Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO

by KOTO International Limited
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Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO
Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO
Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO
Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO
Emily hikes to change lives through KOTO
Emily has now been thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail for 9 weeks and completed nearly 900 miles of the 2,600 total. The experience has been more challenging than expected. Tacking high elevation every day with steep climbs and descents, attempting to walk 20 miles each day is taking a toll on her body as she tries to plan nutrition appropriately for the extra energy required to sustain this strenuous activity over the 5 month journey.
California is the biggest section of the Pacific Crest Trail, covering 1,200 miles of trail. Starting in the desert, there is water scarcity combined with dry and hot weather during the day but dipping down to below freezing at night. Highlights of the desert section include hiking to the summits of San Jacinto Mountain and Mount Baden Powell. Although in the desert, there is still snow at elevation and appropriate clothing and equipment are required alongside a tent, sleeping bag, food and water.
The Sierra Nevada mountain range stretches over several 100 miles in California and comes after the desert. Tall mountain passes have to be hiked and climbed over everyday, this is one of the most challenging sections of the PCT due to the side effects on the body at altitude and the huge elevation changes every day travelling up and down snowy passes. Emily has found this section the most challenging due to the uneasy exhausting sensation felt above 10,000 feet of elevation every day. This section included a side journey to summit Mount Whitney which is 14,500 feet and the highest point of elevation in the contiguous USA.
Although extremely challenged, Emily feels rewarded for her efforts as every day there is beautiful scenery to enjoy and new people to meet on the trail. She feels fulfilled as she accomplishes her dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Furthermore the commitment to support KOTO students through this fundraising project remains a big motivator to continue hiking even on the bad days. Emily should complete hiking all 2,600 miles by the end of August. 
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Since the last report in September, Emily has applied for and received the long distance hiking permit for thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. As the situation around covid restrictions seems to be easing in the UK and the States it is now a little bit easier to make plans to travel. The loosening of restrictions combined with the approved hiking permit has allowed Emily to progress with the project as hoped in 2022. 

Emily will start walking in March from Campo in southern California and will continue for 5 months through California, Oregon and Washington ending on the border of Canada. She will carry everything on her back; sleeping bag, tent, food, water and equipment. She will plan to have frequent stops for resupplies and rest days in towns along the trail, the choice of town will depend on logistics and who she meets along the way. 

The trail is 2,600 miles and requires considerable logistical planning as well as physical endurance and personal motivation. There will be good days and bad days, she feels that raising money for a charity she cares about is going to give her a lot of motivation and energy to complete the full distance. Thousands of people attempt to complete the Pacific Crest Trail every year but there are not so many that actually do finish.  As Emily has been training and planning for this trip for several years she is committed to finishing the trail by September. 

This project is to raise awareness of KOTO Foundation and raise funds for their training program. Emily is thrilled that the money donated by her friends and family is already doing well for students but aims to meet her fundraising target from more donations while she is hiking. 

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Since the last report in May, Emily has been able to enjoy planning and completing training trips in the UK as coronavirus related restrictions ease. These trips form an enjoyable and important part of the preparation for the thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail she has planned next year. It is these journeys that help her practice and help her decide on camping and hiking equipment while spending multiple days in challenging terrains away from civilization.

In May Emily spent 5 days wild camping in Wales, traversing the Carnedd mountain range in Snowdonia. During this trip Emily learnt how to self navigate off the beaten path and even off any type of path while carrying 5 days worth of food.

In August she spent 5 days walking a British long distance national trail known as the South Downs Way, instead of wild camping she selected camping sites that would be 20 miles apart to practice walking long distances over several days.

Another trip in August took Emily to Dartmoor National Park where she again practiced her navigational skills combined with wet weather wild camping.

Through these trips Emily has enjoyed trying out different equipment with different food and water supply strategies. Her preference has been to travel light and walk more miles per day rather than carry a heavy backpack over mountainous terrain. Although the Pacific Crest Trail will provide varying terrain, it is necessary for Emily to maintain high mileage per day to cover the 2,600 miles within 5 months.

Unfortunately Emily’s visa appointment for 2021 has been cancelled by the US embassy due to the knock on effect of the virus. Her visa appointment is now in March 2021, a month before her anticipated departure from the UK. She hopes there are no further complications in the planning of this project and remains optimistic that those countries most affected by the virus will recover from this, allowing people to return to their livelihoods and loved ones.

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Emily has continued to train for her long distance thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail next year. As the UK coronavirus restrictions begin to loosen it has been possible to travel further away to include longer day walks of up to 20 miles and include camping trips.

In April Emily visited the Lake District on a guided trip exploring the peaks and learning how to scramble up gulleys and ridges. She learnt many valuable skills during this weekend and built confidence to safely navigate herself without a walking trail.

More locally Emily has been practicing her camping skills in the winter where weather has been icy, windy, wet and cold. Spring is now bringing warmer weather and longer days of sunlight; during spring and summer Emily can really test her ability to walk longer distances with all her camping equipment.

Fundraising has been slow as there is still so much uncertainty around international travel restrictions, however Emily remains optimistic and has several key milestone dates in 2021: US Visa application interview in September and PCT thru-hiking permit application later in the year.

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Since the initiation of this fundraising project over £1,000 has been raised from generous donations of Emily’s friends and family and there has also been a surprising and welcome level of support from strangers. 

2020 saw Emily complete her first solo wild camping and hiking experience in Scotland. This type of trip helps Emily prepare for many aspects of the Pacific Crest Trail including wet weather, long days of walking, cooking in the rain and cold, carrying a heavy backpack and understanding more about her capabilities. The trip was enlightening and a valuable experience that will hopefully be repeated in the lead up to the main hiking event. 

This trip is self funded, all donations will go to KOTO, Emily is not taking any contribution from funds raised. However, as a thru-hiking adventure is expensive Emily has moved back home to be with family and while the UK is in lockdown Emily has been planning her adventure gear purchases and testing them out in the garden; from tents and sleeping bags to hiking boots and sporks. 

Emily’s love for food is one of the main reasons she has chosen to support KOTO, working in the food industry for many years and travel to Vietnam has encouraged engagement with these interests and led to the decision to dedicate her thru-hike of the PCT to KOTO. The last few months have seen some interesting camping food recipe formulation; noodles and couscous are heavily featured. 

The past few months have been a challenge to continue promoting the project, coronavirus and Brexit have been huge distractions for the project both personally and within everyday working life. Many hiking plans and training plans have been cancelled or not been possible due to the continued UK lockdowns. General morale is low in the UK particularly during the recent festive period that should be a time to see loved ones, sadly this was not possible for many people. 

It is with a heavy heart that Emily has decided to delay her trip until 2022. The situation both in the UK and globally is discouraging and full of uncertainty. To successfully complete the PCT safely and responsibly requires a huge amount of planning and logistics to operate efficiently. At the turn of the year into 2021 it does not seem possible that the logistical challenges of doing the PCT from the UK can be overcome in time for the intended start date of April 2021. Neither does it seem likely that much travel outside of the UK for the first half of this year will be possible. 

It is so encouraging for Emily to continue to see donations and messages of support; this is one of the most motivating factors that will keep the project alive throughout these strange and uncertain times. 

In the meantime, thank you for your donation and support. 2022 will be a much anticipated year and we know the money raised is already doing well for the students at KOTO. 

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Organization Information

KOTO International Limited

Location: Ha Noi - Vietnam
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Huong Dang
Ha Noi, Vietnam
$5,125 raised of $6,500 goal
54 donations
$1,375 to go
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