Outdoors

PCT speed queen shares vignettes of her hike

Calm before the trek

Anish started her PCT speed record attempt on June 8, 2013, heading into 700 miles of California desert, where temps soared to nearly 120 degrees.

Eating on the go

To keep up her energy without breaking stride, Anish would pull out of her pack a gallon plastic bag of peanut butter and jelly, bite off the corner and suck out the fuel. She carried no stove, eating only foods that required no further cooking.

Light and breezy

Anish prefers hiking in an ultralight sun dress that dries quickly, allows free motion, prevents chafing and allows maximum air flow for better hygiene while on the trail 16 hours a day. Since she was either hiking and generating body heat or crashing in her 1-pound sleeping bag, she had an insulating jacket only in High Sierra.

Ultimate gear test

Anish carried only about 12 pounds of pack and gear, minus food and water, on her PCT speed hike, but the equipment she chose received a punishing 60-day field test.

The ratings she gives her gear’s performance on her blog is instructive.

Getting highest ratings are the Patagonia Houdini jacket, a featherweight weather-resistant shell, Injinji RUN socks with toes, the 1-pound Zpacks Hexamid tent on a Gossamer Gear ground cloth that’s super tough despite looking like Saran Wrap.

A Z-Rest sleeping pad doubled as a frame in her frameless pack when needed on stretches requiring heavier loads of food and water.

She wore the skin raw on her shoulders before realizing she should have used an ultralight Gossamer pack.

Feeling the pain

Anish had many aches and pains during her nearly 2,700 mile speed-record trek, but took only two 200mg ibuprofen tablets in 60 days.

“The first was on Day 7 as my body was still adjusting to being on the trail,” she said.

“I was compensating for a sore foot and I didn’t want to develop problems in my knee or hip.

“The other was on Day 30. That was it. I don’t like pain meds because pain is your body’s way of telling you something. Once I realized suffering would be a daily companion, I didn’t need the medicine.”

Uneventful finish

At 11:42 p.m. on Aug. 7, Anish completed the Pacific Crest Trail. “As the hike was, so was the finish: I reached the Canadian border alone,” she said, recalling the last 50-plus-mile days.

“I have never felt an adrenaline rush like I did the last 2 miles. I literally could not feel my body. All I heard was my breathing as I careened through thick brush and plowed through streams.

“I fell twice, hitting my knee hard on rocks, but I was up in an instant – running again – for in those last minutes it was simply the only thing I could do.”

But despite the thousands of people following her record-setting journey on Facebook, nobody was at the finish, not even her boyfriend.

“I thought he must be dead,” she said, smiling at her exhausted mindset. “What else could keep him from being there for the biggest moment in my life!”

She staggered around in the dark and finally found him and a friend, asleep in their tents.

“ ‘You’re not dead!’ I yelled to wake them up.”

They gave her food, lots of it, and she celebrated by staying awake long enough to eat her fill before falling fast asleep on the ground as she had for almost 60 previous days.


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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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