To succeed, you must Excel

Prepping to walk 500 miles

What does it take to walk 500 miles in just over a month? Sure you need to be fit, motivated, and a little bit crazy, but the most important thing in my mind is preparation. When you’ve got a long distance to cover and limited days to finish, being ready ahead of time can be the difference between finishing and failure.

As an engineer, I’m a bit of an Excel freak - I do just about everything by spreadsheet, and planning a hike is no different. Here are just a few of the ways we’ve optimized our trip in Excel:

Distances 
We've planned out our route in advance, and had to make sure we’re not pushing ourselves  too hard over multiple days. When it’s all said and done, we’re hiking an average of 27.7 km a day on hiking days, and taking 3 rest days to recover as much as we can. We’ve still got a long stretch near the end of hike that we can’t get around - our trip into Wiarton will take us 41 km in a single day. That’s almost a full marathon of walking, followed by a 38 km leg the next day!

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Reservations
When you’re travelling long distances on foot, you need to make sure that you’re guaranteed a place to sleep at the end of the day. We’ve mapped out all the possible locations we could sleep and tried to optimize our route based on the how far we think we can make it in a day. The Trail isn’t set up for continuous through-hikes, but with the help of friends and family along the way, we’ve found a place to stay every night.

Google Maps is great for this - you can create your own custom maps for just about anything (and of course tabulate it all separately in Excel):

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Food Prep 
When Nat and I organized our last big hikes in Chile and BC, we had every meal planned out and optimized for cost, calories and weight. Every extra pound you carry on the trail can really weigh you down, so planning out meals is crucial for getting your backpack down to a reasonable weight! We’re still in the process of figuring out food for this trip, but I know we’ll soon be spending long nights planning, dehydrating, and vacuum-sealing everything we’re going to eat.

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Pickups and Resupplies
Of course, we won’t be able to carry enough food to last us the entire month and still hope to cover long stretches of trail every day. Our amazing support crew will be helping us out by dropping off consumables like food and fuel once a week.

 

Happy Trails,

Chris