Two hikers — a woman from Bellingham and a man from California — are credited with setting speed records this week for hiking the 2,655-mile Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada.
Josh Garrett, 30, a Santa Monica track coach, fitness instructor and animal-welfare activist, completed the hike just before 9 p.m. PDT Thursday, averaging nearly 45 miles a day for 59 days, 8 hours, 59 minutes.
His finish came less than a day after Heather “Anish” Anderson of Bellingham completed the hike in 61 days and about 17 hours.
Both hikers surpassed what had been the previous record off the 64 days, 11 hours, and 19 minutes set by distance hiker Scott Williamson in 2011. And although Anderson’s record was bested by Garrett, it remains the fastest time recorded for a female hiker, enthusiasts say.
While no agency formally tracks such records, Jack Haskel of the Sacramento-based Pacific Crest Trail Association said he has great respect for Anderson and Garrett and has no reason to doubt their accomplishment.
“I consider this to be leaps and bounds more physically trying than any other endurance sports I know of. It’s just incredibly hard,” Haskel said.
On her Facebook page, Anderson said trail hiking changed her life. “I was an overweight child, a bookworm who sat with her nose in an adventure book and daydreamed. I never exercised and couldn’t make it around the track without walking.”
Garrett is backed by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, said Gary Smith of California-based Evolotus Public Relations, handling publicity for the hike.
Garrett, who became a vegan about two years ago, has said he’s making the hike to call attention to cruel and inhumane practices used in the raising and slaughtering of animals for food. He is seeking funds for a national animal-rights group, Mercy for Animals.
Mackey, who has hiked with Garrett, said in a prepared statement that “Josh is not only a very nice person, but is also the strongest hiker I have ever had the privilege to hike with.” He called Garrett’s Pacific Crest trek an “absolutely extraordinary accomplishment, by an extraordinary man.”