Typical day on a Pass to Pass Hike by Brian Lorenson
A while ago, a potential PasstoPass hiker asked about a daily schedule for the PtP hikes. After participating in PtP hikes over the last several years I still struggled to nail down a hard daily schedule for our hikes. Everyone has been different, driven by terrain, weather, and the individuals on each hike. That being said, here is a sense of what happens on a day-to-day basis on one of our great trips.
Morning: The goal is usually a 9:00 am start. This means you’ll need to have breakfast, break down your camp, pack your pack, and assist with packing the llamas.
- Early risers can light a stove and start the morning boil. This usually becomes an ongoing community effort until everyone has had their coffee and breakfast. The earlier you rise, the more time you have to lolligag.
- While having a warm morning beverage, it’s helpful to organize your gear and begin breaking down your camp and packing up.
- Once breakfast and morning ablutions are complete, you should complete your packing. Get what you need into your pack and stage the rest to be packed on the llamas.
- Packing the llamas seems simple, but it can be a bit like herding cats. Each bag has to be loaded, weighed, and balanced with its pair. Additionally, each pair has to be similar in weight to the other llama panniers. Only then can the llamas be saddled and loaded. This process usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.
- One last sweep of the campsite for litter or left behind gear and it’s time to hit the trail.
Late morning/Early afternoon: Walking, drinking, eating, and walking (2 to 3 miles).
- Once on the trail people tend to find a rhythm and pace to take them through the day. We encourage everyone to spend some time leading the llamas as comfort allows. Take hydration breaks often and have some trail mix or nuts to snack on. We usually break for lunch at the estimated halfway point. Lunch break is normally an hour or so. Everybody, including the llamas, need a break from their packs and a load off their feet.
Afternoon: More walking, drinking, eating, and walking (2 to 3 miles).
- After lunch it’s the 2nd half of the day’s walk. We work to plan our hikes with a daily mileage of 5 to 6 miles, so 2 to 3 before lunch and 2 to 3 after. With a desired speed of 1-1/2 to 2 miles an hour, it doesn’t make for a long day. We usually arrive in camp by 2:30 or 3:00.
- Upon arriving at camp everyone pitches in to get set up for the night. Priorities are unloading and caring for the llamas, locating tent sites for everybody, and filling the group water filter bag.
- Once the chores are finished, individuals and pairs set up their tents and get their camp set for the night. Blow up your pad, unpack your sleeping bag and allow it to loft up, and decide on dinner.
- Dinner is another casual affair and is different on every hike. Usually, it’s a loose gathering around a couple stoves providing boiling water for meals. And perhaps a glass of wine. Dinner is a great time to come together as a team and chat about the day, challenges to come, and whatever comes to mind.
- After dinner and the dishes are done, it’s one more fill of the group water filter, a check on the llamas, and bed.
I’ve had the privilege to join several, very different, PasstoPass trips, from well-known set pieces like the Chinook/White Pass corridor, to new trip explorations like the Goat Rocks, now a standard. In my experience, hikers find a niche, a pace, and comfort zone for themselves that carries them through the days. On some hikes we switch llama leading every few hours. Sometimes a few hikers take on the llamas as their own. On some trips the hiking order changes constantly and on others people find a place and it sticks.
The best advice I can give regarding a daily schedule on a PasstoPass hike is let it happen naturally. If you need structure, impose structure on yourself but let others find their own rhythm.
Very nice, sounds like a perfect day on the trail. Concerning water treatment, my go to method is a Sayer Squeeze. It’s light (~3 oz) and easily fits in my daypack for quick access. Can’t wait for the snow to start melting. 2023 should be a great season for exploring the backcountry.
Thanks for the warm up 🙂
Thanks for the comment! The Squeeze is my go to also. For the Pass to Pass groups we use an MSR gravity system which has worked great. Happy trails!