Thru-Hiker Looks To Break Own Speed Record On The AT

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Hiking the Appalachian Trail end-to-end is no easy feat. Stretching from Maine to Georgie, the trail is nearly 2200 miles (3540km) in length, winding its way up and down, and back up again, through the Appalachian Mountains. Next week, thru-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis will set out to break the women’s speed record for the trail by averaging more than 46 miles per day, which is obviously a very ambitious pace. If anyone can do it however, it’ll be Jennifer, who set the current record herself back in 2008.

Before setting out, Jennifer sat down with National Geographic Adventure and gave an interesting interview about her approach to long-distance hiking. That interview is now available on the NG Adventure Blog.

In the interview, Pharr Davis discusses why she wants to go after her own record, and possibly the overall record for men or women, how she approaches a 46-mile per day pace, and the training she has been going through in preparation for the hike. She also says she expects to go through six or seven pairs of shoes (Salomon are trail shoes of choice!) along the way and burn in excess of 6000 calories per day as well. She also touches on her favorite pieces of gear, her bid to become a “professional hiker,” and what’s next after she conquers the AT for a second time.

Jennifer’s current record for the end-to-end hike is 57 days, 8 hours and 35 minutes. Her pace on that hike was about 38 miles per day, and while she intends to complete the trek sooner this time out, she doesn’t expect that her pace will increase. Instead, she plans to hike for two additional hours each day, as on her last hike, she wasn’t prepared to continue into the night. That has changed, and since she wants to make a serious assault on her own record, she knows she’ll have to find ways to stay on the trail longer.

Good luck to Jennifer on her hike. Don’t forget to enjoy the walk while you’re out there Jen!

Kraig Becker