The Incredible Journey: British hikers to take on 3,100 mile trek across the USA

Posted by pt91 at Mar 21, 2017 01:15 PM |
University of Leicester student and graduate will document the changing landscape of the United States firsthand

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 21 March 2017

Photographs of Joel Strickland and Joe Boot available to download at: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/b9vgynjlmj9q71u/AACosxBBEj4VbPF7w-Lw2Ul_a?dl=0

Two amateur hikers are daring to take on a gruelling walk across the diverse landscape of the United States, documenting the extraordinary environments that they travel through.

Aiming to tackle the 3,100 mile Continental Divide Trail, University of Leicester Engineering student Joel Strickland and Geography graduate Joe Boot will travel through five states, twenty-five national forests and three national parks in their journey from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. A trip that would normally take six months, they aim to complete it in five months at an average of 20 miles a day.

They hope to raise £5000 for the University of Leicester’s Widening Participation programme, inspiring young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to raise their educational aspirations, and MQ, who help fund ground-breaking mental health research. They set out from the UK on 28 March, starting their journey on 1 April.

Only about two hundred people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, most of them USA citizens, and this once-in-a-lifetime trip will see them travel through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. To prepare for the varying demands of the different environments Joel and Joe have been attending the gym and cycling intensely several days a week, as well as learning Spanish.

They will be recording their travels on their Facebook page, blog, Twitter page and with photographs on their Instagram site, capturing whatever interesting events occur on their journey and offering a uniquely British perspective on current events in the USA.

Joel said: “Whilst fundamentally the journey is a personal endeavour for both of us, we could not pass up the opportunity to fundraise for two amazing causes.

“I really think I have been fortunate in my life and I believe if I can inspire young people to aim high and act as a role model to them they too can achieve their dreams.”

Joe said: “I strongly believe in the philosophy that University of Leicester and Widening Participation promote, the fact that university is for everyone and not just those who can afford it. I feel so lucky to have had the support in being able to attend university, and feel others should be able to have the same opportunities despite an unfavourable financial and/or social situation.

“I have unfortunately experienced depression myself and it really is daunting knowing how poorly understood this condition is. It's awful to think how many people are left in the dark suffering with mental illnesses like this. I love the fact that MQ fund research that focuses on illuminating our understanding of mental health, focusing on finding long-term solutions to the current pandemic, rather than short term fixes like medications which all too often fail.”

Joel adds: “Alongside my PhD I work as an Assistant Manager of the student Halls of Residence in Oadby. MQ is close to my heart because over the last two years I have seen a variety of mental well-being issues, I have had to give students 1 to 1 support and direct them to the right support service. There are some people very close to me that also suffer from mental health problems and I would like more money to be put into quality research.”

Hannah Ordoyno, Widening Participation Manager, said: “The challenge that Joel and Joe have set for themselves is incredible and, along with colleagues from the university I wish them every success. I hope that other students follow their journey, read their experiences and are inspired to aim high. University is about personal growth as well as academic gain and these graduates are testament to that.”

Chris Shaw from the Development and Alumni Relations Office, who are supporting Joel and Joe’s walk, said: “Joel and Joe are taking on a monumental task, but we know they have prepared thoroughly and I’m sure they will come through with flying colours. The fact they are raising money for two fantastic causes at the same time demonstrates their willingness to help others even in the midst of a pretty gruelling trek. They should be heartily commended for their efforts.”

Joel said: “I came to university having barely ever left my hometown. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was rebelling and I did poorly in my first year. Now I am doing a PhD, assistant manager at the University and am off for the trip of a lifetime!”

Joe adds: “I can look back on my university years as some of the most enjoyable of my life. I thoroughly enjoyed the sporting, social and of course the academic aspects of my experience. Learning to keep these all in a healthy balance was key to such a fulfilling time.  My degree has also given me a unique insight into our incredible planet - viewing its mosaic of natural landscapes through the lenses of space and time.

“Seeing how the challenges, the good times, the bad times, and the comical moments of the journey unfold I hope will be captivating for those who are following us.

“I have the University to thank for making me believe in myself and believing that I could do anything I wanted to if I tried hard enough!”

You can support Joel and Joe’s USA walk by donating via either of the following JustGiving pages:

For more information:

Ends

Notes to editors:

For more information contact jcjs2@le.ac.uk (note: during the walk, Joel and Joe will have limited phone reception and e-mail will be the most effective way to contact them)

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