Today is my two year anniversary of setting out from Springer Mountain, GA on what would become one of the most challenging, rewarding, incredible, crazy things I’ve ever done. A thru-hike is hard. It’s physically hard to get up every day and keep hiking. It’s mentally hard to force yourself up every day to keep hiking. At some point you question what the hell you thought you were doing. But somehow you push through another day, letting little things like a sunny day or some trail magic keep you going. I know it’s cliché but completing a thru-hike is definitely all mental.
Hiking vegan was part of my motivation.
When I left for Georgia I had no idea what to expect; and I knew that staying vegan would be one more challenge. It was a big one, especially in the beginning.
For me, staying vegan at home is no big deal at all, I cook for myself and can eat and shop where I want. On the trail, choices are much more limited. It’s tough to turn down trail magic when you’ve been eating the same thing every day. But it’s not too hard.
Eventually, maintaining my veganism became a central part of my hike and one that kept me motivated. I encountered some people along the trail who said I couldn’t thru-hike vegan, and others who went out of their way to help me. The trail is funny like that. I like to think that because of the type of people who feel a call to the Appalachian Trail, being vegan is rather low on the scale of wacky things people do on a hike.
A few weeks into my hike, as I was becoming more and more comfortable with trail life, completing my hike while vegan became an important goal to show that not only can it be done, but it can be done just as healthily, safely, and happily as anyone else.
To my 2009 trail friends: I miss you! Newt, Miss Scarlett, Hellbender, Sunbeam, Half-Moon, Rapunzel, Squeegie, Greaser, Col. Mustard, O.G., and everyone else…
To the class of 2011, happy trails!