HARPERS FERRY – Two years ago at this time, endurance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis was quickly making her way along the southern end of the Appalachian Trail in record time.
[cleeng_content id="157730635" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]On Sunday, the 30-year-old Asheville, N.C., resident will be in Harpers Ferry to talk about how she completed the 2,180-mile hike in just 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes – a new speed record that earned her the designation as National Geographic’s Adventurer of the Year.
Davis – who during the quest traveled an average of more than 50 miles a day, hiking through difficult terrain from 5 a.m. to as late as 9:30 or 10 p.m., day after day – will talk about her latest book at a free event that begins at 2 p.m. at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy at 799 W. Washington St.
In “Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph on the Appalachian Trail,” Davis details how the record-setting hike she completed July 31, 2011, deepened her affection both for the land and for her supportive family.
Davis’ husband, Brew Davis, led her “pit crew,” a team that accompanied Davis by car to offer all kinds of assistance as she followed the white blazes on thousands of tree trunks starting on June 15 at Mount Katahdin in Maine on through to Georgia’s Springer Mountain.
Brew Davis met up with his wife at checkpoints, providing her with snacks, high-calorie meals and snacks, water refills, ice packs to stave off shin splints and all the other support she needed to tackle the grueling trek on little sleep through 100-degree heat as well as rain and sleet.
Since her record-setting hike, Pharr Davis has attracted nationwide attention, with features in The New York Times, National Public Radio’s “Talk of the Nation,” ESPN and other media outlets.
Before Pharr Davis, the AT speed record had been the domain of men: Andrew Thompson had set the previous record in 2005, when he finished the Maine-to-Georgia footpath in 47 days, 13 hours and 31 minutes.
By the time she attempted the record in 2011, Pharr Davis already had completed the entire AT twice before, including in 2008 when she set a record for the fastest through-hike by a woman, finishing in 57 days.
For another perspective on the hike, Brew Davis has written his own account of the 2011 walk, “46 Days: Keeping up with Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail” with an introduction and afterword from his wife.
A onetime Ironman triathlete and a tennis player during her days at Alabama’s Samford University, she also is the author of two hiking guidebooks for the Charlotte, N.C., area along with “Becoming Odyssa,” a memoir of her first completion of AT in 2005. (“Odyssa” was the trail name she picked for herself.)[/cleeng_content]