An Interview with Jennifer Pharr Davis ~ Long-Distance Hiker, Adventurer, Author and Storyteller!

By: Lisa Jordan


How old were you when you first started hiking?

-I hiked the AT when I was 21 and hadn’t really hiked anything before that.

What’s your inspiration?

-Seeing the beauty of nature and animal encounters. I love black bears!

When you are hiking so many miles in a day, you must be moving pretty darn fast.  Do you ever feel like you’re missing something you’d notice if you slowed your pace?

-I’m only moving 3-4 miles an hour, so I feel like I see almost everything. Plus, I’m hiking early in the day and late at night when animals are more active.

What’s been your favorite thru-hike so far?

-Laugavegur Trail in Iceland. Amazing diversity for a 50-mile hike.

Have you done any hikes more than once, and have you noticed any environmental changes on the hikes?

-I’ve done the AT (Appalachian Trail) three times. I notice cultural changes more than environmental. Like hikers using cell phones and social media to reconnect in trail towns.

What’s your favorite gear?

-My feet and clean water are the most essential things for me on a hike. I love my Farm to Feet Socks, Astral shoes, and Sawyer Mini Water Filter.

What were your biggest physical challenges? Mental Challenges? Craziest Experience? Rewarding Experience?

-Gosh, all of the above. It’s mental and physical, depending on the hour. Craziest experience was having a showdown with an emu on the Bibbulmun Track in Australia. I thought we were gonna battle to the death. Rewarding experience was setting the AT FKT (Appalachian Trail Fastest Known Time) with my husband, Brew. It was a real team effort.




Highs and lows on the trail?

-As many as there are climbs on the AT. You’re always gonna have them. I just always say “don’t quit on your worst day.”

What changes in your personal life did you experience?  Does it happen every time you go on a journey?

-Getting married was huge because I couldn’t just go by myself whenever I wanted. But Brew fell in love with hiking and it’s been so wonderful sharing the trails with him.

What’s a typical JPD day look like?

-I usually wake up around 7, hike 12-13 hours (25-30 miles) and hit the hay as soon as I get my tent set up. I’ve never been a stove person, so I just eat in my sleeping bag while I journal or read a book.

How’s it different for you now that you have two little ones in tow?

-The trail is still wonderful but a totally different experience with them. You just have to change your expectations from “we’ll hike 5 miles to this waterfall” to “we’ll go as far as we go and if we see the waterfall it’ll be a bonus.”

What were your reasons for beginning to write your books?

-I just like telling stories, so writing was a very organic thing for me.


And some input from her husband and trail crew!


What is your part on the trail?

-When I was supporting Jen, I met her at road crossings, got her day pack together with food, a windbreaker, some basic first aid, water bottles, etc. I did laundry, went grocery shopping, answered emails, handled the occasional media request, ran to the post office, crunched mileage numbers on the trail, etc. Now that we have kids, Jen’s not trying to set any records, but if she did, she’d be on her own :).

What’s been the best part of Jennifer’s journey for you as her husband/partner/trail crew/etc?

-I think seeing her evolve into this wonderful speaker has been really amazing. I knew she could be a world-class endurance athlete, but I didn’t know what a talented storyteller and motivator she could be.

What’s your biggest challenge as the crew?

-Biggest challenge as the crew… hmm. Probably knowing when to push and when to hold back. Kind of reading Jen and deciding whether to challenge her to do an extra 5-6 miles or call it a day. Most of the time she made those decisions on her own, but there were times when she’d need a little help making the decision.

What’s been your biggest reward in supporting Jenn on her journey?

-I think strengthening our relationship as a couple. Doing something like this is a crucible. It puts you under a lot of stress and getting through it together gives you the confidence to get through other challenges together too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>