Training to Walk 2650 miles

Spruce Woods Provincial Park, MB Canada

My name is Leonie and I am going to attempt a thru hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, starting in April 2023.

I use the word “attempt” because I have done enough research to know that not every hiker who starts out on the PCT at the Southern or Northern border successfully completes all 2650 miles (4264 kilometers) of the trail. I have also learned, in my 50 years on earth, that just because I want something doesn’t mean I will have it! To quote the great Gina Linetti, (Brooklyn 99) “Just because you wanna do something doesn’t mean you get to do it. Life is chaos. Success is completely arbitrary. And confidence is everything.” If you’re going to read my blog, you’ll realize that I love to use quotes, and many of them may come from my favorite sitcoms!

I am confident that I have put in the training and self development to be successful on MY hike.

A 2650 mile hike is an ambitious task and I am not taking this endeavor lightly. I have read a ton of books, watched hundreds of YouTube videos and read many blogs in order to learn everything I can about the PCT. This was not a snap decision on my part. I have been working with a Physiotherapist for the past six months who hiked the PCT in 2018. He has a wealth of knowledge about the trail and physical fitness. We are working together to set me up for success. And not only does he have me training for fitness but most importantly, injury prevention! I would consider myself to be in decent physical shape but I am not an athlete and will take all the advice I can on how to make it all the way to Canada. The workouts are mainly strengthening my legs, hips and feet especially ankles but also practicing hikes with a loaded backpack. Some neighbors have wondered if I’m a little crazy walking down the sidewalk with a backpack and trekking poles!

I have not forgotten the mental training.

A year ago, I worked with a life coach who helped me gain a clearer picture of what I want for my life. I have my shit figured out and I’ve realized that I don’t have to keep chasing the elusive happiness or joy that we all so desperately seek in life, but that I can find joy and happiness in everything I do. I say this now, but maybe 100 miles into the desert, with sand rubbing against my foot, causing huge oozing blisters, I may forget the joy! But life is not all sunshine and rainbows and even though this hike fills my deepest desires, I would be foolish to not expect a bit of cloud and rain too. I have put a lot of thought into how to handle the dark days. The homesickness and the longing for family, friends and a warm comfy bed. Life on trail, just like everyday life, will have ups and downs and in the end hopefully the ups outweigh the downs.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that a big part of my mental training has been to read Pacific Crest Trials by Zach Davis, a non-sugarcoated version of what to expect on a thru hike and how to succeed. Reading it for the third time now and not gonna lie, might read it again once more before I leave!

Happy Feet, literally and figuratively!

I nicknamed myself “Happy Feet” and the reason for this is twofold. The movie, Happy Feet by George Miller tells the story of emperor penguins in Antarctica and how one particular penguin, named Mumble cannot sing his heart song to attract a soul mate. Instead, he uses tap dance to express himself. This unusual behavior leads to the elders exiling him from his home. Mumble then learns to make his own way in the world by following his heart and figuring out what is best for him. It is essentially a movie about finding your strength and celebrating your uniqueness!

This movie has always resonated with me, and I cannot help but think that sometimes I have been afraid to speak up for myself, and truly celebrate who I am. Do I need to hike 2650 miles to do this? No! Do I feel like I might come out on the other side of a 2650 mile hike with the confidence to do this? Yes!

Keeping my feet happy will be a top priority of course. For those of you who know me, you might see the irony in this. I grew up with knocked knees and duck feet and was never an athlete. I was placed on the running team as the reserve (on the bench) and was often teased for being notoriously slow. Fast forward to age 46 when I was a police officer and walked the beat in the foot patrol unit.  I went to see a podiatrist for plantar fasciitis who politely told me, that maybe walking wasn’t for me!  My shift mates affectionately named me the Pterodactyl, and laughed at my “claw” like feet. Good thing I didn’t listen to that podiatrist!

I hope you’ll join me.

As I embark on this walking journey, I invite you to follow me as I give you a glimpse into my life on the Pacific Crest Trail, my thoughts, feelings and emotions that I’ll experience on this journey of self discovery. My aim is to show you all the amazing things that I am seeing but also to share what I’ve learned and maybe inspire some of you along the way! Get ready for gorgeous mountain views, vast landscapes, moments of joy, maybe a little heartache and incredible human connection, (no tap dancing, I promise).

Mantario Trail, MB Canada 2nd attempt – SUCCESS!

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Comments 9

  • Vaughan : Dec 8th

    HappyFeet thank you for the invite to your blog.
    Personally I’ll be following your journey and it is completely inspiring that success is not only achieving the end result but each and step we take is a success in itself.

  • Puddin : Dec 8th

    Have a good trip

  • Cletus : Dec 8th

    Best of luck, you’ve got this! I am doing my first thru hike in 2023 as well – a more modest goal of completing Vermont’s Long Trail. At 65 I feel ready and able – but as you quote: “Life is Chaos” we’ll just see what the trail hands us. Happy Trails Happy Feet, hope we both make it! We’ll have a story to tell after, regardless!

  • Jay R : Dec 8th

    Sounds like you’re up to the task. ???

  • JustBob : Dec 8th

    (IMO) – Any long thru hike is made up of three entities; Physical, mental and emotional. While the physical is obvious, the mental and emotional often get confused with one another.

    A suggestion – Try separating the last two into their own categories and work on each independently to strengthen not only your mind, but your heart as well.

    Go forward and know many will be following you and hoping for the best for you.

    Good luck !

  • Kristyne Brandt : Dec 8th

    Whaaaaaat???? Lol. Where was my invitation? I would have hiked shit with you ?. Good luck! I’ll be following! Hugs ♥️

  • Ralbitus : Dec 10th

    Way to go. I remember a bosses sign years ago. “Inspect your expects.”. For me I’m trying to figure out getting through the boredom days without heavy on the electronics. I will check back I’m sure you got it.

  • Danielle : Dec 11th

    Your heart and mind will carry you far. I’ll be following your journey ????

  • Lauren Maker : Dec 21st

    You are an inspiration!

    I’m exceptionally proud of your tenacity and persistent want to succeed, for your own personal journey! ♥️

    Please ?? look after yourself and most importantly have the best time ever!

    Remember to take many photographic mental memories of the beauty that surrounds you!

    Love you ♥️♥️


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