by Kraig Becker
At 2665 miles (4289 km) in length, the Pacific Crest Trail is considered one of the world’s truly great long distance hiking trails. Starting at the U.S.-Mexico border and running north through California, Oregon and Washington, the trail doesn’t end until it reaches Canada. Along the way, the route meanders through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains ranges, providing backpackers with breathtaking views and untold miles of solitude. Hiking the trail end-to-end usually takes weeks, if not months to complete. But yesterday a solo hiker managed to set a new speed record for walking the length of the PCT, completing the entire hike in just 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes. Josh Garrett, a track coach and personal trainer from California, began his trek at the Mexican border on June 10 and has been completely focused on moving north ever since. Yesterday he reached the end at last, breaking the previous record of 64 days, 11 hours and 19 minutes. That means that he has been averaging in excess of 44 miles (70.8 km) each and every day for nearly two months straight. Garrett had previously hiked the PCT back in 2009, going end-to-end in 88 days, which is still a fast time compared to most others hiking the trail.
Garrett, who adheres to a strict vegan diet, made the hike in an effort to raise funds and awareness for Mercy For Animals, a nonrofit organization dedicated to stamping out cruelty to animals. He had hoped to raise $10 for each mile he hiked and at the moment he is about a third of the way towards his $26,650 goal.
As you can imagine, the hike has not been an easy one for Josh. The daily grind of covering such long distances really wore on him, particularly as he neared the finish line. But even early on he faced difficult challenges. Just three days in he suffered heat stroke in the desert and had to be pulled off the trail in order to recover. Just a day later he resumed his hike but it took a few days to completely regain his strength. He also suffered quite a few blisters along the way, something he didn’t have to deal with on his first PCT trek four years ago. Still, Garrett managed to accomplish the goal he set for himself and shaved nearly five days off the previous record.
Ironically, another PCT speed record was set just the day before. There are unconfirmed reports that speed hiker Heather “Anish” Anderson wrapped up her thru-hike of the trail on Wednesday with a time of approximately 60 days. While there has been little word of her accomplishment and exact time, it seems Anderson was the record holder for just a day. Still, that’s an impressive feat and congratulations are due to both Heather and Josh.