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Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail
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Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: what if... on 08/03/2011 18:50:21 MDT Print View

"what if someone did something amazing... and never told anyone."

Oh gosh, I do that all the time. Just last week I ........ ohhhhhh, you almost had me there. Tricky.

But seriously, it happens every day. I loved to watch my elementary school teacher wife engage her young charges. She did some truly amazing things with them and never told anyone. There are soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan right now doing amazing things and not telling anyone. There's someone crouching down with some hot soup and a sincerely kind word for a homeless person, chatting for a bit, and then going on their way with no one else the wiser. There's a crisis counselor somewhere talking someone 'off the ledge,' and then going on to the next call without missing a beat.

I know, quite different from sports records and such, but amazing triumphs of the soul, of the spirit, of the heart nonetheless. There's lots and lots of heroes out there, doing things big and small. Making a real difference in someone's life. Every single day.

Darn you Dave, made me be serious for a sec there. I'll get you for that.....

(And lest someone take this as somehow, some way disparaging or diminishing what Jennifer did, you're simply wrong. I couldn't do what she did, even when I was her age, I think it's pretty amazing. But it's a shame some folks need to resort to name calling just because someone expressed an opinion (and in the opinion agreed that what she did was commendable). Some of you cheapened this thread more with your attacks on Nick than Nick did with his pretty simple opinion. At least, that's my opinion.....)

Edited by idester on 08/03/2011 19:07:54 MDT.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
Intraweb on 08/03/2011 19:01:10 MDT Print View

The intraweb lets me criticizen put down other people accomplishments

Even though i cant even get off my phat lazy azz and do anything close

God i luuuv BPL ;)

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Re: what if... on 08/03/2011 19:17:35 MDT Print View

I love these forums. One completely inane post followed by one genuinely wonderful one. Thanks Doug.

Ron Bell
(mountainlaureldesigns) - F - M

Locale: USA
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/03/2011 20:27:25 MDT Print View

Of course I'm totally impressed by the actual speed record, but I am 10X as impressed by all the training, prep, years of life change commitment it takes to even get to the point of seriously attempting the record.

Maybe the most impressive sub set of that is her ability and good nature to create the necessary atmosphere around her socially to be in the supportive position to go for it.


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail" on 08/03/2011 20:48:10 MDT Print View

Well said Ron.

Never fails, every time an ultrarunner sets out to establish a fastest known time on a recognized long trail (*particularly the AT) there is some thru-hiking purist in line ready to chip away or place a footnote on the attempt both in failure and success.

What Davis has accomplished is remarkable, period.

James Lantz
(jameslantz) - F

Locale: North Georgia
"Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on AT" on 08/03/2011 20:58:02 MDT Print View

Supported or not, still quite an accomplishment. I have a question I've not seen addressed: Are there separate records for North-South vs. South-North? I would imagine it is faster to tackle New England while relatively fresh & go thru the Roan Highlands/Smokies/Nantahalas North-South.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: back story on 08/03/2011 22:48:24 MDT Print View

To quote myself on this thread...

"Kudos are in order." and "I do not want to make light of what she accomplished."


Last I checked, this is and for me I look at articles and posts from the perspective of what can I learn, what can I apply, is it something that interests me, or is it something that inspires me? Others may look for something else, and that is fine too.

Jennifer's hike was not an easy one. But Jennifer's story does not inspire me. Apparently it inspires others, and that is okay too. She and her husband are the ones who have pushed this into the media and limelight. They are promoting the hike. And they may benefit financially from the fanfare. She has already written one book.

This year I am inspired by Sunshine and her father, Eric ("Balls"). While people here are posting questions about how to hike the JMT in August, this 11 year old girl hiked from Kennedy Meadows to Tuolumne Meadows between June 12 and July 2 on their PCT thru hike. And this is one of the heaviest snow years on record. While they were navigating high water and snow, other PCT hikers waited in Kennedy Meadows for some of the snow to melt or just skipped that section altogether with plans to circle back when conditions get better. Also a while back I saw some questions here about Forrester and Kearsarge Passes and when would it be best to hike them this year. Sunshine did them in mid June. And she has done 30 plus miles in a day with a real pack. To me, that is worth discussing. Read their journal, Sunshine is having the time of her life and Eric sounds like one heck of a father. They are NOT doing this trip for media coverage or to set any record; it is about hiking, nature and family. To me this adventure is worthy of donating money, and I challenge others to do so too.

From my perspective, trips like Jordan's Artic 1000, Skukra's adventures, Dave Chenault's Alaska Mtn Wilderness Classic, and similar trips are enjoyable reading and chock full of information I can or might use. These trips inspire me. And there are many others, some from famous people and many from everyday folks who are just like me.

This does not mean we should ignore other sports like ultra-marathoning, packrafting, mountaineering, or climbing. Many interesting posts and links to these are found here on BPL. Again a lot of interesting trips and information. Stuff that all of us can probably glean some new knowledge for our hiking endeavors. I learn a lot from all of this. Different sports, but a lot crosses over to backpacking. And sometimes little 3-day trip reports are great reading.

Everyone seeks different goals in their wilderness experience/adventures. One thing I see with the fast and light mindset is a huge dependence on outside support. People re-supply frequently and jump off the trail to get food, beds, and other amenities. Gosh, how much gas did Jennifer's husband burn in the past 47 days. And for what?

We make fun of the old traditional hikers, but with our big packs we were self-supported easily for 2 - 3 weeks, and even longer. And that is what we did. The wilderness was less crowded, rescue was less likely, and we did not have electronics to guide and protect us. We did not have published trail guides or trip reports to show us where to go. Heck a lot of us would get a road map, pick a spot that looked interesting, drive or hitch-hike there, get a map at a ranger station and go for a multi-week trip and not see a single person the entire time. But many on BPL would sure pooh-pooh someone who posted a trip report like that with a lot of the old gear and techniques where re-supply was not needed in a month long trip.

Regarding records. Records are meant to be broken. I love competition, and I enjoy it at the highest levels. A lot of us on BPL discussed Chris Solinsksy's 10K American Record last year because it was one of the longest standing records in track. It was a record the elite sought to break for many years. I am a distance running fan, and Chris inspires me. But I have no interest in someone who looks for some obscure event and tries to break a record with great public fanfare such as the American 1,000 or 2,000 yard record that is rarely contested, or any other record in a similar vein in any other sport or activity.

In closing, YMMV.



David T
(DaveT) - F
speeeeeed. on 08/04/2011 01:05:32 MDT Print View

+1 douglas (you got it).
+1 nick.


Edited by DaveT on 08/04/2011 01:10:33 MDT.

Michael Barber

Locale: Western NC Mountains
Impressive stroll in the woods either way on 08/04/2011 04:47:41 MDT Print View

Not my cup of tea, but very, very impressive. It doesn't bother me that they put it in the media. Some of the other adventures mentioned on this thread were also promoted to the media - complete with sponsors. As far as I can tell the only difference is whether you're inspired by an athletic achievement or a wilderness achievement. True enough, this particular achievement has almost nothing to do with backpacking and everything to do with hiking. So it just depends on what floats your boat I guess.

EDIT: removed image, expressed an opinion instead.

Edited by CuriousLayman on 08/04/2011 06:04:42 MDT.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: Re: Re: back story on 08/04/2011 04:49:15 MDT Print View

Nick, very well said +1

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: back story on 08/04/2011 05:39:34 MDT Print View

Well said, Douglas and Nick. Well said.

K ....
(Kat_P) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Coast
criticize on 08/04/2011 06:12:31 MDT Print View

The higher you think of yourself and the more attention you try to draw to your accomplishments, the more critical people will be of you. True on the trail and on this forum, which is why I think the critical post is getting the same treatment.

Edited by Kat_P on 08/04/2011 09:30:21 MDT.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 08:56:58 MDT Print View

Good post Brad. Not sure why others are so critical of someone reaching a milestone.

Brad Fisher

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: Tahoe
Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 10:09:57 MDT Print View

Very impressive indeed. And I appreciate the extra details Nick provided that were not provided in the article. Not sure why that's being interpreted as criticism.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re: Speed Hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis sets Record on Appalachian Trail on 08/04/2011 10:51:57 MDT Print View

Yeah, that little girl hiking the PCT makes me feel like the biggest wuss ever! She and her mom and dad visited my mom at the half-way mark. My mom is now one of those crazy trail angel ladies.

I'm curious, is Jennifer Pharr Davis the same person as Hummingbird? Last year a small lady ran the PCT and went by the name Hummingbird. A friend of mine had dinner with her at Callahan's to celebrate her first 60 mile day.

Bob Salcedo
(Baughb) - F

Locale: So Cal.
I Hope... on 08/04/2011 14:27:49 MDT Print View

I hope to never be in that much of a hurry through such beautiful country whether on foot or bicycle or small plane.


Rob Lee
(roblee) - MLife

Locale: Southern High Plains
Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:15:46 MDT Print View

Jennifer, Brew, and their toddler daughter Charlie stopped in Lubbock this week and presented a program to a small group of mostly non-hikers at a library. They are a wonderful, friendly, and sharing family on a road trip/book tour. Her program was mostly about inspiration, growth, dreams, and challenge. She described her morphology from a career driven college grad in a cubicle into a fleet-footed life on the trail.Along that path were also many fulfilling experiences including love, marriage, faith, family,and a new focus for the future. She is an engaging speaker that presents quite an image with her 6' frame, large penetrating eyes, good grammar, audience interaction, and charisma. Brew is obviously her Rock. He was easy to talk to with a quick wit while lovingly letting us in on some of Jennifer's quirks. And Charlie is a sweetheart. Obviously content with a life on the road and quite willing to charm the audience. Maybe 2 years old and she has walked in 38 states already. This talk was not for gear geeks as she didn't mention a single brand name or sponsor and only mentioned a few items in general. She would have talked gear more, but the questions were mostly about life. She did talk about the "record" and made it clear it was an intensely coordinated group effort. The talk was free and they were there early and stayed late to talk with anyone wanting to know more. Of course, she had books to sell as that pays the bills.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:51:53 MDT Print View

thanks for this personal insight.
sounds like an event I would like to attend should it ever happen near me.

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 10:55:26 MDT Print View

What was her new focus for the future? I am assuming no more record attempts.


Rob Lee
(roblee) - MLife

Locale: Southern High Plains
Re: Re: Re: Jennifer as a Speaker and a Person on 04/18/2014 21:22:49 MDT Print View

I asked "What's next?", and she was not specific; just that she hoped to continue career opportunities involving hiking, guiding, and writing,with a primary focus on raising Charlie. I was thinking there might be some other record attempt, but she offered nothing along that line.