Hiking icon Jennifer Pharr Davis to speak on campus Aug. 30

Jennifer Pharr Davis

Accomplished long-distance hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis of Asheville will be taking a break from her current project, hiking North Carolina’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, to give a presentation at Western Carolina University on Wednesday, Aug. 30.

Pharr Davis will speak at 8 p.m. in the theater of A.K. Hinds University Center. Her presentation is sponsored by the WCU student programming organization Last Minute Productions and is part of the university’s Outdoor Adventure Speaker Series.

Named a National Geographic “Adventurer of the Year” in 2012, Pharr Davis has covered more than 13,000 miles of long distance trails on six continents. In 2011, she hiked the entire 2,185-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 11 hours and 20 minutes, an average of 47 miles per day, to set a new overall speed record on the AT for both men and women.

Pharr Davis has written five books, including three guidebooks and two hiking memoirs, “Becoming Odyssa” and “Called Again.” She also has authored articles for The New York Times, Outside magazine, Backpacker and other publications. She is founder and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, a guiding service, and serves on the board of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and as an ambassador for the American Hiking Society.

Recently, Pharr Davis set off on her latest journey, a hike of the 1,175-mile Mountains-to-Sea Trail that stretches from Clingman’s Dome in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the Outer Banks. She is being supported and met along the way by her husband, Brew Davis, and her 4-year-old daughter Charley and 10-month-old son Gus.

On the 40th anniversary of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail being first proposed, Pharr Davis said she is taking on the hike “to encourage a love of the outdoors and help people experience this amazing trail that’s right outside our back doors.” She also is raising money for the trail and plans to blog about her journey at JPDhikestheMST.org.

Pharr Davis’ presentation on Aug. 30 will be followed by a question-and-answer panel discussion involving members of the university community who have completed difficult outdoor excursions. The panel will include Dale Brotherton, a faculty member who has hiked more than 500 miles of the AT and completed several bike tours; A.J. Rowell, a Webster resident and Western Carolina alumnus who completed a self-supported 10,000-mile bike tour from Alaska to Cullowhee; Al Smith, climbing wall manager for the university’s Base Camp Cullowhee who through-hiked the AT in 2012; and Jamy Suminski, a parks and recreation management major and member of Base Camp Cullowhee’s student staff who through-hiked the AT in 2015.

For more information about the event at WCU, contact the Department of Campus Activities at 828-227-3751.