June 10, 2013, marked the starting point for Josh Garrett’s journey across the 2,655-mile Pacific Crest Trail – a grueling path from Mexico to Canada.
Garrett, 30, a Santa Monica College track coach and exercise physiology instructor, intends to use his expedition as a tool to raise awareness and funds for Mercy For Animals – a national charity working to prevent cruelty to farmed animals and promote compassionate food choices and policies.
In 2009, Garrett thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in just 88 days, which is about half the time taken by most hikers. However, Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, is confident that Garrett can hike the trail this time in under 64 days, the current trail speed world record. Mackey, who also shares a passion for plant based eating habits and who has hiked with Garrett in the past, will be sponsoring him by providing hiking gear, food and water.
In order to break the record, Garrett will have to keep a pace of 42 miles per day through 7 national parks and 25 national forests, home to a a variety of different terrains including the blazing Mojave Desert and the steep Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Garrett will be traveling over a marathon and a half a day, for 64 days in a row, through some of our planet’s harshest conditions.
“At the beginning of the trail, you are hiking through the desert, parched, desperate for water. Before you know it, there is way too much water—you are wading across streams, chest deep, trying not to get washed away. It is a fantastic challenge,” says Garrett.
Now, a vegan for 18 months, Garrett feels stronger than ever, and hopes to use this achievement to promote the benefits of a plant based diet. While Garrett will have some food support along the way, he will also be relying on the trail plants as he travels.
“Just two years ago I was a big meat eater, wild about dogs but not letting myself think much about other animals,” he said. “Then I saw a Mercy For Animals undercover video where a slaughterhouse worker was using live turkeys, suspended upside down on a conveyor belt, as punching bags. I was sickened. And my own consciousness started to change.”
To make this record successful, Josh has to have weight management down to a science by cutting tags and extra fabric off his clothing, estimating where he can procure natural water and food along the trail, and living without many items that most hikers would consider essential. Food included, Garrett will be carrying nearly 30 lbs of gear.
Some of the essentials that didn’t make the cut include weapons and a tent. Josh will have a sleeping bag, a thin mat and a small piece of vinyl to break the wind when necessary. The weapon part of the equation is particularly important as along the way, Garrett will undoubtedly encounter all types of wildlife including bears, mountain lions, pack animals like wolves and coyotes, rattle snakes and a myriad of other critters that might derail a day with an encounter. Hopefully some of those predators will give him some credit for being vegan.
“When it comes to helping animals, Josh doesn’t just talk the talk, he literally walks the walk,” said Mercy For Animals executive director Nathan Runkle. “We hope that Josh’s selfless journey inspires others to take steps in their own lives to help prevent the horrible suffering of animals on factory farms by adopting a healthy and humane vegan diet.”
The Ski Channel is a big supporter of Josh Garrett’s quest and will be interfacing with him daily throughout the hike. Stay tuned to The Ski Channel website and Facebook page for regular updates with images and videos!