According to the Pacific Crest Trail Association, it takes an average of five months to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The last time Josh Garrett hiked it in 2009, the 2,655 mile trail took him only 88 days. The college track and cross-country coach now plans to attempt the hike in less than 64 days, which is the current record. He will do so with the sponsorship of Whole Foods CEO John Mackey.
Mackey and Garrett met about a year ago, and found they shared a love of hiking. Garrett shared his experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and Mackey was impressed with the speed Garrett completed it. “We got to talking and he had this idea that with the right support, I could probably break a hiking record. He asked me if I wanted to give the Pacific Crest Trail record a shot. I had mixed feelings. I loved the idea of the challenge, but didn’t want to let anybody down if I didn’t make it,” Garrett said.
He decided if he was going to take on the trail again, it would be for a cause. “Hiking the trail was uncomfortable enough-painful sometimes-even when I wasn’t trying to do it within any particular time limit. But, I went vegan about eighteen months ago, and have become more and more concerned about what’s happening to the animals…Suddenly it hit me that I could use this hike as a way to get the word out on their behalf,” he said. That realization led Garrett to team up with Mercy for Animals and use the hike as a way to raise awareness and money for their cause.
Not only is Mercy for Animals the cause for Garrett’s hike, it’s also a big reason he decided to go vegan. “Just two years ago I was a big meat eater, wild about dogs but not letting myself think much about other animals,” he said. “Over Thanksgiving 2011, I met two turkeys rescued by a friend. They were friendly and fun, and clearly conscious. 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.”
Garrett said that the transition to a vegan diet was not a difficult one and that much of the food people already eat is probably vegan. Garrett feels that his goal of beating the trail record is achievable because of how much stronger he feels since going vegan, and is excited about hiking for Mercy for Animals. “I don’t think there is anything more effective than undercover work at slaughterhouse or factory farms, and Mercy does so much of that so well. Mercy for Animals just gets so much bang for the buck. I want to do what I can to help them get some more bucks to bang with.”
If you are interested in following Garrett’s hike progress, you can do so on Twitter (@VeganHiker).