@ksosna that's very true about covid traffic! I find that early morning on weekdays is still pretty mellow, though. Tomb's thumb is a great alternative, however, and is located quite close to Phoenix. This has a lot of elevation gain with minimal mileage, so it's great for a short yet intense training session. If you plan to go on weekends, I suggest starting early morning to avoid more people. I'm not too familiar with what else is near the Phoenix area itself, but heading east into the Superstition mountains I can tell you will definitely provide some training opportunities. 

What I typically do for weight is determine approximately how much weight (food, water, gear, etc.) I plan to take on my trip, then double that weight for training. I do this on a regular, however, with heavy packs, so doubling the weight isn't that drastic for me, even if my normal pack weights 80+ pounds. If you aren't used to carrying heavy packs, I'd suggest starting by adding about 1/3 of your pack's estimated trip weight and training with that (so adding about 33% of the pack's weight). See how that goes, then increase by increments of 1/3 (33%) until you get to 100% added weight (double your estimated trail weight).

I'm not a huge fan of treadmills, but sometimes when I can't get outside for various reasons, increasing the treadmill's inclination to max and carrying my pack on the treadmill is also a way to train for incline (sadly you don't get the elevation acclimation this way, though).

That's great! I have done a lot of hiking and backpacking on Mt. Lemmon, so if you want any recommendations, let me know the length/difficulty/terrain/amount of hiking time you are looking for, and I'll give you some options!

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