I agree with you that it is a good idea to try to slow down a bit and have more time to smell the flowers, however, in practice, I do find that I am trying to push out the miles.
I am greedy, I want to see as much as I can in the relatively short periods of time I can get away from work. I have trouble sitting still and perhaps for me, taking 10 minutes to appreciate my surroundings, is like someone else taking 30 minutes.
Yes, my ego is definitely involved. I enjoy trying to push myself to see what I am capable of and maybe in those moments of pushing hard I find something new about myself.
In time, perhaps, I won't find the need to push my body hard to learn something about myself and that the quiet moments will be just as revealing and enjoyable as the ones where my body is screaming to stop walking.
Maybe the short answer is that I am completely and utterly nuts. Nuts for tying to find ways to cut more weight and nuts for thinking that it would be cool to be able to hike 20-25 miles per day, everyday....which I cannot do at this time or have not tried yet to.
That said, I do have to say that some of the best hiking is in the early morning when the air is cool and sweat does not trickle off my body as I move at a fast pace.
I would definitely prefer to hit the trail early and do 8-10 hours of hiking with more of that in the morning vs. the hotter afternoon sun.
Just a view point, not disagreeing with you or maybe I am rationalizing my insanity?