If all goes as planned this weekend, 25-year-old Jennifer Pharr Davis will set the women’s record for the fastest assisted thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
If she reaches Springer Mountain in Georgia by today she will have completed the entire Appalachian Trail in just 58 days. Her initial goal was to complete the trail in 60 to 80 days. Currently, Jenny Jardine holds the women’s AT speed record, setting-it in 1993 when she and her husband hiked the trail in 87 days.
There’s one key difference between the two treks though: Jardine hiked the trail unsupported, whereas Davis is hiking the trail with support from her husband, whom she married just days before launching her quest. Jennifer’s husband supplies her with food and water at road crossings and takes her camping gear to the next overnight spot. She only carries food and water in a waist-pack and doesn’t carry a backpack.
Davis began her southbound hike on June 20 at Mt. Katahdin in Maine. Once completed, she will have covered the 2,176 miles on the world-famous path for the second time. For most thru-hikers, this trek usually takes five to six months.
This is no fluke for Davis. She holds records for the fastest unsupported hikes on the 270-mile Long Trail in Vermont and the 660-mile Bibbulman Track in Australia. She has also completed the Appalachian Trail in 2005 and the 2650-mile Pacific Crest Trail in 2006.
Each day, Davis covers almost 37 miles during 13 hours of hiking, while burning an incredible 4,000 calories. She estimates that she’s run about 30 percent of the miles along the way. She’s also gone through 10 pairs of shoes so far.
Davis has undertaken this personal challenge, in part, to honor victims who have been murdered while hiking within the last year. She is honoring Meredith Emerson who was killed while hiking on Blood Mountain in Georgia this past January, and John and Irene Bryant, an elderly couple who were murdered in October while hiking in Pisgah National Forest. She hopes her record hike will assure others that, despite these isolated tragedies, they shouldn’t fear the woods.
You can follow her journal entries at: blueridgeoutdoors.com/content/category/Pharr-Out/
BlueRidgeNow.com is also covering her trek.