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Brian "Gadget" Lewis
Begins: Aug 11, 2016
Date: Mon, Oct 24th, 2016
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 804.2
Entry Visits: 768
Journal Visits: 18,519
Guestbook Views: 271
Guestbook Entrys: 11
I had my fitbit (fitness tracker) with me throughout this PNT hike, and managed to recharge it in trail towns and to periodically sync it up so stats were saved online. This weekend I spent some time calibrating what fitbit said about each day, as compared to the mileage I know that we walked and just generally figuring out some overall sums, averages, etc. My summary of this follows.
We hiked a total of 53 days, of which 5 were zero days, i.e., no hiking miles, so extracting those we had 48 days of actual hiking on the trail to hike 804 miles. For reference, our zero days were in Eureka (Aug 21), Bonners Ferry (Aug 28), Metaline Falls (Sept 5), Republic (Sept 14), and Oroville (Sept 19).
Long distance hikers also talk about “nero” days, i.e., “near zero”, where some miles were hiked, but not too many. I’ve chosen to include those days in my summary. Those days typically had more road walking, and some of them were relatively decent mileage, and it’s also very difficult to cleanly extract nero days from the totals.
So: 48 hiking days, 804.2 miles, for an average of 16.8 miles hiked per day. Low by the standards of easier trail to hike such as the PCT, but not too bad I think for the PNT.
I hiked just over two million steps to do those miles, fitbit says 2,164,500 steps total (this sums all 53 days and then removes the relatively few steps for the five zero days). That’s about forty-five thousand steps per day on average, with my “max” day of the trip coming in at 62,951 steps.
Fitbit says that I had in total 17,346 “active minutes” in those 48 days, or an average of about 361 per day (just about exactly 6 hours). Max (highest day) was 570 active minutes (9-1/2 hours).
I’m using a version of fitbit that I don’t wear on my wrist, so it’s not checking my pulse; I think it’s calculating “METs” (metabolic equivalents), which I speculate factors in my last known weight, speed of steps, my height … same way that they estimate calories burned.
Which, btw, fitbit estimates that on average I burned a total of just over 200,000 calories over these 48 days, or an average of 4175 calories per day. This is surely just an estimate, but I’m certain that I was burning a lot as I was hungry a lot!
Back to “active minutes”, 6 hours average per day might be reasonable, particularly towards the end of the trip as available daylight to hike in was getting shorter. Because some awake-time in the day is spent in camp in the morning and evening, and we do tend to take a couple of breaks during the day, one relatively longer one for lunch.
Still, I would have guessed that the average would have been above 6 hours. With six nero days removed, the average for the remaining 42 days is 6 hours and 22 minutes. Surprising to me is that the “bushwhacking hell” day, September 1st, that day only lists 292 “active minutes”, just under 5 hours. But my blog says that we started hiking at 6 am and finished at 5:15 pm, and I only recall one break of any length. So I’m not sure how much I trust the “active minutes” thing, but perhaps it’s more accurate for more normal days? Not sure.
Another estimate that fitbit makes is miles walked. It does this by using an average stride length I had entered some time (months or years) ago, and the number of steps walked --- simple math there. My average stride was established by walking around a level track at a local school. And indeed, on one day in particular (September 13th) when I know that Lucky and I were walking on good quality roads with little elevation gain, fitbit’s estimate for daily mileage was very close to what we actually did --- 16.51 miles estimated, versus about 16 miles that we actually walked. But for most days, the trail varied quite a bit from a smooth, level school track and so fitbit’s estimates were high. On average about 30% high. The sum of all of the fitbit mileage estimates was 1042.9 miles, vs. 804.2 actually walked. I would guess that for a long distance trail with overall better tread, better maintained, better graded (not as steep on average), fitbit would still be high but not as high --- again, the PCT is a good example of this kind of trail.
On the other hand, I find that fitbit does a decent job generally of counting elevation gain; it has an altimeter built in. It measures elevation gain in “floors” climbed, and counts each floor as 10 feet, so it’s very simple math to convert to actual feet. For the 48 days hiked, it says we climbed 134,790 feet, for a per-day average of 2808 feet. Given that nero days are included plus some other road walking, that sounds about right. The maximum elevation gain for a day according to fitbit was 7,490 feet on Aug 31st, which in my blog I mentioned as a particularly high elevation gain day. Check.
There’s nothing earth-shaking in all of this, but it’s kind of fun to say “well, I walked just over two million steps in hiking just over 800 miles of the PNT this year in just under two months, with elevation gain totaling a little more than 25 miles of vertical climbing along the way”.
Gadget's Trail Journal
The 1200 mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNNST), running from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Ocean, ranks among the most scenic trails in the world. This carefully chosen path is high for the views and long on adventure. It includes the Rocky Mountains, Selkirk Mountains, Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascades, Olympic Mountains, and Wilderness Coast. The trail crosses 3 National Parks and 7 National Forests. Learn more: www.pnt.org
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