Considerations for setting a daily plan for backpacking
1) When to get up - Usually it gets light outside after sunrise. Because most tents are made of (nylon) fabric, light is transmitted into the tent, so that's a pretty good alarm clock. Normally when backpacking it's common to go to bed earlier than if you are at home due to outside temperature being cooler, and due to a higher level of exertion hefting 35 pounds of backpack for several hours hiking. Thus going to bed at, say 10PM or 9PM, most people will be ready to get up at 7AM or earlier. Depending on which season the backpacking trip is taken in, will determine how cold it will be at sunrise and how early sunrise comes.
2) Prepare breakfast - When burning up a lot of calories, it's a good idea to eat first thing in the morning to keep your energy level up. As with all other food related concepts when backpacking, you want to keep the food out for as brief of a time as possible. Likewise, you want to clean up right after eating and as soon as possible. You want to handle all garbage and food related trash in the same manner as all food. Pack it in and pack it out. Don't want to train bears, mice, squirrels, rats, and other wildlife to come to the campsite looking for food even if you never plan to come back to that campsite. Do this for the future travelers that come through and for the wildlife. It's the right thing to do, and doesn't require much effort.
3) take down tent and pack everything up - Can't continue along the trail unless you are packed up.
4) break camp - check to make sure nothing is left behind. If a campfire was built, make sure that it's completely doused and cold before leaving it behind. It's better if you can also cover it over after it's cold so that it doesn't look like a campfire was ever there in the first place. It's even better if you never build a campfire in the first place. Less risk of starting a forest fire if the wind comes up and blows hot coals into nearby combustibles. Nobody knows when the wind will blow or how hard it will blow, and nobody really knows how combustible can be sometimes. It's a much greener practice to just use a camp stove instead of a campfire, more efficient too.
5) Hike - It's better to get the hiking over early in the day, to avoid the heat of mid afternoon, and so you'll have plenty of sunlight to put up camp when you get there.
6) Lunch - typically it's best to have energy bars or granola for lunch on the trail when you need a break. That way you don't need to unpack a stove or food or clean up, etc.
7) Set up camp - while you have good sunlight put up your tents and roll out air mattresses and sleeping bags.
8) filter water - It's a good idea to resolve the water supply issues for the next day the night before, so you're ready to go without filtering water hanging over your head. If there is no water at the campsite, then you'll have to filter your water enroute on the trail to your next destination.
9) Cook dinner - typically cooking dinner boils down to boiling water and combining water with dehydrated food, which takes less daylight than other activities such as setting up camp or filtering water. You can use a headlamp to complete this task. Also, you need to clean up right away, and put garbage and trash hoisted up between a couple trees with the food away from bears and other critters that would otherwise be attracted to the smells. This needs to be located at least 100 meters/yards from the campsite. Need to keep the campsite "food smell free".
10) Evening activity - if you're taking an evening hike or just stargazing, do that now.
11) Turn in for the night - Somewhere between 9PM and 11PM turn in for the night so you'll be able to sleep when you do turn in for the night.
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Last Update: April 28, 2015
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