by Mud and Bug
A Video from Halfway - Thank you, and Our Mission!
There's a lot of bullshit in the world. We are constantly exposed to messages, media, cultural influences, pressure to fit in and maintain the norm. When that all falls away, when we can just go for a long walk and discover ourselves, feel the natural world, things become a little more clear.
We find inspiration in the trees, in the mountains, clouds, sunsets and sunrises, moonlight and stars, ridge walks and creek crossings. But there are also times when the trees are thick, the terrain is tame and we are left to listen to our thoughts. Either that or a podcast.
Podcasts are not just a distraction from the monotony of walking, but a way to keep learning and engaging in the positive change that is happening in the world. Our favorite is the Rich Roll Podcast. Rich Roll is an amazing conversationalist who interviews the most forward thinking and inspiring individuals, helping people to become "their best most authentic selves". In short, he introduces us to people who think outside the box. In meeting these people, it's hard not to realize just how deep into a matrix most of us are. For example...
Dr. Michael Greger. This is a man who reads thousands of research articles each year, to summarize in short, easy-to-understand videos which he posts for free on his website. This is research that doesn't make the news because there is no monetary incentive to promote plant eating - the power of cruciferous vegetables, berries and green tea. When people find out that they can reverse their chronic diseases through diet, he says, they are pissed. No one ever told them. They could have avoided years of taking medications. The research is out there and his mission is to make it known.
Andy Bellatti. A dietitian who has taken an interest in food politics. In doing so, he came to realize just how much policy and industry influences our food choices. If we were all to look behind the veil like he has, we may be immune to the influence of industry and eating a plant-strong diet. The food industry undermines our health. We are being lied to - we don't need milk for strong bones and protein from meat is not a necessary component of our diet. He takes a stand against corporations like McDonalds and Coca Cola sponsoring the Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics. We are victims of a system that is driven by money. More and more, our choices become a result of genius marketing schemes rather than personal conviction.
Gene Baur. Gene is the founder of Farm Sanctuary, a national farm animal rescue and vegan outreach organization. He has some fascinating insights into the politics of food and what that means for the animals. The majority of decision makers who pass legislation regarding agriculture have either past or present ties to the dairy, meat, poultry, egg and fish industries, making it impossible for them to see objectively. Even the USDA, the organization responsible for creating the food pyramid, now MyPlate, posted in every public school classroom, responds to the demands of the meat and dairy industries. There are now emerging Ag-gag laws, violating our first amendment rights, making it an act of domestic terrorism to expose what is behind the walls of a factory farm. The conversation between Rich and Gene is incredibly eye opening and is worth listening to more than once (episode 35).
These are just three of the 100+ episodes of the Rich Roll Podcast.
Then there is Rich Roll himself - an ultra endurance triathlete who is fueled by plants, but mostly, he's got a really great perspective on life that needs to be heard. Along with the mountains and sunsets we see daily, Rich Roll adds an additional level of inspiration to our hiking. He and his podcast guests remind us that we are not alone in the message we believe in so strongly, and that change is possible. Check out his website, read his book, and next time you have a long car ride or want something to listen to while making dinner, turn on his podcast.
We set out on this journey with a mission - to inspire change and make a difference. Our online presence is not just a medium to share pictures of beautiful places and stories of hiking many miles, but a call to action. We ask that you support our mission by donating to A Well Fed World. This is an organization that is thinking outside the box, helping to feed hungry people with wholesome food, spread the message about plant based eating, and protect the lives of the animals with whom we share the planet. In their own words, they are "chipping away at two of the world’s most immense, unnecessary and unconscionable forms of suffering… the suffering of people hungry from lack of food, and the suffering of animals used and abused for food". In addition to their direct programs, they fund individual projects through grants. These projects are truly working at the root of the problems we face today - read about them here. Help us reach our $2000 goal by making a donation of any amount. No donation is too small, rather, it speaks volumes as a vote to change a broken system. Our current food system is letting us all down. It perpetuates violence, sickness, disease and thrives on the ignorance and blindness of our population. Join us on our path to a healthier, more sustainable and compassionate world.
2:47 am. I'm in my sleeping bag, cozy as ever, looking at the clock. We sleep in the brisk open air for 13 more minutes until my phone begins to chime. Sitting up, my mind fades into consciousness. Coffee. We make coffee and breakfast in our sleeping bags, something we've never done before. We do it now without speaking. As if it had always been the plan. Mud eats his oatmeal. I eat granola right out of the ziplock and drink my mocha - powered soy milk, chocolate powder from Switzerland and Starbucks Via.
As the orange moon sets, the stars gain brightness and take over the sky. I think about 4 o'clock yesterday and that gets me going, we pack up all our stuff and start walking. At 4 o'clock yesterday we were walking through pine trees that weren't dense enough to make shade. It was at least 100 degrees. The sun pounded relentlessly on our skin and sucked the water from our pores. No way could we keep walking in this kind of oven.
At last we reach a water cache. An oasis of sorts, complete with lawn chairs, a picnic table, an outdoor shower, a cupboard of non perishable food items, and a cooler - its contents still cold. We each have an apple sauce. It tastes amazing and refreshing and I can feel my cells sucking up the water and nutrients. There is bottled water off to the side. It's not cold. But the grape soda in the cooler is. I can't resist. Purely for the enjoyment of putting something cold into my body, I indulge. It tastes bubbly and sweet. Intensely sweet. Cold, but not what my body wanted. I struggle to finish it, then drown the icky high-fructose-corn-syrup-feeling with a half liter of water. We eat dinner to the sound of NPR from a wind-up radio we found on the picnic table.
As the sun descends, the heat becomes bearable. We walk through a fish hatchery, then up into the high desert. I stumble and trip in the dim light of my headlamp until we stop around 11 pm.
So we're up again at three because it's either walking in the dark or walking in an oven, both of which we ended up doing.
In the cool morning air, we pass a series of water caches, much less elaborate than the previous days', but still water. We don't take much, since it's dark and cold and we're not thirsty. But it's still nice to see them. People are so nice to leave water for thirsty hikers on this long dry stretch of trail. We reach the last of the water caches mid-morning. At this point, we have 17 miles to go before we see water again. The infamous Hat Creek Rim. It's dry, it's exposed, and packs are heavy with water.
Eight more miles go by quickly but not effortlessly. We sit for lunch in the dirt and pine needles under shade of a single tree and determine that we only have nine miles to go. Nine miles, easy!
But those nine miles were one of the most challenging stretches we've walked since the snow-packed slopes of the North Cascades. Though the terrain was not particularly steep, we were walking on 4 hours of sleep with the sun high in the sky. The air was so hot and dry, we could sense the water leaving our bodies with each breath we took. We could see the path stretched before us for miles with no trees and no shade, only shrubs, logs and rocks.
With five miles to go, we were both rationing what little water we had left. Mud ran ahead. I tried to distract myself with podcasts and thoughts of my dog, Sprout, to no avail. My mind relentlessly strayed to water, juice, smoothies, iced tea, anything cold and liquid. Spout drinking water. Sprout playing fetch in water. I felt as though I was drowning, my body gasping for water rather than air.
At last we made it. A water spigot at the trailhead of Subway Cave Trail. I inhaled water. We made green tea. Neither of us suffered serious dehydration symptoms other than thirst and exhaustion. It was an intense 24 hours, but now we are through one of the driest sections of the trail and soon to be walking through Lassen National Park and eventually up to Lake Tahoe. The trail ahead promises more views and more water. Both of which we are more than ready to experience.
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