A Burnley man is ready to be ‘pushed to the limits’ as he gears up to take on the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, and he expects the hike to test him psychologically as much as physically.
James Trafford, a 25-year-old personal trainer who has hiked from a young age with his father and siblings on camping trips, emigrated to Melbourne, Australia in 2012, and will be completing the hike - which will see him trek the length of the USA, from Hart’s Pass in Washington to the Mexican border in California - to raise funds for the Prader-Willi Syndrome Research Foundation of Australia.
But ahead of the goliath undertaking, James, who was inspired to take on the PCT by the film ‘Wild’ starring Reece Witherspoon, has stressed the mental challenges that lay ahead, but remains confident in his mission to raise awareness of PWS, which he calls ‘an unimaginable and cruel condition’.
“It is a scary thought being on your own for such a long time,” said James, formerly of St Theodore’s. “But somebody with PWS could never take on such a challenge so I am very grateful to have this opportunity and will use it to its full potential knowing that this will be worth it in the end.
“I have overcome previous physiological and physical challenges that were forced upon me due to serious accidents that left me bed-ridden for months, people having to take of me and many sleepless nights due to night terrors.
“Prior to these, I was a very independent capable man, which is why not being able to take care of myself caused me great anxiety and insecurity. Still to this day I am still quite an anxious person, but I continue to improve.”
James has sold his car and his motorbike ahead of the life-changing trek, and has conducted a vast amount of research into the dangers of extreme weather, bears, snakes, mountain lions and cougars to ensure he stays safe.
“I am not too worried as I think and hope I am prepared,” he said. “But anything can happen. Also, along the way, water sources in certain areas are low and I have to be mindful that water may not be where the maps say. This is going to test and push me to the limits.”
Having trained twice a week with a former Australian champion kickboxer who he says pushes him mentally and physically to the limit, James does altitude training three times a week and walks 10-15km a day with a 10-15kg backpack He has focused his fitness regime on sessions to improve his leg strength and all round aerobic fitness.
But the task will be more mentally draining than anything, and as James preps himself to spend the best part of four to six months on his own, he confirmed that he was preparing his mind just as much as his body. “For psychological purposes, I attend frequent hot yoga sessions and meditate,” he said.