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2,655 miles ahead: Local couple gets ready for Pacific Crest Trail hike

Posted at 6:04 PM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 19:04:54-04

DE PERE (NBC 26) — Kyle Ott and Maggie Konopasek are making final preparations for a six-month journey — they plan to hike the entirety of the Pacific Crest Trail.

  • Ott works as a computer programmer, while Konopasek is a physician assistant.
  • The married couple has been backpacking for four years, and this is their biggest challenge yet.
  • They expect the trip to take about six months.
  • The Pacific Crest Trail covers 2,655 miles from the Mexican border in California to the Canadian border in Washington.
  • Ott and Konopasek are asking for donations to Bigger Than the Trail, a De Pere-based mental health awareness non-profit, as they make their journey.
  • De Pere native Tommy Byrne started 'Bigger than the Trail' in 2017.
  • They are holding a fundraiser Sunday at Cocoon Brewing before departing for California on Thursday.
  • Video shows Ott preparing food and gear for the trip.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

This backpack weighs about 18 pounds — and it's about to travel more than 2,500 miles on the back of a De Pere computer programmer.

We're with the couple gearing up to hike for a cause.

The final preparations ...

"We each have a sleeping bag, a sleeping pad," Ott said.

For the journey of a lifetime.

Kyle Ott and his wife Maggie Konopasek are leaving soon to hike the Pacific Crest Trail.

While Maggie worked her final day as a physician assistant, Kyle showed me what they're packing for the six-month trip.

"We've got batches of spaghetti; we've dehydrated that," Ott said. "We've got fajitas."

The couple has done some ambitious hikes before, but this is one of the pinnacles of backpacking.

"It's going to be about 700 miles of desert to start, so that'll be that first big section," Ott said. "We'll take that on, but if we can get through that, then I'm sure we can finish the rest of it without problem."

The trek will take them from the Mexican border, climbing and descending almost 500,000 feet, through landmarks like Yosemite National Park and Lake Tahoe in California, north through Oregon and Washington, and to the finish line at the Canadian border, 2,655 miles away.

Along the way they're raising money for Bigger than the Trail — a De Pere based non-profit that provides free access to online counseling — a cause near and dear to Maggie and Kyle.

"We've both had our own journeys with mental health," Ott said. "I've gone through depression and anxiety. Therapy — both of us have benefitted greatly from it."

They'll keep Bigger than the Trail in mind as they travel north.

"It's a life experience that we've really been looking forward to," Ott said.

"Maggie and Kyle are holding a fundraiser Sunday at Cocoon Brewing, before flying to California next Thursday to hit the trail.