Josh Garrett, a Santa Monica College track coach and exercise physiology instructor, is is nearing the very end of his interstate hike on a vegan diet. Barring any major injury or accident, he will break the Pacific Crest Trail record early Thursday morning or late Wednesday night.
Josh’s time will be in the neighborhood of 59 days; the previous record holder, Scott Williamson, hiked the PCT in 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes. Needless to say Josh’s plant-based diet, and background as a runner, college track coach, and exercise physiology instructor, have been big advantages.
Josh has also used the hike to bring attention to farmed animal cruelty by raising funds for the national nonprofit Mercy For Animals.
Some Background on Josh and his PCT hike:
In 2009, Garrett hiked the trail and called that trek the greatest experience of his life. Now, a vegan for 18 months who feels stronger than ever, he wants to promote the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Whole Foods CEO John Mackey thinks Garrett can do more than that. Mackey thinks Garrett can break the current 64-day Pacific Crest Trail speed record and is sponsoring Garrett by providing hiking gear, support, food and water. Mackey, who shares a passion for plant-based eating, hiked with Garrett on a portion of the Continental Divide Trail last summer.
“Josh is not only a very nice person, but is also the strongest hiker I have ever had the privilege to hike with,” Mackey said.
Garrett hikes fast. In 2009 he thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 88 days, a comfortable pace for him, and about half the time taken by most hikers. To break the record he’ll have to average 42 miles per day across terrain such as the blazing Mojave Desert and the steep Sierra Nevada Mountain Range, while carrying a 30-pound pack.
Garrett is confident that fueled by plants and compassion, he can trounce his previous speed, barring fires, snowstorms, or snake bites.
“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.”
After seeing the movie Forks Over Knives, he realized a plant-based diet would also benefit his athletic performance, overall health, energy, and endurance. Today Garrett feels great, and wants to help Mercy For Animals conduct undercover investigations like the one that had such an impact on him.
“The more I learn about animals used in the food industry, the more I want to help,” said Garrett. “I walk because they can’t.”
“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.”
Garrett will uses Twitter (@VeganHiker) to update followers on his progress, which will take him within an hour of cities such as Palm Springs, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Palmdale, Lancaster, Tahoe, Reno, Redding, Ashland, Medford, Bend, Portland and Seattle. For more information, including a map of the trail, or to make a pledge, visit MercyForAnimals.org/VeganHiker.
About Josh Garrett:
Josh Garrett, who has an MA in Exercise Science from Long Beach State University, is a track and cross-country coach and exercise physiology instructor at Santa Monica College, a personal fitness trainer and coach, and a running gait analyst. He began hiking on the weekends with his best friend, a Golden Retriever named Lucy, when he was in high school. He attended and competed for Santa Monica College in 2001, placing in the state’s top 10 for the 1500-meter run. He earned a track scholarship to Humboldt State University, where he received a BA in Exercise Science. He was born in Los Angeles in 1982 and has lived and worked throughout California.