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Old 12-25-2018, 09:50 PM   #1
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,641
Statistical analysis of an annual backpacking trip

A few close friends and I undertake an annual backpacking trip every Autumn, and have been doing so now for 14 years and counting. Along the way, I've been keeping some statistics concerning our treks (Bob Marshall would be proud). I thought some folks here might be interested to see those statistics.

We call our trip the "Annual Columbus Day Duck Hole Trip," even though it's been years since we held the trip on Columbus Day Weekend or even since we have visited the actual Duck Hole in the Western High Peaks. Doing something twice makes it a tradition, though, so the name has stuck ever since our second trip in 2006.

In order to qualify as an "Official" Duck Hole Trip, all elders in the Duck Hole organization must be present for at least part of the trip. Thus far, there are two elders- Jackson (myself) and Sam. We are also the only two people who have participated in all 14 Duck Hole Trips. (We have discussed the possibility of adding additional elders to the organization, and have agreed that once someone reaches 10 trips they can then begin the as-yet-to-be-determined process to become an elder. Thus far, no one has the prerequisite 10 trips, although three individuals each have 8 trips and counting.)

Overall Statistics:

Over the course of 14 years worth of trips, the Duck Hole Trip has visited 8 individual destinations across 4 states (NY, PA, VA, and WV). The individual destinations are as follows:
2005: Duck Hole, High Peaks Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2006: Duck Hole, High Peaks Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2007: Duck Hole, High Peaks Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2008: West Canada Lakes, West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2009: West Canada Lakes, West Canada Lakes Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2010: Siamese Ponds, Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2011: Duck Hole, High Peaks Wilderness Area, Adirondack State Park, NY
2012: Old Logger's Path, Loyalsock State Forest, PA
2013: Old Logger's Path, Loyalsock State Forest, PA
2014: Hammersley Fork, Hammersley Wild Area, Susquehannock State Forest, PA
2015: Hammersley Fork, Hammersley Wild Area, Susquehannock State Forest, PA
2016: Devil's Path, Westkill and Indian Head Wilderness Areas, Catskill State Park, NY
2017: Big Schloss, George Washington National Forest, VA/WV
2018: Pharaoh Lake, Pharaoh Lake Wilderness, Adirondack State Park, NY

The Duck Hole Trip has summited 11 named hills and mountains, visited 69 named water bodies (including lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams), and camped in 14 individual lean-tos and at 10 individual tent sites. We've been rained on during 5 trips, hailed on during 1 trips, and snowed on during 1 trip. We've also endured cold snaps on a total of 4 trips.

Group Statistics:

The average Duck Hole Trip is 2.4 days long, and traverses 16.9 miles with 2671 feet of elevation gain. The furthest traveled on a Duck Hole Trip was 2007's visit to Duck Hole, which traversed 25.1 miles. The Duck Hole Trip with the most elevation gain was 2016's traverse of the Devil's Path, which climbed 7900 feet. The Duck Hole Trip with the shortest distance and least elevation gain was 2012's visit to the Old Loggers Path, which traversed 0.5 miles and climbed 200 feet (also known as the "year someone forgot to pack their big kid pants").

Overall, there has been somewhat of a trend in decreasing mileage hiked each year, however a concerted effort in recent years has reversed this trend somewhat. Early years of the Duck Hole Trip also tended to see shorter trips, with 3 days and 2 nights being typical, while more recent years have seen trips that have mostly been 4 days and 3 nights in duration.

Total distance hiked on all 14 Duck Hole Trips: 236 miles

Total elevation gained on all 14 Duck Hole Trips: 37,400 feet

The chart below shows the total mileage for each year, as well as the equivalent mileage. Equivalent mileage is calculated by adding an additional mile for every 1,000 feet of elevation gain to give a better sense of the overall difficulty of the trip.

Below is a chart comparing the ground covered during each Duck Hole Trip, plotted at the same scale. The start and end points as well as campsite locations are also shown. Purple lines detail the route followed by the main group, while orange lines show side trips that some (but not all) of the group undertook (i.e., someone parked at a different trailhead and hiked in to join the main group by a different route).

Total number of nights camped out on all 13 Duck Hole Trips: 34 (19 nights in lean-tos, 15 nights at tent sites)

The highest elevation visited by a Duck Hole Trip was the summit of Seymour Mountain in 2005, at 4,091 feet. The lowest elevation visited was the Goose Pond Trailhead in 2018, at 1050 feet. The average maximum elevation traversed by a Duck Hole Trip is 2,710 feet, while the average minimum elevation traversed is 1,593 feet.

The highest campsite camped at by a Duck Hole Trip was Devil's Acre in 2016, at 3,500 feet. The lowest campsite camped at by a Duck Hole Trip was Pharaoh Lake in 2018, at 1146 feet. The average campsite elevation on Duck Hole Trips is 1916 feet.

The average group size on a Duck Hole Trip is 6.3 people and 0.7 dogs. Group size was relatively small during the first few years of the trip, while increased interest in participation has lead to larger groups in more recent years. Starting in 2015, a moratorium against new invitees was instituted to keep group size manageable (and compliant with \group size regulations for various backcountry areas); if it weren't for this moratorium, group size likely would've continued to increase.

Individual Attendee Statistics:

To date, 23 individual people and 5 individual dogs have participated in at least 1 Duck Hole Trip. They are as follows:
Gold Medal (10+ trips): Jackson (14), Sam (14)

Silver Medal (5-9 trips): Danie D (8), Brenna P (8), Alex S (8), Martin L (6)

Bronze Medal (2-4 trips): Bryan D (4), Jenn L (3), Stacy D (3), Sawyer C (3), Elizabeth C (2), Will K (2), Meg T (2), Anna S (2)

Certificate of Participation (1 trip): Brendan W, Chris G, Byron D, Mark B, Sharon C, Sarah D, Craig S, Arielle R, Poopface
Bronze Medal (2-4 trips): Charlotte (3), Owen (3), Inga (2)

Certificate of Participation (1 trip): Darwin, Maya

The attendee with the most mileage on Duck Hole Trips is Jackson, with 275 miles hiked. The attendees with the most nights camped out on Duck Hole Trips are Jackson and Sam, each tied at 35 nights camped out.

Cumulative Attendee Statistics:

All Duck Hole participants have participated in a combined 88 total Duck Hole Trips. All participants have hiked a combined 1,492 miles and camped out for a total of 213 nights.

Dogs have participated in a combined total of 10 Duck Hole Trips, with an additional 166 miles hiked and 26 nights camped out.

Date Statistics:

The average Duck Hole Trip begins on October 17 and concludes on October 20. For the first five years, Duck Hole was consistently held on Columbus Day Weekend. Recent years, however, have seen an trend in later dates being picked for the Duck Hole Trip.

Miscellaneous Statistics:

Number of jack-o-lanterns carved on Duck Hole Trips: 1

Number of skinny-dipping excursions on Duck Hole Trips: 7

Number of pregnant Duck Hole attendees: 2

Number of times the Forest Rangers have been called because a Duck Hole attendee got lost: 1

Number of wild fires fought: 1

Number of dogs that have gotten lost: 1

Number of times Duck Hole attendees have hiked out of the woods, bought Chinese takeout, and then hiked back into the woods: 1

Number of Piñatas busted: 6

Number of Corn Races held: 7

Merit Badges:

In 2015, we introduced a patch and merit badges to the Duck Hole Trip. The badges are custom printed bottle caps that I've designed and that we ordered from an online company. Badges are awarded for a variety of reasons, such as miles hiked, nights camped out, trips participated in, states visited, and so on. Competitive badges (1 each awarded per trip) are given to the winner of the corn race, the person responsible for successfully busting open the piñata, and who brings the best mixed drink (as decided by group vote). Additional badges can be earned by skinny dipping, being pregnant, saying or doing the dumbest thing of the trip (again determined by group vote), and getting lost.

To display our patches and badges, we use girl scout sashes (for some reason the girl scout sashes come in larger sizes than the boy scout sashes):

Alternative Duck Hole Statistics:

Over the years, we've held a number of what we call "Alternative Duck Hole Trips" in addition to the main actual Duck Hole Trips. These are trips that are held in the spirit of a Duck Hole Trip, with full membership of the Duck Hole elders present, but for a variety of reasons these do not qualify as a full Duck Hole Trip. Accordingly, miles hiked, nights camped out, etc, on Alternative Duck Hole Trips don't count towards the overall statistics.

To date, 7 individual Alternative Duck Hole Trips have taken place. They are as follows:
2007: Jackrabbit Trail Race Against the Sun, Sentinel Range and McKenzie Mountain Wilderness Areas/Paul Smith's College Easement Lands, Adirondack State Park, NY
2007: Deer Park Mountain, Pisgah National Forest, NC
2008: Black Pond, Saranac Lakes Wild Forest, Adirondack State Park, NY
2009: West Canada Lakes, West Canada Lakes Wilderness, Adirondack State Park, NY
2017: Dolly Sods, Dolly Sods Wilderness Area, Monongahela National Forest, WV
2017: Devil's Path Race Against the Sun, Westkill and Indian Head Wilderness Areas, Catskill State Park, NY
2018: Chuck Keiper East Loop, Sproul State Forest, PA
Additionally, there has been 1 Duckling Hole. Duckling Hole is a Duck Hole-affiliated event that is intended to be family friendly. Instead of backpacking in the backcountry, we reserve a number of campsites at a state campground, and attendees are welcome to bring their kids, extended family members, etc.
2018: First Duckling Hole, Buttermilk Falls State Park, NY
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