Some Numbers: The Stats behind the Hikes

September 24, 2015

With the last of my hikes completed on Monday, I thought it might be interesting to share some of the stats on what it took to do all these hikes. Despite whatever artistic inclinations I have as a writer, I’m still a data nerd, too. Some of the numbers here are sorta rough, but they’re close enough and I’m not shooting for real statistical analysis here or anything. Also, if you’re wondering, this is basically what I looked like as I approached the end of the final hike.

Ok, now to the numbers:

Hiking Stats

Total Hike Time43:42:36
Total Hike Miles154.9
Average Hike Time1:21:57
Average Hike Miles4.8
Most Miles in a Day14.0 on 7/31
Cities/Towns Visited24*
Counties Included7**
Chipotle Meals Consumed~340***
Mosquitoes Murderized

These numbers are interesting to me, mostly because they all feel about right. If I was asked to make estimates of my totals without access to the data, I’d have probably come pretty close. Here are some more thoughts on these.

  • As a book focused on day trips within the Twin Cites area, I generally targeted hikes with a distance of 4 to 5 miles with some definite exceptions to that on both ends. In most cases, hikers will have options for making their trips longer or shorter, so I aimed for something in the middle. I’d have probably just said 32 hikes times an average of 4.5 miles. This comes up a little short at 144, but not by much.
  • The same would work for estimating time. I know I generally hike at a pace of around 3.5 miles an hour, but that sometimes got slowed down taking notes and pictures. Then again, I jogged a number of segments as well, which brings the pace back up pretty quickly. I’d have settled on 3.5 as an overall average, and that’s almost exactly where I was.
  • Still, 43 hours DRAMATICALLY underestimates the amount of time all this stuff actually took before even getting to the writing portion of it. Kind of obvious, right? Travel time alone just to get to a lot of these places is a big number, one I have no interest in calculating. As someone who really doesn’t like driving very much, I’ve done quite a bit of it this summer. I enjoyed doing the actual hikes, but I won’t miss having to drive all over the place now.
  • The hike distances will be different in the book in some cases. Sometimes I took wrong turns, which added distance I needed to later eliminate. Sometimes I decided to write the route up in a slightly different direction than I experienced it. Sometimes I made significant changes to how I organized the route after seeing it firsthand. Even so, I assume the people who buy a book like this are mostly just looking for ideas of where to go and will make a lot of their own decisions on the route to take. Which brings up another point…
  • Deciding what routes to take was surprisingly time-consuming as well. I’m not talking just about which parks to visit, though that was plenty tough, but what specific route to follow. Does it look like it’ll pass the best parts of a park? Are historical landmarks or geologic features nearby? Will it be really hilly and challenging or flat as a pancake? How challenging is good and what’s too much? Do I take the paved path, which may not feel as much like a “hike,” or the natural surface trails even though they might be more confusing to navigate?

There are probably other cool ways to look at this project, so if anyone has questions or suggestions let me know with a comment. *HINT* It’s the text box below the post that no one uses WHICH IS FINE, but you’re welcome to. I’m up for looking into things further, but for now it’s back to work with the writing portion, which has me looking basically like this:

*I “visited” way more than 24, but what I counted was each unique city/town for park addresses. Lots of parks overlap municipalities, but it seems silly to try to figure that out.

**It was not consciously chosen this way, but I ended up touching everything in the 7 county metro. For those not from Minnesota, that means Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott & Washington.

***Precise data was hard to obtain because I didn’t want to look for it. Basically when out in the middle of whereversville, the easiest and most reliable thing I could eat was Chipotle. This was just fine with me.

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  • Reply Russell Heidorn September 28, 2015 at 10:32 am

    How about hiking from a workout perspective. Were there some that were more hilly than others? FYI – I generally don’t leave comments because I hate having to add my name and email every time. Can’t your site install a cookie so it knows you I am since I am a subscriber. Or just remove the name, email requirement….

    • Reply David September 28, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Great thought, Russ. The hikes certainly qualified as exercise, especially when I did three in a day. There was also significant variation in difficulty, which is something the book will address in some detail. Also, because I tracked everything I did using an app called Strava, I have pretty thorough data on my exertion, calorie burn, altitude climbed, etc. It could make for an interesting post to look at, say, the average amount of calorie burn (for me, at least) on an average hike.

      As for the comment thing–and I’m responding to your separate email directly as well–it’s mostly a spam prevention step. It’s not foolproof, but it helps ensure that actual humans respond and not bots. If you have a WordPress account and are logged in, it won’t ask you to do it. If you’ve commented before, the site recognizes that, but it only means your comment does not go into the moderation inbox. The setup certainly isn’t the most elegant solution, but it’s sort of a necessary evil.

    Tell me what you think, but be chill about it.