Traditionally, hiking one of America’s iconic trails from beginning to end was about getting away from the world and taking your time to enjoy nature. It’s still about doing all that. But increasingly, people want to do it as fast as humanly possible. Because most Americans are not down with the medium chill. They’re more into the flash-freeze mode of relaxation.
Take Josh Garrett, for instance. Dude just hiked the Pacific Crest Trail — that’s 2,650 miles, from the Mexico-America border, all the way up to Canada. He did this in 59 days, 8 hours, and 14 minutes, breaking the long-time speed record for the trail by about four days. He hiked, the Seattle Times says, “an average of about 45 miles a day at roughly 3 miles an hour.” He put himself in danger — 100 miles in, he got heatstroke and “just collapsed. It was 100 degrees and I fell, shivering in a fetal position.”
You need some sort of motivation to walk another 2,550 miles after that sort of experience. Garrett’s was cute, defenseless animals. He’s been vegan for two years, and was hiking in part as a fundraiser for Mercy for Animals. He told the Seattle Times:
I honestly thought I might not be able to keep going … but I couldn’t give up on the animals.
At the end of the trail, he broke into tears. (Wouldn’t you?)
But you know who’s probably crying even harder? Heather Anderson. She finished the same exact hike just 24 hours before Garrett, also breaking the previous speed record. But she took just about a day longer than he did.