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The Latest PCT Speed Records: A Reaction

Forester Pass, Pacific Crest Trail
Forester Pass, Pacific Crest Trail by http://www.flickr.com/photos/wetwebwork/

Two new speed records were set last week for completing the Pacific Crest Trail in record time.

[quote]In remarkable feats of endurance hiking, Josh Garrett and Heather “Anish” Anderson are reported to have broken the overall Pacific Crest Trail speed record this week. They hiked separately, with Heather finishing first with a time of 60 days and 17 hours and 12 minutes. Josh finished the next day with a time of 59 days and 8 hours and 14 minutes*. We’re in awe of their achievements and applaud them both. From PCTA.org
[/quote]

Congratulations to Josh and Anish for completing your PCT Thru-hikes (from me.)

The Big Brag

I’ll probably get flamed for speaking my mind here, but so be it. This is my reaction to the news. You’re welcome to have your own reaction and you can comment below if you want to share it.

I endorse the “hike your own hike” ethic, but I don’t think turning long trail thru-hikes into races is a good thing.

  • How can you sum up a PCT thru-hike in terms of the time it took you to complete it?
  • Isn’t it enough that someone finishes a long distance trail, regardless of whether it takes them 6 months or 20 years?

Author Walt McLaughlin delves into this issue in his recent book, The Allure of Deep Woods, a book that’s left a deep impression on me this summer. Walt uses the term “The Big Brag” to describe hikers who care more about the speed in which they hike a long trail than the experience of hiking it.

If we turn long distance hiking into races with record holders, corporate sponsors, support teams, and rules, I think we diminish the Wilderness we hike through and the social interactions between hikers, trail angels, and townies that make thru-hiking and section hiking the rich experience it can be.

If you want to impress me, hike and packraft across Alaska unsupported, or something.

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45 comments

  1. Cool Phil, totally agree.

    To me hiking is much more about being outside, in nature, seeing beautiful things and doing a wonderful activity at the same time. And to me it’s also about taking your time, taking in the landscape, taking some pictures, stuff like that.

    But of course different folks get satisfaction from different things, so fair enough, if you want to see how quickly you can go as far as possible, feel free.

    I guess the important thing is respect. Whether you want to go on a long-distance hike or any kind of race or just a leisurely stroll through the park, if you do something you like and you’re not doing any harm, thumbs up!

  2. I don’t know, I think speed record type hiking is fine. I can’t do it, I’m just too old to get into the kind of condition you need to be in(I don’t think it is possible.) But, like any other sport, there is always the competitiveness of being lighter, of carrying less…or going faster than the other guy. I stop on a peak for a few minutes, and look around. But, looking for 5 minutes often puts my mind at ease. I’m ready to move on. Everyone has their own style, and what makes them happy being out. Speed hikers are OK. Campers are OK. I’m planning a trip where I will hike about 80-90 miles to do some fishing. I may spend a couple days at the same camp. Not a big deal, everyone has their own way of hiking. This is perhaps the biggest reason I like to solo hike. I do what I want when I feel like it. I have hiked from sun up to midnight. Other times, I hike from 1000-1600. I just do what I am comfortable with. I think others feel the same way. If Anish wants to go by me, fine. I am not her. She is simply hiking how she enjoys the trip. I don’t really care, I am stopping to do some fishing. I am stopping on a peak before heading down. I am in no particular hurry.

  3. I’m pretty much in the same boat as you, Phil, with minor exceptions. First of all, I think it is pretty awesome that those two records were set by a woman and a vegan. And, like many others, I think it’s pretty lame that none of the news reports are making the distinction between unsupported and supported.

    I have great respect for the athletes as far as their ability, but I’m about as impressed by the race as I am by Olympic curling. Take from that what you will.

    Last point for now, but I think I also have an unpopular opinion about “hikes for raising awareness”, which is a bizarre phenomenon I’ve been seeing since starting long-distance backpacking. You see it on every major trail, every year– people claiming their hikes are to raise money or awareness for whatever cause. I know Josh’s run was one of these (I haven’t checked Anish’s), but it bothers me that people take something that is a completely selfish act (hiking the AT or PCT) and claim that they’re doing it for anyone other than themselves. There are better ways to raise money or get a message out in almost every case. Let’s just call thru-hiking what it is– it’s a long vacation for the primary benefit of one person.

    • Right on. These “for a cause” efforts drive me nuts — you don’t undertake a project this difficult for any non-self-serving reason. I have much greater appreciation for the explanation, “Because I think it will be a worthwhile use of my time and resources, for me.”

      Let’s suppose that Josh’s trip cost $10k and entailed no less than 1800 hours of work (two people, 15 hours a day, 60 days). What would have been more impactful? Josh hiking the PCT “for the animals,” or donating $10k and forty-five 40-hour weeks to PETA?

      • Hah. Well, on the upside, at least I can hope that Josh’s hike will lay to rest any comments about vegans’ ability to hike long-distance trails. I’ve met some other for-a-cause hikers (one especially comes to mind this year), though, who are very poor examples of people in general, let alone through-hikers.

        As you have demonstrated, Andrew, it’s what you do after your big trip that can make the biggest difference to the rest of the world. During the trip, it’s best just to focus on the task (and experience) at hand.

    • The unsupported effort was a really awesome accomplishment. I feel a bit more ‘meh’ about supported efforts. If your goal is record-breaking speed hikes, that’s your goal. That’s not everyone’s goal on a thru-hike, and it doesn’t have to be. Some people really like to linger and enjoy the scenery, and that’s fine.

    • To some extent I can understand the negative opinions on hikes for raising awareness and it can be a selfish act. That said, I enjoy hiking, and I try to raise money for charity while doing it. Each year I choose something more challenging than the last, although my capabilities haven’t reached that of attempting the AT or PCT just yet, but you never know in the future!

      I have a personal connection to my chosen charity, having suffered with Epilepsy for 12 years. Without their help, I wouldn’t be hiking, so I see my freedom to attempt these selfish personal challenges as an opportunity to thank them by promoting the work they do.

      Sure, I could have donated the money and volunteered the time spent, but as these challenges are also well earned vacations, if I can raise awareness and money at the same time, I see no harm in it.

      Sadly, we live in a world where many people need to see someone do something out of their comfort zone before donating to causes; I’m happy to oblige.

  4. As a believer in “slow-lo hiking”, it makes no sense to me to race hike. I personally go into the woods to be with Nature; to soak up what it has to offer. It is my personal medicine. Having said that, i certainly can understand the personal challenge aspect of going as fast as you can, if that is what you choose to do. Being the first at something is cool, too, I guess.

    If you really want to impress me, though, hike it barefoot like the Barefoot Sisters, backwards and blind-folded. Now that would be something…

  5. I don’t know anything about these particular “hikers”. But generally I wouldn’t consider these “racer hikers” as engaged in the same sport as us (me). I know a trail runner who does 100 mile runs/races all the time, and I deeply respect him as an athlete, and respect what he does. I don’t think it “diminishes” the wilderness for someone to run through it. It doesn’t stop you and me from walking slowly through it (and having social interaction).

    That said, I have always believed in enjoying the outdoors in a slow and peaceful manner. I think “peak bagging” is sillier than trail running, and I have basically no interest in people who think hiking is about carving notches in their belt for each mountain they’ve topped. I’ve taken far more from my 8 year old son, who goes slow and focuses on things on the ground, and who slows me down and shows me small creatures that are absolutely fascinating. :)

    Cool topic, though, very much worth discussing.

    • As a “peak bagger” I don’t do it to carve a notch in my belt. I do it because that is the terrain and trips I find stimulating. I enjoy the terrain near summits and above treeline, the weather up high, and the views that the summits offer or don’t offer. I also enjoy the challenge of climbing a mountain whether it be viewless owls head, the spectacular views from the bonds or any other mountain. Those are the hikes I like so those are the hikes I do.

  6. At one level I’m happy whenever the Pacific Crest Trail, or other trail network, receives public attention. I found myself on the AT in Georgia the year then-Governor Mark Sanford was caught out, and everyone, it seemed, had heard of the Appalachian Trail, even people with no interest in hiking or the outdoors. It was also highly amusing to have North Carolinians jumping up to inform me that Sanford represented S. Carolina. Attention for a trail means, hopefully, funding for corridor protection, etc., and perhaps might even be enough to lure a few more people off their sofas and into the woods.

    From the perspective of someone who backpacks, however, I don’t much like the word “hiking” being used for a dash through the wilderness. A runner’s aim is to get to the finish line as quickly as possible, not to soak up the experience of being in a wild place, and perhaps I’d be happier if descriptions of such feats made some distinction.

  7. I guess I’m in the minority here as a guy that really enjoys going as fast as possible on tricky terrain be it thru trail running or “speed/power” hiking.

    I started hiking back in 2009, with a friend. We would carry full day packs, go slow, take out time, talk, enjoy the area. After a year or so he stopped having the time for hikes so I started going solo. I got bored with slow hiking of the areas within ~2hrs of my location, so I decided to start hiking against the clock. My pack got lighter, my boots turned to light “hikers”, then my pack turned to a race vest or simple bottle and my light hikers turned to performance trail runners.
    I found that I was running trails and loving the challenge – not the running part, but simply going as fast as I humanly can on the most challenging terrain I can find, all while being outside in nature, fresh air, and solitude.

    I think there’s a fine line between what is fast for one person and slow for another. I’m sure most people don’t meander thru the cols looking at every branch and bush when there is a nice vista up ahead.

    I recently did a 3 day trip which, “if I may brag” looked like this:
    – On the way up the ADKs, tag Mt. Equinox in VT, power hiking up in 50 mins, then bombing down in 20 mins.
    – Crash overnight in the ADK then wake up the next morning, hitting the trail at 7am to do a 15 mile loop of Sawteeth, Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong, and the Wolf Jaws, finishing at 1pm. 4hrs-25 mins moving time, 1hr-38mins stopped time
    – Same day drive south to the Catskills and crash overnight
    – Next morning, do a 11 mile loop of Plateau, Sugarloaf, and the Twins. 3hrs-42mins moving, 1hr-30mins stopped
    On all the adventures above I took TONS of pictures with my phone. I timed the trips down to a T with my watch, with splits at every juncture for my records. I power hiked the hills, ran where possible, bombed the descents, and all while enjoying every rock slab, root hand-hold, and gorgeous view. I don’t feel like I missed a single thing at the pace I went at.

    While I enjoy the wilderness for peace and solitude, I enjoy the challenge it provides my body. I enjoy each new view just as much as pushing my body to the limit. The catskill run above, while not having nearly as nice views as the ADKs, was almost more fun because of the challenging terrain that demanded even more focus and effort from my body.

    I see no reason to go slow, when I can get views, peace and solitude, all while challenging my body physically and mentally pushing myself thru the resulting pain.
    The faster I go, the longer I can stop and enjoy the nice views :)

    I’m currently perfecting my “fastpack” for some quick overnighter loops in the Whites such as a 2-day Pemi. I really don’t have much desire to go slow and hike routes anymore, when it’s possible to run and go faster and see even more.

    I also find the effort of running and a faster cadence (especially on downhills) to be much easier on my knees than slow hiking steps (downhill).

    As for the the topic at hand and the speed record – I think the distinction needs to be made whether it was supported or not. Both are impressive in their own rights. I see no difference with a speed record on a route versus the “book” time of said route in a guide book. Just different people and abilities.

    What I am against however, is if these record attempts and trail races overcrowd an area to the point that they hamper the experience for others simply looking for a nice day hike. I’ve yet to experience this, but the more popular trail racing and these record attempts become, the more chance there is that one day I’ll show up to a trail head and there’s some crazy event going one.

  8. One more comment –

    In regards to summing up a “thru-hike” in the time it took:
    -It’s the challenge of going fast
    -Some poeple don’t have months to spend so going fast is key

    – It’s impressive. Correct me if I’m wrong Phil, but numerous trip reports of yours comment on the time it took to the effect of “making good time”, so you can not say time stands still on your hikes.

    I would love to thru hike the AT or PCT, but don’t have the time. More so, I don’t wanna bother with the logistics of drops and towns. So I would do sections as fast as possible, to get as much done.

    The record just shows what IS possible I guess….

    • It’s a miracle when I can hit 3 mph and sustain it for more than 3 hours. When it happens I’m usually walking on a road. :-) While I have commented on my speed during section hikes, it’s not because I was racing against someone else. Usually, I’m racing to beat sunset before I get to a shelter or to meet a ride or to get home before my wife kills me for staying out longer than planned. There is a difference.

      • Two months ago I was making my way down the White Dot trail on Mt Monadnock along with many other day hikers. This trail has some reasonably difficult footing on the route down. As I and another hiking couple were picking our way through a particularly rocky section, we heard someone in the distance yelling “coming through!”. we turned just in time to see a 20 something guy bounding down at full speed – virtually running and hopping from rock to rock. One could only assume he was trying to beat some deadline to get to the bottom, and that this was clearly not his first time coming down the trail this way. I was put off by someone essentially crashing though our hike like that. I know this is a popular area, and it is not the same as the through hiker goals of the two record holders, but I agree with Phillip that it is just another thing that chips away at the majesty of the outdoors.

  9. I have no issue with people trying to set speed records. As long as they don’t get in my way, I don’t mind, and I think they are great athletes.

    However, I strongly believe that for it to matter in terms of backpacking or woodsmanship in any way, it has to be done by fair means. If someone can set a speed record on the PCT while carrying all of their gear, using only the shelter they carry, and with limited food drops, I think it would be very interesting with respect to what we do. I would love to see what gear that person carried, how they trained, what food they ate, etc. However, if the person set the speed record while a team of people drove right next to him, carrying all of his gear and puling a trailer where the person can sleep at night, I think it is completely unrelated to backpacking, and I have little interest in it.

  10. This doesn’t bother me at all. People hike for different reasons. For some it’s to connect w/ nature. For others it’s for fitness and for others it’s about testing your physical endurance.

    My guess is, these two were looking to test themselves. Imagine the physical strain and mental test it must be to hike 2,700+ miles in 60 days.

    I’m a slow hike, but I hike all day w/ few breaks. Not because I don’t want to enjoy my surroundings, but because I like to stay busy. I’m not good at down time.

    Next year, I’m planning to do a JMT through hike. I would only be able to take off 2 weeks from Work, so I would need to drive or fly from Boston to California, hike the JMT in roughly 10 days (21 miles per day) and fly or hike home. 21 mile days are very ambitious for me. But I work 2 jobs and have a wife and child. The options are to do it fast or don’t do it at all.

    Now I doubt these two guys have the same commitments I do. That said, we all hike for different reasons and under different circumstances. These two needed the physical and mental test of grinding out 30 mile days and I say more power to them.

  11. Whether its a short hike or long hike, it seems people look down on going fast and think of it as missing out on nature when there is a lot to enjoy and relish from the physical aspect of it.

    Guess it all depends on one’s priorities and abilities.

  12. Keep in mind that even doing it quickly (record time) means going 3 to 4 mph most of the time. That’s still pretty slow in our sped up world where we drive 800 miles a day easily, or fly around thew world in a day. Plenty of time to enjoy the environment you’re in.

    I read Jennifer Pharr Davis’ book about her speed record on the AT and I thought she had a healthy attitude about it– she did it because she loves the trail and loves testing herself. And that’s great! She would agree some some comments above, however, for example people who do it ONLY for the record are not something she would respect and she said no one should attempt a record until they’ve first just thru hiked the trail at a “normal” speed. She would definitely object to someone quitting just because they realize they’re not going to get the record (unless injured or sick of course).

    And anything that gets more people out on the trail and more support for trails like this is a good thing, and I think these newsworthy speed events do that.

  13. Jogging through the Louvre.

  14. This is why it’s called ” Hike your own hike”. Why does ANYONE need to care how fast or slow someone goes, unless you are hiking WITH them? I prefer being able to enjoy the surroundings around me while going at a decent enough pace not to be a total slow poke. I’m not a speed hiker. That is me. That is what I like, and no one should care about it. And I don’t care how fast someone else goes.
    Someone also mentioned they don’t like peakbagging. That’s fine, but again understand its really no one’s business. I like the idea of peakbagging myself, for my own reasons. For those who don’t, then they don’t have to worry about that. The woods and mountains are just there; you can hike/climb them anyway you want. That’s the beauty of it all.

    I commend Anish espescially on HER hike as she did it unsupported. And we don’t need to argue over that, because that is just my preference to give more props to those who do that unsupported.

  15. I’m an avid backpacker, and while I’m not personally interested in endurance hiking, it definitely doesn’t bother me that other people do it in the least. It certainly doesn’t diminish the wilderness experience for me. I deeply respect one’s desire to test one’s physical limits, which I believe is the main draw in doing this activity. Sure, I go car camping with my non-backpacking friends, I go day hiking on easy trails, and I also go on extended, strenuous backpacking trips where climbing tall mountains is on the agenda. I love it all. I do understand how one would want to break a record and test oneself beyond belief. I think that is why people run marathons, partake in triathlons, and go on mountaineering expeditions. People who run marathons get an extreme sense of satisfaction from doing so, but the experience itself is not frequently described as “enjoyable”. It’s more about endurance and accomplishing a goal. Additionally, I also think it is somewhat presumptuous to say that these endurance hikers are not enjoying the wilderness, or having the “rich experience” that other, more conventional hikers have. Even if they are not enjoying it in the same way you would, it doesn’t mean that they are not enjoying it.

    I read this blog often, and I think this is a good discussion topic, but I think it is important for the backpacking community to be inclusive and embrace other wilderness activities and types of experiences (as long as it doesn’t negatively impact the wilderness in general), even if you can’t see yourself partaking in it.

  16. I’m not sure why folks let speed records upset them. And assuming that the people setting speed or peak bagging records aren’t enjoying the wilderness or the experience is absurd, unless you read it or heard it directly from the person involved.

  17. Agreed. Great post Philip, was waiting for someone to address this topic.

  18. I don’t have a problem with someone wanting to set a “record”, however, it’s certainly not for me. Although I do time myself on familiar hikes to see if I’m moving faster or slower than normal, I hike to enjoy the surroundings. The main reason I time myself on certain hikes is to see if my weight loss and striving to get into better shape is balancing the advancing age and physical limitations associated with it.

    A few years ago, I backpacked the Grand Canyon with a friend who lives in Flagstaff. He hikes the canyon often, almost always as a rim to rim day hike. Some of his younger friends do rim to rim to rim as day hikes. Of course, old Grandpa here couldn’t keep up with that kind of pace. The friend told me afterwards that he saw more on our hike than he ever did on any of his others. Why? Because we were going slow enough to soak in the scenery.

  19. chiefWright (marquam)

    I would completely agree that the wilderness trail is no place for corporate sponsorships, race rules, and trail judges around each corner to make sure trail runners are playing fair and square.

    It’s wilderness. It doesn’t play fair and square. It’s not a level playing field. Distance/speed hiking in wilderness can never be considered “fair” competition unless these structures are put in place to make it fair. Which then no longer makes it wilderness.

    But neither would I impose my own preference for experiencing wilderness on anybody else. Part of the what Edward Abbey called the “political necessity of wilderness” is for each individual to experience it on their own terms.

    That includes those who would savor every turn, those who scramble up every peak, those who carry $$$ of ultralight gear, those who dust off the old frame pack, and yes, those who travel at warp speed with poles a-flailing and debate ad nauseum about supported vs unsupported hiking. Though I suspect the debate is mostly fueled by those who aren’t capable of 45 mpd for two months.

    Let’s not become snobs by implying that our way of experiencing wilderness is the right way to experience wilderness. But yes, let’s talk about those activities both on and off the trail that imperil the wilderness character of the trail.

    As long as we don’t despoil it, the wilderness trail is wide enough.

  20. As long as someone is following leave no trace and being contentious of the environment nobody has any right to judge them for enjoying what they love. Let us take a counter point to look at the absurdity of trying to judge someone:

    1. A slow hiker spends a longer time in one spot and contributes to over-crowding
    2. A speed hiker is generally rude and pushes past people
    3. A backpacker degrades the environment by sleeping out there and increasing their
    footprint
    4. Someone who doesn’t overnight doesn’t fully embrace the outdoors
    5. A large group gets in people’s way and takes away from the ‘wilderness’ perception
    6. A small group is unsafe and they are irresponsible.
    7. An ultra light gear hiker is an elitist
    8. A traditional gear hiker has no idea how much more fun they could have with ultra light gear

    Anyone who is outdoors and actually cares about the environment is your friend. They are not the ones trying to build power lines or condos on top of mountains. We need to encourage as many types of people to get outdoors.

    • Chris,

      I like your reply. We all need to remember our perception of others and theirs of us is colored by our own views and experiences. Much of the rudeness we attribute to others is a misunderstanding of their intentions.

    • Chris G,

      That was a great comment about the impacts of all hikers. Everything we do has impact somewhere. I enjoy the outdoors and the wilderness, especially the Sierra above 10,000 ft. I have only done short 3-5 day backpack trips, technical rock climbing, X-C and downhill skiing and currently enjoy dirt bike riding to get out and see areas most of us can’t hike to. The most important thing being outdoors is to “give people space” and “pack out what you pack in” and just plain being courteous to others doing what they like. As soon as we start pointing out that someone’s way is wrong, then others will tell us that “our way is wrong”, then we are all doomed.
      Best thing is to get out and view the beauty and leave it as you found it and clean up after those that don’t.

      Regards,
      Pat D.

  21. The trail is the thing, not the end of the trail. Travel too fast and you miss all you are traveling for.

    -Unknown

  22. Phillip, I agree with you! However, maybe I shouldn’t say that, since I was one of those checking out Anish’s Facebook several times on her last day I do think it’s a shame that such people miss all that beautiful scenery hiking in the dark! I am definitely a “go slow and smell the flowers” hiker, not just because of old age.

    A couple of items: Anish’s hike was unsupported, although there was some fuss on WB about the publicity bringing more trail angels out than usual (probably true). In other words, she had to hike quite a bit extra every time she resupplied, since she didn’t hitch rides. She’s also vegan, although she did “slip” a bit, especially when pizza was offered! Josh’s hike was fully supported by a team from, as I understand, Whole Foods (not my favorite store, which makes me a bit prejudiced). His resupplies were brought to the trail, so he hiked less miles. So really two separate records were broken, one for “supported” and the other for “unsupported.”

    • Granny – you’re not old. :-) Nice to hear from you.

    • Granny — it would be so nice if you would stop spreading that misinformation about Garrett being sponsored by a Whole Foods team. (Of course Anderson is largely to blame for that rumor.) One man, John Mackey (who is founder and co-CEO of Whole Foods but was not acting in that capacity) who knows Garrett and had hiked with him, personally sponsored Garrett and hired one woman to meet Garrett with vegan food when she could. That’s great that you were so into Anderson’s hike that you were checking her page 3 times a day but not so great that you go on the various blogs spreading hogwash about Garrett’s. Pretty uncool really.

  23. @ Black foot – The trail is the thing on which I travel fast to see how fast I can travel the trail.
    – My choice

    @ Steve M – Monadnock is one of my favorite places to travel fast on, however I avoid the white dot and cross (main trails). I think you are justified in feeling angst against that runner yelling out to your group. If I approach someone I’ll slow and get close enough to not yell, then get their attention by saying hi, ask how they are, if they are having a good day, then ask to pass. That or my plodding feet get their attention and they see me coming and graciously move over – and I thank them on the way past.

  24. There are some (heck, many!) things that others value differently than I do. My position is that I don’t need to understand them … but should accept them … provided it is not harming another.

  25. I profess: no one is faster at getting off a mountain than me when beer and nachos are at stake. To me, hiking 60 days in a row is blasphemy unless beer and nachos are involved.

  26. Phil,

    “If you want to impress me, hike and packraft across Alaska unsupported, or something.”

    I highly doubt that those people you mention are trying to impress you.

    Unfortunate as it is we live in a world of liars, cheaters, juicers, and dopers. So what if someone wants to create or take a new sport that is free of the hoopla the bling. Sorry Whole Foods does not qualify. Maybe some are jealous that a new sport might bring new people into the woods. I think that is a good thing if you look at the fitness of America these days

    Phil you have told me to hike my on hike on occasion. For them it might be the struggle not necessarily the wilderness that becomes YOH. That struggle could be the same as those last few miles of a marathon. Many may not understand them(marathoners), but do we criticize marathoners because the don’t enjoy all the people cheering them on the sidelines and go slow to hug them all?

    I am sure many called what Abner Doubleday, James Naismith, and Walter Camp in their day foolish or silly. They all proved them wrong.

    As long as people are courteous and clean on the trail I don’t care if they are running (the bears may get them) or hiking at a turtles pace.

    I had a history teacher back in high school that would read essays out loud to the class. As he read he would start to slowly stand up on a chair if we got to preachy within the essay. This is your blog. Do what you like, but I am sure there are many things that your readers have done that would impress you very much.

    For the record as I am reading this I am not standing on a chair, I am all the way up on my rooftop.

    • I welcome all comments and other reactions as you know. I actually agree with you to a certain extent. Do me a favor though. Stop calling me Phil. I really hate that name. Please use Philip instead.

      • You lost me there Phil. Sorry I did not see a big banner on your site saying call me by this name only or I will get cranky about it. Philip is my middle name is well. I really don’t care for people that are pretentious about there name. Hate is such a strong word. So good luck with your blog.

      • Dude, you need a sense of humor. You are taking this way too seriously.

  27. As somebody who is continually hammered by friends for speed hiking long distance trips, I respect anybody who is out doors and enjoys the magic that it is. Those who choose to go less distance and hike less miles per day enjoy a different and usually relaxing experience while those hiking long distance and many miles per day have a completely different experience. I enjoy both and both are amazing but to try and lessen the experience of a long distance speed hiker is a mistake because these people are the thoroughbreds and no different than taking a pack train into Yosemite by horse or running the Kentucky Derby. They are both horses and both garner magnificent experiences.
    What Heather did is miraculous because she did it without support or rides and for the pace she set, she has an inner strength that can only be inspiring and looked at in awe.
    The out doors is a masterpiece and how we look at it is in the eyes of the beholder.

  28. mountain runners

    I’m more of a runner than a hiker, but I think the two can translate. Each persons experience and accomplishment is different. Because we celebrate speed records or other accomplishments such as oldest hiker, etc. doesn’t detract from anyone else’s accomplishment.

    I often run on the trails 20-35 miles & the experience of running vs hiking is very different. There are things you are missing as a hiker that I see and experience as a runner. So it bothers me when people say that fast people–hikers or runners–are missing out on the experience. They are not at all. Their experience is just different. In some ways better (more intense & acute) and in others not.

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