We've been doing dayhikes most every weekend since the spring, and sometimes short backpack trips. Included are Mt Mitchell, Grandfather Mountain (that was awesome!), and the Citico/Slickrock Loop. I googled "rugged" hikes in East TN and Western NC to get a good list.

Recently we started going up-and-down the stairs at home while carrying hand weights and lifting them up and down. I've been surprised at how weak I am. Three reps and I'm out of breath and out of strength. Repeat at intervals throughout the day. Hoping to work up to 5 reps at a time by next week.

In addition to the conditioning, I've also been more disciplined with my diet, and I've lost 25 pounds since the beginning of the year. We'll finish the AT this year in November, and I'm determined that I WILL NOT FINISH THE TRAIL FAT! Plenty of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, but I often eat a very light supper, or skip it entirely. This of course, reduces my overall weight on trail, and should make every mountain a little easier to climb.