40 miles in one day (Posted 20 August 2012, 08:58am)
41.4531, -122.8976

Ready to walk at 5am!

After finally managing my first 30 mile (48km) day I had no idea I would be attempting a 40 mile (64km) day a week later. I have been walking with 'Imfine' for a couple of weeks and he has the idea of walking a 40 mile day in each of the three states we cross. The gradient looked good the following day so I joked that we should try for his 40 mile day in California. We were a bit behind where we wanted to be anyway and the joking became more serious...

When we walk together we spend a lot of time sitting around talking so we decided we should attempt the big day independently. Also, I wanted to walk the 40 mile in one calendar day, starting early and finishing before midnight, but Imfine likes to sleep in. I set my alarm for 4am and went to bed.

I managed to get up and packed by 4:45am and I headed out into the darkness with my head lamp. The first half of the day was a far better gradient than the second, so I had decided I would need to go all out at the start to give myself a chance of getting there. I raced along, averaging just over 3 miles an hour and allowing myself 5 minute breaks every 2 hours. I kept this up for 8 hours and I had done 24 miles by 1pm. I had just walked at my top speed for the length of a working day and now I had to do it all over again.

The inevitable physical crash came a bit earlier than expected. I could hardly move after my lunch break. I was ahead of schedule so I was able to slow down, first to 2.5 miles an hour and then to 2. I staggered along through the afternoon and into the evening. I had also anticipated some sort of psychological crash, and that arrived around the 30 mile mark as it was getting dark. My mind went to some weird and wonderful places.

The hardest part of the day was the last few hours in the dark. My head lamp was failing and it was pitch dark in the forest. I went along talking to myself and hitting my walking poles together so any wild animals would hear me coming. At one point two pairs of green eyes looked at me from a few metres away, I was seriously spooked and rushed on.

I finally made it to a flat camping spot after 40.5 miles. I was totally exhausted. Imfine doesn't travel with maps or a GPS so I left my walking poles across the trial and made "40" on the trail with sticks so he would know he had made it. I got my tent up and crawled in. Imfine arrived a few hours later (before midnight!). We had done a 40 mile day in California!

Getting there...


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