'Biggest Badass You've Never Heard Of' Is This Hiker
Heather Anderson, 34, just covered 2,168 miles in 54 days
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 24, 2015 7:43 AM CDT
Heather Anderson in the North Cascades.   (Anish Hikes/Facebook)

(Newser) – When Heather Anderson beat the world record for a self-supported thru-hike of the 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in a mere 54 days, 7 hours, and 48 minutes in September, she scrambled to the top of Springer Mountain in Georgia and called her boyfriend Adam to verify her math. "I was like, ‘check my work, check my work!’" she tells Outside. She had a wide mathematical berth: Anderson, who goes by the trail name Anish in honor of her great-great Ojibwa grandmother, beat Matt Kirk's 2013 record by four days. She was almost exactly 8 days slower than supported thru-hike record holder Scott Jurek, who was assisted by a support van—containing a bed—driven by his wife, who handed him a protein-packed "fatty smoothie" at every stop, per Runner's World.

Anderson, by contrast, carried all her own gear and slept in a tent she set up nightly over her trekking poles. She also hiked the trail in two thrift store sundresses, which had the advantages of being light and allowing her to pee standing up. Hence Outside's title for her: the "biggest badass you've never heard of." This isn't the only record set by the modest hiker and mountaineer, who lives in Seattle but grew up in Michigan. In 2013, she set the self-supported speed record for the Pacific Crest Trail, hoofing it 2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada in just under 61 days. With that feat, she also crushed a record set by a man, in this case, Scott Williamson and his 64-day record. This after Backpacker reports she developed 2-inch ankle blisters and sinuses so dry she dripped blood as she hiked—just two days into the feat. (See why Jurek was fined $500 for his celebration.)