Fatventure Mag Sneak Peek: Chatting with Vanessa Friedman

Fatventure Mag, Vol. 1 features the voices of fat folx from all over the world, including queer, feminist writer and photographer Vanessa Friedman.

Have you heard the news? Fatventure Mag is FULLY FUNDED on Kickstarter! Not only have we surpassed our base goal of $12,000, we’ve surpassed our STRETCH GOAL of $13,000, and we’re on course to hit our second stretch goal of $15k.

That. Is. Amazing.

As a thank you for getting us to our goal (and beyond), we’re bringing you another brief excerpt of an interview featured in our first volume: Alice Lesperance’s chat with Vanessa Friedman. Alice and Vanessa chatted about Vanessa’s 2017 hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, which, if you’re not a hiker, you might recognize from Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. They also discussed bro culture on the trail, documenting hikes on social media and Vanessa’s hiking tips for fat folx.

In this excerpt of her interview for Fatventure Mag, Vanessa talks about finding joy on the trail.

Fatventure Mag: What was your best moment on the trail? When I imagine hiking, especially that distance, I feel like I would be sweaty, nauseated and grumpy the entire time. Were there moments when you felt exceptionally amused or happy?

Vanessa Friedman: Yes! Thank you for asking this. I had moments of extreme joy on the trail multiple times a day, almost every day. It sounds cliche, but nature is just a total fucking drama queen, in the best way possible, and even when I was feeling down or in pain or struggling, the beauty of my surroundings always made me happy. Though the first 700-mile section of the PCT is most famously known as “the desert,” the reality is that this section includes all kinds of landscapes, and rewards hikers with the most incredible views over and over and over again. I would often literally have my breath taken away – and not just because I was huffing and puffing as I climbed steep inclines – because of the beauty of the trail. When I got serious about hiking in my life it was because I was having a love affair with Mother Earth, and while long-distance thru-hiking shook that relationship a little bit – it’s simply impossible to entirely focus on The Beauty All Around Us when you’re worrying about water sources and resupply boxes and the other minutiae of a long hike – that truth has never really disappeared, and my love of the land and the trail itself brought me immense happiness.

I also want to say that other hikers, trail angels, and community members also often brought me joy throughout the day. Because I have written extensively about negative or depressing aspects of the trail and of long-distance hiking culture in general, I think that some people have the idea that I didn’t enjoy anyone on the trail or that I hate all men or…I don’t know what! That’s not true. I made friends on the trail and engaged in a lot of interesting conversation that made me really happy. I was blown away by the kindness some trail angels bestowed upon hikers. I felt extra grateful for the little community I was able to build, because in truth I was dismayed by the prevalence of bro culture and toxic masculinity on the trail. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t love many of the humans I met – I did, and they brought me great joy. I think my favorite moment on the trail was the night I camped alone right by Mt. Baden-Powell. I summited the mountain, caught a gorgeous sunset, and then found a perfectly flat and completely deserted spot to pitch my tent. As the light dwindled I saw the glow of the city in the distance, and I sat on a rock and ate my dinner: chili with a perfect avocado! When I climbed into my tent that night I felt accomplished and full and loved and at peace – it was my favorite moment in 454 miles.

To read our full interview with Vanessa Friedman, please support our Kickstarter by sharing the link or pledging to help us reach our $15,000 stretch goal by June 4. Every $1 helps us pay our contributors, print + ship the zine, and print + ship Kickstarter perks to backers. For just $5, you can get a digital copy of our first volume delivered right to your inbox!

Follow @FatventureMag on Twitter and Instagram for updates, or like us on Facebook. To keep up with Vanessa Friedman, follow her on Twitter and Instagram. She is also the community editor at Autostraddle; you can read her piece about Fatventure Mag here!

Previously, we featured an excerpt from Samantha Puc’s interview with yoga instructor, body positive advocate, and author Jessamyn Stanley. Check it out!