Saturday, December 16, 2017

Some Vital Statistics of the Quest Thus Far

Tracking and Sharing Our Journey

One of the things that I find important is taking good notes and recording the things that happen to me when I am out on a hike.  

If you have read my trail journals, you will see that I follow an interesting calendar and keep track of things like the temperature and weather.  I also record how many miles I hiked and how long it took me to get there. I tried to include event things like Views of the Day, interesting flora and fauna. The smells, sounds, Highs, Lows and Hopes of the day.    

I tried to write every evening and was pretty good at accomplishing that.  From time to time, I would be too exhausted or not in the mood to write, but I always caught up before the memories grew fuzzy or started to fade.  

How Much Does It Cost?

I also tracked our spending.  You hear over and over again that it takes "this much" dollars per miles on a long distance hike.  I wanted to see which "this much" matched my actual spending.  It appears that mine averaged out to about $3 a mile and was of course higher when I was alone and not splitting the cost of a Hotel or meal with LoGear.  

I didn't want funds to be a problem during the hike and luckily I had my military pension coming in each month which definitely helped us to maintain our home and also afford our hike and the occasional stay in a Hotel or Hostel.  

Some of our expenditures were due to how our Quest had evolved.  There are transportation costs that were a part of breaking up our hike this year that added to that category.  Some of the lodging costs were also due to waiting in town at a Motel until our bus was ready to leave.  Also, some of our restaurant spending was us paying it forward by treating some of our Tramily as we were treated by Cool Breeze way back in Franklin, NC.  All these extras resulted in our cost per day, per person sliding up the scale a bit.  

When I go back through the numbers and remove the spending that was due to us changing our plans, things like lodging, shuttles and bus rides, the total comes out almost $1000 less and comes out to an average of just under $2 per day.  

The Numbers

I (either with LoGear or alone) spent 74 days on the trail this year during the Quest.  Two of those days were zero days where we/I hiked no miles (except town miles).  I covered a total of 910 new AT miles.  LoGear's mileage was around 477.5 for the year.  

We/I spent $3,817.27 from April through August.  I tracked our spending in eight categories.  Lodging, Restaurant, Resupply, Transportation, Alcohol, Misc, Gear and Shipping.  Here is what I considered for each category and how much was spent on each. 
Breakdown by dollars

Lodging:  This included Motels, Lodges, pay campsites and Hostels.  We spent $1,055.90 or 28% of our total.  This was our highest spending category.  If you remove the stays in places that were due to our evolving Quest, the cost went down to $819.62.  As with just about everything, lodging was a little cheaper down south as compared to up north.  

Restaurants:  This category was for food that we ate, usually in town, that wasn't considered a resupply purchase.  Besides restaurants, delis and roadside stands fit into this category.  Also, things like a coffee or ice cream were included in this category. 

Having real meals cooked for you are an important part of keeping your sanity out on the trail.  We spent $1,029.45 on this category or 27% of the total.  This was the second most costly category, but I think it is pretty necessary for us.  I guess one way to lower this is to purchase food items at a grocery store and cook a meal or two yourself using Hostel kitchens if they were available.  We could have lowered this also if we didn't treat our Tramily to a couple of meals, but I'm very happy to have done this.  Treating others makes my heart glow.  

Resupply:  Everything we purchased and carried out with us was resupply.  Not only the food we needed, but the other consumables like fuel, lotions and creams, tape, etc. are included in this category.  We spent $669.02 on resupply which was about 16% of our total.  Our resupply strategy was what I call "Living off the land".  What that means, is we relied on whatever was available when it was time to fill our food bags again.  Sometimes that would be a nice grocery store in town, other times it was a gas station next to the trail that had enough of what we needed to keep going.  We did not rely on mail drops for resupply with a few minor exceptions.  

Transportation:  Any time we weren't walking to get somewhere, we were using transportation.  Sometimes it was free, other times not so much.  Luckily we used our credit card miles to purchase our flight down to Atlanta, everything after that is included.  We spent $608.70 on transportation, which comes to 16% of our total.  This number would have been a lot lower (more like $33.70) if we hadn't needed shuttles, ubers and bus rides when our plans changed.  

I was pleasantly surprised down south, at the beginning of our Quest that a lot of the rides into towns were free or included in the cost of staying at certain establishments.  We did use our miles to erase two of the three bus rides, but I still included them in this accounting.  

Alcohol:  I wanted to break this out from restaurant or resupply just so I could get a good idea on how much I spent on this part of our Quest.  We, (mostly I), spent $180.25 on beer along the way, which was only 5% of our total.  

That is most likely less than I would have spent during the same time at home.  I found that when I did drink, it was just a few beers.  Over drinking would have hindered the hike, I believe, so I usually kept it easy.  Also, the beers in Shenandoah were real cheap.  When I was up north, I started buying a tall boy or two and humping it out of town to enjoy later after I set up camp for the night.  Out there, even mostly warm beer tastes real good.  

Misc:  I needed a category that would cover all the miscellaneous things that cost money out there.  Here you will find our laundry costs, sodas, ice cream, tips, showers, donations for misc things and permits for the Smokys.  We spent $162.80 or 4% on these items.  

Gear:  There are always changes to your gear out on the trail.  Luckily for us, we made very few changes to our kit.  We $73.05 of gear during our hike which comes to 2% of our costs.  We only bought five things that qualify as gear.  A space blanket for my hammock at Top of GA, Trekking poles in Erwin (to replace one of my walmart poles that broke during a fall on the way to Erwin), headphone replacement in NY and replacement of my hat and a tent stake that I had lost and broke along the way.  That was it.  

Shipping:  As I stated before, we didn't rely on a lot of shipping during our hike.  We sent a box to Fontana Dam where I picked up my sleeping pad and some of the food after we heard that resupply is more expensive there, but we probably would have managed fine without it.  We also shipped our travel bags back home once we got to Atlanta.  These bags made it less stressful checking our packs for the flight down.  We also sent a box home with some items that we weren't using, but didn't want to hiker box.  We only spent $38.10 on shipping or 1%.

Breakdown by percentage


So there you have it folks.  Yes, this Quest continues, but I have learned a lot about where the money goes when you are out there.  Let's see if I can put any lessons learned into practice as we continue the Quest.  

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