A big thank you to Jennifer Pharr Davis, her family, and all those who attended her talk last night. It was truly something to behold. We originally set up for 100 people, but so many of you showed up, we were scrambling for seats, and several people gladly stood throughout the entire talk. It was amazing seeing so many people enthralled in the stories of one adventurer and her family.
We wish we could re-capture the energy and impactfulness of her talk in this blog, but that seems almost impossible. However, we’ll try to hit on some of the highlights to give those of you who weren’t able to attend an idea of what was covered.
Jennifer not only talked about her several treks along the Appalachian Trail (including her record setting run in 2011), but she also read from both of her books, Becoming Odyssa and Called Again. Jennifer even gave us the origin of her trail name Odyssa, and we were able to hear the trail names of several of the audience members in attendance as well. Jennifer even showed slideshows of some of her hikes through the AT, including several from her record setting jaunt.
One aspect of Jennifer’s hikes that surely resonated with each of us was the challenges she overcame, not only through her self-determination, but through the support of her loved ones as well. How great of a moment was it to hear her story of when she was at her limit and ready to give up during her record setting run? Her body and mind had all but thrown in the towel; she was convinced that she’d be heading home by the end of the day. But there was her husband, Brew, with the words only a supportive loved one could say to motivate someone at their physical and mental limits to continue onward. As Jennifer noted, her record run wasn’t accomplished by one person alone, but by one person and her wonderful support group helping her along the way.
And through Jennifer’s stories, we were all able to laugh just as much as we were able to be impressed with her feats. From the 3,000 calorie meal after overcoming near hypothermia to Brew’s tardiness after a stop at an “historic place” (the Yuengling Brewery). It seemed at every awe-inspiring moment, there was a gut-busting one right behind it.
After her talk, Jennifer brought up Brew and their daughter Charlie to answer some questions from the audience. There were a lot of great questions — some asking Brew for more of his perspective on the record hike, just hoping to hear from all possible sides of this historic story. There were so many questions, Jennifer and Brew had to eventually stop taking questions (for that moment at least) and move the discussion forward.
After the Q&A it was time for some awesome giveaways and a book signing session. During this time, Brew and Jennifer made themselves more than accommodating to the over 100 people in attendance, taking questions and chatting about everything from their favorite microbreweries in North Carolina to their favorite family hiking spots. If a question wasn’t asked during the Q&A, Jennifer and Brew were willing to answer them now and they were always prepared with a recommendation for a willing hiker. They stuck around well after Appalachian Outdoors normally closes its doors, and we were happy to have them there.
It’s not every day that a National Geographic Adventurer of the Year walks through our doors, but when it does happen it’s something special. Last night with Jennifer Pharr Davis and her family was that kind of special night, and it was a privilege to be a part of. We’ll include some pictures of the event in this blog, but feel free to tell us what some of your favorite moments from the talk were.
And if you missed the opportunity to purchase Jennifer’s Becoming Odyssa and Called Again books or Brew’s 46 Days: Keeping up with Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail ( which offers a closer look at what it’s like to support an endurance athlete), be sure to check them out. You may even find the necessary inspiration to take on the Appalachian Trail yourself!