Jennifer Pharr Davis
After graduating from college with a Classics degree, Jennifer wasn’t sure what she wanted to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends think she’s crazy and her mom worries about her safety, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next.
The next four months prove to be the most physically and emotionally challenging season of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters or trying to put up a tent in the dark; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard.
With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail. She learns that she is stronger than she thought she was as she braves 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. Read more about her 2005 AT journey in her adventure memoir, Becoming Odyssa. It is a drama filled, laugh out loud, coming-of-age story that will be enjoyed by both hikers and non-hikers.
Jennifer's on-trail adventures:
2005 - Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike
2006 - Kilimanjaro Summit, Africa
2006 - Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike and Fundraiser ($10,000)
2007 - Hike for Habitat Fundraiser ($10,000)
2007 - Machu Picchu and Cotahuasi Canyon, Peru
2007 - Women's Long Trail Record (7 days, 15 hours)
2008 - Unsupported Bibbulmun Track Record, Australia
2008 - Women's Supported Appalachian Trail Record (57 days and 8 hours - an average of 38 miles per day.)
2009 - Colorado Trail
2010 - Foothills Trail, GR20, Tour du Mont Blanc, Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, West Highland Way
2011 - Overall Appalachian Trail Record (46 days, 11 hours, 20 minutes - an average of 47 miles per day)
Jennifer has hiked over 11,000 miles of Long Distance Trails. She has trekked on 6 continents and currently holds endurance records on The Appalachian Trail, Long Trail and Bibbulmun Track.
Jennifer has been named by National Geographic as one of ten Adventurers of the Year - these outstanding individuals were named for their remarkable achievements in exploration, conservation, and adventure sports. You can read more about her story and vote for her in the people's choice award here.
Presentations at Calvin UniversityAdventures on the Appalachian Trail: True Stories of Lightning Strikes, Stalkers, and World Records
Part of the: January Series
Publication(s) for this event
Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
by Jennifer Pharr Davis
Beauford Books (July 1, 2011)
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