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
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.