Two students are set to embark on their 5000km Continental Divide trail hike tomorrow

By Holly Hume

Tomorrow, two University of Leicester students will set off to hike the 5000km Continental Divide trail to raise money for disadvantaged children and a mental health charity.

Joel Strickland and Joe Boot will begin the hike on 1 April, hoping to complete the CDT in just five months, beating the usual time of six months, as most of the 200 thru-hikers per year who attempt the trail race to beat the winter.

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Left to right: Joel Strickland and Joe Boot.

The two men will thru-hike from Mexico to Canada, crossing five different states, three national parks and 21 wilderness areas all for MQ: Transforming mental health and University of Leicester’s Widening Participation program.

Joe said: “Lots of ideas were put forward for a trip eventually settling on the CDT.

“It’s one of the most rugged and remote long distance hiking trails on earth this directly ties in with a deep adoration I have always had for our planets wildest places.”

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Joe and Joel.

The men have set up a Just Giving page, currently at £60 and aim to raise £5000, making one pound for every kilometre they trek.

Joel and Joe have prepared for months but thru-hiking is a dangerous pursuit involving risks of; severe weather, hypothermia, lightning, falls, avalanche, dehydration, bears and mountain lions.

“Grizzly bears are pretty scary. I’m worried about struggling to find motivation to keep moving forward due to mental and/or physical fatigue.

“Although Joel and I are great friends I’m a little apprehensive to see how well we deal with each-others company over such a long time, there are bound to be disagreements.”

The pair have a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram and a blog, but will also be using SPOT GPS so their friends, family and followers can track their location in real-time throughout the hike.

joe and joel trek start
The starting line of the journey on the Mexican border.

Joe has completed several multi-day hikes in Peru including Choquequirao, the Colca Canyon and Santa Cruz in preparation for tomorrow’s journey.

“We first discussed that we’d like to go on a big adventure in our 2nd year at University while sharing a house.

“It was actually while watching British explorer Ed Stafford’s documentary ‘Walking the Amazon’, and the plan has really come together over the past 18 months or so.”

Whilst the pair plan to raise plenty of money, they themselves have funded the trip, flights, food expenses, insurance, travel money, and will be giving away all proceeds they receive.

“I think I’ll miss having a bed and fridge full of food the most. Though hopefully one of the lessons of the CDT will be learning to live happily with less, so maybe I won’t miss these as much as I think!”

If you would like to donate to Joe and Joel you can visit their Just Giving page

Charity Profiles

MQ: Transforming mental health through research

We are funding world leading research that will have life-changing impact.
We want to create a world where mental illnesses are understood, effectively treated and one day made preventable.
Our vision is simple: to create a world where mental illness is understood, effectively treated, and ultimately prevented.
With the help of our supporters and a global network of leading scientists we can make this a reality.
Together we are championing and funding research into mental health that will change millions of lives.

chairty pic

University of Leicester’s Widening Participation program

Helping our undergraduate students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have the opportunity to up-skill themselves by gaining sports coaching qualifications/experience.
The Leicester Academy offers an opportunity for undergraduate (UG) students from disadvantaged backgrounds, to up-skill themselves by gaining sports coaching qualifications/experience that they may not have been able to access due to financial barriers or lack of support.
These students are placed in local ‘widening participation’ schools to engage younger students through sport and physical activity to help them develop their self-esteem, confidence levels and sporting skills.
The UG students will inspire young people in the local community to aspire to go to University.
They will become positive role models for the young people they assist and build a positive rapport.
The students on the scheme will also develop their own skill set: listening and communication skills; approaches to mentoring; build their employment portfolio; develop the confidence; and courage to engage within a community setting.

just give
Just Giving page
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