Samwise AT ’09

When I started planning for my AT thru-hike back in February, I knew that it would be hard. Everything I had read and heard told me that it would push my body to the physical max, but that the most difficult part would be keeping my head in. Looking back now I could not have possibly understood just how hard it was going to be. It was one of the most physically and psychologically demanding things I have ever done. And I chose to complicate things even more by sticking to my four-year vegan diet.

There are a lot of stereotypes and “traditions” that dominate the thru-hiker world. The first you hear about is the “hunger”; and it’s true! After a few weeks on the trail, many thru-hikers develop an insatiable hunger as their bodies adapt to hiking hard day after day and increase their demand for calories. Along with this is the norm of backpacking foods: foil-packed tuna, Poptarts, and Lipton (now Knorr) Sides. As a vegan, I can’t eat any of those things.

Every thru-hiker resupplies differently. Most people I hiked with did some combination of mail drops and shopping locally. I wanted to do a combination, only sending food to a handful of smaller towns. This turned out to work well for most of the trail, but each town was a stressful surprise, as I had no idea what the supermarket would bring.

In the beginning, I lived on couscous and dehydrated beans. After a few weeks, I was beyond sick of these.

To be continued…

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