It’s my Everest.
The Unsupported 46 Thru Hike.
What is it?
A continuous hike of all 46 High Peaks in the Adirondack Park without any outside assistance.
What is the Fastest Known Time (FKT)?
The record for completing the 196 miles and 65,000 feet of elevation gain is 7 days, 14 hours, 15 minutes, held by Jan Wellford and Cory DeLavalle, two ultra-athletes with multiple FKTs in the Northeast.
I attempted the unsupported thru hike in August, 2016. I was five days, one hundred and twenty miles and 23 High Peaks in when I aborted due to an unforeseen stretch of 95 degree temperatures. Today, a part of me regrets coming out. But I understand why I did. I was haunted by a past ghost of similar circumstances, where I pushed my body too hard and knocked on the door of heat stroke. Luckily in that case, I’d had someone on trail with me to identify and treat my symptoms. In 2016, I was alone and cautious.
I’ve had three years to reflect on my 2016 attempt. I’ve learned from it and debated if I would try it again. One part of me says, “Oh, hell yes. Lets give it another go. I’m ready.” Another part says, “Are you sure? Remember how each day felt like three? And squatting to pee was torture?”
Well, like in many cases, my raging optimism beats out the cautious, “Don’t you just want to lay down and read a book?” Therefore, I’m training for a 2019 attempt. My pack will be lighter and route a bit altered. If a seven day weather window opens between mid-Summer to early-Fall, I’ll try my best to rearrange my schedule to take it. That’s one of the things I love about multi-day FKTs: they’re a logistical challenge, too.
Sometimes I’m seen as an inspiration. Someone to look up to. Someone to chase.
Other times, I’m judged as a peak bagger, a hiker/trail runner who moves too fast over spectacular terrain. A woman possessed by mountain dreams. I hear the comments about us ultra-hikers. The jabs taken out of frustration from people breathing hard to go up the same mountain we’re running down (after passing them on the way up).
We don’t appreciate the trails.
We use them as our personal gym and sports arena.
We’re driven by ego and records.
Can it be as simple as: I love being in the mountains? All day, every day, solo, with people, guiding, galloping, exploring, sitting, and moving.
With great thanks, I admit, my natural pace is fast. I have long legs and a solid frame. I’m a strong and healthy athlete (knock on trees). I love hiking long distances and it’s not so much a physical challenge as it is a mental one. I have a deep appreciation for the natural world and all it has taught me. For me, there’s nothing better than hearing the forest come to life as the sky brightens and sun shifts throughout the day only to be replaced by the moon at night. I feel alive and exhausted in the same breath.
It’s true love.
And that’s why I keep coming back.