Thursday, February 20, 2014

Getting a Closer Look at Jennifer Pharr Davis

In 2011, two-time Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis wanted to test her limits. Jen hiked, stumbled, and sometimes crawled the 2,181 mile A.T. in 46 days (an average of 47 miles per day), becoming the fastest person to hike the trail and the first woman to ever set the mark. And for that, she's been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR's Talk of the Nation, Guideposts magazine, and the CBS Morning Show.

But Davis isn't all work. She is a loving wife to Brew Davis, and a mother to her one year old daughter named Charley. “My husband is Brew Davis. He's the best! He's my rock. On the trail, it gave me a lot of confidence always knowing that he would find me,” said Davis.

When not on the trail Davis has many other obligations, but when the time is right she enjoys going for a trail run. “I love sports- especially basketball and tennis. I love watching the UNC Tarheels play basketball. And I love reading, but right now I'm reading mostly small business books,” said Davis.

Why small business books? Because Jennifer is the owner and founder of the Blue Ridge Hiking Company, which is a company dedicated to helping make the trails in Western North Carolina easily accessible to everyone. “We live in Asheville, NC, and have no plans to move because we love the mountains, the great restaurants, the craft breweries, and our church.”

Below you will find a short Q&A session that the library was able to grab from the busy mother, wife, and amazing athlete. And after that is a small section highlighting Davis’ literary works. Please feel free to leave comments, and enjoy your reading.  

What first got you interested in hiking?
 My dad owned a camp in Western NC (Falling Creek Boys Camp).

What do you enjoy most about your profession?
 Being in nature.

What motivates you?
Wanting to maximize my potential as an athlete, an entrepreneur, an author, a speaker, a wife, and a mom.

If you weren't hiking is there another profession that you would like to undertake?
 I would want to me a Marine Archaeologist (I studied Classics in college) or maybe a Sports Psychologist.

If you could relive the last 10 years of your life, what would you do differently?
Nothing. It's been an amazing 10 years.

What is your greatest weakness (when it comes to hiking)?
 Cold weather!

What is your greatest strength (when it comes to hiking)?
My toughness and endurance.

How do you prepare yourself for a big trip alone?
At this point I know what to do but before I'd ever done my first A.T. thru-hike, I talked to as many experienced people as possible and learned as much as I could from them. I also tried to get in shape by walking and cross training as much as possible.

What are the necessities that you have to take with you on a long trip?
 The most important things are my comfy pack, my lightweight tent, the right clothes, and duct tape (it can fix anything!).

How does it feel to hold the record for the Appalachian Trail?
 I'm proud to hold the record but also humbled because I've met most of the guys who held it before me and I respect them so much. Most of the time the record hike was not fun, but not everything that's good in life is fun. It was incredibly rewarding. I suppose it's allowed me to travel on book tour with my husband and our one year old daughter, and that's been wonderful.

What other places have you been hiking?
 I've hiked over 12,000 miles on 6 different continents.

What advice would you give people who have never before been hiking but would like to try?
Don't be afraid to start hiking but do it on your own terms and in a way that you're comfortable with.

Below are the books that Jennifer Pharr Davis will be speaking about during her time at Samuels Public Library. 

 Called Again - In 2011, Jennifer Pharr Davis became the overall record holder on the Appalachian Trail. By hiking 2,181 miles in 46 days – an average of 47 miles per day – she became the first female to ever set that mark. But this is not a book about records or numbers; this is a book about endurance and faith, and most of all love. This is Jennifer’s story, in her own words, about how she started this journey with a love for hiking and more significantly a love for her husband Brew. Together, they were able to overcome rugged mountains and raging rivers, sleet storms and 100 degree heat, shin splints and illnesses. They made new friends and tested old friendships; they shared together laughter and tears – a lot of tears. But, through it all, they fell more in love with one another and with the wilderness.

Becoming Odyssa - After graduating from college, Jennifer is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need.

46 Days - 46 Days chronicles the trials, successes, joys, and frustrations of Jennifer Pharr Davis's record-winning Appalachian Trail thru-hike through the eyes of her husband, Brew Davis. The book demonstrates that the value of any hike is not based on speed or distance, but rather the lessons learned and the relationships formed along the journey. Each daily entry is complemented by a photo taken by Brew or Jennifer of the trail. 46 Days also includes an introduction and afterword by Jennifer with first-hand reflections on her life-changing voyage.

Don't forget to come see her in person at Samuels Public Library on Sunday, February 23 at 2 p.m. 

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