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Congratulations to Scott Jurek on his record thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail (while vegan)!

46 days, 8 hours, and 8 minutes. 2200 miles. July 12, 2015.

Holy moly! Congratulations to Scott Jurek on his new speed record thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. He beat the previous known record by only a few hours (set by Jennifer Pharr Davis). Also, Scott Jurek is vegan!

There are many things to say about this pretty incredible accomplishment. First of all, never can anyone say that a vegan thru-hike is impossible. Anyone can do it, from the fastest to the slowest. Second, this is endurance sport at the limits. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy does not track the speed record, and for some very good reasons. But this is pushing the limits of the human body: to hike this much, over mountains, averaging over fifty miles a day. There is no way around it: this was grueling, hard work.

Jurek seems to be very genuine, and genuinely interested in supporting the Appalachian Trail and the incredible community of hikers who walk it. Big props to him for taking the time to talk and take photos with hikers, to acknowledge that part of what makes the AT so special is the people who are on it.

I don’t hope that Jurek’s hike inspires ill-prepared record attempts (he’s a professional ultrarunner!!). But I do hope that his hike inspires more people to take a look at the Appalachian Trail, to feel the longing for it, to support and care for its maintenance and protection, and to maybe take that first step off of Springer toward Katahdin some cool spring morning.

Hike vegan! and keep on going. Happy trails to Scott Jurek!

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Beans and Rice

An easy and very accessible trail meal option are dehydrated packs of beans and rice. You know, the “authentic New Orleans style” ones that are in every grocery store? With enough salt added for a week? Well, many of them are vegan–some even include vegetables–and are an easy dinner option. They can generally be found in any grocery store, even many small markets will have some version. They’re usually cheap and there’s often a store brand that’s even cheaper. A word of warning, many varieties have meat in them, so read those tiny ingredients lists carefully!

This style of cheap, lightweight dehydrated food is very typical of a thru-hike. In some ways, it’s more typical than some of the other foods I’ve recommended, and that’s intentional. During my thru, I didn’t want to rely on food drops too much, or to be carrying tons of extra weight in order to eat vegan. That was a big challenge sometimes, to find that sense of “normalcy” that made a standard thru-hike. But in the end, everyone got sick of their food. There isn’t some magic diet that makes someone enjoy foil packets of tuna for six months, I promise. Eventually, nobody eats the same stuff they ate in the beginning, everyone adapts and looks for something new and interesting within the confines of the grocery store. By realizing this, and seeking out the few vegan options, I was a thru-hiker just like everyone else, but I happened to eat vegan.

The two brands that you’ll find everywhere are Vigo and Zatarain’s. Vigo comes in sealed bags, but only buy the Red Beans & Rice. The Vigo black beans, and the yellow rice, have chicken. Zatarain’s comes in a packet inside a small white and red box. There’s often several flavors and usually no meat in the standard bean and rice mixes. Red beans, black beans, dirty rice.

These mixes are very very salty, but they’re high in protein, are available almost anywhere, and are pretty tasty. I often would include one or two of these each resupply for the later days out of town, so I could eat any heavier meals first.

They do require a longer cook time than many of my other meals. The best way to overcome this with my alcohol stove is to boil and cover, after it sits for 10ish minutes, boil it again, and it should be ready! If you have an insulated pot cozy you may be able to get away with boiling and then letting it sit for 15 minutes.

I usually ate these with a tortilla or two, plus chili powder and sometimes nutritional yeast.

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For a free and open internet!

I am against the legislation being considered in the United States known as SOPA in the House and PIPA in the Senate. These two bills, in the guise of fighting piracy, threaten the openness of the internet and potentially allow for censorship. On January 18 I will be joining the website blackout, along with Reddit, Wikipedia, and many others to protest these bills. I apologize to readers from outside the U.S. The potential impacts of these bills will impact us all. Learn more and take action.

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Some thoughts on one year since my vegan thru-hike

So September 2nd was the one year anniversary of summiting Katahdin at the end of my hike! I know I’m a little late posting about it here, I’ve had limited internet where I’m currently living (though it’s been sorted out and I plan to start working on this blog much more!).

Though it sort of blows my mind that it has been a year already since the end of my hike, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to thru-hike and to thru-hike vegan. Everyone starts out with different expectations of what they will find on the trail, and it is probably universal that those expectations change after being on trail for a few months (Mix one part romantic dreams of “figuring life out” with one part “back to back to back 20 mile days and my shoulders huurrrrt”).

Pre-hike, my plan to hike vegan had little to do with making a statement and was just a natural extension of being vegan in “real” life and figuring that of course I’d stay vegan while hiking. As I started out and learned of the challenge it was going to be it became more and more important to both maintain my veganism and to share my experiences with others.

As has been written elsewhere so many times, thru-hiking is all mental. After a month or two your body is sore but strong and getting stronger. It’s staying mentally motivated that keeps you going every day. Basically thru-hiking is one big series of many small goals/challenges (the top of the mountain, lunch time, the next landmark to see how far I’ve gone, snack time, the next shelter, dinner time, camp, the next town, the next state line, etc). Serious thru-hikers don’t just give up on one of them, it is the challenge of the whole ordeal that keeps you mentally motivated and going (Any thru-hiker will tell you how long Virginia was and how excited they were to get to Maryland!). For me, adding “staying vegan” on to the list was natural and became a significant and fulfilling part of my experience.

Anyone know if there were vegan thru-hikers in 2010? Send them this way!

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A call for submissions!

It seems that we have had a small spike in hits recently, so I wanted to put out a call for submissions on the topic of backpacking vegan! If you have completed a thru-hike, are currently hiking, or have other experience with long distance vegan hiking, please consider writing something! It can be one paragraph or as much as you feel like writing. We’ll post it under the Community page. Sent it to backpackingvegan@gmail.com. Thanks!

-Samwise

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Hikefor.com

Hey,

I recently found this website, and have signed up for my 2010 PCT hike.

http://www.hikefor.com/

I also may be getting product support from Primal Foods, the makers of Primal Strips Jerky. Jesse at Primal told me about Paul Mitchell who started the hikefor website. Everything is looking good for the hike, and I hope to be updating more in the next few week.

-L.C.

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More info on the Resupply page!

Just put up some new info on the Resupply page from Vegematic! She contributed info to Rutland, VT and the Route 2 / Bethel, ME area. Vegematic in her own words:

I have been vegan for almost 11 years (and vegetarian for about 7 years before that).  I haven’t through-hiked the AT but plan to start hiking it in 1-month sections, at least down south; I can easily finish New England in shorter trips if I want. I do a lot of hiking and backpacking around New England and hiked the Long Trail over three summers.

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Another vegan thru-hiker story

Just added up some words from Threshold, flip-flopped the AT in 2009 out of Waynesboro, VA. Check it out on the community page.

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LC in the house

So after a few months of learking, I finally figure out how to post. I have added my information under the community section, and added to the town list. Check out my travel blog at: http://www.linuscloudbuster.blogspot.com

-Linus Cloudbuster (aka Suzie Creamcheese)

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Resupply Guide

It’s started! Check out the page by clicking the Resupply link in the header.

We’ll need as much input as possible for this section. I don’t remember very many specifics about each town, I wish I kept better notes… I want to include resupply options including availability of vegan food at grocery stores, as well as general eating options in town so you don’t end up eating more french fries at vegan-unfriendly diners than you wish to admit…

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