The women who read the HLAW blog, follow us on social media, join us for local hikes, listen to our podcast, and read our digital magazine are AMAZING.
Today we’re highlighting once such amazing woman.
Meet Aaron Owens Mayhew.
(p.s. She eloped to this mountain and got married just a few months ago, how’s that for magical?)
A brief bit about myself… Earlier this year I decided to quit my stable job as a clinical dietitian to hike the Pacific Crest Trail starting on my 40th birthday. As a part of my preparation for the trip I developed what I call ultralight meal planning. What this means is that I create menus at 5,000 calories per day within two pounds of food which is typically unheard of. On average, most hikers pack roughly half this many calories in the same amount of weight. As a result, malnutrition and extreme weight loss while thru hiking are real issues sometimes ending treks prematurely.
Fast forward to the present… In response to the interest in my meal planning methods I’ve since created my own career path as a backcountry dietitian. Hope to publish my first cookbook by this Spring and start my own virtual private practice helping other outdoor adventurers improve their nutrition while in the backcountry.
I’m trying to spread the word as much as I can as so many hikers seem to believe weight loss and less than desirable food are just part of it when that doesn’t have to be the case. By sharing a little knowledge I hope to help other outdoor enthusiasts enjoy their time on trail more by eliminating food related issues.
1) What do you carry with you when you’re hiking? (Back pack)
As an ultralight backpacker, I only carry the bare necessities. After hiking over 1,000 miles this season, I learned to live with very little and found it rather refreshing. Backpack of choice is the Osprey Exos 58 but I’m looking to downsize as I no longer need that much space.
2) The one hiking mistake you’ll never make again?
Not packing enough food. Once the fuel tank runs empty, I turn into a real bear and am unpleasant to be around until fed again. “Hangry” is real!
3) Does anything scare you when on the trail?
To be honest, I’m more afraid of humans than I am wild animals, water crossings, sketchy climbs, etc. There were a few nights while thru hiking this season when strange men came into camp via motorcycle, truck or boat. Being fearful was my own fault as I camped alone in isolated areas near civilization where it was easy for city dwellers to visit such areas. Suppose this is another mistake that I won’t make again.
4) Best piece of advice for a new hiker?
Getting into the hiking scene can feel overwhelming with the plethora of gear available. Choices, choices, choices! My best advice is to just start walking and you’ll figure out what works best for you the more time you spend in the backcountry.
5) What trail is on your bucket list?
I have unfinished business with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as my trek ended prematurely this season due to a shoulder injury. Enjoyed every step on the trail and can’t wait to go back and finish it.
Where can we find you online?
Aaron Owens Mayhew, MS, RDN, CD
Registered Dietitian | Backcountry Meal Planning Specialist
EXTRA SIDE NOTE – As you can see in my photo, I recently
eloped (10/2/17) on top of a mountain and it was amazing!!