gga2 wrote:My intense (in-tents) hiking friends cover 25-30 miles in a day carrying what they need for 3-5 days food at a time. But keep in mind that this pace requires: 1) stores every 3-5 days, 2) water available at least once daily, 3) modern materials such as nylon and polyester to make the load they are carrying fit in a bag that is still comfortable to carry that far. Given then Cuegan hadn't been far from the beach before, their previous experience level doesn't seem to match a multi-day journey seeming feasible.
The one 24-hour runner I know carries just a few small bottles of water on a special running belt. There are stations available often along these courses. Keep in mind that they are essentially destroyed afterwards and do nothing physical for several days or more. These runs, and long hikes, really mess up your feet too.
I've read a lot about old armies which were low on food and water but still managed 20+ miles a day (Napoleon's retreat from Russia maybe). And it's always mentioned that many of the men were dropping all around but there are a few who could make it
I used to do a lot of backpacking 30 years ago, before many of the modern materials people now take for granted were available.
In the Sierras 15-20 miles a day was not uncommon on well-groomed trails. The longest day I remember was 25 miles which included 3 +10,000 ft. passes. In the Grand Canyon, where there were lots of escarpments to go over and no trails, we averaged more like 7 miles a day....
The mileage figures above were with a full frame pack, sleeping bag, food for a week or more, and water for a day or two. My pack weighed 30-35 pounds and I weighed 130-135. (I looked like Cueball with hair....) In the Grand Canyon we carried more water, more like 3 or 4 days worth, and the extra water put our packs into the 40+ pound range.
Having said all of that, Cuegan would have kicked our butts. They are used to living a semi-nomadic life style, they are traveling light and fast, they are acclimated to the climate and living outdoors, and they are motivated. Their is no way that I would have been able to keep up with them.
Also, going downhill is much faster than going up hill especially when you are young and bouncy. Given that their trip up was a leisurely "let's see what is around the next bend" walk and their trip down is an emergency, I would expect that in their shoes I could make the trip down in about half the time it took me to get up to the castle. A lot of that extra mileage would come from starting earlier and going later. I know from experience that when you really need to, you can see enough to walk just by the light of the stars. Cloud cover makes it too dark, but any moonlight makes it bright enough to walk easily. And since we haven't seen the moon on their way up, then they should start having moonlight on their way down.
And while I am rambling on, if I put myself in their position I would travel back the way I came. I would already know the way, I would know the landmarks, I would know where to get water and food. If I were trying to travel fast that would be very important to me. I know from my trips in the Grand Canyon that one can waste the better part of a day trying to find water in an arid landscape, even if you know where to look. So I would blitz my way back down the path I came, planning while I was walking where to stock up on supplies and knowing how much I would need to carry to get me to the next resource.
Also, they have to be thinking that they are going to get home before the water gets there. So they can plan on not needing to resupply for the last day or so because they can fuel up at their village.
If they hit the flood waters before they get home, then all bets are off. Then they are going to be breaking a new trail escaping the flood waters while trying to intercept the fleeing 40.