Woman sets new speed record on Appalachian Trail

Long distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis completed an end-to-end hike of the Appalachian Trail on Sunday, setting a new speed record in the process. The 28-year old endured long days on the trail, plenty of insects, record heat, and nagging injuries along the way to the finish.

Pharr Davis began her trek at the AT’s northern trail head, located on Mount Katahdin in Maine. Hiking for 15+ hours a day, she managed to cover the entire 2200-mile length of the AT in just 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, reaching the end on Springer Mountain in Georgia this past Sunday. That’s a full day faster than previous record holder Andrew Thompson’s time (47:13:31) and more than ten days faster than Jennifer’s previous record for a female hiker, which stood at 57 days, 8 hours, and 13 minutes.

Between Maine and Georgia, the trail passes through 14 states and offers hundreds of access points along the way. On an annual basis, the AT sees 2-3 million hikers, although most are content to walk just a small section of the full route. There are a few however who take it upon themselves to thru-hike the entire length, with most taking months to complete the journey.

To put into perspective Jennifer’s accomplishment; she managed to walk more than 47 miles per day for 46 days. That’s a very impressive stat considering the terrain that she had to cross through often involved rugged climbs and descents and was usually through dense forests as well. The daily grind of walking that many miles is enough to take its toll on anyone and is a true test of stamina and determination.

[Photo courtesy Mike Dirks/Times-News]