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  • Aria Zoner

Celebrating Whole Food Hiker

Over the past 2 days, I’ve been blown away hearing your thoughts and stories. I really had no idea. I heard from so many people for the first time and from people I’ve known for decades.

Leading up to this, I'd just recovered from a broken toe, then I fractured my sternum in a mountain biking accident, only to wind up hitting a deer on the way home the same day which destroyed the front end of my car. A few days later, I lost a tooth that was cracked when I wrecked. It didn't help either that my blog here hasn't received a comment in months. I needed to take a break.

So without apparent warning, I closed my tent flaps.

I killed my brand.

But I’d like to share with you what happened after making this announcement.

I hope I’m not violating anyone’s trust here by doing this but I thought you should know what happened and how much it meant to me.


So without further ado….enjoy some music, and see what people had to say.

A Tribute to Whole Food Hiker


Yvonne Princess Doah Entingh Sorry to see you leave...unfortunately this is the first post I have ever seen.

Jeff Stephenson Dont know how I missed all this. Amber Sluss I haven't heard about you until today. Nancy Mercure East I honestly didn't even know you had a YouTube channel and such a great website. Shawnna Schlesser This is the first post I've seen from you. Cindy Kotar I agree, I’ve never seen one except now. Mike J Logan Whole Food Hiker I think you aren’t getting the correct exposure. I never heard of you until today and that seems odd. I’ve been here quite awhile. Mike J Logan It’s not you. Hikers like to get off the grid, not plug in, so the numbers make sense. Stay with it. Good hobby.

scene_in_new_york I first heard of you via @thetrailshow I successfully adopted much of your nutrition advice to my trail runs and hikes. You remain a fountain of knowledge and I for one am happy to have found and applied your content.

wesleyhikes You couldn’t imagine how many people value your content but just don’t contribute.

kvnharris I probably should have said so before, but your posts encouraged me to try to eat healthier on my thru-hike of the Colorado Trail this past summer. I definitely have more room for growth, but I’ve come a long way since my previous hike on the PCT. There are not many narratives out there beyond, eat as much trash food as you can because your body both can handle and needs it while hiking.

Craig D. Gulley I have always struggled to eat better on the trail and whole foods are the answer for me all around. Sandee Carter You greatly impacted my thoughts on long distance food, please don't give up.

Sean Gauvreau There are only a few people doing what you do...Your episode of John Z's Routes podcast was one of my faves.

Aaren Harris I know that I have personally changed the food in my sack because of you and have had fun trying to find a way to replace gummy worms with really tasty healthy food. Thank you. Promise me you will enjoy your time. That's all a person can do these days.

David Tourvan I quote you to my kids every year we hike the PCT, "It's not how far you go, it's how long you go" thewalkingheads @jhead151 and myself have learned SO much from you and are so grateful for the time and knowledge you’ve put in and shared. Your like a Mr Rogers in our house…We even re-enactment the commercial like bit you did every-time we use a biobag..when we’re prepping for trips.. Thanks for showing us the way to a healthier, happier, more grateful life. You inspired me to rethink my relationship with food and to be more grateful for every bite! smharley Long time listener, first time caller.. You're a huge inspiration and I hope you find a way to share all of your knowledge with the community that works for you. I've been following and taking in your content for years, and honestly didn't know about many of the things you listed. Even only seeing a portion of the content you put out, you helped me feel better on and off trail. Hope to see you and your content in the future!!

freerange64 You have not failed! You have totally inspired me to eat better and someday hike the Hot Springs Trail. Oh, and discover a genre of rap I never knew existed. y0semitesam I just recently heard you on the Mammoth Lakes radio... Me and my wife have always talked about how to backpack with better food options. And listening to the radio broadcast you answered a lot of those questions. Sorry I'm late to the party. But the information you been putting out is awesome! There is a mindset with backpacking and food that's going to take a long time to change and I think you have started it. mars_hikes After 1600 miles on the PCT, I know what you meant with whole food hiking. mamedlock You had the smartest approach to nutrition on the trail. I’m sorry I didn’t step up and support the brand. t_sanzil Whether you really see or feel it, you have made an impact in this community where the ripples of which will never stop growing..your message and it’s value are so so fucking important. t_sanzil …I loved the knowledge while you told it. Please keep telling it.

John C. Zieske Thanks for the timeless info, I still refer to it often. Good luck. freerange64 You may only get double digit likes, but they're all heart felt from true admirers of your work and ethics. Bandi Caro Wish you could find the right distribution channel for this info Nancy Mercure East I honestly didn't even know you had a YouTube channel and such a great website. I'm sure I knew about it at one time (your website) but unless I get email updates from blogs I like, they tend to slip my mind that they're even around, despite the immense value some of them bring to the hiking community. I am a big believer in what you're doing with both trail advocacy and whole food nutrition. I do believe, with all my heart, that your advocacy for the HST would lead somewhere, with enough momentum behind it. What that momentum should look like? I wish I had the answers, because I know you've done an immense amount of due diligence already with little return. But I feel strongly that your audience exists somewhere for this--they just may need more nudging, explanation, exposure, etc. to become more engaged and help you spread the word. I hope others will chime in who may know more about marketing a campaign like this in a more effective way, CJ Hodson One slight change to name and genre and you could tap into a much larger market- David McFee There’s a message here: do it because you love it, not for the attention. Glen Jordan Someone who put in that much effort can’t stay away long. Sounds like they need a good marketer to help generate buzz online.

Ed Swann Those results tell you the content wasn't compelling, the audience was small, or the delivery didn't connect…Reiterate and revise. Come back with something else down the road and try again.

Michael Archuleta Following now. Maybe just focus on one thing.

Alex Hughes You positioned yourself well but maybe you missed a few key steps in the marketing that can help drastically. Have you ever consulted with someone about your marketing strategies? Gabriel Perez this can be huge with the right marketing tactics. Let me know if you want some help! Gabriel Perez This is the first time I hear about Whole Food Hiker.

Gabriel Perez I just checked your you tube, your web site it is amazing. Are you sure you don't want to resurrect. tgwspills For what it's worth I have been dreaming of one day hiking the Nevada portion of your Hot Springs Trail and the Siskiyou Trail. As someone with no interest in spending 3+ months on trail at a time, your routes seemed perfect for me. I'm not at the level yet where I would take on trip like that yet, but I would really like if you continued to push your trails and provide the guide books. Maybe the brand itself wasn’t working, but that's no reason to ditch the trails. They are not one in the same. Perhaps part of the lack of engagement came from mixed message being sent out to the hoards. Perhaps not. Either way I do think you could have benefitted from a clearer branding strategy…Let the trails speak for themselves and remove yourself from the brand.

vanderbijlpieter Also my perception is that maybe the way the message was delivered came across as too aggressive and also the message is a bit extreme..maybe look into that…The world needs people who can think for themselves…Keep it up bra.

Kevin Venable I’d recommend going deep with your knowledge (ie 1:1 Yoda style) versus wide (ie Tony Robbins)..Thanks for all you do for the hiking community. Amber Sluss I haven't heard about you until today, but do not give up! Keep at it Susan Garrett I LOVE this idea Aria. Do it! Tim Thompson Your still the best uncle a nephew could ask for. Who else gets to snowboard at Mt hood on their June birthday? Stephanie Johnson Allen It’s sad this is the post that showed up in my feed today rather than all the others Kati Arsenault Olivares This is sad. I thank you for sharing your knowledge and gifts. I saw u speak at ALDHA a couple of years ago and referred fellow hikers to u over the past two years, when nutrition questions popped up. I hope a vision pops up for u to follow-u have too much knowledge and enthusiasm to share!

Taylor Thompson Lancaster Dude. I am so sorry to hear the news. And I celebrate your rawness. I did my best to engage with the whole food hiker website and guide books. In fact I plan on hiking the hot springs trail next year. I understand the heartbreak of working really hard on something I truly believe in and not having it bear fruit. You are still one of the most inspiring people I know.

Kenny Speery Whew that’s deep .... thank you for sharing this rawness my brother ...I’ve had to put one to rest as well.. as they say one door closes... Miguel VirGo Aguilar Stay strong my friend. Kelly Rose Kauffman Noooooooo pizzapalaww I hope there’s a comeback someday. you’ve likely inspired more than you think!

lucky_strike_hikes You’re free brother, you’re free. You have all the secrets to life and no need to share them. Wow! Enjoy it.

tgariano Rest, regroup, redo. Don't give up on the dream.

ntecracing Too bad - funny how some stuff flies on the internet and some (better) things don’t. Just because it didn’t get a lot of traction doesn’t make it a loss in my book - but always best to move on if it’s not working for you. Appreciate all your hard work!

bgebednarik Dude you hiked in beautiful, hot spring rich, open land and space. That’s success. Damn the rest. Hike and soak on, the Flying B will always employ you!

duarte_partay I listened to the hot springs trail ep of the trail show a while back and got stoked on Whole Food hikers and enjoyed seeing your recipes and posts as I prepped for my AT attempt in 2016. I’m sorry it didn’t take off, but there is glory in the attempt! You went on an epic journey living your passion and becoming an expert in your field of pioneering a long trail and promoting healthful eating.

grownwithluv Tough call to make... glad I picked up the Siskiyou Peaks book and look forward to using it. Thank you for devoting time and energy to what you believe in!

ben._franklin Just ahead of the curve dude. Really think you were on to something. thewildnfearlesskremlin Hike your feelings out! wilderness.within

I don't think you should be removing this information, but instead trying new ways to reach people. What you've done hasn't been for nothing..This information needs to be voraciously advertised to past current and future thru hikers. We need this stuff. This is the evolution of what we do..I think what you have to say is important and necessary!

pdx_oner Thank you for all of your effort! For what it’s worth, you inspired me to take a harder look at my menus and consider putting that low bpw to good use.

joshuahunterdavis Being a creative type is so hard....and thankless. Like another poster, I only just found you, but have appreciated your efforts. I hope you consider continuing even if its just a spark of your current output. I believe many hikers have yet to figure out the power of nutrition and will be thankful for info like yours when they finally realize what they’ve been missing.

pnutbutterhikes Man your words help me make the final decision to do long trails!! Being vegan I wasn’t sure how to go about it but you showed me I can. thewildnfearlesskremlin I have heard your interview on The Routes podcast and loved it! I wanna do the Hot Springs Trail soon. You have inspired me. Keep that bushy tail up and wagging! jerry.pitre Your podcast with John Z is my favorite of all his podcast. amble.on Thoroughly enjoyed your whole food hiking recipes. Referenced them for my last backpacking trip and probably will for the next.

jon.hartzler You don’t know me but I first saw you on your video of the Hayduke Trail and it blew my mind!! Not only am I fascinated by the southwest, love Ed Abbey, and aspire to hike some trails but you also gave great examples of getting decent nutrition on the trail. Katie Gerber is an old friend of mine and I admire and appreciate the work both of you have done to educate hikers on trail diet. Best of luck to you in all your future adventures and please know that your passionate efforts have not been in vain. Stephen Hnilica Aria Zoner I hiked across the USA (4600 miles), and everything changed when I realized how important nutrition and mindset was to my journey. Understanding how to manage my nutrition when I was burning 10,000 carries every day took me from feeling exhausted to feeling like I could pack in mile after mile with out giving up. It's so important.

Craig D. Gulley The Hot Springs Trail - Thanks Zoner. I did take a lot away from the nutrition aspect as well, as I have always struggled to eat better on the trail and whole foods are the answer for me all around. Sean Gauvreau I think your efforts to encourage people to eat better on trail and your attempts to develop new long distance NSTs are noble. There are only a few people doing what you do, but at the end of the day it is quite niche. Your episode of John Z's Routes podcast was one of my faves to listen to. I hope after you take some time off you're able to focus your efforts and find it to be more fruitful. Tim Hickey Going to miss your inspiring adventures and valuable nutrition information. Good luck... Charles Stephen Dang I'm going to miss you buddy. Keep the message alive. olympichomestay Aww maaaannn!!!

Bandi Caro I appreciate your work!

neverland.goon.squad dude you have been an invaluable piece to this community one day in the future people will wise up and recognize what you have done, cheers @ariazoner

tgariano Rest, regroup, redo. Don't give up on the dream. wilderness.within Don't give up wilderness.within Don't give up


How can Whole Food Hiker continue moving forward?

I think wearehikertrash said it best…

"You hiking and living by example and having conversations is how the whole food hiker continues. When you pull out an apple or carrot on the trail and the next guy does a double take...then they start asking questions... That’s impactful.

Thank you for your passion Zoner! I believe passion can change the world... It just may take longer than the attention span of the day."


In closing…

wildernessgoat Duuude! I'm sorry ur closin doors, but I am stoked a new adventure is beginning for you! Life’s a strange twisted journey! My efforts are Wilderness Huts, located in Beautifully epic majestic places. A network of them only spoken & passed beta by design of interclose friendship. (Whatever that means) A series of wild pirate wilderness huts beginning on the west coast from Mexico to Alaska. Natural simplicity huts. To sleep & hike to, trilax, chill an interconnected network of word of mouth huts, built by any one of us! But, we’re not quite their either! You’re an awesome pioneer brother!

R.I.P. Whole Food Hiker


So what happens now? Now you have a chance to participate in this way of life at every snack break, and with every resupply box.

This is your opportunity to keep this dream alive that we can reach the end of the trail healthier than when we started it.

At the end of the day, there’s one thing that can add more life to our hikes and adventures, one move that can either help or hurt our environment, one action that can improve or diminish the quality of life for workers in the food industry...and that's what we choose to put on our plate.

Thank you Whole Food Hiker, for your contribution to the long-distance hiking community and for enriching my own life on this journey towards wellness on-trail and the next NST.

Now turn off that sad-ass music and break out the snacks!

Aria Zoner – creator of Whole Food Hiker




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