National Geographic Adventurer of the Year to speak at STAB on Dec. 10

st. anne's-belfield schoolNational Geographic’s 2012 Adventurer of the Year, Jennifer Pharr Davis, will headline St. Anne’s-Belfield School’s HealthFest on Tuesday, Dec. 10.

Pharr Davis is a long-distance hiker who first completed the Appalachian Trail in 2005, and in 2011 set the then-record for overall fastest time on the trail by covering the 2,181-mile route in 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes. In her hiking career she has covered 14,000 miles on six continents. This will be the second time Pharr Davis has spoken at the School.

“One of the reasons that I’m excited to come back to St. Anne’s-Belfield, and one of the primary reasons I wanted to write Becoming Odyssa is because I wish I could have been exposed to the lessons of the trail when I was in high school,” she said.

“When I was hiking through the woods, I was free to be myself. I was given time and space to learn who I was apart from apart from expectations, and the constant pressure to react and produce. Spending five months in the forest without a mirror and with limited technology redefined my sense of self-image and beauty. When I finished the trail, I was filthy and exhausted – and I smelled horrible – but I felt beautiful and capable and a little bit wild. That’s the gift that I want to expose everyone to, especially teenagers.”

Pharr Davis sees recent attraction to long-distance hiking as a way for modern citizens to reject, or at least minimize, the trend of an indoor lifestyle.

“Our society is one that normalizes time spent indoors and behind screens,” she said. “People are coming to the realization that living a sedentary and sanitized lifestyle is unnatural and unhealthy. As a result, individuals are choosing to immerse themselves in nature through experiences such as long-distance hiking. Paths like the Appalachian Trail are one place where we can spend time outdoors, move throughout the day, and talk to people face-to-face.”

Pharr Davis has authored seven books, including her first book, Becoming Odyssa, which has sold over 50,000 copies and her critically acclaimed adventure narrative, The Pursuit of Endurance. She has also written articles for the New York TimesOutside magazine, Backpacker, and Trail Runner, and has been featured in the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Daily Beast, NPR’s Talk of the Nation, and the CBS Early Show. She is the founder and owner of Blue Ridge Hiking Company, a former board member for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and an ambassador for the American Hiking Society.

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