Use a String to Easily Measure Out Trail Distances
Every map has a key that shows the scale. If you know you want to hike about 10 miles each day, cut a string at the exact length of ten miles. Place the sring on the map and you can easily place the string over the trail. In an instant you'll see about how much ground you can travel each day.
This will quickly allow you to see if your loop will be doable in the amount of time alloted. It also allows you to spot the areas where you'll want to camp. This is extra helpful in areas, like Rocky Mountain National Park, where you are required to reserve backpacking campsites. You can obviously stretch the mileage to get to the perfect campsite or call one day short to enjoy the lakeside campsite you've heard about but the string gives you a quick and easy way to get a feel for the mileage without adding up all the little numbers.
The string doesn't take the elevation gain into consideration so be sure to watch the topo lines and consider shortening the days that have long hard climbs.
Watch this tip in action in this video: String Trip Planning.
This is an excellent way to get a snap shot of whether you can hike a trail in the alloted time. Adding the tiny number from juntion to juntion takes time and it is easy to make mistakes. You can narrow down your trip planning in less time with this little trick.
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