Anish Breaks Appalachian Trail Unsupported Speed Record

Finishes hike in less than 55 days
Springer Mountain

Springer Mountain, where Anish concluded her southbound thru-hike. (Photo by Bruce Tuten/Flickr)

Heather "Anish" Anderson set a new record for the fastest unsupported thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail on September 24, finishing the 2,285-mile trail in just 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes.

Anish, a triple crowner who also holds the unsupported record on the Pacific Crest Trail, averaged about 42 miles per day, hiking southbound over the course of two months.

In contrast to Scott Jurek, the ultrarunner who broke the supported AT record in July, Anish shared little about her plans, restricting her social media updates to personal musings and tidbits about her eating habits on the trail. In a long Facebook post on Thursday, she said that breaking the record had helped her let go of lingering doubts about her own abilities.

"I had to come here, to the AT, where my quest to find myself began 12 years ago and face those voices once and for all, alone," she wrote. "I was afraid to ask, but the trail knew the question in my heart: "Was the PCT a fluke?" The AT answered with a resounding, "NO!""

Anish, 34, gained the nickname "The Ghost" for her fast pace and fleeting encounters with other hikers during her record-breaking 2013 trek of the PCT. She is believed to be the first person to hold the unsupported records on the PCT and AT at once.

Read more about Anish in our 2014 feature "A Ghost Among Us."