Trucker’s next journey is with his feet

By Mark Schremmer, staff writer

OOIDA Member Jered Stern felt it was time for a vacation.

Serving as a truck driver for the past 17 years, Stern said he is on pace to log 2.6 million miles by April.

However, the 44-year-old trucker from South Jordan, Utah, who hauls produce for Giltner Trucking in Jerome, Idaho, didn’t want his vacation to be used for idle time at a beach or resort.

“Please don’t send me somewhere that I’m not moving,” Stern said. “I want to be active. Ideally, I want to do something that’s in pursuit of an end-goal.”

That desire led Stern to pick a vacation that many people wouldn’t consider a “vacation” at all.

Beginning in April, Stern is set to begin a 2,650-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. He is scheduled to leave Campo, Calif., on April 8 and hopes to reach Manning Park, B.C., on Sept. 21, which will be Stern’s 45th birthday.

“I learned about this by listening to a radio interview with Cheryl Strayed, who wrote the book Wild,” Stern said. “I didn’t realize the country had these long trails where you can just go and be on a trail for months on end. The idea just appealed to me. So I started looking into it. The more I looked into it, the more I thought that I needed to do this.

“I’ve been a very active truck driver for almost 18 years. I’ve worked very hard for a long time. That’s part of the reason getting out and walking 2,600 miles is so appealing to me. I’ve been driving through it so hard for so long, I think I want to slow it down and walk some.”

But before Stern could realistically attempt such a physically grueling task, he needed to get himself back in shape. Life on the road had helped lead to Stern weighing as much as 251 pounds. Last April, he began using the My Fitness Pal application on his smartphone to help track his daily calorie intake.

Stern said the dieting helped him lose enough weight to where he felt like he could begin an exercise program.

“I started going to the gym every time I was in town,” he said. “I put my backpack on fully loaded. I put a couple of gallons of water in there on top of the gear to simulate the weight, which I figured would be about 35 pounds. I’d hit the incline treadmill. That worked real well. In the truck, I have a stair stepper that I use when I can’t get to the gym. I have dumbbells, a medicine ball, and a kettlebell weight for squats in the truck. It’s all about getting the body ready for action again.”

Stern said he’s lost about 40 pounds and has worked to avoid the temptations of consuming a poor diet on the road.

“It’s really not difficult to stay in shape while on the road if you’re focused in on staying in shape,” he said. “You just do it. It’s part of your routine. You know the foods you can eat, and you just eat those. When you have the urge for the Snickers bar, you just have to say no. But the gist of it is that it’s real easy to go the other way while on the road.

“If you’re not focused on it, you’re just going to grab whatever’s right in front of your face because it’s fast. You don’t want to spend an extra minute in the fuel lane. You just want to grab something and go. Before you know it, you’re 40 pounds overweight. Being overweight sucks, but, boy, is it easy out here,” he said.

If all goes as planned, Stern said this will be his first birthday in years that he’s done something to celebrate.

“I’ve usually worked on my birthday,” he said. “I’ll probably have a beer in my backpack and crack it open when I’m finished. It will be a nice reward on my birthday.” LL