There’s an expression used in the White Mountain Guide called book time. It refers to the suggested time cited in the Guide that it would take an inexperienced hiker to complete a trail segment. It’s based on the following metric: 30 minutes for each mile of distance or 1,000 feet of climbing.
While it is a useful benchmark for rough time estimation and route planning, it’s often taken too literally by people. The truth is that hiking speed is dependent on many other factors including the difficulty of a trail, the number of people in your group, pack weight, season, weather conditions, and physical fitness.
There are many times when I hike slower than book time, due to the difficulty of the trail or the weather. For example, in winter, I usually plan on 1 mile per hour when hiking in the White Mountains, as I’ve found this is a reliable pace for two fit hikers over a day, regardless of elevation gain.
But there’s another thing I don’t particularly like about book time. I’ve seen it used cruelly, I think, as a competitive metric, or a way to classify hikers as too slow to join a group hike because they can’t hike at the book time rate. I guess, I’d just recommend that people not take book time so literally. It’s just a planning tool, not a measure of your manhood or backcountry prowess.
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