Back to the Florida Trail Again, Powered by Plants

When I last left you here at the Trek, I had just finished the Colorado Trail in September. What an awesome adventure that was!  491 miles from Denver through the Rockies to Durango in the southwest corner of the state.

And now, in just a few days, I’ll resume my 3-section, three Januaries’  journey on the trail that is the polar opposite of my last one:  the 1100 mile Florida Trail.  I was blown away last January by the lush greenness of the southern sections.

And between the two, I had a lovely short section hike in the gentle autumn beauty of my state of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail.

I feel so very fortunate to have the health, strength and support to be able take advantage of these opportunities.  I’m grateful every single day.

As soon as I returned home from Colorado in September, I began to prepare all my dehydrated food that I would need for five weeks on the FT.  Because I have an exclusively whole food plant-based way of eating, I eat like a queen on the trail.  I dehydrate many of my favorite meals from home like sweet potato chili;

curries; veggies, rice and beans with dehydrated oil-free hummus, split pea soup loaded with extra veggies and brown rice, just to name a few, and all of my snacks as well.

I especially love my cookies, which began simply as mashed ripe bananas, oats, cinnamon and vanilla.  Then I thought, why not add more, like we do to sweet breads and cakes?  So I add a few or many of these ingredients too:  shredded carrots, shredded zucchini,  puréed pumpkin, mashed oriental sweet potatoes (so sweet!), chopped chickpeas and my favorite, minced beets, also very sweet.


These really help me get through long afternoons or steep climbs!  One person kindly said she admired how I coped with this way of eating.  Coped??  I would say I’m thriving!  I’ve never felt better, and wake refreshed and ready to go each morning on the trail, even after some of those high mountain passes in the Rockies.

After all my meals and snacks were ready to go in their individual freezer grade Ziplocks,

I assembled gallon sized day packs containing breakfast, lunch, dinner and four snacks per day.

I stacked these in the freezer and left an itinerary with my husband with instructions for how many days’ food packs he needs to send to such and such hotel, hostel, or general delivery post office. This system has worked perfectly through the entire Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Trail and 1/3 of the Florida.  Again, I’m so appreciative of his support.

With my food ready and waiting, I’ve been able to direct my energies to keeping up my fitness, with many longer hikes with a fully loaded pack on mostly flat terrain ((Florida, you know), and a few hills here and there. I mix up trail and pavement walking since that’s what I’ll be doing on the Florida Trail again.

Somehow, I’ve gotten on a bit of a podcast circuit the past 9 months, talking about the trails I’ve done in the US as well the 1500 mile GR 5 in Europe, and how I am able to continue 100% with this way of eating on the trail.  Trust me, it’s not a hardship!

One of the most fun podcasts was on the very one hosted by Zach Davis, the founder of theTrek, as I’m sure you well know.  Please feel free to check it out at “Backpacker Radio” on YouTube, November, 2023.

I also have a FB page that might interest you, Heart Healthy Hiker.

And so it goes, with my gear, backpack and food  ready to go and reservations made for some campgrounds and my lodgings for my zero days:  hotels, a travel trailer at an RV park and a Kamping Kabin at a KOA. What fun!

Thanks so much for joining me on this continued journey.  Fingers crossed that my knee that is at its happiest when nestled in its KT tape and a small knee brace will continue to play nice and not meet with any further holes (Colorado)  or vines (Florida).

Danger zone:

Hiker, start your engine!

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Comments 16

  • Vikk : Jan 1st

    You are amazing!! Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow!

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 1st

      Thank you, Vikki! I look forward to finally meeting you and Cathy in person in Florida, after being a guest on your Chey and Chew More plants podcast last week.

      • Ruth Morley : Jan 1st

        Oops….Chat and Chew More Plants.

  • Susan E. Malone : Jan 2nd

    What section of the Florida Trail are you doing this January? I am heading down soon and hope to start at Ocala and head north. Perhaps our paths will cross. I am an older female hiker who loves to do long distance trails as well.

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 3rd

      I have started around mile 330 in Tosohatchee Wildlife management area, and will finish in 5 weeks at St Marks south of Tallahassee, completing 450 more miles. Today was our first day on the trail and Tosohatchee had us walking in water 75% of the time. I know it sounds crazy, but the two friends Inwas hiking with and I loved it!! More on that in my next blogpost.

      Good for you for also being out there! I’d love it if we met up sometime on the trail. When on the Colorado Trail last summer, I met 2 fellow hikers who read my posts. It’s a small world for us long distance backpackers. Happy trails!

  • Margaret : Jan 2nd

    Hi Ruth, Just wanted to first off wish you a safe and fun hike on the Florida Trail this year, and second thank you for inspiring me. I recently listened you your interview on Backpacker Radio and you were one of many athletes I have heard talk about a whole food plant based diet and your words drove it home to me. I started this diet or Id say lifestyle (if it works for me) on the 1st. And thanks for sharing the Chili recipe. 🙂

    Have fun in Florida. Looking forward to reading about your hike.


    • Ruth Morley : Jan 3rd

      Margaret, I’m excited for you as you begin this WFPB (whole food plant-based) journey.! It’s one of the very best things you can do for your health. However, it can also be challenging to learn new habits and how to manage when non-compliant foods tempt you. It’s important to always remember your “why” you’re doing it. I suggest you watch podcasts that will educate you, such as YouTube channels by Dr Laurie Marbas, Chef AJ and PCRM’s Exam Room. A book about what to eat that might be of great help might be Dr John McDougall’s “Starch Solution.”

      Please feel free to ask ANY questions that come up on my FB page Heart Healtjy Hiking. Keep in touch!

  • Janie Murphy : Jan 2nd

    I’ll love reading about this hike. Thank you for sharing the details about your foods and I do want to learn more when you return.
    What a healthy way to start 2024!!

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 3rd

      Janie, thank you for your continued support. I’d be happy to get together with you when I return home next month. There’s so much to be gained by following a plant-exclusive way of eating, and I’d love to talk more with you about this.

  • thetentman : Jan 2nd

    Good luck.

    Interesting food and well prepared.

    What kind of tent?


    • Ruth Morley : Jan 3rd

      Tentman, love your name. I’m “Ruthless.” I do enjoy my food greatly. My tent is a Durston X-mid 1P. I really like how it’s supported by my hiking poles, which are off-center. So when I’m climbing out of the tent, they’re off to the side and not in my way. Just 2 pounds, too.

      • thetentman : Jan 4th

        I like your name too. As for food I dream of cheeseburgers while hiking. HYOH! I worked for an outdoor retailer for over 20 years and tents were my specialty. I have set up thousands of tents and even designed one for a manufacturer. Oddly, in recent years I have taken to using a Sil/nylon tarp. It is harder to set up but it weighs less than any tent. I am now thinking that I want to try a Freestanding tent again. I am tired of the set-up hassles with a tarp or even a Hammock, which I have tried and rejected. Your tent looks intriguing though and I will look into it. I am 6’2″ so I need length for comfort. Anyway, good luck with the hike, and remember that these are the good old days.


  • alpilean walmart : Jan 3rd

    Thanks I have just been looking for information about this subject for a long time and yours is the best Ive discovered till now However what in regards to the bottom line Are you certain in regards to the supply

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 3rd

      Alpilean, I appreciate it that you find what I’ve shared to be helpful. Sorry, but I don’t understand your question about the bottom line. Your next question I believe is about how reliable the arrival of my packages is. I’ve received every single food resupply box has sent me for all of the Appalachian Trail, the Colorado Trail and my first third of the Florida Trail. This system is working well with such great support from home.

  • Mario Iglesia : Jan 5th

    Good afternoon Mrs. Morley I’ve been following you since last year when I got my neck fuse, so I wasn’t able to do anything for six months and I just happened to look and you were telling your story of traveling the south Florida Trail, and how you were doing it in three separate years my question is I would like to communicate because I’ve been vegetarian for 61 years basically all my life and now because of health I want to go totally vegan or plant base and that’s what I found hard for the trail to find people that do it on a plant base or Whole Foods Schedule I do have a dehydrator and I’ve done things in the past. I was raised canning in preserving things but I would like to talk and communicate with a person that has done it and is doing it. Everybody tells me to do the Internet and all that, but I am a person that wants a physical book in my hand, and I would like to talk to somebody And get my questions answered when I have questions that is something you and your family can help me. I would greatly appreciated because when I reach your age, I would like to be as helpful and active as you are thank you and waiting for your reply.

    • Ruth Morley : Jan 5th

      I’m very happy that you have followed my blogs for so long. Thank you! Unfortunately, I don’t contact people privately at this point. I suggest you join my FB page Heart Healthy Hiking, where I talk about these things. I recommend you read the book “The Starch Solution” by Dr John McDougall about the benefits of eating plant-based and how to implement it. I also recommend the Backpacking Chef’s website and two cookbooks, “Recipes for Adventure” and Recipes for Adventure II.” Best of luck!


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