Speed Records on Trails: Good idea or bad?

English: Looking north on the Continental Divi...

English: Looking north on the Continental Divide Trail in the Weminuche Wilderness between the Palisade Meadows cutoff and the Knife Edge – of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thousand Island Lake (2997m) and Banner Peak (...

Thousand Island Lake (2997m) and Banner Peak (3943m), looking southwest from John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Trail at 3080m, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness of the Sierra Nevada, California. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Appalachian Trail sunrise in Maine's mountains

Appalachian Trail, Georgia's Springer Mountain
A.T. in fourteen states

Last year, Associated Press ran an article about a woman who’d just completed hiking the entire Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes! Well, that’s dandy.

While I’m in awe of the accomplishment, I’m wondering why she did this. What is the logic or meaning behind it? The article states that she never ignored the beauty of the 2,180-mile trek from Maine to Georgia. But did she stop to smell the wildflowers, rest by waterfalls, take the time to absorb the landscapes of nature, take the time to observe animals in their habitats? Bombing along at an average of 47 miles a day, I doubt it.

“Fastest is so relative,” the young lady states, “…what are you not going to see at three miles per hour?” That’s like saying, I read Tolstoy’s War and Peace yesterday, every word, so what could I have missed?

Maybe I don’t get it. Many others have tried for speed records thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. And I remember reading about one man who thru-hiked the triple crown (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail), about 7800 miles, in one year! Think of all that he glimpsed but didn’t experience. How much did he really see and absorb in the Rockies, Yosemite, the Sierras?

For all you speed demons, slow down. And take the time to smell the flowers.

Miscellaneous: In my post about cleaning sleeping bags, Carol Chubb of Massachusetts suggests throwing several tennis balls into the dryer with the sleeping bag. This will help break up any down clumps. Thanks, Carol.

2 thoughts on “Speed Records on Trails: Good idea or bad?

  1. The speed record is good publicity for the speedster’s guiding/coaching/public speaking biz. Speedster wrote a book about one of her earlier A.T. thru-hikes. Her second thru-hike was done for charity, giving her some good publicity. Speedster upped the ante this time around going for the record, and her husband wrote a book about this hike. Wonder what she’ll come up with for the next version – hiking backward?

    I am not condoning it. And I wouldn’t cross the street to hear speedster speak, but folks in my locality (women especially) go ga-ga when speedster is speaking in the area.


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