Day of a desert long-distance hiker

4 am: Awake. I typically roll around in my sleeping bag for 10-15 minutes before I get up and get going. Sometimes I count backwards from 100 and tell myself I’ll get up when I’m finished. Other times, I pick a song and get up when I’m done singing. Often, neither of these tricks work.

4:15 am: Food. Eat something small to get going–fruit leather or some nut butter.

4:30-5 am: Pack. I spend far too much time shuffling my junk around and rearranging my collection of Zip Loc bags each morning.

5-5:30 am: Walk. In the first 30 minutes, I’ll also eat more food, stop and re-tie my shoe lances several times, and make a mental checklist of what hurts and what feels good each morning (what usually hurts: my feet, my knees, my right hip, and some part of my back. What usually feels good: my head and my heart).

5:30-8:30: Walk. I try to hike a couple of hours before I take my first break. I tend to melt in the heat, so the more miles I can make in the morning, the better. Also, if I’m honest with myself, I get more lazy as the day progresses, regardless of the temperature.  I try to walk 10 miles by 10 am each day.

8:30 am: Sit. Eat some nuts and dried fruit or a bar. Take my shoes off. Enjoy the cool morning.

9 am-noon: Walk. You guessed it.

Noon: Eat. I’m on a cheese and rice cracker kick right now. I’ll also eat some nut butter or dried fruit.

1 pm: Walk. This time, with complaints (both verbal and mental). This is the part of the day that I try to direct my thinking: I attempt to consider what I’m thankful for, how I can be a better person and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’m also a natural worrier, so I devote a small part of each day to thinking about all of the ways that I could hurt or injure myself on the tail. This provides endless worry and entertainment.

Afternoon: Nap and read. When I’m done with the gratitude and worry portion of my day,  and the desert heat starts to get to me, I take a big break. I read, chat with other hikers, eat and sleep.

4-5 pm: Walk. I often cook my dinner in the late afternoon and hike another 5-10 miles after eating. I usually hike 18-23 miles a day.

7:30-8:30 pm: Look for my bed. Some hikers enjoy night-hiking in the desert, but I’m not a nocturnal creature. I set up my tent, eat another snack or dinner and then read before crawling into my sleeping bag.

9 pm: Sleep (unless there’s a new issue of the New Yorker on my Kindle or I’m reading a great book. In that case, all bets are off, and I stay up reading until I can no longer hold my Kindle).