Yep. Time to start progressive length/elevation/weight training with the pack. I wouldn't mind gaining a few pounds of muscle and losing a few pounds of fat.
Right now I just wish that the temperature and humidity would get below 90 degrees and 90 per cent. At this point, the only hiking I would want to do involves just a large hydration bladder and not much else.
Yes! When I'm training in May-June for the summer Philmont expedition in July, I'm in my hilly neighborhood sweating buckets carrying a heavy 60+ lb pack for 3+ miles every morning in the same hot/humid conditions. I'm drenched when I get home and it's hard to breath. But thinking about the dry+cooler climate in Cimmaron, New Mexico gives me motivation to keep going. Good luck with that training! Eat lots of protein! (BTW NancyP, what part of the country are you located in and where do you plan to hike on your trip(s)?)
And remember, the training isn't just about stength and stamina, it's about mental conditioning. You're also building confidence for the various challenges of the trail. Once you get to a certain point in your training, you reach a relative plateau where you can keep going for much longer distances over different terrain as long as you maintain the will to do so. The harder and more challenging your training, the less challenging the trail will be in comparison.