to carrying a ruck sack, but should also be used to assess your gear load out.  You should be assessing everything you carry and use and determine if you really need to bring X or if you could get by with 1 less Y.  Pretty hard to determine what goes and what stays if all you do after your road march is toss the ruck in car and head home.

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Yes, two completely different things. A good prep hike should have a couple overnighters so you can test that tarp setup you were thinking of having or you really want to bother cooking vs cold dinners. There is nothing that focuses your mind on your material possessions like carrying your whole house on your back. 

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Keep talking guys, I'm teaching trek preparation for UoS this month. I will gratuitously steal any good strategies that you've tried or are trying.

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