Q&A With Trailblazer Jennifer Pharr Davis

Jennifer Pharr Davis – Instagram

“Jennifer Pharr Davis is an internationally recognized adventurer, speaker, author, and entrepreneur who has hiked more than 14,000 miles of trails on six different continents.

In 2011 she set the overall fastest known time on the Appalachian Trail by finishing the 2,185-mile foot path in 46 days (an average of 47 miles a day). And she hasn’t slowed down since.

Jennifer has backpacked 700 miles pregnant, walked across North Carolina while nursing her newborn son, and hiked in all 50 states with her two-year-old daughter.

Jennifer is truly a force of nature. But what excites her most is introducing people to the life-changing opportunities that nature provides.”

Jennifer serves on the Year of the Trail Honorary Committee, and when it comes to getting outside and on a trail, she’s as pro as it gets, so naturally, we had to give her a few questions!

YOTT: What are must-see trails for someone who is visiting NC for the first time?

JPD: My favorite North Carolina Trail is the 11.2 Black Mountain Crest Trail. It contains the highest peak in the east, Mount Mitchell, and is also part of the newly established 350-mile Appalachian High Route.

YOTT: For residents or regular visitors, are there any particular “hidden gem” trails you would recommend?

JPD: No matter where you are in North Carolina you are just a short drive to the 1175 mile Mountains to Sea Trail that stretches across the state. It is a great resource for anyone looking to get outside and learn more about the different areas of our state.

YOTT: As you think about accessibility (mobility, trails for those with physical differences), are there specific trails or outdoor experiences you would recommend?

JPD: The .2 mile wheelchair accessible trail to the top of Mount Mitchell offers a way for most anyone to summit the highest mountain on the east coast. 

YOTT: Do you have a favorite memory or inspiring moment that has happened on an NC trail? Where was it? Tell us about the memory and why it was meaningful to you.

JPD: I was hiking the Appalachian Trail across Grassy Ridge by myself at sunset… I watched as the sky and mountains on the horizon changed colors, I listened to the birds sing, and took deep breaths of air that smelled like Christmas due to the surrounding spruce and fraser fir forests. Then I realized that I was a part of it all; I was a part of nature. And in that moment I felt beautiful and wild and connected in a way that changed my life and altered the way I looked at the world. 

YOTT: How should visitors plan ahead and prepare for a visit to trails you recommend? Is there a time of the week, year, or day that’s less crowded? What supplies do you recommend they bring? Should they carpool as parking is limited, etc.

JPD: Hitting the trails in the off-season as well as early and late in the day is a great way to avoid crowds and lessen your impact. Make sure you study up on the principles of Leave no Trace before you go and be considerate of other trail users while you are out there: Be kind. Silence your phones. If you wear earbuds, make sure you can still hear people and animals nearby. And don’t risk your life for a selfie.

YOTT: Why do you think it’s important to help preserve and protect North Carolina’s outdoor spaces?

JPD: Because if we as humans want to continue to exist on this planet we will need to conserve our natural resources. And because North Carolina is one of the most beautiful states and by protecting and preserving our environment it allows us to connect with nature, see ourselves as a part of nature, and feel beautiful, wild, and connected.

To learn more about Jennifer, Blue Ridge Hiking Co, and see what she’s up to, visit her website – http://jenniferpharrdavis.com/